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The Ballad of Becky Thatcher - OR - All that glitters is sometimes gold

March 6, 2009 - Erin O'Neill
Alone she sits on the riverbank, rotting, begging for someone to rescue her from an uncertain future, gasping her last breaths of life before she sinks to the murky depths.

OK, maybe I'm being a little bit melodramatic (pun intended) but as I was walking past the Becky yesterday with my daughter, I was reminded of a time when her facade wasn't so weary, she was a mecca for blue-haired ladies from Cleveland who were bussed in to boo and hiss the villain and villainess and cheer the hero and heroine.

For two summers I had the opportunity to be part of the "magic" of the melodramas performed aboard the showboat. I come from a theatrical family and first trod the boards at the age of 6, when I was a founding member of the Mid-Ohio Valley Junior Players in 1970-ehem-something. In the spring of 1996, I was referred to a news item, probably in The Times, that said Showboat Drama Inc., was holding auditions for its summer cast. Young people, mostly college age, came from all over to audition: California, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Mississippi, all over Ohio. I auditioned and was cast as part of the ensemble and as the villianess. I was also the makeup supervisor.

From May to August that year, I was given the unique experience of performing aboard a true showboat. I can't say it was without its issues but I can honestly say, I met some really cool people and, hey, we got paid.

I even came back the following summer.

The Becky Thatcher holds a special place in my heart. When she partially sank back in the '80s, my dad wrote a parody song to the tune of "The Edmund Fitzgerald," which was played on local radio. My little sister and I were the sound effect "bubbles." I believe my head shot and some of the costumes we wore might still be in the green room; I painted the sign that still hangs above the box office (by the way, if anyone is looking to get rid of it, let me know); and without the Becky, I wouldn't have my daughter.

It's a shame to see to see what she's become because I think a working showboat is such a unique thing for this's a glimpse into the past...and the Becky Thatcher will always be, for me, a chance to walk down memory lane.


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