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JayRob Theatre History Now Available at 20% Discount

JayRob Theatre of Sacramento

I’ve recently discounted the book ‘The JayRob Theatre of Sacramento, Its First Five Seasons.” For the remainder of this month, it is available for a whopping 20% discount. Instead of paying the normal price of $6.95 plus Shipping and Handling, the temporary 20% discount will bring the price down to $5.56 plus S & H. Now is the time to order a copy for yourself and copies as gifts for others.

I studied under Sac High Drama Instructor Robert ‘Bob’ Wyman at Sac High, worked with him for most of the early years of the JayRob theatre, and taught with him as a cohort at Cosumnes River College. This is a brief history of JayRob’s first five seasons, including short biographies and a photo of Bob, his parents Justus and Alice, and with photos of his good friend and JayRob stage manager, Phil Bettens, plus Bob’s wife, Diana (Lions) Wyman. The bios came from personal interviews with each of the Wyman triumvirate, back in the early 1960s. The book also includes names of participants (actors and staff) and photos of several of the productions during that five-year span.

You can purchase the book at Just put in the word: JayRob in [Bookstore] and click on the search symbol.


Lewis, Barbara Lee obituary


Barbara Lee Lewis passed away on October 18th, 2003.

Barbara was born on a logging camp on January 30th, 1927 in Marcola, Oregon, to a pioneer family who later moved to Salinas, in Monterey County, California. She fell in love with theatre there.

WW II sent her to work in the shipyards in Seattle, where she met her husband, Navy Lieutenant James Ford Lewis.

Ford became a Unitarian Universalist minister; Barbara continued as an actress and became a mother.

From 1952 to 1970, Ford led churches in Riverside, Stockton, Portland, Oregon, and the Unitarian Universalist Society in Sacramento, where he retired after 10 years.  Ford passed away in 1998, and Barbara returned to Portland.

Barbara was active in UU Society activities and as a clerk for the Federal Courts, but throughout, she acted: at Jayrob Theatre, Music Circus, Sacramento Civic Theatre, Stagedoor Comedy Playhouse, and others.

She could do Ibsen, but she loved farce, and felt bad for anyone who couldn’t just enjoy it for what it was.

She was unique, and is already missed.

Barbara is survived by James Ford Lewis Jr., Bronwen Lee Gadeberg, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Robert Bradford Lewis, their spouses, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

A memorial will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Society, Saturday, December 6th, 1:00PM.

Remembrances to LVN Hospice, 2701 NW Vaughn, St. 750, Portland OR 97210.

—–Obituary provided by Mary McDonald Lewis (daughter)

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fritschie, Sherrill A. Obituary

FRITSCHIE, Sherrill A.

Born September 1, 1929 in Lakeview, Oregon. Passed away November 24, 2012 at U.C. Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, CA at the age of 83. Sherrill was preceded in death by her husband Paul, infant son, parents Floyd and Wilma Bradley and sister Sharon. Sherrill is survived by her stepson Bill Kemery and cousins Nancy Bradley and Bonnie Callantine. She attended McClatchy High School, graduating in 1947 and then attended Sacramento State Junior College. Sherrill spent 62 years in Theater with Jay Rob and Studio City Playhouse as an actress, singer and dancer. She had starring roles in the productions of Dulcy, Irma LaDuce, Charley Brown, Guys and Dolls, Carousel and Can Can, which was the longest running musical in Sacramento’s history. Graveside services will be held on Friday, November 30 at 1 o’clock at Sierra Hills Memorial Park at 5757 Greenback Lane. Guest book is on line for one year in which family members and friends may express their condolences. Published in The Sacramento Bee on November 29, 2012

To view and/or comment on Sherrill’s guest book, click on the following link:

JayRob Website Hit 5,000 times.

Readers of the JayRob Theatre Web Site have hit the site over 5,000 times, as of today’s date.

If the total hits indicated individual people, it would be enough to fill more than 10 Boeing 747 jetliners to ________________ (fill in the blank with your preferred destination).

