Holds Annual Awards Show/Meeting
This was another strong season at Theatre Palisades, which produced “Bark! The Musical,” “Parfumerie,” “Twelfth Night,” “Clybourne Park” and “Lend Me a Tenor.”
Gathering at Pierson Playhouse on August 11, various actors, technicians and TP members met for the group’s annual awards show and meeting.
The highly entertaining show featured songs and scenes from plays selected for the 2020 season that were woven around the awards.
Before the program began, board members discussed the nonprofit’s finances. The theater is breaking even, which does not allow money for upgrades or other big-ticket items.
So, it was exciting moment when board member Cindi Wright-Banks disclosed that an anonymous donor had given TP $50,000.
Initially, the donor had suggested that maybe the seats could be replaced, but Wright-Banks convinced the person to replace the carpet in the lobby. “It should have been replaced 12 years ago,” she noted. Thanks to the donation, the carpet in the green room and the stairs has been replaced, with a new carpet set to go into the theater.
Also, painting has been done in some areas, and there is new lighting in the lobby. Other improvements will be made, such as new counters in the lobby.
“The donor is making the theater a better place,” said Wright-Banks said, who joked that if anyone needs a tax break next year, TP could use the money.
The show opened with a special award that has never been given before – and hopefully will never have to be given again: “The Show Must Go on Award.”
“Clybourne Park” is a well-written drama, but for whatever reason, this year’s production, produced by Sherman Wayne and Martha Hunter, almost didn’t happen.
Director Tony Torrisi lost several members of the cast early in the rehearsal period and had to replace them. Midway through rehearsals, Torrisi was hospitalized for persistent pneumonia and Wayne stepped in as director.
Then two weeks before the production opened, two more actors dropped out.
It looked grim, until Wayne suggested pushing opening night back a week and actors Phil Bartolf and Matt Landing came aboard. They quickly learned the lines and the blocking while integrating into the cast.
Bartolf and Landing shared the award for their acting, and Hunter and Wayne received the award for production.
“We did it,” Hunter said. “This was a wonderful play, but it was amazing how things can go wrong.”
Of course, that’s part of being a producer–“putting out fires and still getting to do creative stuff,” she said.
In addition to the “Show Must Go on Award,” Bartolf received two others: featured actor in Clybourne Park and lead actor in “Twelfth Night.”
“Wow!” This is astonishing,” he said.
There was a tie for lead actress between Holly Sidell in “Write Me a Murder” and Rosie Mandel in “Twelfth Night.”
Sidell gave a heartwarming speech, noting that she had worked at Theatre Palisades prior to an illness and surgery that had kept her incapacitated for more than a year. “This was my first show back and I didn’t know if I was going to work again.”
She thanked the people at TP for their help, support and belief in her, as a community and a family.
“I had a great time,” said Mandel, who played Olivia. “I hope we do more Shakespeare.”
“Twelfth Night” was one of the big winners of the evening, winning seven of the 14 awards, starting with the Cameo Awards, which went to Aaron Merken and Pearl Spring Voss.
Supporting Actor went to Ray Wilson, JoAnne Reich won for Graphic Design and Sabrina Lloyd won the Directing award.
The Circling the News reviewer noted that “Lloyd has directed this comedy with a light hand and good pacing. Everyone on stage looks like they are having fun and that radiates to the audience.”
“Perfumerie” recipients were Costume Designer June Lissandrello and Featured Actor Manfred Hofer (who tied with Bartolf). Sherman Wayne, who was nominated for Set Design for all five plays but won for “Perfumerie,” said: “I have a lot of fun doing this. As long as I stay healthy, this feeds my inner man.” He added that he could always use construction help at the theater.
In addition to Sidell in “Write Me a Murder,” Laura Goldstein won a TP for Supporting Actress. Susan Stangl, who was nominated in Sound Design for all five categories and won for this production, said: “I’m so lucky because I get to learn about music from all different eras and I get to come up with all sorts of weird sounds.” Frans Klinkenberg and Sherman Wayne won for Lighting Design.
This year, subscribers were asked to vote on a favorite production and “BARK! The Musical” was selected as the audience favorite.