There was something magical when the stage curtain at Theatre Palisades opened on August 8 – for the first time in nearly 18 months. It was a sign of hope, anticipation – and relief at having stayed “alive” through the pandemic.
This was the TP’s annual awards show for acting, directing, producing and support crafts, but since the stage had been dark all year, “On with the Show” awards were presented.
The evening started with TP Board President Philip Bartolf welcoming audience members. “It is a treat to be back inside the theater and to look at people on stage,” he said.
He acknowledged the annual Theatre Palisades Youth show “Aladdin, Jr.” which had completed nine outdoor performances in Temescal Canyon. “They deserve the highest praise for their exceptional performances,” Bartolf said.
On a sombre note, he acknowledged members of the theater family who had passed this last year.
After saying the name of Theatre Palisades youth member Molly Steinsapir, who died in a tragic biking accident, he was overcome with grief. It took him a moment to compose himself, before he continued and recognized members/subscribers Marjorie Nicholson, Margaret Light, Robert Thurm (who had been long-time member Martha Hunt’s junior high teacher!) and Evelyn Z. Smith, “who left us an incredibly generous bequest.”
After a moment of silence, Bartolf introduced board treasurer Charmaine Glennon, who assured everyone that financially, the theater had come through Covid-19 better than most theaters.
“Thank you AA for meeting here and helping us with overhead,” she said, and acknowledged that TPY’s show was “charming, lovely and profitable as well.”
When she spoke about Smith’s bequest, she said her lawyer had initially asked her if she knew how much the theater would receive. Glennon replied, “Even if it’s a dollar, we’re grateful.”
Smith left the theater close to $343,000. “We were knocked off our chairs,” Glennon told the audience. “It was entirely unexpected.”
Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Diane Grant, who has served in the box office for decades.
Theatre Palisades Actors’ Troupe (TPAT) entertained, and it was absolutely refreshing. The group, under the direction of Martha Hunter, had worked throughout the pandemic via Zoom, and did a funny sketch about the experience.
The ever clever Douglas Green wrote a song, “TP Pandemic Song,” and accompanied himself on the guitar as he sang about how the theater almost had it all—a funny song about the theater during Covid. He was joined on stage by Alex Wright-Banks and Peter Miller.
Long-time TP member Shirley Churgin said that this year’S awards “were created for those individuals who came forward to help Theatre Palisades survive in extraordinary times and through critical situations.”
This year awards were given to Cindi Wright Banks (for keeping the building well-tuned and the lights on), Charmaine Glennon (for her great “bean counting” skills), Sherman Wayne (for being on call, cleaning and organizing), Martha Hunter (Zooming the TPAT over 70 Sundays), Mitchell Feinstein and Julia Feinstein Adams (posting the weekly on-line newsletter), Diane Grant (working the box office and phone), and Diane Goldberg (for taking care of the plants).
There were short scenes from the next two TP productions: “Wait Until Dark” and “Comedy of Tenors.” Both were exceptional and one can purchase tickets now for the former, which will open on Friday, August 27. The latter will open November 5.
“Wait Until Dark” revolves around a blind housewife who confronts a trio of nefarious men in search of a doll she does not know she has — its contents being a fortune in illicit goods.
Pierson Playhouse is in beautiful, “healthy” shape. On July 16, the air conditioning system was upgraded with Merv 13 filters, and the condenser units were cleaned. There are plans to add ionizers to further purify the air.
On July 20, the lobby carpet was shampooed and cleaned and there was a deep cleaning of the theater prior to the show.
Before entering the theatre, people will need to provide proof of vaccination along with a government-issued ID. The cast, crew and volunteer staff will be fully vaccinated.
Audience members will also be required to wear a mask while inside the theater. This may change if the Health Department permits such a change.
I worked with Lelah T. Pierson in the 1960s and ’70s. What a lovely, generous, and talented woman. Her gift to the Palisades of the “Pierson Playhouse” has grown big, bold wings. As a native Palisadian (’47), I’m delighted that others appreciate the nurturing of talent and support this lovely, intimate opportunity for live theatre.
Lovely! You caught the feeling of the evening perfectly. Thank you, Sue.