Between l969 and 198l we became foster parents for l8 children and adopted two of them. The one thing that I insisted on was that all of my kids and my foster kids would be exposed to the arts — music, voice, dance and especially acting.
Lisa, my l0-year-old daughter, and I eventually ended up at Massillon Ten Star Theatre, and that was the start of it all.
Lisa had been performing since she was 4 years old. She wanted to audition for the little girl part in “South Pacific.” She did and got the part. Extra women were needed to play the nurses, so I joined the cast.
It was a fun time for three years, but the driving back and forth four and five nights a week became a challenge. That is when Ten Star said it would help us begin a theater in our own community.
Ten Star helped us start the North Canton Playhouse in l976. I have been the artistic director there since that time. In l984, I was asked to become the theater director for Walsh University’s Genesius Drama Troupe and still continue in that position. It has proven to be a great collaboration between North Canton Playhouse and Walsh.
My other passion in life is working to make life better for all animals in our community. I started the Coalition for Animal Concerns in May 200l, and it has become a strong presence in the community dealing with animal situations. We currently are building a lowcost spay/neuter clinic with the support of our Stark County commissioners.
North Canton Playhouse has been a strong supporter of the Coalition since its inception.
I still serve on the boards of the Coalition and the North Canton Playhouse.
ABOUT MARY MCMANAWAY
WHAT: Founder of the Coalition for Animal Concerns, artistic director for North Canton Playhouse, theater director for Walsh University’s Genesius Drama Troupe.
EDUCATION: Penn Commercial Business College; numerous directing workshops
AWARDS: Received the Stark County Wall of Fame recognition in 2002.
COMMUNITY BOARDS: North Canton Playhouse, Coalition for Animal Concerns, founded the Epilepsy Foundation in Stark County in l974.