Of the 5,000 hits, the top 21 items being hit include the following:

Home page   / Archives 441
Season 1 Photos      227
PHOTOS      210
Season 2 Photos      191
Martin, Harry Obituary      158
Season 6 Photos      145
Season 3 Programs      98
Bonetti, Fred Jr., Obituary      94
Phil Bettens: I Remember . . .   Seventeen Years of JayRob      93
The Original Term Paper      91
Season 1 Programs      91
Runyon, Jean Hamilton Obituary      90
Wyman, Robert Obituary      75
Perea, Carol Obituary      72
HISTORY      72
Season 6 Programs      70
Personnel – First Five Seasons      63
Ickes, John Z. Obituary      60

CALL FOR . . . . . Old JayRob Programs

If you have any of the former JayRob programs (Fridays/Saturdays, Wednesdays, Sundays, Jazz Programs, Children’s Programs, JayRob South, etc.), Dick Baldwin is interested in them. Programs from productions from Season Five (1960-1961) through Season Seventeen (1972-1973) are especially needed. They are needed for the purpose of listing all participants (Cast and Staff) for the publication of the complete history of “The JayRob Theatre of Sacramento.”

If you have no need for retaining them, you may send them (or a photocopy) to:

Dick Baldwin
2924 Highland Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95818

Sorry, I can’t guarantee return of originals.

or, if you can scan them and convert them into jpeg files, Email them to:

From Burlesque to B Street

JayRob History


On Tuesday evening, April 24th, a packed auditorium was able to listen to a panel of Sacramento theatre professionals and non-professionals describe the history of live theatre in Sacramento from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present.

The panel consisted of Melanie Smith, Mary Ellen Burns, Ray Tatar, Dick Baldwin, Larry Shumate and James Wheatley. Each participant had approximately seven minutes to present their portion of the discussion.

Mary Ellen Burns discussed the history from the Eagle Theatre to the middle of the twentieth century, and although she had a marvelous series of photos to illustrate that history, including some of the JayRob actors, technical problems presented the projection of those photos to take place. Ray Tatar discussed theatre from then to the present, including references to the JayRob theatre, including the vaudeville background of Justus and Alice.

I discussed the importance of documenting theatre history and touched on the impact which JayRob had on theatres that followed its run. Larry Shumate highlighted the impact of the Sac State theatre program and James Wheatley discussed his involvement with the Celebration Arts Theatre.

The presentations were limited to about 7 minutes each and provided a unique perspective to the program.

As I began my presentation, I read a brief statement, which follows:

When Larry (Shumate) and I were at a reception recently honoring the donations of the Gerard and Georgia B. Larson Theatre Collection to the Sacramento State University Archives, I was struck by a comment made by Georgia, which I will paraphrase:

“Stage Theatre is the only art form that has a high degree of impermanence.”

Think of that comment. Once a stage production or series of productions have ended, the only permanence is in the memory of the contributors and the audience. Once those individuals are gone, the art of the productions is gone.

Compare that with other art forms: sculptures and paintings will often outlive their artists by generations, even centuries. Movies have a built-in permanence through film reels. Even radio and television programs, through the use of audio and video recordings, can be shared throughout the years, way beyond their production dates.

That’s why it is so important for Sacramento to consider a Museum of Sacramento Theatre History, and why I am attempting to honor a major contributor to that history by writing a book on JayRob, the Sacramento theatre company named for the nicknames of the father-son combination, Justus and Robert Wyman. JayRob had its beginning over a half century ago and now includes only two persons still living who were active contributors throughout its seventeen seasons.

The first of these is Diana (Lions) Wyman, who had the female lead in JayRob’s initial production, ‘Oh, Men! Oh, Women!’ in 1956 and, in addition to several additional roles throughout the years, was also the publicity director and graphic artist for most of that time. Her contribution expanded when she married the Rob of JayRob early in the series and began another major chain of theatrical events through their children and grandchildren.

The other living contributor is Phil Bettens, a long-time friend of the Wyman family who was the technical director and stage manager for the main programs throughout JayRob’s entire existence, and who was the best man at Bob and Diana’s wedding.

I’m attempting to honor JayRob’s contribution to Sacramento theatre by co-authoring, with Diana and Phil, ‘The History of the JayRob Theatre of Sacramento, 1956 – 1973.’ It’s a major feat, but one which I look forward to completing before the three of us pass away.

I currently have a website, which contains much of the material which eventually will find its way into the book: I urge you to log on and add any posts that you consider of importance.

