On the Town: ‘Manecdotes’ celebrates fathers and the roles they play in people’s lives


As a prelude to the 17th day of this month, when we will remember, honor and celebrate our fathers, supporters of Burbank’s Family Service Agency gathered to hear men and women, from very different walks of life, share poignant, thought-provoking, humorous and inspiring stories of the men they called “dad” this past weekend.

Staged as a fundraiser for the agency, “Manecdotes,” a JAM Creative production billed as an evening of “tales from the trenches about fathers and fatherhood,” presented the parental ponderings of 10 local storytellers at the Colony Theatre.

As the audience enjoyed the preshow musical stylings of folk singer Robert Morgan Fisher, Suzanne Weerts, JAM Creative’s artistic director, who served as the presentation’s producer and director, took a backstage moment to share her thoughts about the event.

“We have done three shows about mothers and motherhood,” Weerts said. “This year, we decided it was time to celebrate the role of our fathers. Each member of tonight’s cast will take the audience on a journey, sharing very different stories about their fathers or about their role as a father.”

Weerts also touched on the connection between the evening’s performance and the benefiting organization which, for 65 years, has provided mental health and counseling services for Burbank students, families, couples and veterans.

“Tonight, we’ll see men doing something men rarely do, open up in a very public way about their personal experiences,” Weerts said.

“Hopefully, this will be of benefit to those who will be touched by their stories. Our hope is that by hearing what they have to say, it will be of help to those who may be dealing with unresolved family issues. I think, by doing programs like this, we can promote healing and help eliminate the social stigma that men have in regards to their relationships and mental-health issues they may be dealing with,” she added.

Moments later, Weerts walked out on stage, where she welcomed the audience, shared some insight and statistics on the state of men’s mental health in America, and relayed a story about her own father.

Having lost his mother to cancer when he was a young boy, Weerts revealed her father rarely talked about his childhood and, after becoming a father himself, notoriously made family dinners unpleasant experiences.

On a recent road trip to San Diego with her daughter and father, Weerts summoned up the courage to ask him why he had made those dinners so miserable for the entire family.

“He told me that was how his father had acted, and he thought that was the role the father was supposed to play with his family,” Weerts said. “He said that, as the years have gone by, he has thought about that a lot, felt bad for the way he acted, and asked for my forgiveness. My daughter’s eyes expressed her disbelief in what was going on, but it was a great gift to me — his gift of an apology and my acceptance of it.”

Others who told touching tales throughout the evening included Ty Fance, Dan Freedman, Erica Gerard, Mike Lambert, Patricia Mitchell, Margot Rose, Steve Rosen, Jack Sundmacher, Ellen Switkes and Suzanne Whang.

Among the notables in attendance for last week’s presentation were City Councilman Tim Murphy, school board members Char Tabet and Steve Frintner, former Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos, and Laurie Bleick who serves as Family Service Agency’s executive director.

Since 2016, JAM Creative has raised over $10,000 for local charities including Family Service Agency, which operates local shelters for victims of domestic violence, the homeless and emancipated teens.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at or (818) 563-1007.