My thoughts ramble these days, a bit contemplative and laced with grief. The past several days a series of events at Peninsula Players has left company members reeling with a variety of emotions.
Since my last column the Players family has been on a high, celebrating the exuberant opening of “Always…Patsy Cline” for our fall season as well as experiencing utter soul wrenching pain and heartache with the sudden and unexpected loss of one of our own.
If you are internet savvy or read the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal, the Peninsula Players Facebook page, the Door County Advocate, Peninsula Pulse or internet blogs you may know of the sudden and shocking death of actress Molly Glynn on Sept. 6, 2014.
Molly was the beloved wife of fellow company member Joe Foust, a 15-year steadfast veteran of the Players.
Molly made her Players stage debut last season in Joe’s world premiere comedy, “Once a Ponzi Time” playing three very different characters, a loving wife who focused on charity events, a Russian moll loaded with sex appeal and a feisty Irish mixed-martial arts champ, who did not hold back the punches.
If you spent time with Molly, you knew a little bit of her was in each of those characters. She was a loving, beautiful, supportive soul who was very articulate and gave of her time and talent. She was also a mother who loved her two boys, Chance and Declan, and who would joyfully swap stories of raising adventurous boys with a glint of appreciation in her eye.
Players’ patrons first saw Molly at a winter play reading of “Sherlock Holmes” in 2012. Last season, besides performing in “Once a Ponzi Time” she also played the role of Darla in Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” and was in the fall production of Tom Dudzick’s “Miracle on South Division Street” as Beverly.
Long before Molly stepped onto the Players stage for her first performance she was a Player.
Molly would visit with Joe and join the company at meals or run-throughs in the rehearsal hall and serve as a dialect coach. She would visit with staff, interns and the creative teams around the bonfire. She asked about your family. She taught a workshop on dialects to the interns and mentored young performers with tips on cover letters and audition pieces.
Molly performed at several Chicago theaters including Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Northlight Theater, Goodman, Next Theatre, Writers Theatre and First Folio as well as Milwaukee’s First Stage. She played an emergency room doctor on the NBC series “Chicago Fire” and also had television credits for “Boss” and “Early Edition.”
She and Joe loved to bike the trails of Door County. When not on stage or in rehearsal, Molly and Joe biked the trails of the state park or one of the many county roads. You may have met them along the trails or seen them perform.
Her death sparked conversation in coffee shops, blog posts, lines at the grocery store and theological discussions on the randomness of events. If the wind blows at a certain velocity and with certain conditions, a tree is uprooted and the result leaves a lasting impact on many lives.
I have no answers. None of us do. The craft of theater involves asking questions.
“The job is to ask questions-it always was-and to ask them as inexorably as I can,” said playwright Arthur Miller, “and to face the absence of precise answers with a certain humility.”
Molly was an accomplished performer. That her death leaves others contemplative and having conversations around the dinner table seems fitting and purposeful. The ripple of Molly’s presence will have a lasting impact on many, including those whom she did not know.
“Molly was an exuberant person, living life in all ways to the fullest,” said Greg Vinkler the Players Artistic Director. “She loved her husband, kids, family and friends so fully. And she died doing something she absolutely delighted in biking with the man she held dearest in the world. Her journey through life was an inspiration to me and many, many more.”
The events around Molly’s death were unscripted, and Joe has been open about his grief through his Facebook posts, sharing the journey with all.
The theater community across the nation gave Molly a standing ovation through the awe-inspiring support of her memorial fund. In less than 48 hours a community of artisans and patrons alike made donations and shared the sad news. What a great tribe to be a part of, where support is given and received openly, to provide a shoulder to lean on and to help each other stand tall after we crumple.
Molly grew up in Hartford, Connecticut and was a graduate of Tufts University. She is survived by Joe, her two teenage sons, Chance and Declan; her mother, Jacquelyn Glynn; two brothers, Bill Glynn and Gary Tilton; and two sisters, Mary Beth Kelso and Sarah Peters. Plans for a memorial event are pending.
The Players family misses her vitality, zeal and exuberant spirit very much. We wish to thank patrons who have left condolence messages for Joe; we are passing them along.
“Even in death she kept on giving,” Joe said in a recent conversation we had. “Her heart, liver, both kidneys and pancreas went to saving the lives of others. Her heart was so big, I’m surprised it fit in anyone else’s body.
“My hope is she just gave five other people more time in this world to share with loved ones.
“I am absolutely gutted by this horrible twist of fate. But I will strive to live, love and be a better person for her sake.”
The Chicago theater family has set up a specific e-mail account for those wishing to send Joe a note, [email protected], and a memorial fund in Molly’s name: https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/fhp5/the-molly-glynn-memorial-trust. Checks can made out to: The Molly Glynn Memorial Fund and mailed to PO Box 245, Clarendon Hills, IL 60514.
Joe posted on Facebook, “Love hard, people. Love Hard.”
As it says on the back of our theater, Love and Be Loved.
Audra Baakari Boyle is the Peninsula Players Business Manager, celebrating her 20th season in 2014. For information on the Peninsula Players fall production of “Always…Patsy Cline,” visit www.peninsulaplayers.com or phone 920-868-3287.