Sharon Lawrence, part-time Idyllwild resident, emcees the Living Free annual fundraiser, “It’s All About the Animals,” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at the animal sanctuary in Mountain Center.
Lawrence is a triple threat as an Emmy-nominated actor for “NYPD Blue,” and a singer and dancer. The best way to describe Lawrence’s resume is extraordinary, with appearances in “Rizzoli and Isles,” “Body of Proof,” “Drop Dead Diva,” “One Tree Hill,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Monk” and “Boston Legal,” to name a few.
Currently, Lawrence has many projects in the works including a recurring role on “Rizzoli and Isles” and “Drop Dead Diva,” three upcoming films, “Wasted Grace” with Annika Marks of “The Sessions,” “Una Vida” with Joaquim del Medea and Bill Cobbs, and “Solace” with Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Lawrence has a special connection to Idyllwild. Her first visit was in the mid-1980s while touring with a production of “Cabaret.” She recalls a trip up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in July. “I was amazed there was snow at the top,” she laughed. And while Lawrence did not visit Idyllwild proper on that visit, it was the beginning of a relationship with the small mountain community that has lasted for decades.
Her next encounter with Idyllwild was in the mid-1990s during Bill Loman’s 26-year tenure as headmaster of Idyllwild Arts. She narrated an Idyllwild Arts production of “Peter and the Wolf” at Pepperdine University.
Flash-forward to 10 years later (and while dating her now husband, Dr. Tom Apostle), the two visited Idyllwild on the suggestion of Apostle’s friend. “[Apostle] said he found a great getaway with a version of the four seasons he enjoyed growing up in Michigan. I was immediately enchanted with Idyllwild,” Lawrence said. “It reminded me of the summers I spent in the North Carolina mountains as a young girl. I didn’t realize how much I was missing that part of my life.” The couple later purchased a home in Idyllwild that they renovated together and now visit often.
During one of those weekend visits, Lawrence and Apostle went to see a performance at Idyllwild Arts and Lowman approached her to say how much he enjoyed her narration years before. “What I recalled was how much I enjoyed the camaraderie and the work ethic; the power of music and performance. Public education provided all of that for me growing up. Unfortunately, it is dwindling in California and it is such an important aspect of education,” Lawrence lamented.
Lawrence first saw Living Free while on a drive from Idyllwild to the desert. “We saw the signs, but until we got our own dog, until you actually become a dog parent, you take more care and appreciate what people have committed to do,” she said. Apostle and Lawrence are the parents of a golden-doodle named Cooper.
Sometime later that year she was asked to do an art benefit at Camp Ronald McDonald in Apple Canyon. From the camp she saw the vastness of the Living Free property and marveled at the beautiful views. “We were in the area, so we just decided to go down there; that’s when we met Clay [Helgren].” Helgren is the public relations specialist for Living Free. Helgren’s interaction with Lawrence was the beginning of her ongoing support of the organization.
“I like that Melissa [Etheridge] is participating [in the fundraiser],” Lawrence offered. “It’s funny, but I was actually a dancer in one of her music videos — ‘Song 2001’,” Lawrence added.
Lawrence is passionate in her love and support of Idyllwild. “I support a lot of events and organizations in Idyllwild: Idyllwild Arts, jazz fest and the tree lighting ceremony. I always feel good coming up here. I have the same value system as Idyllwild. It’s the community supporting art, supporting each other. Idyllwild is very special to me. All of the pieces fit together here.”