W.C. Fields coined the phrase “Never work with children or animals.” Implying that they are scene stealing and completely unpredictable.” Fields, an actor, comedian, juggler, writer and friend of Will Rogers, was correct.
On hand to give awards to different performers at Theatre Palisades annual show was eight-year-old Lola, the granddaughter of Martha Hunter, a TP Board Member.
Without hesitation or a trace of nervousness, little Lola took the stage with energy and enthusiasm, totally unaware of how cute she was, during the show held August 13. She unknowingly managed to steal the scene every time she stepped on stage.
The evening started with a delicious catered dinner at Founders Island under the Oak Trees. Afterwards subscribers, board members and nominees moved for the main event in Pierson Playhouse.
A short business meeting was held to celebrate the 60 years of live theater and Board member Cindi Wright-Banks gave a treasurer report. “We are in good financial shape, thanks to the kids show,” she said, and added that during the Covid pandemic AA meetings held in the theatre paid rent and that many of those members had also contributed labor and built sets.
Wright-Banks said that the parking lot is used as a paid lot during the day by Gelson’s employees and Seven Arrow faculty, which helps sustain the theater. “We’re in the back,” she said.
The one area that the theater is “underfunded” is with volunteers, which are desperately needed. Volunteers are needed in so many areas, that it could be as simple as “You can serve coffee at one performance or take tickets for one performance,” she said.
Singer/songwriter Doug Green annually parodies the five-show presented during the season, which this year included Nunsense the Musical, The Sweet Delilha Swim Club, Other Desert Cities, Run for Your Wife and Bell, Book & Candle.
Green did not disappoint, singing about members of the Swim Club that they were “transitioning from bikinis to Depends” and for Bell, Book & Candle, a romance about a witch and her love, and references to “riding on his broom.”
Then it was time for the awards. The show taking top awards was Run for Your Wife, which captured Production (Martha Hunter and Laura Goldstein), Director (Sherman Wayne), Lead Actor (Christopher Aruffo), Featured Actor (Justin Drew), Featured Actress (Wendy Taubin), Supporting Actor (Michael Anthony Nozzi), Cameo Actress (Adriana Bodner), Set Design (Sherman Wayne), Costume Design (Hannah Jackson, Martha Hunter & Laura Goldstein) and Sound Design (Martha Hunter).
In the Lead Actress category there was a tie for Holly Sidell in Other Desert Cities and Jasmine Haver for Bell, Book & Candle. In accepting her award, Sidell said, “This means so much to me. Some parts make you look in the dark places in your soul and this was one.”
“This is so sweet,” Haver said. “This was my first show at Theatre Palisades.”
Supporting Actress (Amy Goddard) was for Other Desert Cities. Graphic Design was (Joanne Reich) Bell, Book & Candle.
Wayne took three awards. In addition to Direction and Set Design, he also won for Lighting Design for Bell Book & Candle.
The Subscribers Award, which began in 2018, allows theater subscribers to vote for their favorite show during the year. It was no surprise that the farce Run For Your Wife was the top favorite.
About the show, Wayne said, “I had an outstanding cast. They worked hard and they made me look good.”
A special presentation was made to long-time volunteer Shirley Churgin, who started working at the theater in 1993.
“She willingly gave her time to painting sets and serving on the board of directors: Shirley epitomizes the spirit of being a volunteer,” said Board President Phil Bartlof.
“We had just moved here from the East Coast,” Churgin said in accepting an award. “I read an article that the theater needed volunteers in the local paper.”
She said she and her husband started volunteering, and then continued. “It gave us a life,” she said.
The next TP Show is The Andrew Brothers, which opens September 1. Tasha Taylor, who is in that show, sang and twirled the baton to “Doin It the Hard Way.”
Amazingly she twirled three batons, sang and danced. This is a performance that residents won’t want to miss.
Manfred Hofer, who was the head of play selection announced the upcoming season. Actors gave a short presentation from those plays: Beau Jest, A View from a Bridge, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, Private Eyes and The Rocky Horror Show.
Sweet Transvestite, from Rocky Horror Show was performed by Jeff De Witt (who will also be in The Andrew Brothers) and was exceptionally fun well-done.