For 47 years, Sarah McLean, affectionately known as “Scotty”, has stepped up to the local stage wielding everything from a script to a hammer.
McLean has devoted more than just time, she has made Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre her second home –– and has served in so many capacities at the theatre, it is impossible to list them all.
That was no more apparent than when McLean found herself on that stage once again as the spotlight turned on her when she was presented with the Eric Hamber Award.
Given to a person, group or institution who has made an outstanding contribution to community theatre in B.C., the award was announced at the Mainstage Festival held in Kamloops in July.
Voted by members of the theatre community, McLean was honoured by many of them, including former Hamber recipient and fellow lifetime Powerhouse member Mary Huggins, who came up from the coast to honour her friend, with a special presentation Saturday at the Powerhouse.
“I was surprised to say the least to receive the Hamber trophy,” McLean told The Morning Star after she was lured to the theatre and surprised with the honour, which also included a visit by Theatre B.C.’s president Glen Miller.
“Being awarded the Hamber trophy is great, but what really counts are the people in our theatre community –– the ones I admire and value the most, who thought enough of me and my contribution to theatre that they would nominate me in the first place. For that I feel honoured and will be forever truly thankful.”
To say that “Scotty” has a passion for the local theatre is an understatement.
Encouraged to join the Powerhouse in 1964 by the late playwright/director Paddy Malcolm English, McLean’s first play saw her starring as one of the children in Jack and the Beanstalk. Her “father” was played by none other than fellow lifetime Powerhouse member Doug Huggins.
“I remember going to that first meeting and wondering if I’d really fit in,” said McLean. “I had heard that Powerhouse was a cliquey bunch, but Rosalie Gower took me under her wing that night and made me feel welcome. Later on I was mesmerized by the kind of sets that Doug Huggins created and started learning and working with Doug on many of them.”
McLean has been involved in more than 100 Powerhouse productions, in one way or another, ever since.
She has won acting, directing and set design awards at both the Okanagan Zone (O-Zone) Drama Festival and the Theatre B.C. Mainstage drama festival, which sees zone winners from all over the province present their respective productions.
In 1975, McLean won best supporting actress at Mainstage for her role in The Cell, and best actress in 1986 for her role as Fries in Talking With. She took the O-Zone and Mainstage awards for best actress in 1994 playing Lettice in Lettice and Lovage.
In 1988, McLean directed Joanna McClelland Glass’ Play Memory, which won best production and best director at the Mainstage festival that year. The play was also entered and won the national drama festival and went on to represent Canada at the International Amateur Drama Festival in Monaco.
That same year, McLean was honoured with the MVP Award from the City of Vernon and was also given a lifetime membership to Powerhouse.
“Over the following years I have learned so much from so many; Dave Brotsky in particular who has been a gift to our theatre, the school district, and the whole community since he came to Vernon over 33 years ago,” said McLean.
And her devotion to the theatre she calls home continues.
As the O-Zone representative, who has served as Powerhouse’s artistic director, she is currently serving her third year as the theatre’s board president, a position she held from 1975 to ‘77 and again in 1988. She also sits on the artistic committee, which chooses the presenting season. (Those curious can visit powerhousetheatre.net to see what plays Powerhouse has in store for this coming year.)
Even as she is honoured, McLean is always looking for new members to join the team.
“If anyone reading this thinks that you’ve always thought about joining one of the best community theatres in the province, come down to Powerhouse, I’ll make sure you feel welcome.”