“I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”
Theatre and movie buffs might recognize the line from “Steel Magnolias,” a stage comedy-drama about the bond of female friendship that was adapted to film back in 1989.
It was also the first production Columbia Phoenix Players brought to stage in the Bailey Theatre 20 years ago, so the words are a fitting farewell to the special group of local performers as they disband this weekend.
The moment is especially sad for Jessie Hendrigan. She’s an original Phoenix Player and the society’s first president, though she kept her talents behind the scenes and not so much in the limelight.
Jessie could only speculate on the theatre group’s demise, but like many other societies that rely on volunteer hands, membership dwindled over the years to the point the Phoenix Players had to take their last bow.
“We can’t get enough members out or enough people to sit on the executive to do all the work back stage that has to be done,” she told the Trail Times.
“It’s hard to get people to come out.”
Each production takes up to four months of planning and rehearsal, which is a time commitment that most don’t seem to want to make these days.
“A lot of the social clubs are having a hard time getting members to come out and do things,” Jessie shared. “I think it’s just that maybe people are too involved in their own lives to come out and do theatre.”
Learning all the lines and making props over a period of weeks and months can be a challenge, she said.
“It takes a lot of work to put on a show.”
In one last hurrah, the players are hosting a “Costumes Galore” event on Saturday and Sunday in their Montrose storage room.
From noon until 2 p.m. the public is invited to drop by 806-3rd Street (behind the old Montrose Elementary School) and pick out vintage costumes, sets and props to take home at no charge.
“We just want them to go to good homes and be loved,” Jessie said. “We had two really good seamstresses that made costumes as we needed them, also a lot were found and altered.”
She added, “We also got a lot of costumes donated to us because people knew we were theatre, so they would give us their old gowns when they were clearing out closets – we have lots of real formal ball gowns.”
For more information on the costume giveaway this weekend, contact Jessie at 250.364.9911.