Play’s director in her 100th show – The Times of Noblesville



By Betsy Raison

Anne Auwaerter smiles when asked how many community theater productions she has been involved with. Try 100. Yes, Auwaerter is celebrating its 100th show. And I’m not talking about performance. I mean show productions. There are typically one to 10 performances in a production, depending on the show.

Auwaerter is currently the stage manager of Belfry Theater’s 57th season premiere, the family comedy ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’, directed by Carla Crandall of Noblesville. The show continues this weekend, with four more performances Thursday through Sunday at the First United Methodist Church in Noblesville. Tickets are still available.

The late local actress Ginny Burt – who was also her aunt – was in charge of bringing her on board all those years ago because they needed someone to run the lights for “The Pursuit of Happiness” in 1975. During her 100-show career, Auwaerter, of Fishers, has been part of The Belfry family for 46 years and has been a member of the theater board since 2000. She has worked on stage, as an actress or behind the scenes. in different capacities.

Her sister Fran (Auwaerter) Knapp from Noblesville joined her sister in 1976. “My sister mainly involved me in theater. The first show I did was “Pinocchio” in the summer of 1976. I didn’t go back until I graduated from college in 1984. My sister suggested that I turn on the lights because the person who was supposed to run them got sick, “Knapp said. She led the lights and sound for many shows, from 1984 to 1986, then only returned in 2000 when Auwaerter suggested to Knapp, again, to direct the lights and the sound.

“I’ve been there forever,” Knapp said.

For the current Belfry Theater show, “Cheaper by the Dozen”, Knapp joined her sister on the production team as the Senior Sound and Light Operator. In other productions, Knapp has also been a stage manager, backstage crew, assistant director, lights and sound operator, and she has also been on stage.

Sisters aren’t always a package deal, but when one of them needs help, the other usually comes to the rescue. As the two volunteer for “Cheaper by the Dozen”. Also, for example, when Auwaerter was asked to stage the holiday play “It’s a Wonderful Life”, directed by Sam Brown and the assistant directed by Nancy Lafferty, at the Belfry Theater. , Auwaerter recruited Knapp to help him. They ended up as co-directors of the show and won an Encore Association award in 2019 for best stage manager of a play.

When I spoke to Auwaerter about her Encore Award, she was in her 96th production and Knapp in her 85th production. Both volunteered for “A Christmas Carol”, directed by Lafferty, Knapp as stage manager and Auwaerter for the backstage crew.

Auwaerter was born in northern New Jersey, where she took on a “Joisey” accent “so thick it could cut steel,” but toned it down to become a radio jock. She was a big horse lover and exercise girl for a retired racehorse when not training for the flat seat riding competition at the Junior Olympics.

After many moves, but not before Auwaerter graduated from high school in Illinois, they ended up here in Noblesville because their mother’s sister, Ginny Burt, lived here. Ginny was active in the Belfry. The sisters attended many shows to watch their aunt. Over time, the sisters got to know the founders of Belfry, Frank and Jane Campbell, as well as John and Betty Lou Kyle. The Campbells and Kyles were among the sisters’ mentors, as were Eleanor Wilhelm, Steve Free and Elaine Wagner.

“Among many other things over the years, Eleanor Wilhelm has taught me how to do stage makeup: the tips and tricks for looking good in harsh stage lighting,” said Auwaerter. “Because of her, I was a make-up artist at the Belfry for over 10 years.

The other mentors, she said, “taught me how to get around onstage – and offstage – how blocking works and why, and how not to be intimidated by having an audience literally at your feet.”

The theater is in the family of the sisters even further than the late Ginny Burt. Their grandfather was a high school manager in 1915 in Connecticut. A few years ago, Knapp found the historic poster. She followed in her footsteps by learning theater in high school, graduating from Noblesville High School in 1980 and occasionally working with her high school theater classmates at the Belfry.

Both, graduates of Ball State University, volunteered for almost every job in a production. Auwaerter, however, produced (and won the Best Producer award for “Month of Sundays” in 2001), but Knapp did not produce. And although Knapp attended the directing, neither of the sisters were THE director.

“Yes, I did everything. Apart from being a director. And that’s fine with me, ”said Auwaerter. While qualified to be a director at the Belfry, according to theater regulations, Auwaerter said, “I just don’t have the patience or the interest for it. I like being a technician, with the occasional role on stage for fun, and that’s good enough for me.

Auwaerter said that “the theater goes into your blood and never goes away”. There is the excitement and nerves of opening night; pulling off a great performance on stage will never get old. “

His all-time favorite role was that of his daughter, Roz, in “Moon Over Buffalo”. She said, “It was a cry. We had a lot of fun with this show.

Auwaerter said: “Behind the scenes, the best would probably have been, for the craziest stuff ever recorded, ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘Secret Garden’.”

The most funny moments? “Earl Campbell and the runaway fire truck. It was ‘A Christmas story.’ With all these props backstage tons of people and Earl Campbell couldn’t keep his hands off the fire truck… She remembered Earl running backstage… “We are falling down laughing” Auwaerter remembers of the antics. crazy women from 20 years ago.

She also remembered a “carjacking” when she sent the cast “far too early” … came through the window … “There was also the crew who were supposed to” hit “(withdraw) a floor lamp and fell into place too early, and the lights came on with the crew member standing in the doorway with the floor lamp. She also said: “I was taken on stage twice” in “Secret Garden”. Both sisters laughed and laughed at the memories. Auwaerter said: “I love community theater.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at [email protected]


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