The wife of Dr. Robert W. Bishop, Kelly was the artistic visionary who assembled a dream team of actors, directors, designers, and musicians to create the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in 1981.
A gifted singer, musician, and actress, she performed on-stage in numerous highly regarded productions, including
Oklahoma!, South Pacific, 1776, Baby, A Christmas Carol, and Carousel,
as well as serving as the musical director and conductor for many others.
In addition, she composed music and wrote lyrics for several original main-stage, specialty, and children’s productions - many of which are still performed today.
When you walk through a storm, Keep your chin up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark.
Under Kelly’s tutelage, the Music Box Dinner Playhouse set a new standard for theatrical excellence in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She fostered relationships with professionals from New York City and invited them to work locally to expand the talents of the Players and to delight audiences who had no ability to see shows on Broadway. Always an advocate for children and young talent, she is credited with developing the Music Box Player’s unique and very popular dinner theater for children, consisting of educational and fun, original musicals accompanied by a McDonald’s meal.
When the demands of a busy life drew Kelly away from the daily operations of the Playhouse in the late 1980s, she and “Doc” made certain that the Players could acquire the entire organization and continue as a non-profit, volunteer entity. Although she was no longer in the building on a daily basis, her influence loomed large and she remained a cherished performer, patron, supporter, and friend.
Several of the current Players who were involved in those early years of the Music Box Players, from 1981 to 1987, consider themselves especially fortunate to have known Kelly. Despite bouts of ill health and family tragedy in later life, her good humor, kindness, and generosity remained undimmed to the end of her life and any opportunities to reminisce and share stories of those early days with her were genuinely prized by all who were there.
Over thirty years ago, Kelly stood on the Music Box stage and sang Rodgers and Hammerstein’s anthem,
You’ll Never Walk Alone. Since that time, it has often been associated with her
and her ability to withstand even the most difficult challenges of life:
At the end of the storm is a golden sky, and the sweet, silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone!
You’ll never walk alone.
The Music Box Players celebrate the life of Kelly Bishop and remain grateful for the gifts she shared with us - her talents, her courage, and her enthusiasm for the performing arts- for well over forty years. Rest in peace, our dear friend.
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