Doug Turner is part of the large “9 to 5” cast that’s preparing for Friday’s opening of the musical comedy at the Lyric Theatre, and Turner is new to theatre.
He’s really, really new.
The show’s director, Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, called Turner, a family friend, on Monday and asked him if he could step in and help out. Turner agreed. He’s in three scenes and has a small speaking part.
Turner said with a laugh that he’s “a little terrified” to be on stage. “I was excited to do it,” Turner said. “I always enjoyed watching the shows. (It is) a little terrifying to be up there.”
Turner is among several cast members who are making their stage debut with “9 to 5,” and although Turner used the term “terrifying,” he said he’s been welcomed by the cast and Humfeld.
“It’s nice to see, behind the scenes, how things work,” Turner said. “I’ve really enjoyed being around everybody. Everybody here is just wonderful. The second I walked in, everybody’s just been willing to help — whatever they can do to show me what I need to do. Everybody’s just been so welcoming.”
Turner works in sales at Texas America Safety Company. He is finishing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Howard Payne University with a minor in practical theology. In addition to working in business, Turner is in the ministry and recently served as interim pastor at Northridge Baptist Church.
Now that he’s a cast member, Turner said he’s been surprised to see the amount of detail that goes into scene changes. Turner said he sees “just how difficult it is to coordinate everything and how precise it has to be. When you’re in the audience, things just kind of happen. Just to see how much work and effort and planning goes into scene changes — it’s kind of fascinating to watch it.
“It’s great to be a part of it, for once, instead of just sitting out there and watching it.”
Pastor: ‘One thing led to another’
Jay Fraze, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Brownwood, is another newcomer to the stage, with speaking, singing and dancing parts. His daughter, Reagan, is interning at the Lyric and is also a “9 to 5” cast member.
When Fraze had to miss the show’s first two rehearsals because of church obligations, Reagan stood in for her father, learned some of his dance moves and taught them to him at home.
Fraze explained how he ended up in the play.
Lyric managing director Eric Evans is music director at Fraze’s church, and Dean Kiesling, the “9 to 5” musical director, is the church’s pianist. “Nancy Jo is going to Israel with our church and my daughter is the (Lyric) intern,” Frazer said.
“The four of them together teamed up on me. In my mind I was going to be just part of the ensemble, kind of doing mostly backstage. One thing led to another (and) I had a named part.”
Fraze said performing with his daughter has been “pretty neat. She’s a musical theatre major at Texas Wesleyan, so this is her life. I’ve never had the opportunity to do this with her. This is just a chance to do something with her before she graduates and goes off and does whatever it is she’s going to do.”
Fraze said a choreographed dance number he’d just rehearsed with other cast members has biblical applications. “I’m using the teaching of that (dance) to illustrate how we, as followers, sometimes have to keep relearning the same thing over and over,” Fraze said.
“In Hebrews 6, we’re warned that we need to not just keep going back and starting the basics over, but as followers of Christ we need to move on to meatier subjects.”
The pastor said it’s been hard to memorize the dance moves. “If this was just the singing I would be OK, or if this was just the speaking I wold be OK,” Fraze said. “But when you throw the dancing in, it’s an overload for someone who’s never danced in their life.”
‘A very uplifting place’
Cast member Holli Blanton is a stage veteran appearing in her eighth Lyric production, and she still remembers how she was welcomed by other actors when she was new. Blanton said when she was in school, she wanted to be onstage but was too bashful.
“Every year when I’m blessed to be in these shows, especially the big musicals, I meet people like I was — they’re not quite sure if they can do it, but they get here and they’re made welcome,” Blanton said. “I think a lot of us don’t think that we can do what we end up doing. An Nancy Jo is so good at drawing that out of us.
“Nancy Jo has made it where when we walk through the door, the stress just kind of rolls off of the day. It’s just always been a very uplifting place. The new people see the precedent that’s set of being kind to one another, and uplifting and encouraging. It’s am amazing part of Brownwood. It builds people up. It’s a wonderful, wonderful place in our little community.”
‘Always been an encourager’
Humfeld, clearly touched at Blanton’s remarks, said she’s by nature an encourager. “I have always believed that people respond better to encouragement than they do to discouragement,” Humfeld said. “Frankly it comes from my Christian upbringing. It sounds trite to say, but the Golden Rule: treat other people the way you’d like to be treated.
“Those of us who lead need to model what we expect in others, and so I want them to encourage each other and to build each to build each other up. So that’s what I try to model for them.”
Humfeld said there is “magic in the theatre. We all like to be entertained. One of our oldest forms of entertainment is storytelling. We just tell stories in a bigger way on the stage.”
Tickets to “9 to 5” are available on the Lyric Theatre website, www.brownwoodlyrictheatre.com