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My brother is a show director.  The world is his stage.

He’s been holding auditions, rehearsals, and opening nights for years – long before he was working with a cast or a live audience.

(Actually, he usually had two cast members: our dog and me.  But we didn’t always appreciate his authority.)

This weekend in Orlando, I attended three showings of this year’s performance of Encore Performing Arts: Finding Wonderland.  A full cast, choir, and orchestra.  And not a single one of them was pretend.

As the beginning overture swelled and the lights swept across the stage, I saw with my own eyes the vision he had always seen in his imagination.  As we grew up together, our basement was his theater, our back patio was his stage, and the green acre of our backyard was lined was invisible stadium seating.

I cried a lot that first night in the audience.  It’s good that I got to see it more than once, so I could actually watch it the second time without crying, crying, crying.  And it’s good that I got to see it more than twice, because I wanted to.

I think, for all of my days, I shall never tire of seeing my brother in his element, watching his handiwork on the stage, and hearing the audience cheer.

My brother didn’t grow up in a performing arts community.  He led the pack in our circle of friends and family, introducing most of us to theater through his big ideas, his tickets for sale, and eventually his stage debut.  He speaks with great emotion of the day he moved to Orlando, of his first series of real auditions in the field of paid entertainment, of looking around the casting room and realizing he was no longer a fish out of water.  He was surrounded by dreamers, a sea of people who had grown up thinking they too were alone in their passions.  In the theater, they found each other.

And yet, as he explored all the roles on the stage and behind the curtain, his favorite spot emerged with clarity: he is a director and producer at heart.

This weekend, I watched three of his six shows, each in a sold-out theater, all of the proceeds donated to a nonprofit.

I was the first to stand in the ovation and the last to finish the applause.  It was amazing.

The next time you go to the theater, when the actors line the stage to bow and receive applause at the end of the night, watch for the gracious nod they give to the back of the theater.

They’re giving due credit to the director.

His family is probably in the audience, and they’re cheering for the one you cannot see.

Encore, Rob.  Encore.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. He is one of the most talented people I know and there is no one I trust more to direct the words I have written. His instincts are impeccable. You are right to be proud.

  2. Outstanding!!

  3. How great to know one is using one’s gifts!

  4. I ,remember Rob at the The Chapel in Akron. We had just started attending the Chapel and my two girls were involved in the kids ministry. They rehearsed many days for the musical, “Psalty”. Rob played the character, ‘Risky Rat’!! He was awesome at that part!! I still have pictures of that time.

  5. Most of my memories from Green High include Rob. His antics were always causing laughter everywhere he went impressions of Mr. Gallagher (and any other teacher for that matter), shushing the choir classroom only to realize we weren’t supposed to be quiet, and his many performances in musical theater class….all classic Rob. I was privelidged to bop alongside him during Ensemble and everyday I hear about how his dream is becoming reality makes my heart feel full. Love him and always will!

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