Grand Rapids native Teresa Thome is a writer, performer, comic and television producer with strong ties to the community, LaughFest and WKTV. On Sunday, March 8 she’ll be performing her one woman show called “Warm Cheese” at Dog Story Theater at 7 p.m.
Perhaps one of the most interesting show titles, “Warm Cheese” is Thome’s inspirational work in-progress account of her grief journey for her late mother. A journey that has had its struggles and its laughs. With humor and poignancy, Thome shares her revelation of waking up one morning and deciding she no longer wanted to hate her late mother. The performance is a part of LaughFest’s LaughterRx, a series of programming that highlights the health benefits of laughter and its importance in emotional health.
“I was writing about my mom long before she died,” Thome admits. “I was going to write a book about her because she was neurotic and crazy and a fascinating control freak. I could see writing a funny book called, ‘My Crazy Mom.'”
Instead, Thome was encouraged to take her experiences on stage after sharing her stories at the Aquinas Women’s Writers Series. “I would read these stories in class and people would laugh,” says Thome adding, “I realized I was giving people permission to not grieve.
“Sometimes other people want you to be sadder than you actually are when someone dies. This is a story for all those people experiencing that.”
Thome is no stranger to LaughFest. Her involvement began the first year of the festival when she and her business partner, Patrick Ziegler, were asked to help produce the Signature Events. It’s been a most rewarding and challenging offer ever since.
“It gave me the opportunity to work with Betty White, Martin Short and to meet Alan Zweibel who helped Gilda develop all of her characters,” Thome says.
“He is a prolific writer who has offered to mentor me through my one woman show process. I reach out to him for an assist every once in a while and he gives me these little tools of insight. How can I be so lucky? I have to do this show!”
Can you blame her?
Although this is the third time Warm Cheese has been performed in Grand Rapids, Thome says it’s the first time it’s a full-length show. She’s looking forward to getting feedback from the audience to help her craft her story more to perfection. And when the time is right, Thome says she hopes to take it on the road.
“I’m grateful for so much of what I get to do when I get to do it,” says Thome. “My challenge personally is, I always want to do more.”
Thome has dual residences in Grand Rapids and Los Angeles to accommodate her career as a producer and writer. When she is in town and working on a television project, she comes to WKTV.
“We use WKTV because the spirit of the people here is so helpful and supportive. It’s such an amazing gift to the community.”
Thome and Patrick Ziegler are partners of Fubble Entertainment. Together they produced an Emmy Award winning web series (www.backstagedrama.com) through WKTV. They also produced the television show, Holiday Special, last year at the station.
“I’m glad more people are learning about what you have to offer here,” Thome says.
“But I want to say, ‘No this is my station,” she adds laughing.