BY MALCOLM ABRAMS
On a momentous day in 1975, in the pulp-and-paper town of Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada, a stout 8-year-old boy was taken by his mother’s hand to see his first live play. The show was Godspell and the boy was Randy Timothy White. The performance made such an impression on young Randy that for the first time he began to question his future occupation—maybe he wouldn’t be a hockey player after all. Maybe his future was in the theater.
That day was momentous, of course, because Randy went on to an illustrious theatrical career in Canada and New York City that eventually led him to our town, where a decade ago he founded Cardinal Stage Company.
And now he’s moved on.
Rarely has any person departed with such fanfare. Dinners, cocktail parties, seemingly endless goodbyes in The Herald-Times; Randy was the recipient of many well-deserved hosannas. With the help of the talent he found and nurtured here—most notably that man of many personas, Mike Price—he created a quality theater company the likes of which Bloomington had never experienced. His productions made us guffah, made us blubber, made us stand up and cheer.
But perhaps Randy’s most lasting impact will be on the youth of Bloomington and the region. Cardinal brought tens of thousands of school kids to see plays at reduced prices and provided educational materials to accompany performances. Randy took shows on the road to schools in underserved areas, and with the support of local businesses, service organizations, and individual donors, gave free tickets to children and families who couldn’t afford them. Over the years, he put countless children in his productions where they learned to perform and comport themselves like professionals.
Without question, a great many of those kids have developed a love of theater that will enrich them, and they will pass that love on to their own children. And some of those kids, like that stout, 8-year-old in an industrial town in a maritime province of Canada some 40 years past, will go on to make their lives in the theater.
For all of them, and for all of us, merci beaucoup, my friend.