Anyway, I did keep reading and, wow, this is a really good story! The characters and their relationships are so interesting and I've actually grown quite fond of his writing style. Funny how things can turn around like that.
"The final dying sounds of their dress rehearsal left the Laurel Players with nothing to do but stand there, silent and helpless, blinking out over the footlights of an empty auditorium. They hardly dared to breathe as the short, solemn figure of their director emerged from the naked seats to join them on stage, as he pulled a stepladder raspingly from the wings and climbed halfway up its rungs to turn and tell them, with several clearings of his throat, that they were a damned talented group of people to work with."