The Cue Sheet
December 2020 | Issue 1
Theatre Legacies
Interview with Kathie Comella
Q: What was your first experience with Theatre? 
A: 1964, Woodstock Fine Arts Association was forming a young people’s wing. I joined the group and that fall they put on a variety show. I was the MC and wrote the parody for a song “There’s no business, like scrub business”- cleaning woman scrubbing the floor. I was about 17 years old. This was performed at the Opera House. In the early 60’s, a youth group had come in and taken the Opera House back. It had been out of usage for some years and pigeons had gotten into the building. It was cleaned up by 1964 when I had started working there. The police station was where the box office is now. You would sign out the key and go in for a rehearsal. Did a lot of shows with the WFAA from there.
Q: How did you start TownSquare Players?
A: Bob and Gloria Carr were the main ones and another couple along with Karen Wells and others formed TSP. I was not on the board because I was still a teenager, but I helped them to form the company. The first show was in 1968, No, No, a Million Times No! where I played the heroine who was tied to the railroad tracks, Nellie Quackenbush. She sang a song, “Oh my darling you must know, I am as pure as the driven snow.” The team kept doing more shows. People seemed to like the melodramas, so they did a melodrama every spring for a while. They were doing a couple shows per year.
Q: When did you take a leadership role?
A: I started working with WMTC in 1979 and joined the board about 1981. I took over as president in 2000 and served the board for over 30 years.
Q: What is your favorite memory with Woodstock Theatre?
A: There are 50 some years’ worth of memories!  One of my favorites was playing the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz in 1970 and making the kids in the audience cry. One time, after “Ding Dong the witch is dead”, one of the munchkins said, “You know you really scared me that time. I forgot you were coming out.” But the kids loved me, they would sit with me and joke around.
Q: You have seen a lot of change over the years with both companies. What are you most excited about for the future of Theatre 121?
A: I am looking forward to having full houses again and a lot of talented people participating like we have for so many years, continuing our traditions and moving into the future.
Q: What advice would you give to creatives in the times of COVID?
A: Stay creative! I have been sewing face masks instead of costumes to stay creative! All different colors to match all my outfits!
Q: Who was your first creative hero?
A: One of the first theatre instructors and directors at the Opera House, Esther Stewart Waniek. She directed the WFAA young performers wing and the summer shows in the mid-60s. She was very dramatic and Greek. She taught me how to roll my “R”s. She was very creative and funny. Esther even made up the legend of “Elvira”. She purchased the plaque on “Elvira’s chair” dedicated to her kids. I have the “Elvira” ornament which was part of a TSP fundraiser at one point.
Q: What do you love best about doing theatre?
A: I enjoy the teamwork and the creativity.
Q: You have become our “Aunt Kathie.” What does this community mean to you?
A: It’s an extended family for me. The show family becomes a little family for the duration we are together. And as you see those people again, that is your family. That’s why our isolation is so difficult right now, because our social activity was with our extended family and, now, we don’t see each other.
Q: If you had one piece of advice for this community, what would it be?
A: Hang in there! This too shall pass. We will be back! Theatre has been around for thousands of years, we have endured. As said in Moon Over Buffalo, "The theater may be dying she may be crawling through the desert on her last breathe, but she’s all we got, without her, we’d all be republicans” Miss and love you all; hope we can get together again soon."