Each year, Little Lake Theatre Company (www.littlelake.org) presents its own version of a Lifetime Achievement Award to an individual who has enriched and supported the company in a significant way. The 2015 Will Disney Award will be presented to actress Ina L. Block, who has graced Little Lake’s stage with 48 years of performances and dedication.
Block first appeared on the Little Lake stage in 1968 as a villainess in The Curse of an Aching Heart and has since then performed in exactly 58 shows, earning herself a spot on the Little Lake Wall of Fame. But the real reward, she said, is having found a “home away from home” among fellow thespians. “Little Lake is my family,” she said. “I have Little Lake friends I met decades ago, and we still do lunch as often as we can, even after all these years!”
Whether playing a fair maiden or a conniving villain, Block embodied her characters wholly, cherishing the opportunity to “be anything she wanted to be” under the lights of Little Lake’s arena stage. “I was painfully shy, once upon a time,” Block remembered, “and the creative experience of acting gave me–and so many others–a way to break out of that shell.” Between the colorful characters she brought to life and the support of the tight-knit casts and crews, Block said Little Lake helped her find real self-confidence. “There was and is such camaraderie and warmth in this community, and that part hasn’t changed at all,” she said.
Little Lake has changed in many other ways, however, and for Block, tallying up 58 shows made those changes all the easier to notice. “Before we could play recorded sounds, our crews found all kinds of creative ways to make thunderclaps, gunshots, telephone rings… and sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t,” she laughed. “We had a lot more electrical outages back then, and a lot more skunks, bats, and kittens creeping around backstage!”
Watching the company change and grow has been another one of the great rewards of Block’s Little Lake journey. “It’s so gratifying watching the young ones grow,” she said. “I have performed in 13 Little Lake Christmas Carols, and some of my Tiny Tims are now over six feet tall! The apprentices, young actors, and ushers do such great work. Little Lake’s in good hands.”
And as for receiving the Will Disney Award, Block is thrilled and honored, but above all, she wants to let her Little Lake family know that the gratitude is mutual. “Little Lake is thanking me, but really, I should be thanking Little Lake,” she said. “It’s my home, and I am proud to call these incredibly talented people my friends.”
The 2015 Will Disney Award was formally presented to Ina L. Block at Little Lake’s annual fundraiser on October 11, at 7 p.m. at Valley Brook Country Club.