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Curtain Call for West Deptford Little Theatre's Founders

Sue and Joe Schramm stepped aside at the group's reorganization meeting.

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.”

Susan Schramm August 25, 2011 at 02:37 PM
I would like to thank Mary LeBeau and "Patch" for the kind words and thoughts. WDLT is a wonderful organization, one that I'm proud to say both of my children grew up in. More proud now that my daughter travels down from Blandon, Pa every summer so my grandson can participate and now that my son is at the helm. God bless any and all who have been part of our lives. Mrs. Schramm
Patty Watts August 25, 2011 at 09:17 PM
If Joe Schramm's production of "Back To The 80s" this summer is any indication of what he is capable of, WDLT will be in good hands! The group of adults who have accepted new positions on the board and committees really bring a lot of energy to WDLT. If there is one thing these people know - it's theatre! Thanks for another great summer! We are looking forward to many more!!
Steven Wexler August 26, 2011 at 04:46 PM
The years I spent with WDLT in my childhood are some of the warmest and happiest in my life. I've met many life time friends there and Mrs. Schramm challenged me to use the skills I have to do the best I can. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Shramm for all you have done for the community, you've created such a wonderful organization. I will be 43 this year and still have the award we all received for Grease sitting on a bookshelf in my home-you've made a great impression on me. Thank you again for such wonderful memories. Steven Wexler
Susan Schramm August 26, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Dear Steven and other theatre family... You have no idea how wonderful you have made me feel... very heartened because the things you talk about don't seem to compare to the gifts I received through the years.. the love and the opportunity to become part of "all whom I have met"... I've taken away the best of each and every one of you... It is wonderful. God bless... SS
Diane Denzler August 29, 2011 at 12:28 AM
I STILL remember the words (and some of the dance steps!) to "The Funny Bunny Rag" from the show "The Velveteen Rabbit". Most memorable show was "Oklahoma"--still have the poster. But what will stay with me forever was running down the aisles from the back of WDHS auditorium before the shows started singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses". Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Schramm, for some of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life!! Diane Denzler

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