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Lest we forget, it's the Volunteers who give selflessly that ensures the success of any theater, whether they be Actors or Writers, Singers or Musicians, Stagehands or Concession workers.

Every role, however big or small, MATTERS in theater.

Let us take a moment to remember and honor the following Thespians of whom without, OBT would not be today...

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Gordon Freid

??? - Sept 14, 2018

As most of our local community knows, Gordon Freid was every local theatre troupeís makeup artist, transforming actors into the characters they were portraying. Hailing from the Los Angeles area, Gordon worked professionally in the film industry until a stroke stalled his career. He moved to Coos Bay where his sisters were living and slowly over the years as his health improved, began volunteering as a makeup artist for Dolphin Players, Little Theatre On The Bay, the Waterfront Players, and the On Broadway Thespians. Gordon was more than just a talented makeup artist however; he turned out to be a gifted actor as well.

One of his most memorable performances was in the production of Frankenstein as the blind man who befriended the creature. Gordon easily stole the show. When he said yes when offered the role of The Ghost In the Hospital in Ghost the Musical, we all knew what a treat audiences would be in for. The man certainly had singing chops, a rich, beautiful baritone worthy of goosies. Sadly, this show became Gordonís final curtain call. He would pass away on opening night.

A special Thank You to our Community for all the kind words and financial support bestowed upon Gordonís sisters in their time of need. It meant a great deal to see the local Theatre community come together like this to honor one of their own. The theatre sector has lost a dedicated, hardworking volunteer, as well as gifted makeup artist, actor, singer, mentor, and friend.

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Edward Martin

May 12, 1922 - March 16, 2013

Ed was an active member of the Thespian corp, often staging at local haunts as Little Theatre On the Bay, On Broadway Theater, and The Bandon Playhouse, He revelled with such gusto every character he was ever asked to portray. Many of you will surely remember him as Judge Barbedienne from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Major Metcalf in "Mousetrap," or his memorable performance opposite of Phyllis Anderson in "Fifty Years Ago." Ed was also a member of the local Belles and Beaus, and was on the board that first led the effort to save the local historic landmark, the Egyptian Theatre. That great big stage in the sky is lucky to get Ed!

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Phyllis Anderson

Feb 26, 1930 to June 21, 2012

Many first knew Phyllis as the Librarian at Sunset Middle School, but later would discover a wonderful artistic side. She was a long term member and frequent soloist with the South Coast Community Choir as well as the First United Methodist Church choir. She played the French Horn in the community band. She also took stage as an actress in both On Broadway Theater and Little Theatre On the Bay, with memorable roles in such productions as "Quilters," "On Golden Pond," "Shirley Valentine," and "Lucifer's Child." In addition, Phyllis Served on the OBT Board of Directors in the capacity of group Historian for a great number of years. She will be sorely missed.

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Betty Bingham

March 10, 1925 to January 31, 2007

Beloved friend, mentor, actress, musician, and another original founder of the On Broadway Theater along with Larry and Tosca Means, local legend Betty Bingham recently left us. She was born in North Bend and died in Coos Bay, was a Marshfield graduate, married Earl Bingham in 1946 in Eastside. He preceded her in death in 1962. Betty worked as a bookkeeper at North Bend Medical Center for a number of years and as an accomplished musician, served as the church organist at both the First United Methodist Church in Coos Bay and the First Christian Church in North Bend. Betty was a co-founder of the On Broadway Theater as well as an active member of Little Theatre on the Bay for 28 years. She enjoyed traveling to the Holy land, Europe, and as an avid golf fan, St. Andrews. Betty will be sorely missed.

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Kit 'Christopher Clark' Lewis

March 25, 1946 to August 18, 2006

A longtime resident of Coos Bay, Kit moved to Ontario Canada in 2002. He was active in, and passionate about theater all of his life. He wrote, directed, acted and produced theater in Oregon, California, and Ontario Canada. Kit was also one of the founding members of On Broadway Theater and the Dolphin Players. Throughout his life, Kit taught English and Theater to both children and adults, believing in the power of language to transform lives. He was likewise a gifted storyteller. Kit was a meticulous craftsman and built numerous homes, one of which was a family cabin on Tenmile near Lakeside, where many of his writings were based on. Kit will be greatly missed.

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Joe Oyler

November 25, 1929 to January 21, 2005

For more than 20 years Joe lived, breathed, and worked on the West Coast as a longshoreman. He spent a stint in Alaska as a salmon fisherman where he lived on an island with his beloved wife, Dorotha, before retiring to Coos Bay in 1992.

