For this family, theater takes center stage. The McCoys.
``Little things stick in your mind as the proud moments,'' says David McCoy. ``Watching `Tom Sawyer' the first time, there were tears in my eyes as I thought, `This is my kid!''' He's talking about the time his son David, then 12, starred in a production of the Summer Magic Players - part of the renowned Dallas Theater Center. He and his family are sitting in the spacious living room of their house in an attractive residential section of the city.Skip to next paragraph
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``And to see somebody work so hard,'' he continues. ``One night at about 9:30 he was practicing a musical role upstairs. I said, `Son, you really ought to go to bed, because you have to get up extra early tomorrow to be at the theater at 7.' He said, `Yeah, I guess so.'
``A full half hour or so later, as I went to our bedroom -- about 10:00 by that time -- I thought he was already in bed. But I saw the light on under his door, and I said, `I'll bet he's so tired he just went to bed and hadn't turned the light off,' - which has happened.
``I opened the door, and there he was at the foot of his bed doing the dance steps and pantomiming. I just closed the door. I didn't say any more. But I knew he was dead tired. He had made such a commitment to that.''
Commitments are old friends to young David, now a tall 15-year-old who easily qualifies as a superachiever. Besides his impressive record at the Dallas Theater Center - including work in their elite Encore Company, a ``young professionals'' group - he is a gifted student with an eye on West Point, a world traveler and follower of international affairs, an athlete, amateur poet, Boy Scout, and the holder of several other distinctions - including an impressive karate rank.
Boy Scouts, in fact, have displaced theater for now - a concession to the kind of background they feel West Point is looking for.
``This is the practical side of him,'' observes his father. ``It's a decision David made that I think is unbelievable for someone his age. You know now how much he likes the theater.''
His penchant for performing became clear when he was still a tot and used to regale his family with long songs he'd memorized cold. Later he loved being in church and school productions, including a lead role as Snoopy.
``At the end of that show he got almost a standing ovation,'' recalls his mother, Clarice. ``Of all the things he's ever done, that is still my favorite, I guess.''
When Clarice heard that the Dallas Theater Center had classes for children, ``I signed him up for it,'' she says.
```Tom Sawyer' was great,'' says David's sister, Dawn - who's just turned 9 - a gifted student and talented performer in her own right. ``I was about 5 years old, and I saw it about 10 times.''
Clarice adds, ``When people were asking for his autograph, she would go up and hang on his legs and say `This is my brother.' I think he was a little embarrassed.'' She turns to David. ``Were you embarrassed?''
But David prefers to talk of the working side of his experience at Teen Children's Theater.
``The thing I really like about it, besides what you learn about acting and singing and doing all those things you sort of dream about, was the people you meet there - all sorts of different people from different economic levels and areas of town. I made a lot of friends there.''
``It's a whole set of sort of different friends, really,'' adds Clarice.
``At school I don't have many really close friends,'' notes David, ``because they are quite a bit different from me. They're not really interested in the arts. They probably think it's pretty boring or something - they don't know what it's like, because they don't do it. They think sports are respectable. I wish more people would take a look at the arts.''
``I think the theater has been exceptional in terms of building self-confidence,'' says Clarice. ``It makes them feel good about themselves. I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma and didn't even know what the theater was until I came to Dallas.''
``We both knew that we had been missing lots of things,'' Mr. McCoy agrees. ``My own hometown is about 250 population in very rural country.''
Today, both parents are college professors. David, who has a doctorate in educational technology, is also an active photographer and teaches that subject. Clarice, an MBA and CPA, teaches accounting.
``I wanted them to be much more well-rounded than I was,'' Clarice continues. ``I was very shy myself and I was wanting to make sure that my children were not that way.''
According to David, it worked.
``I never really planned on being an actor,'' he says, ``but it's really helped me because I'm not good at meeting people.''
``And Dawn,'' says Clarice, ``approaches theater in a more outgoing and emotional way than David.''
Theater is only part of Dawn's life.
``I have tap and jazz lessons on Wednesday,'' she notes, ``Ballet and piano on Monday and Thursday. On Tuesdays I have theater, and on Friday I don't have anything.''
``And she would like to do a lot more,'' Clarice points out, ``but I can't spend as much time with her, because now I have two people that have activities. I honestly wonder sometimes if I will be able to make it 10 more years.''
``Our role,'' adds Mr. McCoy, ``is to make sure that when they get to a point where they need to make a commitment - like selecting a university with a fine arts major, which is something else David might want - they would have the same kind of support from us that they would if they were going to be in the world of business.''