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Around Town: Roast for Marcus Walker

Burn to Shine

Late last year, the theatre community gathered at Urban Grace Church to honor one of its most outstanding members, Lakewood Playhouse managing artistic director Marcus Walker. The occasion of the roast was Walker’s recent diagnoses with melanoma, but the evening, fittingly, benefited the Playhouse, which has become the Baptist minister’s life work since he took over the struggling theatre in 2001. Over the course of his tenure Walker has increased its operating budget tenfold. On this Monday the community raised more money, along with the director’s spirits.

“I have done my utmost to deliver you the best of what we have to offer this community,” Walker wrote in a note in the Suburban Times online after the event. “In the act of true friendship, the community likewise has continued to support and befriend us.”

On behalf of the community, Aaron Schmookler, artistic director of Gold from Straw Theatre Company, gives Marcus Walker his love.
Walker shares a moment with his wife, Lauren, as his roasters, including Erin Manza Chanfrau, Elliott Weiner and Scott Campbell, join the audience in applause.
Scott Campbell receives a haircut from Scott C. Brown (dressed as a fictional ex-girlfriend of Walker’s), while Jenifer Gillis-Rifenbery and Ali Criss watch. More than twenty people had their hair cut to show solidarity with the artistic director.
Walker speaks to the crowd, who would end up donating twelve thousand dollars toward staff salaries and script fees.
Actor and master of ceremonies Christian Doyle calms the crowd of 350.

Photography by Jason Ganwich for City Arts.

See more in the February 2011 issue   →