If you’re a regular attendee of A.C.T. (Artists of Christian Talent) musicals at Lake Highlands United Methodist Church, this year’s production may give you flashbacks. Two founding families whose children participated years ago now have grandchildren taking pivotal roles.
Bob Johnston, who began ACT 42 years ago with wife, Jeri, says the couple served as church youth leaders at the time with Sally and Fred Fifer. Sally and Fred served as sounding boards throughout the process of getting the new ministry off the ground, and by year three, Fred was helping to build sets and Sally was serving with Jeri and Dallas Children’s Theater guru Robyn Flatt on the ACT board. Their son Freddy, had the “Snoopy” role in 1978’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and lead roles as he progressed in high school. Second son King Fifer, now a county court judge, had leads in several other productions. Third son Christman preferred helping his dad with stage building and lighting. He’s now the owner of Fifer Renovations.
Freddy’s sons Andrew and Will appeared in recent productions – with leads in several – before graduating from LHHS. Now, King’s son, Hicks, has the lead role in this year’s show, Bells Are Ringing. His brother, Owen, and Christman’s daughter, Abby, also have roles. A few younger Fifers wait in the wings, supporting their siblings and anticipating their chance on stage.
Another family, the Willmans, have a third generation participating this year. Jim Ed and Sue Willman became involved behind the scenes about 1979, when their son, Kenneth expressed an interest. Jim Ed worked on staging and Sue helped with make-up and costuming. Son, Michael had no interest in acting, but he helped Bob and his dad with tech, lighting and sound. Since that time, Michael has been at the sound and lighting board of every ACT production since his 7th grade year and now has his wife and kids involved in the technical side. Kenneth’s kids have been among the actors on stage in recent productions, Sue was head of make up until three years ago, and Jim Ed continues building ACT sets, even today.
If you’d like to check out ACT’s 41st production, with more than 50 youth from LHUMC and the community, opening night is this Friday. Evening shows are Feb. 12, 13, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m., and there’s a Sunday matinee at 2 on Feb. 14. Tickets are $10 each and available by emailing Sara Orr at firstname.lastname@example.org. LHUMC is located at 9115 Plano Road.
Break a leg, ACTors!