“Consider yourself at home. Consider yourself one of the family. We’ve taken to you so strong …”
The line in the song from Oliver! captures the tenor of the actors’ bond in community theater. And it couldn’t be better encapsulated than in a photo of the cast of Oliver at the iconic Barn Theater in Rumson in 1972.
With the March 10 passing of Mark Hughes Jr., the snapshot is a reminder of the beginning of something big that lasted a lifetime … a family legacy of theater and togetherness. Playing together, staying together via the stage.
This show was a special one for the Hughes family. It was their first at The Barn. Mark Jr. played Mr. Brownlow. Nan was the Artful Dodger. The rest were somewhere on or off stage. It was a Hughes family affair. Can you spot the rest of the clan? And the connection lasted a lifetime and built a legacy.
“How he loved the Barn,” Nan said. He went on to play Mr. Darling (in Peter Pan) to Mimi’s Mrs. Darling (and Paul and Patrick as John and Michael Darling), Mark as a pirate and Nan as slightly soiled the island boy).
This “led to his using a Mr. Darling quote in our house occasionally ‘A little less noise, please! A little less noise.’
“It was also very funny to see this well dressed man (bow ties were his ‘casual look’) dress in a t-shirt and suspenders, waving a cigar in the role of the stage manager in Gypsy.”
Some in this Barn snapshot of the past by Jeff Blumenkrantz are gone. Anyone remember Billy Fansler, who also worked extensively as an actor and director with Monmouth Players? The rest are mostly still in touch, a living testament to the title song/credo in Annie Get Your Gun: “There’s No Business Like Show Business!”
So, let’s go on with the show of forging and keeping longtime bonds, on or off stage! Curtain up! Encore!