THE MCDONALDS: Key West’s First Family of Theater

For further information, call: Bob Bowersox at 302-540-6102

For Immediate Release – January 31 Issue


THE MCDONALDS: Key West’s First Family of Theater

Jack McDonald, Amber McDonald Good, Mimi McDonald, and Gary McDonald, Key West first family of theater

In the early days of the Red Barn, their kids used to sleep on blankets backstage while Mom and Dad rehearsed their next play. For the kids, it was just the way things were, this is what their family did…mom and dad under the lights, the kids watching from the wings with their binkies and bottles.

And nearly 40 years later, they’re still doing it. For Mimi and Gary McDonald and siblings Amber McDonald Good and Jack McDonald, theater is literally in their blood. They really haven’t known anything else.

And this year, audiences are being treated to a rare evening of McDonald theater, as all four members of Key West’s First Family of Theater have come together to produce and direct “Short Attention Span Theatre: Enjoy the Ride”, now playing at the Red Barn on Duval Street through February 9.

“This is actually the third time we’ve done it – all of us together,” said Mimi McDonald, who with husband Gary were founding members of the Red Barn 39 years ago. “People find it unusual and unique, I guess, but it’s not to us. It’s a natural course for our family to take when you think about it. We’ve been a theatrical family since the beginning.”

Mimi and Gary met at Virginia Commonwealth University just as the Seventies were kicking in. He studied commercial art and design, with a love for building all sorts of things. She studied acting. When they graduated and married in 1974, they honeymooned in Key West, but then did some travelling before hooking up with several acting friends – including Doug and Marjorie Paul-Shook—and moving to the end of the road permanently.

They were immediately successful in the theatrical community here, first with the Green Street Theatre – where they worked with the likes of Tennessee Williams, Shel Silverstein, and Roy Scheider – and then at the Red Barn, which they helped found with several other theater friends. Nothing’s changed since.

“We’re all so used to one another in the theater,” McDonald said. “It’s a blessing, really, because we all speak the same language. We don’t have to explain our days to one another. We don’t always agree on things, but it’s great that everyone in your family understands what’s going on in your life so organically.”

Amber and Jack grew up in the theater, McDonald said. “They come by all of this honestly. Amber studied acting at Boston University, then had a decent career in Hollywood before moving back here to start a family. Jack was stage managing for us at eleven years old, and helping his dad build and paint sets. He’s very creative visually, especially with costumes.”

“Short Attention Span Theatre” is a perfect showcase for the family talents. All four McDonalds are directing, with a little help from friends Richard Grusin and Dave Bootle. Besides directing, Gary and Jack built the sets. Jack made the costumes and is stage managing. Mimi directs and handles all the theater business. And Amber has even shown up to her rehearsals with her young kids in tow – the next generation of McDonalds to breathe in the theatrical air.

“The fun of this show is that it’s seven very funny short plays,” McDonald said. “Each of us found one that we really liked and we put them all together. If you pay attention, you can see each of our personalities showing up subtly in the way the plays come across.”

The show stars a bevy of Key West talent, including Vanessa McCaffrey, John Reynolds, Carolyn Cooper, Don Bearden, Erin McKenna, and Jeremy Zoma.

“This year may be the last time we’ll ever do something like this,” McDonald said, a note of wistfulness in her voice. But then with a laugh, she added, “But you never know in theater, do you?”

Tickets for all remaining performances of “Short Attention Span Theater” are available at or by calling 305-296-9911.

# # #

marky pierson