It’s the end of an era
at James Martin High School. After 40 years in the public school system, beloved Theatre Director Larry Cure, is retiring. Cure has been at Martin since it opened in 1982. Prior to that, he taught at Azle High School for six years.
Cure launched the theatre programs at both Azle and Martin. He says, “I got a chance to start my own traditions and do my own things and hope they buy into it. And fortunately for me, they bought into it.”
What the school bought into is a premier theatre program. Over the years, the Martin Players qualified for the State UIL One Act Play contest in Austin 15 times, winning the State Championship in 1996 and 1998. Cure and his students won first runner-up in 1990, 1999, 2012 and 2013. Cure also received numerous personal awards for teaching.
But his legacy goes beyond trophies and plaques.
Cure has mentored thousands of students, many who have gone on to have successful careers in the arts. “I can turn on the TV and see one of my ex-students,” he says. “They are all over.”
That’s “all over,” as in from Los Angeles to New York, as well as here, in the heart of Texas. They’re in the spotlight or behind the scenes.
The resumes of Martin Players alumni
read like a “Who’s Who” in the entertainment industry and includes names of current television and movie actors such as Stacey Oristano and Emily Warfield.
Cure says that, for him, teaching is the gift that keeps on giving because even though he is leaving Martin, he will continue to see the rise of the his students. And, as he reflects on his career, he is flooded with memories and pride. “You never know as a teacher when you are actually reaching some kid until later on their career,” he says.
Cure cites Tamlyn Wright (class of ’88) as one of his favorite examples of that. Wright is a live entertainment production designer. She helps design sets for events such as the Academy Awards and the Grammys. Cure was shocked when he heard she went into design because he didn’t think she showed an interest in it. But not only did she have an interest, she has a huge talent for it, winning multiple Emmys for her work.
Cure is quite humble
about his influence on the students. When asked what makes the Martin theatre program different from other programs, Cure answers, “longevity and continuity.” But according to alumni, it’s more than that. They say Cure was a father figure.
James Gilbert (class of ’95) is the Manager of Theater Operations for the Academy of Motion Pictures.
“That’s one of the biggest things I think working within the theatre and what Mr. Cure provided for us here, it was a family,” he says. “And I just wanted to continue that on in my life and it completely shaped my career.”
Former students say his passion also played a role.
”His love for the theatre and his love for the arts translated so purely that it filtered out into everyone, at least in the department,” says Anson Norwood (class of ’95). “I can’t put a finger on one person I know in my graduating year, or anyone beyond or above that didn’t work in some way connected to the arts. His passion and love for theatre and for the arts was so overwhelming that it just filtered out to everyone he touched.”
Cure made such an impact on Norwood’s life that he would like to teach theatre at a community college.
The theater director says he is honored,
but all the glory goes to the kids. “I can’t make them love something,” he says. “They have to come in with love, and I can guide them along the way.”
Cure says it has been quite a journey over these past four decades. He helped to direct five or six shows each year, staying at school each day through rehearsals until 6 pm. But now he’s ready to see “what is going on, on the other side.” He will continue to teach classes at Tarrant County College, but is otherwise looking forward to having free time.
”Moon Over Buffalo” was Cure’s last production. Fittingly, it brought his career full circle, thanks to the lead, Julian Duncan. “His mother was in the first play we did in Little Theatre,” Cure says. “And her son is going to be in the last play we do in Little Theatre.”
There were three performances open to the public on May 19, 20 and a matinee on the 21st. A fourth and final performance was by invitation only, for alumni and past MHS Theatre Directors.
Sharon Miller, the theatre co-director, worked with Cure for 13 years. She is also retiring. And while this is the final act of their days at Martin, the show must go on.
Cure says the school has hired two young, enthusiastic people to take over, and he is confident the theatre program will be as strong as ever. Curtain call.