March 25th, 2024

This is a story about two people who serve as the backbone of PCS – who manage the stage, design the lighting, organize concessions, run the house and – occasionally – share their talents as actor or director.
It’s also a love story.
Karen Cook and Heather Timberman (known collectively by some as “Timbercook”) are just two people – and one couple. But they accomplish the work of dozens at the theater. There really is not space in this story to list all their contributions since arriving at this grand space 17 years ago.
They’ve done about everything you can do off and onstage. Even getting married.
Let me explain.
Karen and Heather met at Cedar Crest College outside Allentown, where both studied theater – as well as other disciplines where they’d be more likely to earn a living. They spent those college years acting and directing in shows – often competing for the same actors and resources. They were casual friends, but . . .
“When we finally got to perform on stage together, well, there was definitely a showmance,“ says Karen. “There was an attraction, but we were both in other relationships at the time. It took another year before we were both single and then. . . “
And then, well, they became a loving couple. The women graduated, and moved to this area in 2007. They took jobs working for Delaware County (Karen is a Medicaid ombudsman at the County Assistance office, Heather is a caseworker), and began searching for a local community theater where they could share their talents.
“I auditioned for ‘Assassins,’ directed by Joe Southard,” recalls Karen. “Heather came along and filled out a volunteer interest form. A week later, I landed an ensemble role and five minutes after that, Heather got a call to stage manage the show.”
Says Heather: “They didn’t even know me. Suddenly, I had to manage 11 firearms on stage. I hadn’t done that before. As we like to say, we came for ‘Assassins’ and we’ve been killing it ever since.”
Indeed they have.
“They’re go-to players,” says Anthony San Filippo, a longtime member and former president of the Board of Governors. “They’re people who you can ask, ‘Are you available?’ and they’ll always show up. I can’t count how many productions they’ve made so much better. They’re just part of the fabric of the theater.”
And the Players Club is also so much a part of the fabric of their lives that when Heather and Karen went looking for a wedding venue in 2013, they concluded that the most meaningful site (and, yeah, maybe the least expensive as well), would be the theater itself.
“PCS was an important part of our relationship,” says Karen. “We wanted the wedding to reflect that connection.”
So they exchanged vows and kisses onstage before about 90 guests, including some great friends they had made at the theater. The only downside was that the two women hadn’t considered that the green room and tiny dressing rooms –where they got prepped for the big event — didn’t have air conditioning at the time.
“We kind of wilted,” recalls Heather.
Eleven years later, they’re still putting sweat equity into the place. Together, they co-chair the Concessions Committee.
Karen served two terms on the Board of Governors. She is currently co-chair of the sound department, along with Chris Barbier, and has run sound for about 30 shows in the past 15 years – which, as we all know, is a challenge in this beautiful theater.
“Sound is so interesting because it’s about being subtle,” she says. “You are manipulating the audiences’ perception, creating an atmosphere to immerse the audience in what they’re seeing. The best compliment I get on sound is that you didn’t notice my work.”
She also produces shows, has assistant directed – usually working with newcomers to the theater – and is adept at running any task in the front of the house. Occasionally she hits the boards, shining in recent years in “Into the Woods,” “Trojan Women,” and “Rent.”
Heather directed “Godspell” to rave reviews in 2023 and looks forward to directing again. Her other credentials include assistant directing, stage managing, lighting design, light board operation and running crew.
“Directing is painting with people,” says Heather. “Lighting design is painting with lights – using them to help create a world and tell the story. And I enjoy stage management because I like to help bring a little control to an uncontrollable world.”
Heather and Karen have seen big change at PCS over the last 17 years. “When we first started, each production was more of a self-contained world,” says Karen. “Over time, it has become much more of an interconnected community. We love it.”
They’re a hell of a team, that ‘Timbercook.’ Here’s hoping they continue to grace PCS in years to come.

(Written by Glen Macnow)

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