AJWC honors speech, drama instructor

Published 12:29 am Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Andalusia Junior Woman’s Club honored longtime LBW instructor Eric Lidh with their Lifetime Achievement Award during Friday night’s Red Garter Revue.

0211-lidhLidh has taught speech and theatre classes at the local community college since 1978. He officially retired in 2007, but continues to teach speech and theater appreciation, and to direct the college’s annual travel show, which puts live theatre performance in area schools. It is estimated that, under his direction, the LBW Travel Show has been enjoyed by more than 200,000 school-age children.

Since the Dixon Theatre for the Performing Arts opened, Lidh has directed more than 22 major productions including “Our Town,” “Diary of Anne Frank,” “Importance of Being Earnest,” “Little Shop,” “Footloose,” “Sound of Music,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Cinderella,” and “Robin Hood.”

But to generations of students, he is not the teacher, but a popular stage character. Each year, he is Drosselmeyer, the mysterious godfather who arrives to a Christmas Eve party and brings gifts for all the children, in the Andalusia Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker.

Of his Nutcracker role, he said, “My kids have all grown up, but when I’m in The Nutcracker, I have a chance every year to watch these students grow — they start as ginger snaps, then they go on to become mice, and eventually they’re members of the Senior Company. It keeps you from aging, I say.”

“Eric has touched so many lives in our community,” Meryane Murphy said. “He has portrayed Herr Drosselmeyer in Andalusia Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker from the very beginning. Eric is Drosselmeyer. Each year, Andalusia Ballet dancers are thrilled to work with and to get to be on stage with Mr. Lidh. And every year, Eric as Drosselmeyer thrills children and adults alike in The Nutcracker. Bravo, Eric, you truly deserve this accolade!”

Cathy Powell, director of the Covington County Distinguished Young Woman program, said, “Eric has been an active supporter of the DYW program/Junior Miss, for many years. He is a sought-after judge for various county programs statewide.

“Locally, he assists our program by providing useful tips and skills to help the young women prepare for their interview and extemporaneous speaking,” Powell said. “His wit and charm are always appreciated. He is always willing to give his time and share his talents.”

Longtime coworker Steve Hubbard said, “Over his 40 or so years at LBW, Eric has been listener and kind counselor to scores of students, each of them the only other person in the world when he or she sits in the guest chair in his office … Eric’s philosophy is that college is about the students, not about him.

“With his colleagues and other friends, Eric holds forth as conversationalist extraordinaire, the life of the party or of the faculty meeting. Smart but wearing his learning lightly, he is also our wise, listening friend, our trusted confidante,” Hubbard said. “Our work and our lives are much the richer for working with Eric Lidh and knowing him as our friend.”

Prior to joining the LBW faculty, Lidh taught high school in Wheeling, Ill., and later was a professor at Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky.

Lidh and his wife of 56 years, Gari, have four children, 10 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and another on the way.