By David Hennessey

David Hennessey

In 1998, I drove down Route 8 from Fountain for the first time and saw Lanesboro nestled below the bluffs like a picture post card.  It was magical. Little did I know I’d spend more than two wonderful decades here at the Commonweal.  My artistic journey continues, but now at a slower pace.

I will partially retire in 2020, cutting my hours to one-third time.  I’ll continue acting when there are suitable roles and will work as needed with our development team, but Jeremy van Meter will be the principal contact for the MDC. Meanwhile, I’ll keep handling advertising sales in our season program. 

In short, I will take a step back, but I am definitely not stepping away.

David Hennessey and Eric Lee share the mic in It's a Wonderful Life - A Live Radio Play
David as Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

How could I? The Commonweal has been the perfect artistic home for me. I love working with a resident ensemble of both seasoned artists and new apprentices. We all learn from each other and have a chance to assess our artistic growth annually with Hal and Adrienne. Those assessments shape the roles we’re assigned, and I’ve been lucky to play more than 50 — from likable characters such as Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life to despicable liars like Bob Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird, plus appearances in world premieres by Jeffrey Hatcher and Scott Dixon (#teamscotty). As with everyone here, I’ve also had many behind-the-scenes roles over the years including costume shop manager, Elderhostel organizer, student matinee scheduler, underwriter recruiter, company calendar manager, writer, editor and audio description trainer.

Along the way I’ve collected meaningful memories both off and on stage. Once, a couple who had just lost half their income told me they decided to keep season passes in their reduced household budget. They had just seen The 1940s Radio Hour, and it had lifted their spirits, reminding them why our work was crucial.

Apprentice Diana Jurand performs with David Hennessey
David in the 2013-2014 Apprentice Capstone Tigers Be Still

And when Phillip Muehe, then a directing apprentice, asked me to join the apprentice cast of Tigers Be Still, I accepted, even though it added to my heavy stage schedule of four other shows that year. When the first-night audience leapt to their feet at the end of the show, I felt like I was in a credit card commercial.

Extra rehearsal hours: 50. Added gray hairs from lack of sleep: 32. The smiles from my young colleagues after an opening-night standing ovation: Priceless!

Hey, I can’t possibly step completely away from memories like those. So I’ll see you all next year . . . sometime! 🙂

Thanks for all you’ve done for us David! We’re so glad we still get to have you around in 2020. Trust us, there will be plenty to do! See you all in the New Year!


  1. You’ve probably earned at least a partial retirement after all these years (and all those hats) but don’t close the door anytime soon. I’ve been watching you on stage for nearly 20 years…’s been great. Looking forward to a few more.

    • Thanks Violet! It’s been a pleasure sharing our stories with you and so many others. Looking forward to more. Happy Holidays!

  2. We’ve been privileged to watch you for seventeen of your twenty years at Commonweal – to our immense mutual enjoyment and shared edification. Glad you have found a graceful way to step back but stay meaningfully involved – a blessing for you and for your colleagues. Congratulations – and we’ll undoubtedly see more of you in the neighborhood – to our benefit.

    • Always look forward to it, Jon. Let’s see more of each other in 2020!

Leave a Reply