The Cambrian

Lady Tie Di: More than entertaining, play is a community nexus

Shannon Jackson and Tigg Morales bring the backdrop of ‘Suessical the Musical’ to life.
Shannon Jackson and Tigg Morales bring the backdrop of ‘Suessical the Musical’ to life. PHOTO BY DIANNE BROOKE

I kind of feel sorry for people who don’t live in Cambria with kids, either move here with them or have them while they’re here. Not only is this a wonderful place to raise children—clean air, surrounded by nature, great schools, small town that looks after each other — it’s the best way to “experience” our village, to meet people, to be part-of-something-grand.

Retired? Single? No problem. There are many ways to tap into the youthful energy that bubbles along around us. One of the biggest events of full-community-time-investment is the Coast Union High School musical staged every year. Thankfully, in recent years, they’ve held the production two weekends instead of one. The amount of work that goes into it …

Held in the high school gym (it will be moving to a more comfortable and more professional setting next year, I believe, at the Theater at the Old Grammar School), these plays are an “all hands on deck” affair. I was helping dab on some paint recently to the fabulous sets designed and drawn out by Tigg Morales. She gave those of us with less artistic means a paint-by-number schematic to follow, making it easy for anyone to pick up a brush and lend a hand.

My son ( “you will do something other than just play football”) had helped load set pieces built off-site and painted a rolling structure for the set and is now tapped to help with the sound. I’m not nervous. Director Extraordinaire Kirk Henning is at the helm and will make sure everyone does well. He amazes me with how he pulls everyone together and inspires the kids.

Looking around me as I was trying to keep my orange paint within the lines, the school librarian was to my left and someone’s grandmother was to my right. Tigg, herself, runs a real estate office with her husband. To the side, shaping Styrofoam trees endlessly, was grammar school teacher Joe Sassaman.

“Backstage,” I saw a local plumber, contractor, electrician, shop owner, Realtor, heavy equipment operator, parents, retired community members and kids of all ages. No competition, no pressure other than to get the “curtain” hung securely and straight, to get the lights angled correctly (parents, Lani and Joe Zaragoza, have secured professional lighting rigs for the performance) and get all the feathers sewn in place on the girls’ costumes.

The orchestra will consist of students, professional musicians and other community members. In the chorus, you’ll find whoever raised their hand and said they’d like to sing—vocal coach, Ruth Fleming, among others. Elementary and middle-school aged youngsters were prancing along in a dance number in rehearsal.

Seamstresses, artists, musicians, guys-who-can-carry-heavy-things, people who can hang posters or sell tickets…what do they say? “It takes a village?” It couldn’t be more evident than on this production of “Suessical the Musical.” Even if you can’t help behind the scenes, you can lend your support by coming to see the result of all this hard work. Taste the spirit of Cambria at its youngest, freshest level!

E-mail Lady Tie Di, aka Dianne Brooke, a member of the Coast Unified School District Board of Trustees, at tiedi @, or visit her Web site at