Chuck Tweed weaves passion for plays into fabric of Oklahoma City's Jewel Box Theatre

For 35 years, Chuck Tweed, a former drama teacher, has been the production director and driving force of Jewel Box Theare, Oklahoma City’s oldest continuously operating community theater.
by Brandy McDonnell Published: March 16, 2014
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Along with scripts and books, the shelves of Chuck Tweed’s cluttered office are lined with mementos of a lifelong love with theater: a model gazebo from “The Sound of Music,” a plastic flamingo cocktail glass from “Flaming Idiots,” even an old black-and-white photo of a young Ed Harris in his kingly costume from “Camelot.”

“Everything has a little meaning from a play or whatever. It’s always fun to look back,” said Tweed, the longtime production director for Jewel Box Theatre.

“I love to play, laugh and have fun. So to do all that and then put the final product together is just really rewarding.”

Over the past 35 years, Tweed has become what you might call the fabric of the Jewel Box.

“He’s done many, many other things: He’s taught, he’s worked with other theaters … but the Jewel Box is his passion. For so many years, he has belonged to the Jewel Box; the Jewel Box has belonged to him,” said Jana Hester, a longtime member of the venerable community theater company’s board of advisers.

“Those of us who have worked around the Jewel Box for many, many years consider ourselves a family, and he’s the patriarch.”

Starting young

Tweed’s interest in theater started under the tutelage of Faye Garten, his drama teacher at Jarman Junior High and later Midwest City High School. He learned so much after four years with her that when he got to Central State College (now the University of Central Oklahoma), his theater classes were easy.

“I wanted to be a teacher just like her, and she came to see some of my shows. So it’s kind of gone full circle,” he said.

Like Garten, he spent 29 years teaching drama, TV production and moviemaking in the Midwest City-Del City School District, where he was twice named teacher of the year.

“They were on the block schedule then, so I got to play for 90 minutes. It was great,” he said.

He also got to play on stage when a friend suggested he audition for a Jewel Box show. Tweed still remembers his first entrance into the tiny in-the-round theater as part of the cast of “Never Too Late.”

“My first word was ‘hello,’ someone on stage said ‘hello,’ and someone sitting on this side said ‘hello.’ And I went ‘hello’ (and thought) ‘What the hell am I doing? I just talked to somebody.’ So that was my entrance to the Jewel Box,” he said, laughing.

When Jewel Box’s part-time production director job opened up, the same friend who cast him as an actor suggested Tweed take that role, too, despite his full-time teaching job.

“I was here nine years by myself before computers,” said Tweed, who retired from teaching in 2000. “I would come in after school, take reservations, write it out, put it in alphabetical order, and then type it because I thought it looked more professional. Then, I would go back out to school ... and directed plays. And I was a student council sponsor, so we had events. So, it was like back and forth, back and forth.”

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by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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ON STAGE

‘The Lion in Winter’

When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Performances continue through March 23.

Where: Jewel Box Theatre, 3700 N Walker.

Information: 521-1786 or www.jewelboxtheatre.org.

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