By F. Forbes Johnson
Originally Published on June 4th, 2018.
Did you know back in the early days that Port Huron was on the live theatre circuit? All of the great touring companies would stop in Port Huron between the big cities. Everything from burlesque to plays, musicals, and revues. Do you know how many theatres were in town? Brownie points if you can name them. Margaret Wedge wrote a book on the subject. She was the head of the speech department at Saint Clair County Community College. It’s a great read if you can find it. [hint] There were more than five. In my time I saw Jack Baily in Bye Bye Birdie and Dody Goodman in Everybody Loves Opal. There were probably more but I can’t remember. I got to meet both of them and got their autograph.
Then along came Ken Peck and John Stimson with their summer stock company,” Stage Door”. I was lucky enough to perform with the company along with Wendy Krabach and a couple of other locals. Their shows were better than most other summer theatres. I really miss the fun that we had. A fellow I met when he was 19 and doing tech and other things, Brian McGee is still my friend today. The great Joyce Schultheiss was in Gypsy and was better than anyone on Broadway. John is back in town. [Hey let’s do some theatre.]
I even had my own theatre “Theatre at the Harrington”. Some of the best local talent performed. Melanie Jowett, Pixie Wales, Mike Murphy, Mark Buckley, Trinta Kern, Bruin Richardson, Marcie Hull, Mary Lynn Boyd. I’m sure I am leaving people out so I’m sorry. Let me know. We redid the Harrington Hotel ballroom and my office along with building the stage and everything else. I think we all had fun. I sure did. Thank you to all who worked so hard and to the audiences that attended the dinner theatre.
Then I went on to more theatres from there, including acting in the first show at the Barn Theatre in Port Sanilac,”Dirty works at the Crossroads”. I also got to have the lead in “Pippin”. George Lawson worked his tail off to get it going with many others, many of whom I still call good friends. Lee Cork was also a big part of the theatre. Patti Harmon Lind was the first director and we were lucky to have her and her daughter Beth [Stahl}.I didn’t mean to ignore Port Huron Little Theatre (Civic) or Saint Clair Theatre Guild. They helped my career as well as many others. I have done many shows with both. Saint Clair just celebrated their 50th anniversary a year ago. Thank you, Brian Moss and Sue Daniels. It was a big success.
More to come. Talk to you later.
F. Forbes Johnson has been a Blue Water Area supporter for as long as he can remember. “I have have seen the good times, bad times and great times and have been lucky enough to have been part of a good many of them. I performed around the world, around the states, and around Port Huron. The blue in the water is in my blood and always will be. From Port Huron High School to Saint Clair County Community College, Central Michigan University to Michigan State. From speaking to singing to masters of ceremony to teaching to singing on hit albums, dancing with Marcel Marceau and National Touring Companies; THIS will always be home. I have been blessed to meet the finest people on earth, work with them, learn from them and find a good percentage of them in this area. To my fellow teachers, former students, performers, and many friends (who just happen to be the best ever) I am the most blessed man in this world. These are the people who have made me who I am. If I can impart any of whatever I have to one person, I will have been a success. Question me, talk to me, write to me and I guarantee an honest answer. It’s not easy but anything can be done with faith, hope and the will to do your very best in life. Anything is possible.”