I then spent the rest of my time briefly discussing the seventeen seasons of JayRob. I asked if any in the audience had participated in any JayRob productions, and received three responses: one was a member of the panel, Mary Ellen Burns. A second was a lady who indicated she was in one of the later season’s shows. A third was a man who said he had worked with Justus Wyman (assumedly on one of his shows) at McClellan Air Force Base.

The rest of the evening was spent in a Q & A format. At the end, Melanie summarized the discussion by indicating the extent to which theatre is alive in Sacramento.

From Burlesque to B Street

Justus Edwin 'JAY' Wyman

Robert A. 'ROB' Wyman

Robert A. 'ROB' Wyman

Melanie Smith will moderate a panel discussion and presentation on the History of Sacramento Theater, with Ray Tatar and James Wheatley as panelists. Other panelists will include Dick Baldwin (JayRob Theatre) and Larry Shumate (CSUS Theatre).The discussion will take place at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 at the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Building, 5380 Elvas Avenue, in Sacramento.

Dear Dick:

At Mom’s memorial, you asked me to e-mail you the eulogy I had written. I’m very sorry for the delay in getting it to you, there’s just been so much to do.

Attached, please find the eulogy you requested. If you need anything else, please let me know.


Zanah Michelle Martin


I was going to stand up here today and talk about different aspects of my Mom’s life—about how rich she was in her friendships, about how much of the world she saw despite having so little money most of her life, about the huge crush she once had on MGM star Van Johnson, about the day in 1968 that my father walked into the house and announced that they were voting for Richard Nixon and my Mom walked out of the house without a word and drove off in her car and didn’t come back home for hours, and about the stories she told me of her life, like working as an elevator girl in a large Los Angeles department store in the late 1940s and having that wonderful movie character actress Marjorie Main holler at her from fifty feet away: “Hey, honey, where’s the can?”

I decided that I’m not going to do any of that, because that isn’t the essence of Boots Martin. The core of the mother I knew and loved is right here. This is what was most important to her, and I believe this is the most important thing I can talk about today.

We’re here today, in a theater, because the theater was Mom’s temple, her cathedral, her home. I’m here today, because of the theater. My Mom and Dad met and fell in love while working in a dinner theater.

Thanks to Mom, I was raised in the theater, and I’ve always been grateful, because it gave me a love of theater, and acting, and writing that have enriched every day of my life.

During the first 18 years of my life, I saw almost every single show Mom was in. I couldn’t have been more than six or seven when she performed at the old JayRob theater in Stan Freberg’s United States of America and sang “Take An Indian to Lunch This Week. Show him, we’re a regular bunch this week. Show him we’re as liberal as can be.” I’ve never forgotten that lyric.

From about the age of nine until I went off to college, I cued Mom for every single show she did when she was learning her lines. I cued her when she played a ruthless madam running a string of suburban housewife prostitutes. When I was 12, I cued her when she played Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls—opposite Patt Herdklotz who played Sarah Brown. I even got to watch my mother do a
striptease singing “Take Back Your Mink.” There’s a formative experience for you.

For four years, I cued Mom and watched her in every comedy and farce she performed at Stagedoor Comedy Playhouse. I watched her perform without dialogue in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds at the Eaglet. I cued her for Arsenic and Old Lace with Hazel Johnson, and for her role as Jenny Diver in Threepenny Opera.

My point is this: I grew up watching every aspect of Mom’s work in the theater. I grew up watching her go to the theater night after night to rehearse or perform.

I grew up knowing that theater was the most important thing on the planet as far as Mom was concerned.

Now, my sister disagrees with me. She believes that family was equally important to Mom, and on one level she’s right. But there are other levels.

My father was the master of making huge mistakes. One of the greatest mistakes he ever made was moving our family out of California. He ripped Mom away from her large extended family, tore her away from all of her friends, took her from everything she had ever known.

But in each new city Dad took us to, Mom found a new home in every theater she walked into, she forged new friendships, she created a new extended family. In the theater.

I know that “Broadway Baby” from Follies was one of Mom’s signature songs and she loved it, but I always felt that her signature song, also from Follies, should have been “I’m Still Here,” because it’s a song about survival and determination and acting and it described so much of her life perfectly.

In good times and bum times, Mom acted.

In her rare plush times, she acted. She got through all of the pretzels and beer times . . . acting.

She grew up in the Depression and World War II . . . acting.

