Players Pen – October 22, 2014

The Players 79th season will live vibrantly in collective memory banks.  The entire company would like to extend a thank you to those who joined us for a performance, supported us as an advertiser, accepted a poster, volunteered, lent us a prop or supported the Players in any way.

Patrons embraced the tenderness of “The Tin Woman,” enjoyed the thrill of “And Then There Were None,” laughed with the ridiculous adventure of “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” were enthralled with the witty drama of “Butler” and helped “Always…Patsy Cline” smash all box office records at the Players, making it the all-time number one Player best seller. Thank you all!

As I watch the set pieces be dismantled and costumes returned to storage, a Players version of “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” flicks through my mind’s eye as I know saying goodbye to the cast, crew and staff is not far behind. Melancholy does not linger, for I know I have been part of something much more magical in my 20 seasons as a Player; something larger than myself.

I fully embrace the Players mission to foster the next generation of theater artisans, craftspeople and enthusiasts. As each season has passed I’ve become more emerged into this enriching community of theater practitionerswho foster our aspiring interns and staff.  As our company prepares this grand lady of summer theaters for her winter slumber, I know they embark on a splendid journey, and I am filled with excitement, wonder and joy as they spread their wings to take flight.

As intern Peter Brian Kelly makes his way to Florida to begin another administrative internship with Gulfshore Playhouse I recall the journey of Chris Slavik (1996) who is now with Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey or Larry Frievalt (1994) who is the ticketing and patron services manager for the Genesee Theater in Waukegan, Illinois. Shawna Terry (2002), Megan Doud (2003), Debbie Aleff (1994), Tiana Weiler (1993) and Adam Krueger (2005) also scroll through my mind.

Shawna is now box office manager of the Oshkosh Grand Opera House; Megan is in the development office at the University of Michigan; Debbie is with the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center; Tiana is the Event Management Director at McCormick Place; and Adam just started a position with the Harvard Business School.

I watch production intern Shannon Golden say goodbye to her fellow company members, hesitant to leave the nurturing environment which the Players created for artists to flourish and grow. But just as Mother Nature has made the bloom of the fall leaves spring forth, it is time for Shannon and the others to take the seeds sown and nurtured at the Players and let them grow.  Shannon embarks to Chicago and Strawdog Theatre’s upcoming project “Desperate Dolls” as a stage manager.

Again, images scroll through my mind of Erin Deiner (2005), Katie Cora Clark (2008), Heather Timmerman (2008) and Erin Quist Vigo (2012) who are all stage managers in Chicago. Drew Lenox (2009) started a new position as Entertainment Manager with Walt Disney World, and Katherine Henry-Moreland Clanton (2011) just helped open “The Tragedy of Carmen” at the Des Moines Metro Opera.

The images play faster as my mind flips through Players alumni I’ve had the joy to spend a season or two with. Former master electrician and carpenter Dale Fanning Sheehan (2001) is working with Disney in Singapore while former carpenter Stephen Burns (1993) was in New York to help “Mamma Mia!” with its Broadway move to the Broadhurst Theatre.

Former interns Rene Heinrich (1993), Heather S. Libonati (1993), Charice Dajoni Simpson (1994) and Jane Casamajor (1998) have also bloomed. Rene, a lawyer, was reappointed by Governor Beshear to the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board to continue her work on behalf of Kentucky’s children.  Heather is a lighting designer and president of Luminesce Design, who helped 3M with the makeover of its corporate headquarters. Charice operates her own dance studio in North Carolina and Jane is production manager for the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California.

As admin intern Larissa Petersen prepares for her forthcoming role in “The Crucible” in Appleton, images of interns Eric Lindahl (2002), Gina Abromson (2005) and Grace DeWolf spring forth. Gina is active in New Orleans and was nominated for The Big Easy Theatre Award for her supporting role in “The Twilight of the Golds.”  Eric had a memorable performance as John Wilkes Booth in Theater Wit’s production of “Assassins” and is in rehearsals for Griffin Theatre’s production of “Titanic.”  Grace is active in Milwaukee and just closed the “The Glass Menagerie” at In Tandem Theatre where she played Laura alongside Players veteran Angela Iannone’s Amanda.

Eric leads my memories to other recent young performers on the Players stage. Callie Johnson (“Murder on the Nile,” “Chicago” and “Saloon”) had an active theater season in Chicago with “Next to Normal” and “Carrie” and is now on the national tour of “Evil Dead.”   Travis Portia is about to open “Five Guys Named Mo” in Washington D.C. and Will Skrip (“Chicago”) is in rehearsals for “Mary Poppins” at Paramount Theatre and just closed “Les Misérables” at Drury Lane Oakbrook.  While Harter Clingman (“Saloon”) wrapped up the national tour of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Harmony France (“A Little Night Music”) began rehearsals in New York for the national tour of “Sister Act: The Musical.”

While some are working on national tours or regional theater, others have found their path to education. Emily Mott (2006), Nick Osenberg (2011), Briane Pitts (2002), Sarah Eckert Bernstein (1993) foster the creativity of the next generation as educators, from elementary class rooms to college theater programs across the country.   And others are into film production, such as Mathew Rozek (2002) and Evan Schlossberg (1994).

As the company of 2014 pack their suitcases I wonder, will they become filmmakers, actors, stage managers, arts administrators or perhaps stage directors like Mallory Metoxen (2008) and Leah Adcock-Starr (2004) or playwrights such as Matt Johnston (2002), Neil Haven (2004) or Patrick Shaw (2005) or technical directors such as Tyler Axt (2006) at Nashville Repertory Theatre or Adina Weinig (2007), who is assistant technical director at Court Theatre? I am giddy with anticipation. What will they bloom into? I am ready to embark on my next adventure. I hope you join me reader, opening night of the Players 80th season is June 16, 2015.