BAMBI

Cecil Whig - - JUMP­START -

“Ev­ery­body thinks I’ve ac­com­plished so much,” Bambi John­son said. “They say, ‘Wow you did that, and wow you did that?’ And it’s like no, I’m just old. I’ve been around a long time. That’s what I at­tribute it all to.”

That’s not quite fair. After all, from age 19 to 26, John­son worked as a cheer­leader for the Bal­ti­more Colts, and did so up un­til 1984, when the team left for In­di­anapo­lis on a bus in the mid­dle of a March night — “I was dev­as­tated,” she said.

The Bal­ti­more county na­tive went on to own and man­age a suc­cess­ful dance and cheer stu­dio that pro­duced a num­ber of na­tion­ally com­pet­i­tive teams, and that dance ex­pe­ri­ence has car­ried over to her strengths in the­ater.

She chore­ographed and di­rected Mil­burn Stone’s run of “The Lit­tle Mer­maid” in April, for in­stance, which broke the com­pany’s ticket sales records.

“I’m like a huge multi-tasker, but each one feeds the other,” she said.

John­son has been a full-time em­ployee with the the­ater since it put on “The Sound of Mu­sic” in 2011, when she was hired on as the gen­eral man­ager.

And so far in her new po­si­tion, she seems to be do­ing well.

“It’s been a seam­less tran­si­tion,” said pro­duc­tion man­ager Dann Combs. “There’s a bet­ter sense of what the the­ater’s goals are now with Bambi.” Bambi John­son works at her desk on the Ce­cil Col­lege cam­pus Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. She’s made it a goal of her ten­ure to fur­ther in­te­grate Mil­burn Stone The­atre with the col­lege and the com­mu­nity at large.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view in her of­fice on Wed­nes­day, she ap­peared en­er­getic and, if not ex­actly con­tent, at least happy in her re­cent progress. She called Mil­burn Stone’s up­com­ing pro­duc­tion of the mu­si­cal “Cats,” which opens around Thanks­giv­ing, “a dream” to di­rect and chore­o­graph. She’s seen it on Broad­way more than five times.

Now, be­cause of the gains made by Lewis, the the­ater is in a bet­ter po­si­tion than it prob­a­bly ever has been. John­son wants to keep it mov­ing in the same di­rec­tion, with an added fo­cus on com­mu­nity in­volve­ment. In sum­mer 2017, for in­stance, they’ll in­vite kids from Ce­cil Col­lege camps in­side the the­ater to learn about and play with the equip­ment.

If it’s up to her, John­son said, she’d like to stay at the the­ater un­til her re­tire­ment. Her hus­band thinks she will.

“She’s where she wants to be, she’s where she needs to be,” Eyvo John­son said. “I don’t think she’s go­ing any­where.”

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