Donna Storms has loved theater for as long as she can remember. The first plays she auditioned for were in high school, and she was always cast in the chorus. Spring ahead to 1990 when, in her 40s, she finally got up the nerve to audition for Hello Dolly in her hometown of Southington. She was cast as Ernestina Money, and has been involved in theater ever since.
Initially, Donna performed only in Southington and at a nearby dinner theater. But
in 1998 she gathered her courage and auditioned for Damn Yankees at the Thomaston Opera House. She was cast as Meg! Donna met wonderful people and was thrilled to rehearse and perform in a “real” theater. Other productions in which she has performed in Thomaston include The Man Who Came to Dinner, Babes in Toyland, You Can’t Take in with You, The Music Man, Ragtime, Eleemosynary, Ragtime and Oliver. Her good friend, George Paris, another thespian with a long history at the Opera House, directed many. In addition to performing in and directing productions in Thomaston, Donna has also graced the stage and directed productions at the old Warner Studio Theater in Torrington, Goshen and with the Phoenix Stage Company (now in Oakville).
When asked what her favorite roles have been, she said it was a hard call. Kinda like asking a mother to name her favorite child. She has found that each role is special in its own way, but if forced (and I forced!) would choose Meg in Damn Yankees, Maggie in The Shadow Box, Doris in The Cemetery Club and Jack’s Mother in Into the Woods.
There have been a few productions that taught Donna to avoid a certain playwright, director or venue, but she always learned something from each experience, and came away with unique memories. Like vocal warm-ups next to the dumpster in the parking lot. Squeezing a cast of 40 into a teeny tiny space off-stage. Eating real food on stage. To this day, she feels she should burst into song when she smells roast beef or ziti. Donna’s character has met her demise before the end of the play numerous times, and for a good Protestant girl, she has played a nun at least a dozen times. She definitely knows her way around a wimple.
In addition to being involved in productions, Donna has volunteered at the Opera House box office since she retired from the Bristol School System in 2004. Call on a Friday afternoon and you’re likely to talk to her.
Donna loves every aspect of the theater, and believes that nothing compares with live theater. No two performances are ever alike, and the audience can feel the energy and emotion generated on the stage. She probably directs now, more than performs (she directed The Odd Couple in Thomaston in 2009), and loves the process of taking words on a page and turning them into a living thing. It’s time-consuming, tiring, sometimes frustrating, but Donna Storms wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.
Interview conducted & written by Jane Coughlin