The Power of Music

By on 11 June, 2012 in Fun, Greg Thornton with 1 Comment

“Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.”  ― Edward Bulwer Lytton

Storms moved through the area in the late afternoon on the last day of May. We’ve gotten used to that around here — gotten used to the gathering clouds, the rumble of thunder ever closer, the lightning charging across the sky. Around 4:30 p.m., the storm took the power out of the neighborhood in and around Cloverdale. We’ve gotten used to that as well. Inside the Playhouse, young actors were auditioning for the Children’s Theatre production of Fables Here and Then, which will run July 12-14. No lights, no air-conditioning, just a group of courageous kids trying out for a play, oblivious to the mess outside. They’re used to it.

I told them that they are now part of a Playhouse tradition. After only six months in existence, we are already building a history. I explained that when we held the very first auditions at the Playhouse, a storm came up, took the power out, and a bolt of lightning caught a utility pole near the Playhouse, causing a flame to burst and an immediate call to the Fire Department. All the while, the audition was going on. No problem. We all went outside and continued seeing the actors, first in the courtyard and then, on the front stoop on Cloverdale Road, as the daylight faded and the actors struggled to see the words on the page. Another courageous group. It is ever thus with actors.They plow on, push through, get to the story, move it forward. That same kind of mettle was being displayed by these young actors at the Fables auditions on the last day of May. I told them so, told them I was proud of them and that they should be proud of themselves. I thanked them and asked them to thank their parents and to please get home safely.

That same night on the last of May, a concert was to be held at the Playhouse. The BTW Strings were to play their final notes of the year. We had to cancel and send everyone home. Still no power. Well, we’re used to it. But these young musicians decided to rehearse anyway, just in case the gods of power and lightning might give way to the gods of music.

Gathering up their instruments, we trekked down to the rehearsal room passing those young actors now heading home. In the downbeat of a passing second, the place was filled with Bach, pulsing through the room. You could hear it out on the street. It was competing with the thunder and the gusts of wind and, in my view, it was winning. Maybe we could have the concert outside on the front lawn. Maybe the evening would be all right.

We never got the chance, as more storms came through the area. Audience members had to be disappointed, violins and cellos and upright basses had to be returned to cars, strapped down and left silent for the night.

But June 6 brought them all back in full force — a warm, gorgeous evening, the kind you can get used to around here. The violins and cellos and upright basses came bounding back into the theater, found their place on the stage, secure in the hands of musicians who looked like they were born to do this. They sure sounded like it. The Bach, the Mozart, the Beethoven, proved crisp, lively, inspiring. The Led Zeppelin and the Cranberries, adapted by a resourceful John Reed arrangement, took the evening to greater heights. When Peter Povey and Julia Sahkarova, the featured soloists, joined these young charges, the music lifted us to another place.

What Clay McKinney, the Director of Strings at the BTW Magnet High School, has done with these talented young players is truly something special. If you were there and heard the concert, you left the Playhouse a little differently than you when walked in. If you missed it, they’ll be back, these talented artists. And we could get used to that too.

Join us for Starting Here, Starting Now, the Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire musical. June 21–July 1.The show directed by Randy Foster features Sarah Carlton, Kristi Humphreys, and Chase McMichen. This wonderful musical celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Montgomery Little Theatre’s 1987 production.

At the end of July, the Alabama State University Theater Honors program presents Whitney, A Moment in Time, July 27 and 28 for three performances at the Playhouse. The play by Anthony Stockard, professor at ASU, is a tribute to the much-loved and much-missed Whitney Houston.

Don’t forget to check out our Playhouse School Summer Sessions in July! The schedule is posted online at Please call 334-262-1530 for information on tickets, classes, and special performances.

Greg Thornton is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse.

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  1. Penny Weaver says:

    Greg, you’re not only a talented actor but also a clever wordsmith. Thanks for these postings.

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