LAKE WORTH PLAYHOUSE HONORS REYNOLDS AS FIRST RECIPIENT
The stage of the historic Lake Worth Playhouse was transformed into a formal dining room on Saturday evening, February 9, in honor of the Theater’s 60th anniversary. Sitting at the head of the table, entertaining the happy guests gathered about him, was none other than mega star and Palm Beach County resident Burt Reynolds. Reynolds, who looked debonair in a white dinner jacket and black shirt, showed no ill effects from his recent bout with the flu. He was obviously enjoying himself immensely, as evidenced by the continual smile on his handsome face. His signature laugh was often heard echoing off the high beamed wooden ceiling.
It’s not surprising that Florida’s favorite son felt at home at the Theater. For him, the Playhouse’s Diamond Jubilee celebration provided not only a Hollywood style night on the town but also a trip down memory lane. Reynolds was “discovered” by Watson B. Duncan, while a student at Palm Beach Junior College. The theater’s stage, then located at Lake Worth City Hall, hosted some of his earliest performances. When asked what the evening meant to him, Reynolds said, “Tom Wolfe wasn't from South Florida -- you can go home again. I am so touched to be honored by the Lake Worth Playhouse. It truly is a special place"
Saturday evening’s event was both a time for fun and a time for recognition. Reynolds many contributions to local theater and the world at large were celebrated with the presentation of the Playhouse’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. Michael McKeich, Lake Worth Playhouse Board Chair introduced Reynolds by offering a video compilation of his amazing body of work, which kept the audience glued to their seats. Early happy birthday wishes were included. Reynolds turned 77 on February 11.
During a post event interview, Event Chair Susy Diaz remarked, “Welcoming Mr. Burt Reynolds back to the Lake Worth Playhouse during our 60th Anniversary was a remarkable experience. He is a true gentleman, who understands the importance of being of service to his community.”
Diaz also spoke of the very emotional moment when Burt Reynolds addressed 13-year-old Marlin Wagner, who has been an acting student at the Playhouse since he was eight. Reynolds praised the young man for his talent and asked if he hoped to pursue a career in the arts. When Marlin replied in the affirmative, Reynolds advised him, “Don’t let anybody ever, ever talk you out of it.” According to Diaz, the audience struggled to control their tears.
In between greeting guests and shaking hands, Reynolds posed for pictures with many of the attendees. Watching the master in action left no doubt that he was still capable of stealing hearts like a true Bandit.