Connected Threads

Somebody, crowd me with love,
Somebody, force me to care,
Somebody, make me come through,
I’ll always be there,
As frightened as you,
To help us survive
Being alive,
Being alive,
Being alive!

Sung by Bobby in Stephen Sondheim’s Company, originated by actor Dean Jones. Company premiered on Broadway in 1970. The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards (the show won six).

American actor Dean Jones was born on this day in 1931 (died 2015).

Mug Shots
(click the pic)

While Jones originated the part of Bobby in Company, he left the show after a month due to marital problems. He was perhaps best known for his roles in Disney movies, including That Darn Cat!, The Love Bug, and The Shaggy D.A.

In the early 1950s, Jones attended, but did not graduate from, my alma matter, Asbury University (then Asbury College). He later returned to Kentucky to help raise funds for the Miller Media Communications Arts Building, a state of the art facility where my son studied film production. Memorabilia from Jones’ films is on display in the halls of the building.

Jones returned to his Christian faith later in his life. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 84.

As a theater student at Asbury, I knew Jones had attended there. We didn’t know many of the details or why he left. We’d been led to believe it was because the theater program wasn’t adequate for what he wanted to do. Perhaps that’s the case.

When my wife and I were there, the theater department was accepted as a necessary segment of the speech department, but there was no drama major. Nor was there a theater. Our plays were either performed in the chapel, where they had to adhere to the strictest of standards and censorship (don’t make me have to explain to you why that was not a bad thing). Or we’d perform on the floor of the gymnasium where we generally had about two weeks to build a set, perform a show, and strike the set.

Fortunately, these days there’s a black box theater and other places for performing. That’s a good thing.

I never met Jones, but I think perhaps my son might have while he (my son, not Jones) was a student there.

But I find it fascinating that there’s this Asbury connection with someone I used to watch at the Saturday matinees in my hometown in Southwest Virginia.

I’d never heard of Asbury at that point. And I had never considered being an actor at that point (at least I don’t think so).

I’ve talked before about how I didn’t pursue theater work following college. That’s another long story.

In another part of the story, my Oracle of Bacon connection to Dean Jones is a 3. Never mind that I was an uncredited extra in my qualifying film.

I digress.

As I wrote yesterday, we all have stories. And in some way or another, whether immediate or distant, the threads of our stories are all connected. They all weave this sort of tapestry of this thing we call life.

There’s a lot of bickering going on in Washington and on social media these days. Maybe if we’d pay a little more attention to our connections, we’d get along a little better.

Maybe that’s what Being Alive is all about, Charlie Brown.



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