After 11 years as the manager of REM Lee Theatre, theatre maven Karla Hennig has taken her final bow.
“The ride has been incredible,” she said. “It’s a fantastic gig. I could probably do it for another five years, but my husband’s retired, and it’s quite a physical job. There are lots of things I want to do – hike, travel – and this isn’t the type of job you can just go away from for a little while.”
As theatre manager, Hennig has been involved in countless productions at REM Lee – everything from her first event, a Jehovah’s Witness conference, to yearly high school productions of Shakespeare and musical theatre, graduation ceremonies, ballet.
“Just about every show has a magical moment,” she said. “I get this feeling of real happiness. I think it’s because there’s always the potentiality for a perfect show.”
Not that every show has run smoothly, she’s quick to point out. She’s seen people throw up, get nosebleeds, break legs.
“I don’t have a typical day,” she said.
When Hennig first came to the theatre, the systems were really old and couldn’t support some of the acts that wanted to come into town. REM Lee is a roadhouse, meaning that travelling acts book out the theatre – so long as the theatre can support their technical needs.
“The community really stepped up to the plate,” she said. Noting that over the years the community has given upwards of $200,000 to support the theatre and revamp the lighting, the sound systems, monitors and cameras.
The school boards have been instrumental in keeping the theatre running, as well as service groups, grants from individual patrons and the local Rotary Clubs, she said.
Hennig’s always been involved in theatre, both on the stage as an actor and behind the scenes as a writer and director, but it’s been tough for her to commit wholeheartedly to a large project because of her demanding schedule at REM Lee.
That doesn’t mean she hasn’t found time to be active at Terrace Little Theatre over the years,
“I’ve lived in a lot of towns, and the quality at Terrace Little Theatre is generally very, very high,” she said.
Her next project is shaping up to be a play about the history of women in Terrace, and she’s excited to have some more time to focus on writing, directing and acting.
“I have no plans to leave this community,” she said.
But she is leaving the community for a short while. Hennig and her husband are taking off in their blue VW van to explore the Grand Canyon and do some hiking and camping on the Gulf Islands.
The loose plan is to be on the road for 4 months.
As a final send-off, Hennig’s friends and colleagues at the theatre threw her a surprise party on June 3 in the form of a two hour theatre revue, complete with speeches, dances, and short skits.
“I can’t say enough about it,” she said. “I was pretty much a puddle for most of the night.”