Get to know Candace Mazur-Darman.
Candace Mazur-Darman howls like a hotrod as she demonstrates a scene from "Wind in the Willows." Nine- and 10-year-olds arrange themselves on the set around her, turning their heads in unison as the imaginary car rumbles past.
It's one week before showtime, and Mazur-Darman, who teaches drama workshops at dozens of Central Ohio arts and community centers, isn't satisfied.
"Put your whole body into it! Bend those knees!" she bellows. "I want you in your character 110 percent! Are you on vacation?"
Mazur-Darman's Dramatic Impact is a one-woman production. The redheaded dynamo drives a V-6 truck crammed with props and costumes. She zigzags from Reynoldsburg parks to Delaware's Arts Castle. On Sundays, she's off to Powell Town Hall where she unloads and gets to work, complimenting a girl's heart-buckled boots, squirting scraped knees with her water bottle and directing set design.
"Mole, your house looks like the cover of Gourmet magazine!"
Rehearsal begins. Ratty, Mole, Otter and Mr. Toad recite lines. Some exude confidence, others seem tentative.
"You've gotta throw your voice against that wall!" Mazur-Darman exhorts.
Her job is not about acting; it's about building the character of her young characters. When one shy girl struggles to project, Mazur-Darman lavishes her with praise.
"She's like a writer," she whispers.
"So many stories in her head."
Were you in theater as a child?
I'm a born teacher. I can't do anything else. I have to see children grow. It makes me very happy.
Where do you store your many props?
You don't want to know. I've just been doing it so long; I have four or five outbuildings where I keep things: one for costumes, three open sheds, my garage.
You must need a lot of skills to pull off a production like this.
My skill is not so much acting as it is getting kids working together. I don't want to sound holistic, but it's the process of learning to trust your decisions, learning to work with kids whose abilities are different than yours.
Do your kids move on to other theater groups?
Sure. I always try to go to one of their shows. One boy in Westerville was in "My Fair Lady." He was (singing), "Get me to the church on time " I just cried when I saw him. These kids have a kind of juice that says, "I'll try anything."
Kind of like you?
You always have to challenge yourself.