Founding members Deb Kritzer, Tarja Jaatinen, Kathryn MacGregor started in Rhodes Avenue (now Glen Rhodes United Church) basement in the late 70s.
Within a short time enlisting the talents of many friends including Penny Connor (our first Director and wife of our choir director) and her friend Beth Mills as our music director. Edythe Shand, Carm Kilpatrick, Brian Gallaugher, Jim Wigmore and many others, the group became “Rhodes Avenue Church Choir and Friends!
At that time we didn’t know anything about rights and royalties, so Tarja got the book out of the library and typed up the script. We didn’t have choreography, but did do some ‘movement’. We added narration for the parts we couldn’t perform. Our accompaniment was by piano. The ladies of the church assisted with costumes/make up and intermission goodies. And so it began…in the church basement where the sets were built and sell out performances took place on the small stage with soup cans on the ceiling for lighting!
Our first show was Fiddler on the Roof and before long and with an amalgamation of churches we became G.R.E.A.T. ‘Glen Rhodes East-end Amateur Theatre’ and went on to perform Anne of Green Gables, Oklahoma and Mame.
The group went through a number of changes including losing our director Penny. Our friend Donna Bowles introduced us to Keith O’Connell who agreed to meet with us and offer suggestions on how we might move forward. After an evening at Donna’s with Keith and a number of glasses of wine, Keith agreed to direct and oversee the production of one show ‘just to get us started’. The first show was Music Man with Keith as Harold Hill (as close to Robert Preston as anyone could ever come); Edythe Shand was his leading lady.
Not long after the closing of Music Man and under Keith’s guidance, we created a board of directors, started auditioning for parts, learned how to do a kick-ball-change and became ‘Curtain Call Players’ and even had a successful run of a non-musical, Steel Magnolias‘. Keith became our new resident director, Artistic director, choreographer set designer and builder and most of all over these past 30 years…. a dear friend.
It was the little theatre that grew and after a few shows CCP grew out of the church basement but still maintained a special connection.
So many wonderful new changes over the years, taking on new and challenging shows incredibly, creative and talented casts and production teams, changes in the board and membership, and a growing audience base. The group performed at a number of venues including high schools, Queen Street Mental Health Centre and finally settled in at the Fairview Library Theatre in 1996.
Along with the growth of CCP was also the growth of some very strong networks of friends, showmances and marriages!
Some of the original members are still involved, sitting on the board and or support the group in one way or another…
Edythe Shand, Deb Kritzer, Tarja Jaatinen, Donna Bowles, Karen Carlson Oriotis, Fiona Johnson, Joan Wood, Lawrence Pushee, Penny Connor, Jim Wigmore, Brian Gallaugher, Marnie Harper and Kathryn MacGregor, many friends and family of the originals and members of Glen Rhodes United Church. And of course Keith O’Connell who it should also be noted, still drives around with his CCP licence plate!