Community theater is a multi-generational affair for the Chapman family.
Lori Chapman is a lady who wears a lot of hats. She is the Assistant Director of The Santa Diaries as well as the choreographer. She’s also playing Alice so she says life has been a little hectic lately. Lori is excited for Laura and me to see what Liberty Showcase does with the show. We’re excited, too, but quite calm – we know our baby is in good hands.
Another hat Lori wears is that of VP of Liberty Showcase Theatre. She says this theatre has always been such a huge part of her life that moving into the role was just natural. She literally grew up doing her homework and sleeping in various auditoriums as her parents were very active in community theater. Both of them started off as performers and her father moved into technical theater (sound) and her mother became a professional costumer. Her dad was president of the theater for many years, and her brother, who also performed in shows, is now a high school drama teacher.
Lori made her stage debut as a bunny rabbit in 1978 in Liberty Road Community Theatre’s (now Liberty Showcase Theatre) production of Free to Be You and Me. On top of all of this, she has a full-time day job where she works for The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Nursing Homes Division.
Lori told me that Liberty Showcase Theatre has faced huge venue challenges over the past several years and became a fully sponsored program of Baltimore County Recreation and Parks in the hopes that would help. “Unfortunately the local schools do not want the hassle of having theater in their auditoriums and several of them have even cut their drama departments completely,” she said. What a tragedy. Not all kids are cut out to be rocket scientists!
So Liberty Showcase is a group that has been around for 40 years and has no permanent home – yet. Lori and her board are hopeful that, with this production, they can secure a home for their Fall and Spring productions, but they are still looking for a venue to do their big scale family musicals in the Summer.
Lori’s youngest daughter, Echo, has been cast as Tory, one of the teens in The Santa Diaries. Echo has truly grown up in the theater/music world. When she was a baby, she came to rehearsals in a front carrier while her mother taught choreography, danced, ran lines and sang. Not quite born in a trunk, but close. Echo attended many performances that her mother was in and she made her debut as a baby angel in a production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Her father is a musician and she had the opportunity to hang out at band practices and go to some of his gigs when he was playing and opening for national acts.
Echo has taken dance since the age of three and has studied ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap, lyrical and musical theater. She loves to sing and plans to audition for the X Factor. She is in the theater magnet at Deer Park Middle Magnet School and wants to pursue a career as an actress and/or a singer. She is active in Girl Scouts and a straight A student. Besides being in The Santa Diaries, she is also in rehearsal for her school production of the play Big Bad.
Lori’s older daughter, Kaylee, who is 15, is not in this show, but Lori wanted to mention her. Proud Mama says Kaylee is an amazingly talented artist who attends George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson, MD. She wants to be a comic book artist and hopes to attend MICA. She also grew up performing but chose to focus on her art. She still loves musicals though. Kaylee will be in the audience for several of The Santa Diaries shows, and no doubt will be on her feet with the rest of the audience for multiple curtain calls for her mom and sister.
Multi-generation family involvement in The Santa Diaries is not new. Last year we had a three generation family all with speaking parts in the premier production at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, Maryland. Love of theater is often a family affair, and it just so happens that’s one of the themes of our play.