Together on Life's Stage
It began in the back seat of Karin Mappes' car when she taught her young daughters, Abby and Ruth, how to harmonize with whatever song happened to be playing on the radio at the time.
Little did Karin and Abby know that those first few notes marked the beginning of their own lives' symphony.
"I loved music and all of this; when the girls were still infants, everything we did revolved around music and singing," Karin recalled. "We're not the least bit athletic, there's no sports involved - there was no time for that. The arts were the natural thing for us."
"There's the environment you provide for your children and then there's their natural inclination," she added. "When Abby began to show an interest in drama, I began to look for things to encourage that."
That lifelong encouragement has led Abby Mappes to her ESTA (Excellence in School Theater Arts) award-winning performance as Maria in Abington Heights High School's 2013 production of "The Sound of Music." Now, Abby is set to take the stage this weekend as Annie Sullivan in Baptist Bible College and Seminary's production of "The Miracle Worker."
Abby, a freshman communication arts with an emphasis on theater major at BBC, explained that her love for theater has continued to grow since her youth in Cedarville, Ohio, right through her present life in the Abingtons, where she moved to when she was in the eighth grade. She credits Abington-based Ghostlight Productions with fully cementing her love for her craft.
"Everyone at Ghostlight was very kind," Abby said of her first performance with the troupe in "Twelfth Night." "They got me involved in character development. As an eighth-grader, they treated me like a real actor. It was the first time I was involved in an all-adult production. By the end, I felt like a real member of the crew."
Karin Mappes witnessed the love, joy and fun her daughter was having as a member of Ghostlight's team and, remembering how much fun she used to have guiding her daughters with their vocal harmonies, she decided to audition herself.
"Here was my daughter being embraced by these amazing people, who were so good and kind. They made her an integral part of the production. Any time, as a parent, you see your child being loved, you love those people, too," she said. "I was in a stage of life where I wanted to find something I would enjoy. The next year, I auditioned for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' They gave me a role. I was in two scenes but I got to play."
Karin and Abby Mappes have now worked together in several of Ghostlight's annual "Shakespeare in the Park" performances but the mother and daughter are quick to point out that it is something that isn't so much a mother-daughter activity, done together in all ways, but, instead, something they both love that they can share while maintaining their individuality.
"People say, that's so great you get to do theater with your mom, you must be so close," Abby Mappes said. "We are close, but we don't get to spend any time with each other in rehearsals. We've never even been on the same side of the stage."
"Theater is my soul fire, it is what makes me happy," she added. "It is what makes other people happiest when they see me do it, too."
BBC's production of "The Miracle Worker" will take place at the school's Phelps Student Center from Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 24-26, at 7:30 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $8 and may be purchased by calling the box office at 570-585-9000 weekdays from 9-10 a.m. and from 3-5 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.bbc.edu/events. Lead actress in BBC production received love for theater from mother