Remembering Lou Ryan

     My first recollection of Lou Ryan  was as Leo Ryan's younger brother, shortly after the family had moved to Weedsport and I was in Junior High.

     After I graduated hugh school and was working as Secretary for Tudor & Jones, I was aware that Lou was in Miss Palmer's Drama Club.  When I saw him on stage, I knew that he had a gift for acting.  After he graduated from high school, or perhaps even before, he worked at the Cayuga Chief office.  In the following years he became a constant as a clown in the parades and also in the Lion's Club programs.

     After my return from New York City in 1960, to work at Weedsport Central School as Guidance secretary I enjoyed seeing Lou in the Lions' Club performances.

     In 1970, some years after I had formed the Drama Workshop, the new art teacher, Wally Meier came to me to talk about a production of OLIVER.  I told him that Lou Ryan would be perfect as Fagin, also mentioning Penney Cosentino and some other Weedsport residents I knew to be theatrically talented.

     Lou and Penney came into the promotional group immediately and at our first advertised meeting we found a wealth of talented local people to promise an excellent production and encourage us to found the Weedsport Community Theatre.

     Lou was a joy to work with - his sense of humor provided buoyant support on stage and off, and he could work magic in slipping from humor to poignant tragedy.

     After our very successful spring production of OLIVER at the high school, a few of us decided to do a play at the Fellowship Hall of the Baptist Church - George Bernard Shaw's CANDIDA.  The cast required Betty Zimmer, Russ Jorolemon, Dick Kenyon, Patrick O'Connor, Eleanor Follett, as Candida, and Lou Ryan in the role of her father - Mr. Burgess.

     Janice Robertson assisted me in building the set - a free standing, plywood, hinged together, living room - dominated by Raphael's Madonna and Cherubs".  The house was supposed to be Victorian style.  We painted in the windows - and for night scenes drew the real drapes across the painted scenery framed by the windows.

     I was worried about furnishings for the room as it took Janice and I practically up to opening night to do the set.  The cast said they would provide the furnishing - not to worry.  They did too - it was beautifully furnished with antiques from the homes of the cast !

     But the part of that production I shall never forget was "Mr. Burgess."  I did not see Lou Ryan from the 1st rehearsal until after the show.  Instead there was this unassuming, polite, dapper, older English gentleman, Mr. Burgess !

     When he arrived at rehearsal, he was already in costume and character.  He was the genuine article, and I treated him accordingly.  Since that time I have wondered if his fellow cast members felt the absence of "Lou" as I did.

     Lou did not appear in our next spring production of MY FAIR LADY at the high school.  He was taking a "vacation."

     I too took a vacation on the following spring production, but bought a copy of MAN OF LA MANCHA.  Once I had read the script, I felt we HAD TO DO that show.  I loaned the script out.  Lou wanted to do it.  Others wanted to do it.  But Weedsport Community Theatre wouldn't go for it, as it was not a "family show".

     So in 1974, we formed the PERFORMING LEAGUE OF ACTORS, specifically to produce MAN OF LA MANCHA, and any other productions, including plays as well as musicals, that the group wished to endorse.  Our first August production of "Man" was extremely satisfying.  We planned to repeat it during Christmas break - and did, repeating the procedure the following year.  During the third year, our Dulcinea could not commit to the production and we had eight productions of "Man", with audiences in tears each night of production.  Lou Ryan played the triple role of Cervantes, Don Quixote, and Alonso Quijana. Regina Roberts played Aldonza ( Dulcinea ), in the first six presentations, portraying the double role beautifully.

I later saw a production in New York under the same title - but with more emphasis on "STAR" names and special effects, than on the story.

     I never would have supported our doing that production, if I hadn't known for certain that Lou Ryan could do a better presentation of the triple role than anyone else, and what a great supporting cast we had !

     The PLA continued into the 1980's, providing financial and acting support to the school's Drama Workshop.  They assisted in encouraging the students and escorting them to productions at Stratford, Ontario, and in enabling them to produce such productions as PETER PAN - in which Lou appeared as Captain Cook, and THE WIZARD OF OZ  in which Lou was the appealing Scarecrow, and working behind the scenes for the Workshop's upstate premier production of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.

     Lou continued in theatre - founding a dinner theatre performing in Jordan, and at the same time continued in printing as the Founder - Editor of IN PORT.

     When Lou left Earth's stage-door, in 1005, he took much magic, laughter, tears, and spontaneity with him.


Ron Berry mentioned this article to me.

He wrote :
. about the In Port.......
My brother and I were talking about it
and the article about Eula Lamphere and Miss Palmer was interesting ...
My brother Dude. the youngest , was in that production of Oliver,
and I remember seeing it ...
but we both commented about the poem written by Miss Palmer....
It was beautiful and could apply to the world today... like she wrote it yesterday....
I think that would be
worthy of putting on our website in that we all knew Miss Palmer......
after all she did give me my break in show
biz by giving me the lead in the Sr, play......
and a stage debut for many others....hehe
Lou played the lead in "Oliver"
and my youngest brother Dude(Rodney) was in that production also
I think he was a Freshman at the time..
he was on the first swim team that Weedsport had
and also a good swimmer who was a classmate of his
Andy Mazzoli played the "Artful Dodger"


This was an article which appeared in the Weedsport "In Port" Newspaper.
You can purchase a subscription to this newspaper :

In Port
P O Box 430
Weedsport, NY 13166

In Port is a volunteer organization in the Weedsport/Port Byron area.

IN PORT :


 
Louis F. Ryan ...................................Founder
Dewey Lincoln .................................General Manager
Eula Lamphere ............................... Editor in Chief
Dawn Jordan ...................................Layout & Design
Joni Lincoln ......................................Port Byron News
Kathy Greenwood ...........................Production Input
David A. Keel ..................................Business Manager
Vic Sine ...........................................Subscriptions
Roger Case .....................................Distribution
Eileen Cichello ................................Features Writer
Eula Lamphere, Joni Lincoln .........Staff Writers


Contributing Writers :

Shirley Dennison, Marie Streeter, Robert McMillan, Ted Reich, Larry Knapp, Mike Riley

Production :

Erie Park Press, Clyde, NY


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