PLANO – Neicole Woodall quick-steps from her small office to the front lobby of the Genesis Children’s Theatre.
“Hi!” she chirps, revealing a made-for-TV smile. “Welcome.”
Godspell junior is running and the team is busy getting ready for Saturday’s final show. The production is the young performer's version of the Broadway musical exploring the life of Jesus with a message of love and tolerance. A particularly fitting production.
There’s the usual last minute preps happening this week from vocal lessons to rehearsing lines. But what you don’t see is Woodall's silent struggle, the theater’s executive director and co-founder.
“It’s hard,” she said. “It’s hard to watch the one you love struggling to save their life and you feel very helpless.”
Woodall has been married to her husband, Bruce, for 43-years. The two grew up near one another and were childhood sweethearts. With two grown children, the couple was looking forward to Bruce, a software engineer, retiring. Woodall would continue running her beloved theater she co-founded with her daughter.
But life was interrupted when Bruce had a massive stroke in December. Unable to work, and left without health insurance after the company where he worked went under, the family was stuck with mounting medical bills. Bills that have topped $100,000.
“You get four or five bills in the mail every day,” Woodall said. “It’s staggering.”
Unbeknownst to her, the theatre kids and the community stepped in to help the family and keep the small non-profit going by raising some much-needed funds through a GoFundMe Page.
“They do so much for us, they’re constantly helping out the theatre, and she always helps with the costumes, everything, so it’s not fair how this can happen to her,” said theatre member Benjamin Polanco. “Helping out is the least we can do.”
Woodall's daughter, Megan Demsky, is the theatre’s artistic director. They are overwhelmed with people’s generosity, she said.
“The amount of support that we’ve gotten from these families, it’s incredible,” she said. “It’s easy to be there the first few days, but what really shows the depth, and breadth of the support that we have is the continued, and consistent support. I can’t believe how blessed we are.”
Despite the hardship, the show must go on.
“It’s been so humbling to know and be reassured that you are embraced, you are loved, and people are willing to step up and help you,” Woodall said. “The world still has good people.”
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