With profound sadness, Habersham Community Theater announces the passing of our Vice President of Productions, John Preece, on January 19th at the age of 72 at his home in Demorest.
A 1971 graduate of Piedmont College and a highly-talented, nationally-acclaimed actor/director, John’s career spanned over 40 years, with epic productions of Fiddler on the Roof (ten national tours across the United States and Canada and 3,455 performances as either Tevye or Lazar Wolf) and over 40 other popular shows. On retiring, John returned to his roots and joined our HCT family in 2017, saying, "I was looking for something to give my time and energy to that would make a difference. As fate would have it, I found myself at HCT for one of their main stage shows, and my interest was instantly piqued by the talent I saw on that stage. Shortly thereafter, I was invited to become more involved. I am so glad I said yes, as this has been such a rewarding experience. The opportunity to give back some of what I have learned over the years has been incredibly meaningful.”
Habersham Community Theater has been enriched with John's professional expertise. He served on the HCT Board of Directors from 2017 through 2021, providing valuable insight into the running of a theater. He also directed HCT's productions of Fiddler on the Roof, OLIVER!, I Do! I Do!, The Sound of Music, and Amahl and the Night Visitors to rave reviews. While his name appeared on HCT posters and playbills as director, John always considered the cast and crew to be the true stars, with himself as merely one who cultivated talent. John took great pleasure in discovering new talent and encouraging it to bloom, asking actors to take his knowledge and perform with excellence. HCT patrons will recall his deep voice welcoming them to the theater in the prerecorded announcements before each show. Cast members of the recent Christmas at HCT video production will fondly recall his admonition for them all to smile before the curtain closed, forgetting that the performance was not a rehearsal, but in fact, being filmed. And the Board of Directors will recall John’s desire to keep meetings short and reports succinct, occasionally saying, “All right, moving on!” Of his experience at HCT, John said, “While professional theatre has been my career, I am thrilled that I now get to enjoy community theatre here at HCT. As a board member and director, this really is live theatre at its best: people from all walks of life coming together in a local community to perform for their peers. My career is now complete; thank you, HCT!"
John was predeceased by his beloved wife, Susie Barber Preece, and his parents, Dr. Alec Ambrose Preece and Helen Preece. He is survived by his two older brothers, Michael Northrop and Robert Northrop, and their families. He will be greatly missed by the patrons of HCT and the many friends he made through the shows he directed. Our lives have been richly blessed by having him as part of them, and we feel honored to have played a part in his final scenes.