Wick Theatre Marks a Perfect 10 – Seasons— and Celebrates with Glee

When the former Caldwell Theater went dark in spring 2013, drama-lovers in Boca Raton and beyond figured the odds of ever seeing performers on the stage of the venue at 7901 North Federal Highway again were pretty slim. 

Locked doors and a $6 million unpaid mortgage seemed to spell doom for Boca’s widely known, long-time performance center. That is, until Marilynn Wick and her two daughters, Kim Wick and Kelly Wick Kigar, got wind of the woeful shutdown.

Wick, a savvy entrepreneur who owned the Costume World theatrical costume rental business that stretched from nearby Pompano Beach to customers at theaters around the nation, lamented the major loss to the performance community. Despite having never produced a stage show in her life – but willing to give it a shot — she rescued Caldwell by hammering out a lease-to-purchase deal with a bank. She later sealed the transaction by mortgaging the place and officially taking possession.

Amazingly, that all happened more than a decade ago. To honor the Wick’s incredible and ongoing run of success, the theater hosted a “Cheers to Ten Years” gala fundraiser March 30 that drew dozens of past and current performers, lots of tech folk and stage show aficionados to the site that has grown from a drama hall to a performance mecca with a specially redesigned lobby, a museum club and high-end dining room. 

Writing in the evening’s program, Marilynn Wick said a “Herculean task stood before me” in trying to kick-start the Caldwell. “I knew attempting an overhaul on a theatre that had previously foreclosed was not only going to be a daunting task, but it was also perhaps a bit crazy.”

“It was difficult,” she said. “But I’m a fast learner, relishing every lesson that was thrust upon me. And along the journey, I was so blessed to find those who would teach me well. Whether it was through the creatives, business associates or even my customers, I was able to discover and grasp how a good theatre center should run.”

“And even as I was dealt more daunting tasks (the pandemic alone could be a volume of my memories), I was somehow able to weather the storm, learn the lessons and still be standing today. I am so proud of this, particularly when a contingent of my contemporaries was not so lucky.”

Producing shows for some 10 years “may look easy, but that couldn’t be further from the reality of the situation. But, as you know, it’s completing the most difficult of missions that brings us the most pride and satisfaction. And, indeed, I am so proud of all we’ve accomplished here in the last decade. And I am filled with hope and excitement for the next 10.” 

“The future is bright,” she noted, “particularly knowing that whatever obstacle comes my way, I’m ready for it.”          

The gala anniversary celebration’s vast array of events included pre-show cocktails, dinner, entertainment in the museum club followed by a live auction and musical performances in the theater. The rear wall was festooned with playbills from all the shows presented throughout the years at The Wick.

Charles Baran hosted the segment called “Celebrating the past, present and future of The Wick Theater,” a narrative and musical tale about North Boca Raton’s premiere showplace, how it came to be and where it is going. 

A flurry of performers left their mark on stage that night. Special guest star was Hugh Panaro, who appeared more than 2,500 times on Broadway in Phantom of the Opera. Joined by Julia Suriano (“Julie” in Wick’s just-completed Carousel), they sang several tunes from the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic. Panaro also told of his career and offered some tunes from Annie, the first show he saw on the Great White Way as a child.

Adding to the musical mélange, Aaron Bower, who starred in Wick’s Anything Goes, sang that show’s title song. Lourelene Snedeker, who appeared as Mother Superior in Sound of Music, Wick’s first production, reprised her Carbonell-winning song from that show, “Climb Every Mountain.”

Mallory Newbrough performed “Me and Bobby McGee,” part of the Janis Joplin set from Beehive that also won her a Carbonell.

Others jumping into the entertainment arena were Emily Jewel Hoder and Lee Roy Reams.

Taking to the stage for special honors that night was Norb Joerder, who has helmed 23 Wick shows – more than any other director.

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