We're forever hearing about the many loves and marriages
among Hollywood stars, but Dallas
has its share of stage romances, and three of them have played out over the
years on the stages of Theater Three.

It all started in 1960 when a young off-Broadway
actress/stage-manager, Norma Young, returned to her home in Dallas
in 1960 to care for her ailing mother. I
recall Norma telling me the story at intermission one night at Theater Three
many years ago. She said there was no
place for her to act in Dallas, so
she decided to start her own theater.

 

Dallas in 1960
was a theatrical wasteland. Dallas
TheaterCenter

had opened the year before as a training center for the graduate program of Baylor
University
under the direction of
Paul Baker. It was not an Equity house,
and Norma was not a graduate student at Baylor. Norma was acting and directing wherever she could. Said Jac Alder (her
husband -- but more about that later), "she had accepted a directing job
at a long-since-vanished theater...a disgraceful operation in an old church
near Fair Park ... it was a pathetic little community theater called Way Off
Players  I met Norma at an open audition
call for that company. She cast me in
her production of Pirandello's Six
Characters in Search of an Author
that was very favorably reviewed. It was
also in that production that I…met Esther Ragland and Bob Dracup who were, as I
was, recruited by Norma to begin Theater Three in 1961."

 

As Jac and Norma began working together at their first small
space at the old downtown Sheraton Hotel, they found they were spending all
their waking hours together. Jac suggested that since they were always together,
they may as well get married. Norma
agreed, but always the maverick, she insisted she did not want to be a June
bride. They married July 1, 1961.

In those days, marriage vows had the bride promising to:
"love, honor, and obey" her husband. Jac recalls: "Norma said:
'you can leave in the "love" and "honor," but cut the obey.'"

Through the years, Jac and Norma directed each other in
plays. They didn't perform together
often, but Jac describes as "memorable" the times they did. One such
occasion was in their space in the old seat-cover garage on

Main
Street
as husband and wife in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, a staging I still recall
as the best production of that play that I have ever seen. They also shared the
Theater Three stage as husband and wife in Morning's
at Seven
and took leads opposite each other in Wilde's A Woman of No Importance.

 

The romance of Jac Alder and Norma Young, both onstage and
off-stage lasted until her untimely death in April, 1998.

Another husband-wife acting team frequently seen onstage,
both together and separately, are Amy Mills Jackson and Doug Jackson. Amy, also
T3's box office manager, and Doug met at the old Esquire Theater on Oak
Lawn
in 1982. Amy saw Doug in a production of Hair, for which T3 Musical Director Terry Dobson was subbing as a
piano player. Although Doug admits to
being fuzzy on the facts, he thinks Terry introduced them that night.

They met again in March 1982 at the old Dallas Repertory
Theater at an audition for Two by Two. Doug recalls, "Amy remembers this event
clearly; she was taken aback by what she perceived as my "shmoozing"
the director as we entered the room together..."  Actually Doug had worked at Dallas Rep before
entering college and was just catching up on old times after a long
absence. 

Doug said: "We really got to know each other when we
were in rehearsal for a touring company of The
1940s Radio Hour
in January 1983, for which Terry Dobson was the musical
director. Amy was coming in as a replacement for the tour I had been out on the
road with for three months." Doug
said they never had an actual "date"; they just went everywhere
together in their spare time while on the road.

 

The first show in which they acted together was Anything Goes, in which they had small
roles in the chorus. They played
opposite each other as Lucy Brown and Peachum in The Threepenny Opera.

Doug and Amy married in May 1984 and have two daughters,
Emily, 18, and Abigail, 15. Following in
the family tradition, both girls have trod the boards at T3 -- in Children of Eden, which Doug directed
and Amy stage managed. Several seasons
ago, Doug played the lead, Argan, in T3s production of the Moliere comedy, The Imaginary Invalid, while Abigail
played his younger daughter, and Amy was the saucy servant. 

Doug and Amy are currently acting in their fourth revival
together of I Love You, You're Perfect,
Now Change
in Theater Three's downstairs venue.

Lisa-Gabrielle Green and Chris Westfall met when they were
cast opposite each other as the thwarted teen-age romantics in the Tom
Jones/Harvey Schmidt classic, The
Fantasticks,
at Theater Three. As life imitated art, they fell in love
during the run of the show. They later married and have two daughters, Ruby, 11
and Magnolia, four.

 

While Chris now derives his livelihood from the busines
world, Lisa-Gabrielle is a T3 favorite and continues her acting career. She and daughter, Ruby Westfall, just
completed the roles of mother-daughter, Paula McFadden and Lucy, in T3s most
recent production, Neil Simon's comedy, The
Goodbye Girl.

http://www.theatermania.com/images/theater/001042theater.jpg

Key Subjects: 
Romance, Dallas, Theater Three, Jac Alder, Norma Young, Doug Jackson, Amy Mills Jackson, Lisa-Gabrielle Green, Chris Westfall, T3
Writer: 
Rita Faye Smith
Date: 
February 2008
Subtitle: 
A Theater Valentine