‘The Boys Next Door’: Aumsville Theatre performs

October, 2011 Posted in Arts, Culture & History

By Mary Owen

Always Our Children
Aumsville Theater Troop
7 p.m. Oct. 21, 22, 28 and 29
2 p.m. on Oct. 23 and 30
Aumsville Community Center
Tickets: $10 for adults,
$8 for those over 55,
$6 for students under 18.
503-302-0936 or visit
aumsvillecommunitytheatretroop.
webstarts.com

Since the age of 16, Kevin Crawford has been in love with the theater.

“For my birthday, my grandparents took me to downtown St. Louis to a river boat for dinner and a melodrama,” he said. “One of the actors asked for a volunteer from the audience. At that age, I was pretty funny, and brought the house down. The actor told me if I were a little older, he’d hire me on the spot. I thought it was pretty cool!”

Crawford went on to act in church and school plays, and then at age 19, served in the U.S. Army. Stationed in Germany, he was assigned to “moral support” activities.

“My total join in the Army was doing live theater for the artillery guys out in the field,” he said. “We did 13 tours in a year.”

Mixed in with backpacking through Scotland, England and Wales in 1983, Crawford watched a lot of live theater in London’s West End, including Mary Matley in “Children of a Lesser God.” Having spent big bucks for seat near the stage, he said, “I could almost reach out and touch her. It was incredible!”

After returning to civilian life and while attending college, Crawford studied theater. He also studied marketing and public relations so as to get a “real job” if the theater proved to be less than lucrative.

“I have now acted, directed, worked back stage in theater and on TV,” he said. “I acted on three episodes of “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol.” My big line was ‘hey, hey, HEY’ while chasing a burglar.”
Crawford finally graduated with an MBA in communications, but his passion remains deeply rooted in theater.

Today, he is co-directing with his wife, Kathy, The Boys Next Door for Aumsville Community Theatre. Having done the play before, it is near and dear to his heart, he said.

“One summer, I was hired to work with the Horse Feathers and Applesauce Theatre in Winfield, Kansas,” he said. “People from 100 colleges auditioned for eight pro spots. I was lucky to be one of those cast.”

The play is about four men with mental disabilities who live together in a group home and their social worker. It is, Crawford said, “poignant, sensitive, moving, funny” and “educates, elevates and really connects” with people.

“It’s just a beautiful piece of theater,” he said. “I hope as a director I can bring justice to it. The actors in the show are incredible.”

The show has brought a great deal of community support.

“Garten is handling the PR and supplying ushers and coaches for the play,” he said. “Goodwill provided us with costumes and props. Santiam Golf Club gave us a golf package to raffle off. And The Donut Shop in Stayton is providing us with donuts and donut boxes for one of the characters whose job is working at a donut shop. ”

Crawford said the play has stirred up much local interest and support, as well.

“Cast members will visit local group homes and attend weekly dances put on by ARC to help them learn more about the characters they portray,” he said. “We want to portray these characters with intellectual disabilities and mental illness in an accurate and sensitive manner.”

“This play is just a slice of life,” he added. “There are funny things that happen just because they are funny, not because the characters are intellectually disabled. Individuals who have disabilities also have abilities. They are interesting individuals that offer a lot to life, but who are often overlooked.”

Crawford promises the moment people enter the community center door, they will be captivated. “I’m just so pleased to be a part of this,” he said. “Come and join us!”

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