by Rita Charleston
Even though her mother forbade her from attending acting classes at Hedgerow Theatre with all the “beatniks,” Loretta Lucy Miller managed to get there and take those classes eventually.
“I was married at the time, and finally able to pursue a dream,” says Miller, who can now be seen in “The Pearl“ at Old Academy Players, 3544 Indian Queen Lane in East Falls, through March 16. “The Pearl” was written by Barbara Pease Weber, a Germantown native and prolific playwright.
The mystical tale of love lost and found is the story of two middle-aged sisters who live by the sea and share a secret past. They were once mermaids until love for two unworthy sailors left them land-locked and broke.
“When a mermaid falls in love, she can become human, which is what happened to my character Oceana and my sister Coral as well,” explained Miller, a resident of Germantown who requested that her age not be mentioned, “and so, when the men left us, we were stuck on land and had to make the best of it.”
Now, 30 years later, a winter storm strands them with their snooty ex-mermaid cousin Marina, a salty cop named Sheila, a temperamental neighbor named Floyd and Pearl, a beautiful young mermaid who rescues Nathan, a handsome young Coast Guardsman.
Miller, raised in Delaware County, attended Cardinal O’Hara High School, where some of the plays she was in made her dream about joining the theater. She also attended Delaware County Community College for one year but dropped out and was never able to go back.
However, dreams die hard, and Miller was determined that hers would not. Over the years Miller has not only acted but also directed many plays. Some of her favorite acting roles range from “The Fantasticks” to “The Taming of the Shrew” to “The Glass Menagerie” and more. Some of her favorite shows that she directed include “Later Life,” “The Foreigner,” “Bell, Book and Candle” and others.
For several years she worked with the Germantown Theatre Guild touring educational plays to different schools before eventually moving to Atlanta with her husband. Moving back her in 2007, she was able to pick up where she left off and take up acting with local community theaters again.
She says, “I love acting and directing, and no matter which theater I’m in, I always do the best work I can, whether I’m paid or not. I love the whole process. And when it all finally comes together on stage at the end of a run, sometimes my mind goes back to how far we’ve all come and become almost like a family. The experience really bonds you.”
She also loves the fact that her family enjoys seeing her on stage, especially her grandson, 9, and triplet granddaughters who are 7. “My grandson is involved in the children’s summer camp program at Old Academy, and my granddaughters will be going there soon too. Maybe some day in some way, they may be following in my footsteps. I know they are very proud of me.”
Still, the grandkids only see grandmom in certain roles. “I overheard my granddaughter proudly tell someone that she gets to see her grandmother in all her plays, except when it’s inappropriate. I’m very glad this show is appropriate.”
And what of the mother who was afraid of the beatniks her daughter might encounter at Hedgerow? “She came to see all my plays, and I know she was very proud of me,” Miller says. “In the end she approved of what I was doing and told me I was wonderful.”
For tickets to “The Pearl” call 215-843-1109 or visit www.oldacademyplayers.org.