We’re celebrating our 75th Anniversary Season with stories from Playhouse participants and audiences. Do you have an interesting story to tell? Let us know.
I tried out for the role of Elaine in the 1982 season opener Arsenic and Old Lace. I’d left theatre behind with college, busy building a career. I wasn’t quite what director Paul Ebert wanted for the role, but his ears perked up when he learned I was an executive assistant, and he offered me the stage manager position on the spot.
Rehearsals proceeded nicely, and before I knew it, opening night was less than 10 days away. Actors were asking questions regarding props and wanting to know when the stage would be set up. Paul’s reply, when I asked him about it, was (I later discovered) typical; “Terry Kite is going to do that – don’t worry about it.”
I tried not to fret about it, but several cast members expressed their displeasure in no uncertain terms. During a break, a large man with horn-rimmed glasses and enormous shoulders shambled down the aisle toward me. He introduced himself diffidently. “Hi! I’m Terry Kite. I bet you’ve been waiting for me.”
My reply was succinct: “So you’re Terry Kite. Where the h**l have you been, and why weren’t you here at least a week ago?” While I scolded him, he actually grinned at me! This guy really set my teeth on edge! This character obviously couldn’t do the job.
The next afternoon, I arrived at the Playhouse with a list of phone numbers in hand to see if I could come up with the necessary items to dress the set and got quite a shock – the set looked incredible! It was absolutely perfect!
I still didn’t make the mistake of counting on Terry Kite though, until one performance when a lit match was dropped and smoldered on a borrowed, hand-woven carpet. At this point, he actually showed me that he had a little more sense than I’d credited. He simply grabbed a fire extinguisher in one hand, and his stomach ulcer with the other and took care of matters before there was any damage. Oh, I could absolutely count on Terry Kite!
The cast and crew party that evening found us talking until dawn, and five months later, we were married. Thirty-four years, three children, and nine grandchildren later, we still are! The Playhouse was definitely the scene of a “meet cute” in our lives!
-Submitted by Pamela Baird Kite
-Photo: Arsenic and Old Lace – 1982, Courtesy of Oak Ridge Playhouse Archives