Curtain falling for Lebanon Association for Theatre Arts founders

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
If Tracy and Terri Krebs were performing a duet for Lebanon these past 45 years, the finale is now upon us.
After more than 30 years of teaching in Lebanon schools, followed by another 12 building the Lebanon Association for Theatre Arts, the Krebses are calling it a wrap as they prepare to move to Texas to perform as doting grandparents.
There are a few reasons why they’re moving to the Lone Star State, but essentially it’s because one of their two daughters lives with her family there, and the pieces simply fell in place, Terri said.
The decision leaves LAFTA board members searching for volunteers to fill the gap the Krebses will leave behind.
“I don’t do nearly anything she does. She does it all,” Tracy said of his wife.
“She’s the person that has the connections in town. She’s the person that follows up on anything that needs to be done. She helps with the casting, sometimes she helps with the directing, she directs the music. Her job is enormous.”
The Krebses met in the clarinet section of the concert band while attending the University of Portland. They both majored in clarinet and saxophone, and sought jobs in music education.
They moved to Lebanon, where Terri was born and raised, in 1975.
She remembers her band teacher, Mel Knight, under whom she learned during her middle and high school years. To this day, she still talks to him, and goes to him for feedback on her own musical compositions.

Terri Krebs, right, orchestrated a campaign in 2018 to solicit 76 used instruments for schools in the Lebanon district.
File photo

Terri started the first half of her 33-year career as an elementary music teacher for the Lebanon Community School District, while her husband taught band at Lebanon Middle School.
But things began to get a little nerve-wracking for them as music kept getting put on the school budget’s chopping block, they said.
“Three times we’d come home from school and we’d say, ‘They cut my job today,’” Terri said.
So the two went back to school to obtain classroom endorsements, effectively ensuring their job security. Tracy started teaching history, while Terri began teaching in a regular elementary classroom.
“Instead of knowing 500 kids a little bit, I knew 20 of them a lot. It was fun,” Terri said.
Tracy retired in 2006, after 31 years of teaching in Lebanon. Terri retired in 2009.
In 2007, while the Krebses were playing in the orchestra pit for Lebanon High School’s “Footloose” musical, Dr. Richard Evans urged them to put on a musical of their own to raise funds for a new sound system in the school auditorium.
With help from Patty Crenshaw, who now serves on LAFTA’s board, Terri orchestrated the first production, “Into the Woods,” directed by Debbie Edwards, in 2009. It was such a hit, that they decided to keep putting on plays.
“There were lots of people involved, and they wanted to do it again,” Tracy noted.
With support from the school district, the new sound system was installed in 2010.
Since then, proceeds from LAFTA’s work – including donations and district funds – have raised funding for a projector, a light board and lights, instruments, microphones, air conditioning, storage and shelving, and tools and cleaning.
They are also able to offer $250 grants for band, choir, theater and music teachers toward experiences and supplies.
The current project LAFTA is working on is the installation of cluster speakers to provide better sound for the entire audience, Terri said.
If COVID hadn’t uttered the proverbial “Macbeth,” this would have been LAFTA’s 13th year of production. (It’s a common superstition among the acting community that it’s bad luck to mention the name of the “Scottish play” while inside a theater if the play is not being held. Doing so is believed to cause doom and destruction to fall on the current production.)
In normal years, LAFTA puts on four events: Kids Camp, a summer musical, a Christmas show, and a winter or spring comedy.

ALI KREBS, left, poses for a photo with her dad, Tracy, and mom, Terri, after the family acted in and produced “Annie Get Your Gun” for LAFTA.
Photo courtesy of Terri Krebs

Terri often gets most of the credit for her role as founder and director of LAFTA, but Tracy has also been involved, both in the pit and on stage.
In fact, he got to act alongside their daughter, Ali, in the 2011 production of “Annie Get Your Gun,” an experience he said he enjoyed tremendously. Yet, he said his involvement pales in comparison to what his wife does.
Terri describes her role as “organizing people,” and explained it’s like handling four weddings every year. She keeps a tablet at hand so she can jot down reminders to follow up on. Sometimes those reminders come to her in the middle of the night.
It’s certainly not a job anyone can do on the side, so the board has probably more than one big pair of shoes to fill, the Krebses suggested.
Yet, although Terri and Tracy are leaving, the show will go on.
Besides, they’re not the only ones making LAFTA a success.
The board members play in the pit, make costumes, sell tickets and concessions, act on stage, and run sound and lights, Terri said. Not to mention the “conglomeration of so many different talents” that work together to put on a show.
Tracy appreciates the new faces who attend auditions and bring “new life into everything,” and witnessing those who stayed with LAFTA for years.
“(They’re) so dependable, so solid. They work, work, work, and enjoy every minute of it, and that’s why the shows turn out well,” he said.
As they pack their bags to head south, the Krebses agree the hardest part is leaving their friends behind.

TERRI KREBS, center, sings after a LAFTA Christmas show. (File photo)

Terri’s theme song for Lebanon as she closes the metaphorical curtain comes from Carol Burnett’s signature sign-off: “I’m so glad we had this time together, just to have a laugh or sing a song. Seems we just get started and, before you know it, comes the time we have to say, ‘So long.’”