Joe led a full and varied life that included an early acting career in Hollywood. He played Polonius in "Hamlet" for the Santa Monica Theatre Guild. He also directed at the Fortuna Playhouse in California and at the Tillamook Playhouse in Oregon. In 1978, Joe directed Bandon Playhouse's opening production of "Anything Goes." At On Broadway Theater, he directed "Picnic," "Shirley Valentine," "Night Mother," "Lucifer's Child," "Octette Bridge Club," and "Nunsense" among others. It was often said entire casts of his past productions would become part of his extended family. Joe had a heart of gold and a reputation for coaxing the best performances out of his actors.

Joe loved to cook and took great pleasure in hosting special dinners for his family and friends, all of whom will greatly miss his keen sense of humor and wonderful zest for life. How better off we'd all be if only we took a chapter from the "Book of Joe" and lived it.

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E. King Frey

January 6, 1926 to November 26, 2005

A former USA Navy man, engineer, USC professor, and even Tugboat operator, King still returned to Oregon where he built his home and happily threw himself into Church and Community Theater. An much beloved and incredibly generous man, King dabbled in a myraid of hobbies and interests ranging from professional photography and model steam locomotive building, to refurbishing pipe organs, acting, & writing. At one point he even joined the OBT Board of Directors, serving as President & Vice President for a couple of terms. Rivals LTOB (Little Theatre on the Bay) as well as the Sawdusters also benefitted from King's acting talents on occasion and were lucky to have him. Among OBT productions you may remember him from were "A Christmas Carol," "The Drunkard," and "The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde." This charming gentleman will be greatly missed.

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George Markel

June 6, 1927 to November 3, 2003

Born in San Francisco, George grew up with his mother amidst hard times. He contracted TB at a young age which only sparked a strong determination to outgrow the mandatory bed confinement. Later, to become stronger after his medical confinement had passed, George decided to stretch his weakened body by becoming a short haul trucker. But his first love was always theater and opera. His first role was in 1935 at the age of 8 in the role of Hansel in "Hansel & Gretel" while attending elementary school, followed by other roles in "Treasure Island" and "Robin Hood."

After performing roles in junior high school, he developed TB that temporarily idled him. He began an interest in opera (training with Gertrude Gruenberg and Hedy Mex of the Berlin Opera) and even considered traveling Europe to seek more formal training, but worried funds would not sustain him there. Instead he developed as an actor, training with Andre Ferrier at San Francisco's Ferrier French Theater. There he took on the roles of Romeo in "Romeo & Juliet" and Marcus Antonius in "Julius Ceasar." He enjoyed telling the story of how many were shocked to find that he as a young man could indeed play older parts without the audience realizing his actual young age. Additionally, George also dabbled in radio work at San Francisco's KPO, providing countless voices in a 1949 radio series called "Adventures of Captain O'Flaerty."

George moved to OUR Bay Area in 1991 and immediately jumped into local community theater in LTOB's production of "Born Yesterday." In his first role here he received the best supporting actor award at that year's Masque Awards. Other roles there included: "Singin' In The Rain," "Arsenic & Old Lace," "Harvey," "The Importance of Being Earnest," "The Grapes of Wrath," and "Our Town." For the Dolphin Players he was in "School for Scandal," "Lysistrata," and "Love Letters." For the Waterfront Players: "This Is Where We Came In," and "Of Mice And Men." At Southwestern Oregon Community College he was in "The Skin Of Our Teeth," "Ohio Impromptu," "Macbeth," and "Other Places" (the weekend before his passing).

At OBT, George acted as well as directed. He directed "Papa Is All," a wonderful play he first heard performed on the radio in the 1940s. He assisted other directors in LTOB's "Steel Magnolias" and OBT's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?." He also worked on a new interpretation of "Tobacco Road" for OBT, but we'll most remember him in his roles here. He was Phil Gorski in "Greetings," Rappaport in "I'm Not Rappaport," Paravicini in "The Mousetrap," Marley's Ghost and Ebenzer Scrooge in two versions of "A Christmas Carol." His voice as Scrooge was as definitive as was the one that Alastair Sim did in the classic movie and was one of his favorite roles. He also appeared as Squire Cribbs in "The Drunkard," the priest in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde," and his triumphant last starring role as Mr. Green in "Visiting Mr. Green" that ran from September 19 to October 11, 2003.

George passed from our lives on November 3, 2003. "He chose to exit at the peak of his powers," said one close friend. We will miss his wit, talent and friendship. He was truly one of a kind.

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Paul Swank

May 2, 1951 to November 10, 2002

A popular teacher at Marshfield High School in the late 1970's, Paul introduced theater to many a student there. Like many, he believed theatre could often tap into a person's psyche and thusly, their potential. In 1998 he became the vice principal of MHS, and in 2000 became the principal of Destinations Charter School. During 1999 and 2000, he served as Advisory Board Member at OBT, as well as starred in and co-directed several OBT productions with his wife Robin.

