File PhotoChuck Dick, artistic director of Pasadena Theatre Company, has appeared with the company in the roles of Daddy Warbucks in “Annie,” Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” Benjamin Franklin in “1776” and Sir Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons.” As he battles cancer, Dick has stayed positive by focusing on his love of theater and planning for the troupe’s summer production of “Godspell.”
A Love Of Theater Helps Chuck Dick Pull The Curtain Down On Cancer
Chuck Dick is a man whose life is lived in the spotlight. For nearly all of his life, he has served as an actor, director, teacher or some combination of the three. Currently, Dick serves as the artistic director for Pasadena Theatre Company. Last year, though, that role was changed, and Dick was cast into the spotlight again, but for a role he never auditioned for.
He began noticing an ongoing stomach problem that seemed to appear out of nowhere. The problem persisted for some time, and so Dick decided to visit a doctor to remedy the discomfort. “I found out then that I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” Dick said.
Luckily, he had caught the cancer in stage one and immediately began treatment. Dick went through rounds of chemotherapy among other medical tests and procedures.
During that time, Dick said, he received an “overwhelming” amount of support from fellow thespians, close friends and distant acquaintances.
“I’ve heard from people from New York to Hollywood,” Dick said. “It has been an amazing journey in terms of support. I’m really thankful. I can’t begin to tell you how much that has meant.”
Dick said that it was that support — and a desire to return to the stage — that has kept him in such high spirits throughout this journey.
Even during his treatment, Dick took time to visit the people closest to him. “On December 10, even though I was doing chemotherapy, I gave a performance as Winston Churchill,” Dick said. He performed a short piece for members of PTC and close friends of the company. “It’s what I love to do,” Dick said, referring to his performance. “My whole life has been teaching and performing theater. Even though I was sick, this was a tremendous boost to my spirits.”
The boost is exactly what Dick needed at the time, and a few weeks later, he received yet another huge boost to his spirits and confidence.
“About two weeks ago, I had surgery and that got all of the cancer completely,” he said in mid February. “I’m doing very, very well at this point.”
Dick is cautiously optimistic about his future, but for now, he’s happy to clear such a huge milestone in his fight against cancer. “I have to go through a couple more months of chemo to make sure they wipe out everything, but as far as prognosis at this point, it’s very good,” he explained.
With such a positive outlook on the horizon, Dick has already begun to assimilate back into his role at the PTC. He isn’t able to do much in his current state, but he has been doing all that he can — planning and meeting with members of the company — to prepare for the upcoming season. “I’m not just sitting around waiting to get better,” Dick said.
PTC’s upcoming season will feature “Godspell,” “Our Finest Hour,” a one-man show acted out entirely by Dick, and a Christmas show that is to be determined. Dick is excited to get back into a steady role with the company, but he is most looking forward to performing his one-man show. In “Our Finest Hour,” Dick will portray Winston Churchill, “one of the greatest characters in history,” according to Dick.
The recovering artistic director plans to take things slow, as he said, “You’re never really done with cancer; you never know when it’s going to come back.” But he looks forward to this year. The theater has kept him in high spirits for so long, and it will certainly serve to keep him in the highest spirits for years to come.
“I am still in the middle of the fight. I am not healed completely. My stomach is raw from the surgery and I’m still facing chemo,” he said. “I still have a big fight to go. The big part is done, but there’s a lot to go. That looking ahead to what’s coming up is a big part of my peace of mind and my recovery.”