Tom Hanks Back Home In Lakewood

In 1977, I was an intern at The Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Lakewood, Ohio (my hometown). I was 20 years old. I had been at college (Hiram College), but quit school to work at the festival and pursue my dream of becoming an actress. For that summer, I was part of that company of actors. I had one line in "Taming of the Shrew" and assisted with props on that show, and I ran sound for "Hamlet" (big mistake for that production). It was, however, an amazing time.

As a company of actors, we have stayed (somewhat) in touch, as Facebook has allowed us to do, and we all share the (absolutely extraordinary) fact that Tom Hanks was an intern with us in 1977; a thread that, over the years, has allowed each and everyone of us to say, ‘Well…I’ve worked with Tom Hanks.’ He has been our touchstone. 

This past January we found ourselves quite shaken by the passing of the leading lady of the company, the beloved Bairbre Dowling. Inspired by the depth of emotion this elicited, and the unspoken acknowledgement that time was fleeting, it was suggested that we have a reunion.

Last weekend, we had that reunion, 39 years later. We have all gone our separate ways, but when we came together, we were that company again…becoming our younger selves, full of hope and dreams

And it was quite a reunion, put together by fellow interns, Mary Beidler Gearen, and, of course, Tom Hanks. We were together from Friday night to Sunday afternoon, visiting old hang-outs – Lakewood Civic Auditorium at Lakewood High School, The Tick Tock Tavern, The Hanna Theatre, the Firehouse where the GLSF offices were, Tom’s house where he stayed on Parkwood Ave., in Lakewood, and of course, Angelos Pizza.

I was incredibly moved by this weekend. We all came together back then with a mutual desire to be artists. We came back together last weekend to again experience that bond that was created.

Sometimes in Hollywood, it’s easy to get caught up in comparisons. Actually, I believe that’s kind of a universal issue; who is prettier, who works more, who has a better car, a better career, and on and on. But that weekend we were ‘just us.’ It was not about fame or riches, it was about love, which to me was profoundly beautiful - and what life (and art) are all about.

Holly Fulger

Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.

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Volume 12, Issue 17, Posted 10:25 PM, 08.16.2016