Cindy Bassuk moved here in 1986 and didn’t even know Scripps Ranch had its own theater company! When she found out about it in 1995, she started attending the productions. She thought about doing something to lend a hand, and a friend suggested she could take tickets. It was a nice job, not too much to do, she said. Cindy accepted, thinking it would be one or two times. A week later she received a note from the Scripps Ranch Theatre (SRT) thanking her for accepting the position of house manager. She’s still there. Turned out she loved it!
And what does a house manager do? For each of the performances–Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon–she brings and sets up tables for tickets and refreshments and sets up the big easel holding photographs of the cast and crew. Prevailing on theater-lovers and friends, she gets volunteers to staff the tables for each performance.
Besides the camaraderie and excitement of being part of the theater experience, volunteers get free admission to the play. After the performance, Cindy is at the door, shaking hands and thanking patrons for coming to the SRT. Then she folds up the tables, takes down the easel, packs up the coffee pot, and puts everything in her car, ready to set up again at the next performance.
Before 1992 the theater had no permanent home and jumped from the Scripps Ranch Swim and Racquet Club to Wangenheim Middle School to an unoccupied store in Mira Mesa to the Vons parking lot. In seasons four and five, there were four venues. Its final resting place is the theater on the campus of Alliant International University, which was renovated with a grant from Legler Benbough. No more having to take down sets or seating risers between shows!
Audiences appreciated the comfortable 118-seat theater, the quality of the productions, and having entertainment in their own backyard. The number of season ticket holders has grown from 65 to more than 1,000. Organizations such as the Welcome Club and Scripps Ranch Women’s Club have organized theater parties, senior centers bring groups on "Senior Sundays," and word of mouth brings others. Casts and crews are from all over the county, as are the audiences.
Cindy has refined her job so there are few glitches these days, but she remembers other days that presented various challenges. During one show, someone’s beads broke on stage, causing the actors to move nimbly to avoid slipping on them. "It was very interesting choreography," Cindy said.
One time, during a heavy rain, a sewer backed up, flooding the refreshment and ticket area. Women were reluctant to brave the ankle deep water, but a man coming out of the theater saved the day. Rolling up his pants legs, he carried female theater-goers to their cars.
There was one instance of a wardrobe malfunction, a Sunday when a bus of 45 broke down and arrived at the theater 20 minutes late–the curtain was held until they got there–and someone got locked in a stall in the bathroom for 15 minutes. Realizing no one could hear her pounding, she crawled under the door and went to see the rest of the play.
A runaway wheelchair caused a stir when a helper stopped to get their tickets and didn’t put on the brake. The chair rolled down into the refreshment area and was stopped by people there, but not before the wheel got stuck on the easel leg and pulled the picture board down on the hapless wheelchair occupant.
There are usually five productions each theater season, sometimes with performances for "the industry," people in other theater companies who can’t get there for scheduled performances. The Scripps Ranch Civic Association buys out the theater one night for its Newsletter distributors, as a special thank you. There are also occasional staged readings and offerings from the Playwrights Project–original works.
Cindy has liked all kinds of SRT plays, but her favorites were: To Kill a Mockingbird, Rumors, Deadly Game, and A Chorus Line. She says audiences prefer comedies, and the most recent production, A Perfect Wedding, was voted by ticket holders as the play they most wanted to return.
Cindy has received a STAR award and an Aubrey for her work with SRT but enjoys many other activities. She has taken cooking classes at our library, participated in its investment group, and taken computer classes at Scripps Ranch High School. Before working full time she walked around Miramar Lake with her pals every morning. She has worked on the Welcome Club newsletter for years and prepares and mails the club directory. She has belonged to bridge groups, plays mah jongg and bunco, and belongs to two book groups.
She is most enthusiastic about the Scripps Ranch Theatre. "It’s a great asset to the community," she says.