The curtain went down on an era for West Deptford Little Theatre on Wednesday.
President Susan Schramm handed in her letter of resignation, ending her 38 years as leader of the group she founded with a handful of friends in 1973. Her husband, Joe, the organization’s treasurer, construction leader and technical guru, also resigned at the group’s reorganization meeting.
“I prefer to think of me stepping back rather than stepping down,” Schramm said after the meeting. “It has been a wonderful 38 years and Joe and I are both proud that we could leave the community with an organization as wonderful as WDLT.”
Though their tenure in leadership may be over, the Schramms will still be very present in the life of the organization. The couple have agreed to stay on in advisory positions. In addition, their son, Joe Schramm, 35, was unanimously elected the second president of the group.
The younger Schramm, who was “born into the theater,” was humbled to follow in his parents’ footsteps, and excited for the next era of WDLT.
“My plans are to rebuild the theater, rebuild our membership and restore the name of West Deptford Little Theatre,” he said, referring to recent setbacks and the drop in membership in recent years. “I want to bring back the days of 300-400 members and retain the wholesome quality family entertainment the community has come to expect from us,” he added.
The new president acknowledged his parents’ contributions to the organization, saying, “WDLT wouldn’t be around 38 years later if it was not for them, their hard work and their dedication.”
“This is hard for mom, but she knows what is best for this organization,” he added.
Another long-time theater member, Laura Trace, was unanimously elected vice president. She joined the group in 1975, when she was seven, and has served in various capacities through the years.
The group’s secretary, Elaine Thiemich, was the lone member of the executive board to retain her position. Bill Bennett was chosen as treasurer following Mr. Schramm’s resignation.
A new Parents Association was created at the meeting. The association, which will act as a support system to the theater and will assist in fundraising and other functions, will begin meeting in September. Lisa Rorhman, another former theater member, was selected as the first president of the Parents Association.
Other executive board members include Laura Gallagher as production manager and Loretta Bennett as the group ambassador, a liaison position between the parents and the board.
Mrs. Schramm, a former Catholic school teacher, formed the performing arts group when some of her grammar school children closed a spring musical and asked, “What’s next?”
In response, she joined forces with her husband, recruited high school students interested in performing arts, and produced four shows in their first season–all rehearsed in a backyard in Sherwood on the Green.
Though Mrs. Schramm posted “It is done,” as her Facebook status after the meeting, she made it clear her participation was far from over.
“We will not be far away,” she said after the meeting. “I will still have input into what we do. I will be able to make my own sunshine in my own way, just not as president of an organization that needs to pick up and move forward with the same momentum we had when we started 38 years ago.”