The children and teenagers of Theatre Denton’s Matilda gathered around Managing Director Mike Barrow during his curtain speech at Friday night’s performance.
Barrow choked up as he announced that a lifelong friend, former Denton resident Vicki Thomas Berg, had started a memorial scholarship in honor of his late sister, Darby Barrow-Brady. Berg will donate $1,000 each year for the next 10 years. It was a gift she gave in addition to the sidewalk star she bought in memory of her parents, Pat L. and Dave S. Thomas Sr.
“You were a fixture at our house growing up,” Barrow said from the stage. “You were part of the family.”
Berg’s parents were supporters of the Denton arts scene. The sidewalk star, placed at the Campus Theatre with a gift of $10,000 or more, reads: “She loved theater and he loved the movies.”
Berg’s family moved to Denton from Oklahoma when she was a child.
“Darby was the first person I saw when I walked into first grade,” Berg said. “I saw her and her huge grin.”
Barrow-Brady was part of Denton’s first family of theater — although that’s a title Frank and Betty Ann Barrow, Mike and Darby’s parents, insisted belonged to Denton Community Theatre co-founder Carolyn Silvernale.
Berg said she and Barrow-Brady were best friends for 63 years.
“We got into performing, something we did in the Denton theater and even in our bedrooms, singing into hairbrushes. Eventually, I went the band and choir route and Darby went the acting route. I went to North Texas to study music and Darby went to TWU to study nursing.”
Berg said she went on tour with the famous Up With People, a nonprofit group that fosters leadership among young adults through volunteering, performing arts and intercultural workshops. Berg toured the world in the company, and eventually worked in administration for the nonprofit.
Mike Barrow said the donation might seem small, but it will go a long way.
“With the donations we get to the scholarship fund, we can help quite a few kids with tuition. We’ve been able to do a lot of partial scholarships,” Barrow said. “This is an incredible gift.”
Berg said she decided to fund a yearly donation to the scholarship for 10 years for a few reasons.
“I knew I cover it,” she said. “Denton is a huge part of my life. My whole life. I felt like this was the right thing to do. My mother was close friends with Betty Ann Barrow and [the late arts leader] Ema Ruth Russell. They and Carol Short started The Arts Guild and raised money for the arts here in Denton. Denton is special. The Campus Theatre is special, and I want to see that these things keep going.”