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Lakewood honors theater director

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on Jan. 5, 2011 at 3:08 pm with No Comments »
January 5, 2011 3:08 pm

The Lakewood City Council on Monday honored Marcus Walker, managing artistic director of the Lakewood Playhouse, for his outstanding public service to the community.

Councilman Walter Neary, who read the proclamation and presented Walker, 53, a copy afterward, began his recitation by apologizing for its length.

“You deserve each and every word,” he said.

Walker said many grapple with life’s trials and personal struggles and the purpose of the theater’s production is to “uplift, redeem and send people off with a new sense of hope that life is worth living.”

He received a standing ovation from the City Council and members of the audience.

Walker has run the community theater for a decade and is currently on medical leave during treatment for aggressive melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. He has had a long career in theater, works as an American Baptist minister and has served as a longtime member of the city Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.

The proclamation described Walker as “one of the most powerful individual influences in the intellectual development of Lakewood through the arts.”

A copy of full text of the proclamation reads:

WHEREAS, 72 years ago, volunteers formed what is now known as the Lakewood Playhouse, holding their first meetings at the Little Church on the Prairie and their first performances in the Lakewood Theater, beginning more than seven decades in which the Playhouse has helped to not only entertain and inspire people from throughout the region, but also give Lakewood a unique identity and build community; and

WHEREAS, in 2001, the Playhouse board hired a former education director for the Tacoma Little Theater, Marcus Walker, who holds a bachelor’s degree in drama from the University of Washington and a Master’s Certificate from Mountview Academy of Theater Arts in London, as the playhouse’s fourth paid staff director; and

WHEREAS, Marcus Walker already had a long career in theater, but has also served his community as a minister, as he holds a Master’s in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School in Boston and was ordained an American Baptist Minister at Fremont Baptist Church in 1985, and is currently a minister at Burton Community Church on Vashon Island; and

WHEREAS, for the 10 seasons he has presided over the Lakewood Playhouse, the longest tenure of anyone in his role, Marcus Walker has helped the playhouse with unprecedented critical and financial growth, increasing the budget by tenfold and bringing in about 14,000 audience members to shows last year: and

WHEREAS, Marcus Walker’s personal commitment to the importance of theater in the life of youth as a force for good as led to the Playhouse’s Youth Theatre Education program serving more than 250 young people a year regardless of their ability to pay tuition; and

WHEREAS, in summary the Lakewood Playhouse is the cultural heart of a diverse community, enriching our community through the stories it tells; its intimate venue provides an unusual theatrical experience and its productions receive strong positive reviews, while at the same time bringing theater in a community outside of the many resources found in larger cities, requiring strong skills in artistic and financial management; and

WHEREAS, Marcus Walker has brought wisdom to his role as a member of the City of Lakewood Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, where his service is valued because Marcus Walker has been one of the most powerful individual influences in the intellectual development of Lakewood through the arts; and

WHEREAS, besides directing countless productions, Marcus Walker has performed himself in as varied a set of roles as Dr. Seuss’s Horton, Petruchio, Lord Cromwell, Dr. Watson and Scrooge, and one of the more challenging roles in current theater, Thurston Wheelis in the Greater Tuna series, in which Marcus Walker in one play must assume 11 roles, both male and female; and

WHEREAS, when confronted with serious illness, Marcus Walker has taken on perhaps his most significant role: becoming  a role model for anyone in a similar situation, bearing his latest challenge with grace and extraordinary humor, agreeing to be the subject of a roast at which several hundred people enjoyed his company and also raised money for the Playhouse. If All the World’s a Stage, and thus all Lakewood a stage, among its most magnificent performers today is Marcus Walker; and

WHEREAS, Marcus Walker everyday is writing a script for anyone else looking illness in the eye in a dramatic, public way, showing more courage, creativity and class than should be possible; and inspiring our Council to honor him today even though it expects him to be directing and performing in plays at the Lakewood Playhouse for many years to come.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Lakewood City Council do hereby express its sincere appreciation to MARCUS WALKER for dedication and outstanding public service to the City of Lakewood, the community and its residents, and on behalf of the residents of the City does hereby express its heartfelt wishes and gratitude for all of the time and effort Marcus Walker has given to the betterment of the community and the City of Lakewood.

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