Kathryn Randolph. A name synonymous with theatrical excellence, dedication, and an enduring legacy that still reverberates in the walls of Red Mask theater. For over three decades, she was the heart and soul of the organization, serving as its first director. Her absence left a void that can never be filled since her death on March 5, 1968, but her mantra that "the show must go on" lives on without interruption. The theater, a realization of her dreams and aspirations, fittingly bears her name. Visitors who pass through the grand red street doors are greeted by her smiling portrait in the lobby—an image that is both consoling and inspiring.
But who was Kathryn Randolph? A remarkable woman of many talents, and one who never sought the limelight for her connections. Few knew of her personal friendship with Antoinette Perry, the namesake of Broadway's annual Tony Awards. Her aptitude for directing was such that she served as a dramatic coach for the Redpath Chautauqua troupe, even providing guidance to William Jennings Bryan, known as one of history's greatest orators.
Many of her protégés, the Red Maskers, believed that she could have been a luminary on the American stage, a figure on par with Helen Hayes. But her choice was different. Mrs. Randolph chose to be a wife, mother, dramatic teacher to generations of Danville's youth, and the incomparable director of over 100 plays that brought joy to thousands in her community.
Upon her death, the Commercial News honored her with a heartfelt editorial, saying, "Parents who had studied dramatics under her wanted their children to have a similar experience—not because of career ambitions but so that their lives might be enriched by contact with this gracious person." A touching tribute by a past president of Red Mask, Jerry Ovall, encapsulated the sentiments of all who knew her: "Red Mask Players has always reflected the character and integrity of its director, Mrs. Kathryn Randolph. This great lady was not just someone we knew, but someone we loved. Her work in our community will not cease but will continue through the organization that she built, the students that she taught and everyone whose life she touched."
Kathryn Randolph's story is one of quiet dignity, unflagging commitment to her craft, and a love for her community that transcended mere profession. Her legacy is etched not just in the name of a building but in the hearts and lives of all who were fortunate enough to be touched by her brilliance. Her influence continues to be a beacon for all those who tread the boards of Red Mask. And for many, her guidance continues beyond the veil to ensure that the show, indeed, goes on. A testament to a life well-lived and a love for the craft that transcends the earthly realm.