This might be good time to note just a few of the many ways that our community has benefitted over the years from the truly inspirational presence of Shami McCormick.
I say “just a few” because I doubt whether one person will ever be in a position to know just how much Shami does and has done for the community. And even if one person could somehow magically get a full picture not just of her creative talent (which alone could fill a book) but also of her talent for appearing out of nowhere and quietly pitching in to help care for a friend (lots of those!), a neighbor, or a family member, there definitely wouldn’t be room in a column like this.
But let’s make a start, anyway. And the obvious place to start is the Depot Theatre, which was founded by Carol Buchanan 35 years ago as a small community theater in the then-unused baggage area of the train station. Shami took over in 1980 and slowly, lovingly, painstakingly built it into the all-professional seasonal venue that has done so much to put Westport on the cultural map.
Anyone who’s been involved in that process knows the secret behind the Depot’s success over the years. What’s the common denominator behind all the actors who come back year after year to share their talent with us? Behind all the volunteers who’ve eagerly given up their time to help the Depot thrive? Behind the Galas, the rummage sales, the play-readings, the Apprentice Programs? None of these things would have worked without people joining in to help. And people only go the extra mile when they have the special kind of commitment that comes with the feeling that you are part of a family.
It was Shami who made the Depot into a family. The common denominator is that the people who made the Depot work were doing it largely because of Shami, and also for Shami. That feeling can’t be spun out of nothing by a fancy job description or a title. It can only come from a very special person. So thank you, Shami, for making us part of your family.