The vibrant and vital Cranbrook theatre community gathered to honour one of its most prolific and important members on Tuesday, July 15, at the Studio Stage Door.
Terry Miller, active as a director and promoter of community theatre in both Cranbrook and Kimberley, was the recipient of the Eric Hamber Award, Theatre BC’s most prestigious award.
The award was presented this weekend past in Kamloops, at Theatre BC’s annual festival and awards ceremony.
The award, named after a former Lieutenant Governor who was a great supporter of the arts, is considered a manner of “lifetime achievement” award, though as speakers at the reception in Cranbrook remarked, Miller still has a long way to go.
CCT director Kevin Higgins first spoke about Miller’s 35 years of involvement, in all capacities — actor, director, and steward of the heritage Studio Stage Door building — and how the nomination process unfolded.
Higgins told of how Bud Abbott (who, incidentally, was the 2005 winner of the Eric Hamber Award) approached him one day, invited him for lunch and said that Miller would be a likely candidate for the Eric Hamber Award.
Higgins set about compiling testimonials for the nomination, and noted how swiftly and heavily they came in.
“Terry’s been involved with community theatre for over 30 years,” Higgins said. “And Terry doesn’t do things in a small way … There hasn’t been a set that’s been made without Terry having something to do with it.
“His passion for community theatre is inspiring and catching. His idea is to have fun and do something you can be proud of.
“His (directing) work is constant and prolific, but his work for (community theatre) is the overriding factor.”
Higgins mentioned Miller’s efforts in getting the community at large involved in community theatre, in both communities — the recent production of “Calendar Girls,” for example, bridged the gap between Kimberley and Cranbrook.
Never had there been a community theatre play that played one week in Kimberley then moved to Cranbrook for another week.
Miller thanked everyone for being involved in not only the nomination for the Eric Hamber, but for their work with community theatre, which is part and parcel with his.
“People in my position don’t do this for awards or recognition,” he said.
“So when (there are awards and recognition), there are always others involved as well. All of us here are doing this without expecting anyone to acknowledge it.”
Miller added that to direct plays “is the coolest thing in the world.”
Bud Abbott, winner of the 2005 Eric Hamber, also spoke.
“Let me be the last to congratulate you,” he said, to much laughter.
Abbott first mentioned Higgins, who took over the nomination process.
“I approached Kevin with this idea — the merits of Terry Miller for this award — and he grasped it immediately and ran with it,” Abbott said.
Abbott, who has made no small contribution to local community theatre himself, said that compared to Miller, his efforts “pale in comparison.”
“The work that you have done, in all respects, for this community theatre, is just phenomenal, and I hope you continue with it,” Abbott said.