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ID: Irene Thornton

  • Irene Thornton<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Irene Thornton<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Irene Thornton<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Irene Thornton<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Irene Thornton of Wilbraham says folks she knows today find it hard to believe she was a shy child. But she was, until she discovered theater. It was through the theater that she learned to be confident, how to speak clearly (she was a stutterer) and to use her talent to entertain people. The interaction she has with an audience, she says, is “a rush like no other.”

Full name: Irene Thornton

People know you as: Family: Renie/Rene; students: “Mom”

Date and place of birth: June 15; Rochester, N.Y.

Job: Adjunct faculty/production coordinator at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School in South Hadley; freelance actor, director, stage manager and makeup artist

Who lives under the same roof as you? My surrogate child, a former student of mine, Janelle Allie Sanchez

Children: Katherine Grace Thornton, who lives in Portland, Ore.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in government from Western New England College (now University). Course work from many other schools including Syracuse University

Pets: Two cats, James and Jasmine

Hobbies: Writing, gardening, sewing and singing

Book you’d recommend to a friend: I read a lot of history (fiction and non-fiction) and biographies; too many to mention. It started with Esther Forbes’ “Johnny Tremain”

Favorite movie/TV show: Movies — “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Auntie Mame” and “The Women”; TV — “The West Wing” (I still miss it)

Five items you can’t live without: Ummm .. OK (live without is really strong): Music, movies, people, car, debit card

Last thing you purchased just for fun: My android

What’s on the top of your bucket list? Travel with someone special to either the Greek Isles or Polynesia

Life-changing experience: Giving birth to my daughter, Kate. Being her mother — there are no words to describe the sheer joy

Strangest job you ever held: Snake wrangler, marketed handmade coffins

Current Facebook status: I sent a gratitude message to my cousins Curtis and Adrienne for reconnecting over the weekend (and a great steak dinner)

A little-known fact about you: I was an athlete in junior high and high school. I played soccer and tennis, but volleyball was my main sport

Dumbest thing you ever did: Any time I don’t take a moment to sort an issue before making a statement, decision, send an email and/or text

What really sets you off? Mean, self-centered, cruel and insensitive people. People who “know” and don’t ask ... (people who ASSUME). Oh, and reality TV. It’s killing the entertainment business

If you could spend the day with a celebrity from any time in history, who would it be? Jesus Christ ... because. Queen Elizabeth I: She defined “queen” and took a country from near ruin to its greatest age. Shakespeare ... because

Best advice you ever got: Go into theater professionally, follow your passion. It has overall made me very happy (thank you Danny Eaton); come teach at PVPA, it will change your life and we need you (thank you Chris Rohmann and Brian Marsh)

Favorite place to get a bite: Mandarin Wilbraham on Boston Road in Wilbraham because it is both Chinese and Japanese and I am treated to experimental “gift” sushi all the time

Favorite athlete, team: I love amateur sports, especially the Olympics. I am glued to the non-dream teams and tear up when I hear the national anthem

What does your ideal weekend look like? Three days instead of two; some place warm near the water with someone special, lounging, laughing and relaxing

One thing you would change about yourself: I have worked really hard to love myself; I see myself as a work in progress

What gives you the creeps? Certain bugs and snakes

People who knew you in high school thought you were: Very funny and that I had a great singing voice

Whom do you most admire? Everyday heroes; people who do things for others without a thought about what’s in it for them, or what might happen to them

Parting shot: Enjoy every day like it’s your last; don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and forgive — life is lighter that way

— Compiled by Nancy Rhoades

Photo by Kevin Gutting

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