EASLEY — The Easley Foothills Playhouse is using the 2014-15 season to honor a woman whose passion was a driving force in local theater for many years.
Gwen McCall was a stalwart in supporting the arts in Pickens County, especially the theater community and is remembered fondly by those who have spent many years in helping make the local playhouse one of the best in the upstate.
The idea to honor McCall’s memory in relation to the local playhouse stemmed from McCall’s niece, Carolyn, and the board was more than eager to participate.
“At the board meeting when we first discussed the idea and it came up for a vote, it was unanimous and quick,” board president Roy Costner said. “There wasn’t a need for much discussion and the idea just got bigger and bigger until we decided to dedicate the entire season in her honor.”
McCall, a graduate of Furman University, appeared on stages such as Dock Street in Charleston, Greenville Little Theater, Clemson Little Theater, Easley Foothills Playhouse and many others and her credits also include a Disney film entitled Love Leads the Way.
One of McCall’s most memorable and requested performances was as the character Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond, which she and local actor Charles McLawhorn celebrated their 80th birthdays performing together, as they had many times before.
What most remember was how she made those around her feel.
“When you worked with Gwen, the cast party was always something everyone looked forward to,” Maurice Reid, director and actor with Easley Foothills Playhouse said. “Everyone was always there and there were mementos and memories all over the place. She was always friendly to a fault.”
That seemed to be the consensus opinion where McCall was concerned, and looking over the years, many feel the local theater wouldn’t be in the position it is now without her efforts.
“She had such a passion for theater it was her place when she performed, and we as a board have made that out mission statement,” Costner said. “If she hadn’t worked so tirelessly over the years and believed the way she did, chances are we wouldn’t have this building now.”
As a part of McCall’s memory, tickets will be made available through donation for the season, distributed by the United Way and McCall will be highlighted throughout the year on playbills and throughout the facility.
When it came to theater, McCall’s philosophy could easily spill over into life as she was often quoted as saying: “As long as you can remember your lines and make your entrance onstage, there is always a part to be acted.”
The 2014-15 season of Easley Foothills Playhouse will begin in September with You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.