Sue Stout has had a rough year – but Saturday she was all smiles. The Anaheim Hills woman, who is fighting to recover from both a car accident and a life-threatening illness, got a shot in the arm – of a whole different kind – on Aug. 27. It started with a round of applause as she stepped out the door of her Calle Durango home. A small group of friends who had gathered in the yard, cheered at the sight of her. She walked slowly, with the aid of a cane, to a folding chair in her driveway and sat down under a colorful umbrella.
Then, all hell broke loose. As video cameras rolled, and spectators applauded wildly, the music from the 50s musical “Grease” coursed through the hot afternoon air. Neighbors drew back their curtains in surprise, then stepped to the curb to see what was happening. A troupe of 50 boys and girls from the Paul Dean Martin Young Actors Workshop came dancing, clapping and singing around the corner and into Dennis and Sue Stout’s driveway.
“You’re the one that I love...oooh, hoo, hoo, hoo. You’re the one that I love...oooh, hoo, hoo, hoo,” they sang, in perfect harmony.
And, for 15 minutes the pain and anguish that have plagued Stout this year, faded in to the background. “I feel like I’m floating on air,” the young mother said. “Oh my gosh. I can’t put this into words.” The kids know Stout. Her daughter Brianna is a memberof their troupe. She played “Sandy” in “Grease.”
On Saturday, her mother finally got to watch as Brianna, 12, and Blake Rajcic, 13, sang “Summer Nights,” just for her.
“There isn’t one thing I’d rather be doing for my mom,” Brianna said later. “I’d gladly be in the chorus just to do this for her. She means the world to me. I just want her to get better, soon.”
Stout has been too ill to attend any of Brianna’s shows this year. She was so ill that she even missed her son’s Anthony’s high school graduation in June. “She told me how depressed she has been, about missing out on so many of her children’s activities,” Director Paul Dean Martin said. “She has always been the mom who was the first to volunteer.” Inspired by a scene from the film, “Finding Neverland,” – and Brianna’s wish to see mom smile – the theater group decided to do a special show, just for to her. The 15-minute performance featured musical comedy selections from “The Producers,” in addition to the medley of songs from “Grease.”
Any show performed in a driveway ought to have a four wheeled star. This one did. “Herbie The Love Bug,” stopped by for the finale, as PDM stars performed the song, “Car Wash” from the film, “Shark Tale.” Herbie accompanied their performance on his car horn.
“I can’t believe all these kids gave up their Saturday for me,” Stout said when the show was over. “They gave up so much, just to get this done.” Wearing a T-shirt autographed by the PDM cast, Stout shook hands and hugged each of them as they filed by her after the finale. “You don’t know how much talent you all have,” she said. “I support you. You will go far.” Shane Brown, 9, said he signed up right away to perform for Stout. “I love acting,” he said. “It’s like my sport, and I think she was really delighted about what we did for her.” Paul Holman, a PDM dad agreed.
“Its a good lesson for us to teach our kids,” he said, “a lesson in compassion.”
Like Stout, the Young Actors Workshop has faced many obstacles this year. Despite them, they have held to the show business motto, “The show must go on,” by raising money to pay facility use fees imposed by the Orange Unified School District and persevering even after being locked out of the theater by the former superintendent of schools. Rather than being daunted by such adult antics, PDM player Ana Jenic, 12, raised more than $700 to help pay the school district’s fees. More recently Asialani Holman, 10, donated over $200 that she earned by making and selling beaded PDM bracelets for $2 each.
The cast of “PDM Goes To he Movies, Again!” raised over $700 at the Anaheim Hills Ralph’s by asking shoppers for support.
This weekend no money changed hands. The performance wasn’t free, however, it was priceless. “I think its a wonderful way to give back,” parent Janet White said. “The children are following God’s message, to give love.” Martin agreed.
“It is that spirit that inspired us to do this performance for Mrs. Stout,” he said. “In the face of true adversity she has not given up.”