She stood up for civil rights and got through all the turmoil of the 1960s by acting.

She survived a crushing divorce by acting.

She watched each of her children fly the nest, and saw her friends grow old and die, and she acted.

She played sloe-eyed vamps, mothers, and did camp and kept acting and loving every minute of it, even though she always worried about learning her lines, even though every opening night gave her diarrhea. She loved all of it.

As a very young child, I didn’t understand why my mother left me each night to go to a theater rather than stay home with me. I didn’t understand then, but by the time I was nine I had figured it out. I knew that Mom loved her family—my sister and brother and I never doubted that we were loved—but Mom loved and needed theater. She literally couldn’t live without it. Theater was her oxygen, her
life’s blood, her reason for being on this planet.

I grew up seeing that, and knowing that, but not fully understanding that until these last few months.

When Mom was blindsided by her diagnosis of congestive heart failure in late August, I watched her passion for acting and her need to do a juicy role in what she called her last musical get her out of her hospital bed and back on her feet and into rehearsal for The Full Monty. As physically weak and emotionally shaken by her illness as she was, if it hadn’t been for that show, I’m not sure she’d have
lived as long as she did.

But she did have that show, and there she was, on this stage, doing what she loved and did best, rehearsing for a play . . . with a bunch of college kids whom she’d ordered to tell her to stand up straight whenever they saw her slouching, and loving it when they did just that. She wasn’t consistently on her A Game yet, and she knew it and it worried her, but she was getting closer and closer with each new rehearsal and I absolutely believed that, along with 300 other people, I’d be cheering her on opening night.

The one thing I wanted more than anything else was to see my Mom triumph once again doing what she loved and needed most in the world.

And I needed to watch her walk onto the stage at this year’s Elly Awards and pick up her long overdue Lifetime Achievement award.

Those truly were the most important things in the world to me.

So, I know you’ll understand and agree with me when I tell you that, when I walked into Mom’s apartment that Friday morning in September and realized that she wasn’t sleeping, the first words out of my mouth were “Damnit, Mom, you weren’t supposed to do this yet.”

Growing up as I did, there were only three people in the world who mattered in that moment, only three people I knew who had to be called immediately: My sister, my brother . . . and my Mom’s director, Pam Downs.

I’m Boots Martin’s eldest child. I understand what’s important.

Sometimes you know something without really recognizing it. What I realized most when Mom died was that for 82 years she lived her passion. There are so few people on this planet who can say the same thing about their own lives.

For 82 years, Boots Martin lived her passion.

She had 82 years of being driven by a deep and powerful need, and love, and finding great joy and immense satisfaction every day of living that passion. In good times and bad times, in the midst of all the mess and happiness that comes with children, and friends, and jobs, and politics, and baseball fever, Boots Martin acted, she directed, she taught children’s theater, she wrote plays and song lyrics. For 82 years, she lived her passion.

That’s the biggest lesson I’ll take from my Mom’s life. That’s the lesson I hope to live for the last 30 or 40 years of my own life. That’s the lesson I hope my son makes his own. That’s Boots Martin’s lesson for all of us:

Live your passion. And stand up straight.

Radio Giant Norman Corwin Dies at 101

Norman and Me at CRC

Though this post may not relate directly to JayRob history, it relates to the impact of my JayRob experience. My work in theatre at Sacramento High School, Sacramento State College and at JayRob influenced my decision to go into teaching, first at Kennedy High School, then Fresno City College, and finally at Cosumnes River College, where I taught all of the radio courses offered at that institution.

My signature accomplishment at CRC, however, was when I began to re-create, on stage, twelve radio productions of the early works of radio icon, Norman Corwin. I had met Norman via a phone hookup from Missouri to his home in Hollywood as I participated in the Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop.

I followed up that call with a meeting in Norman’s home, where he gave me his personal permission to recreate all of his shows, without paying royalties.

Among the twelve productions I directed was his only musical, ‘Radio Primer.’ My students were the only group to even attempt that production in nearly 60 years since its original airing, prompting Norman to venture north to the CRC Campus in Sacramento, where I interviewed him for two hours in front of an audience of staff and students, and where he attended one of the performances of ‘Radio Primer.’

Norman was “the poet laureate” of radio, influencing virtually every big name in the entertainment and news industries.