Last fall I met Marilyn Brown, an award winning novelist who is well-known in the west. She and her husband are multi-talented, I discovered, when I visited their gallery in Springville, Utah. Both are accomplished artists. And Bill Brown has a long history of theater credits to his name as theater owner, actor, producer and director, and, in the case of Rockrollers and Pancakes, writer and director. He gave my sister and me free tickets to that night's performance. Loving regional theater as I do, I wasn't going to miss it.
Rockrollers and Pancakes is a touching drama based on real events Bill experienced as he was growing up. His father suffered a serious injury on the job, and the family lost their home as a result. They lived for several months in a tent in a nearby canyon. I hope this actually happened in the spring or summer, as Utah winters can be brutal. Bill told us that for him and his brothers, it was great to camp in the canyon, as they could fish and hike to their hearts' content. He didn't realize the dire situation his parents faced until he was older.
(I should add that I'm not exactly sure what rockrollers are, but I think they're worm-like creatures that live on the underside of rocks in the river. I looked up the term on the web, but all I found were references to rock collectors' clubs and rock and roll, and I'm sure those two elements weren't mentioned in the play. Well, there was a brief reference to Elvis, now that I think about it.)
As the play unfolded there were chuckles and tears from the audience, and appreciative, enthusiastic applause at the end. The best part of the evening, however, was glancing at Bill now and then to watch the expressions that crossed his face. I imagine he was pleased to see his drama produced again, and that he was justifiably proud of his cast. I also think he reflected with a tender heart on those days when his parents made a good life for their family despite very difficult circumstances the children couldn't fully understand at the time.
I hope Rockrollers and Pancakes is produced again and again. It's a play about hope, never giving up, and unbreakable family ties.
Isn't that a great message for us today?