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Tosca C. Means

April 14, 1926 to August 17, 2002

Tosca always said, "The Show MUST go on!" Little did any of us know just how much those waters would be tested upon Tosca's passing. Those of us who sat in during what was to be her last performance, "Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical," in January 2002 will always remember her best as the character Reverend Mother, a role she cherished playing in all of the Nunsense musicals that have ever been staged at OBT.

Involved in theater since she was three, she spent the next 70 years acting, directing, writing, and producing shows for radio, television, stage, and dinner theater. Many of us remember her behind the scenes as well, painting sets, striking sets, running lights or sound, ushering folks to their seats, and cracking jokes from behind the Snack Bar in the OBT Lobby. Her first love was Children's Theater because she felt the performing arts could be such a strong positive influence on anyone, but especially kids. Tosca moved to the Bay Area in the early 1970's and was instrumental in the establishment of The Bandon Playhouse, The Dolphin Players, the Playwrights American Conservatory Theater, The On Broadway Theater, and the On Broadway Thespians. She was also on the committee overseeing the creation of SWOCC's new Performing Arts Center.

Prior to this, Tosca spent a number of years in Nevada where she was a school teacher, carried the torch as Miss Nevada, and even became a semi-finalist & scholarship winner in the Miss America scholarship Pageant. Married with two kids in tow, Tosca became executive director of Nevada's only YWCA and also worked as a local television performer. In 1970 her family moved to Bandon, Oregon, then Coos Bay a couple years later where Tosca served as director of the Coos County Office of the Oregon State Department of Human Resources Volunteer Program. Though her job kept her busy, she somehow always found the time to devote to her beloved On Broadway Theater.

Our local newspaper, The World, once called her "Our Lady of Infinite Humor." Little do they realize just how SO ON THE MARK that was!

Tosca, you are sorely MISSED!!!

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Gordon L. Ogden

July 13, 1945 to August 14, 1996

With a 30-year span in Law Enforcement, Captain Gordon Ogden also gave back to our community with his involvement in the performing arts. An intregal part of On Broadway Theater for many years, Ogden was a wonderfully talented singer, often lending his rich bass voice to the OBT Dinner Theater singing group. Many will remember his acapella rendition of the National Anthem at various functions and events over the years.

Gordon, we will all miss your world famous BBQ salmon, great sense of humor, and wonderfully sweet smile.

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Don R. Loftus

January 24, 1929 to July 8, 1996

Back in 1979, OBT became the area's first silent movie theater, and lucky audiences were treated to the wonderful live musical accompanients of a very talented and much loved Don Loftus. Playing the piano since age 6, Loftus passed on his love of music through special classical music concerts at On Broadway Theater, as well as through his involvement with the local public school music program (a pet project dear to his heart). For years he toiled as a piano technician & tuner, traveling from Lincoln City to Brookings, and often taught private piano lessons on the side. Loftus loved classical and ragtime and went on to lend his musical talents to the Carnival Theater at the U of O, eventually settling in what was perhaps the best role of his life - as the ragtime music player of the infamous Sawduster Theater in neighboring Coquille, Oregon. Vaudeville with all it's melodrama, will NEVER be the same without you sitting at the keys.

Don, wherever you are, look in on us every once in awhile, will you?

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Hope Cahill

? to August 10, 1996

A former member of the Little Theater of Palo Alto, Cahill settled in Coos Bay in 1958 along with husband James. She had studied at the University of Wisconsin, served in the women's Marine Corps during WW II, and was the Choir Director at St. Monica's Church for more than 20 yrs. In addition to raising 4 children, Hope was also a teacher through her Theatre Arts Academy of North Bend for a number of years. Cahill was a much loved and respected Actor and Director, who contributed much to the performing arts in our community, especially for children and young people. Hope especially had a soft spot for full blown musicals, and directed My Fair Lady," "The Music Man," "The Sound of Music," "South Pacific," as well as "The King and I." From 1972 to 1986 Hope traveled up and down western Oregon showcasing a Follies troupe of geriatric crooners and hoofers all over the age of 60.

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Mitch Geisert

? to September 14, 1992

A wonderful Director, Designer, Choreographer and talented Artist/Muralist whose mural on a back wall in the OBT auditorium has weathered countless staging & remodeling endeavers. The mural, depicting a Director and his merry band of actors, was painted when OBT first opened as a silent movie & intimate live theater in 1979. Each time we look upon it, we will forever be reminded of your giving spirit and love of high art.

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(This page last updated February 10, 2019)

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