GHS#039;s Old Gym players past and present

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2007

It's late Sunday night as I write this.  I am tired. And I only watched multiple performances put on by our local talent - what must all the people who actually sang, danced and acted this weekend feel like?

I bet they aren't just tired. I'd wager, like my dear Tennessee relatives, they are flat-out &#8220tarred.”

It should be a &#8220good” tired, however, because they can know they achieved success.

I am speaking of all the people who participated in &#8220Puttin' on the Ritz” Friday and Saturday nights, along with the group of teens, known as The Old Gym Players, who gave us several performances of the musical &#8220Winnie-The-Pooh” at Greenville High.

Nowadays the students have a big, beautiful, state-of-the-art auditorium in which to perform. But I recall the days when the fledgling drama department and their audience happily sweated through wonderful productions in the old brick high school gym now used by both W.O. Parmer and Greenville Elementary (hence the name).

 Even when the school's productions moved to the Ritz, and later, the new high school, the name stuck.

And those Old Gym Players just keep on going.

Some of Miss Bobbie Gamble's former students, like Harriet Bedsole Foshee, Bess Nordgren and Joe Harville, came back together over the past few months with the goal to put on yet another really big show, a fundraiser for the Greenville Area Arts Council and the Ritz Restoration Project - &#8220Puttin' On The Ritz.”

Former Old Gym Players were joined by a mixture of arts council members, current high school students and some folks, like Elnoria Grayson, that had never, ever been on stage before.

Nancy Idland, one of those former &#8220Bobbie's kids,” took on the challenging task of directing it all. It was her first such assignment, and not one many people would be brave enough to take on.

Todd Henderson, who appeared in several POTR numbers, told me during one of the dress rehearsals he been &#8220nervous for the past few months.”

&#8220I think it will feel like both a blessing and a curse when it's all over,” he said with a wry grin.

I imagine he isn't the only one feeling that way. There's the relief it's over; the knowledge life's routines can return to some sense of normalcy.

 But there is also the wistfulness this time of fun, camaraderie and a chance to &#8220ham it up” a bit has passed.

Chorus member Susan Andrews was all smiles when I talked to her Sunday afternoon.

&#8220I had the most fun with it all. Listen, I haven't been on stage in 40 years. It was just a blast,” she laughed.

Carol Connally-Walters, who was pianist for the show orchestra, was breathing a sigh of relief on Sunday.

&#8220It was a lot of work; we were changing the music right down to the last hour,” she told me when we met in Wal-Mart.

Still, she is already thinking about next year.

&#8220You know, I think a Beatles review would be great. Their music is classic,” Carol said.

I think I speak for the masses when I say Nancy and her talented troupe did such a good job - filled up the house two nights, in fact - we want them to do it again next year.

As for you present Old Gym Players, kudos to you and director Wendy Smith for a fine job, too.  Here's hoping one day you will also come back to dance and sing and ham it up on The Roberta Peacock Gamble Stage at the Ritz one day.

Long live the spirit of that dear old gym!

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at