I realize that this is going backward, but now that I’ve had time to reflect on the celebration for the 50th season at the Playhouse, I can think of about a hundred things I should have done differently or just plain should have done!  I have no excuse other than I was so excited, that I wasn’t thinking straight!

At the top of the list of things that were neglected was recognizing by name those people who worked so hard that very first season at the Playhouse and were in attendance at the lunch, reception, and evening shows. Most of them have more than one Playhouse season to look back on. These are the people (along with so many others who couldn’t join us in celebrating) who gave continuity to the Playhouse in those early years. Let’s recognize those who were with us now:

Judy Porter Hennen—8 seasons           

Judy with Mike Switalski, Designer/Tech Director, 1977

Norma Stone—11 seasons

Fr. Mike McNamara, Judy Porter Hennen standing behind Norma Stone, Sandy Anderson, Dean Ankrum, John Cooper

Tom (T.C.) Cervone—4 seasons        

Tom Cervone (T.C.) and his wife Susan, Jo Lynne Nugent, and Faye Argentine

Tom Pasinetti—4 seasons

Tom Pasinetti with Faye Argentine

Larry Crofford—2 seasons

Larry Crofford in Blue Shirt. From Left–Anne Murphy, Kay Murphy Cilone, Mark Murphy, Larry

Kay Murphy Cilone—2 seasons and Mark Murphy–2 Seasons

From Back to Front on Left–Erich Zuern (Designer/Tech Director (1978, 1980, 1981), Shari Coote, Richard Coote. From Back to Front on Right–Anne Murphy, Kay Murphy Cilone, Mark Murphy

Janie Miller—1 season

From Left Front to Back–Janie Miller, Judy Porter Hennen, Tom Pasinetti, Faye Argentine. From Right Front to Back Jo Lynne Nugent, Tom Cervone

Shari Murphy Coote—24 seasons

Shari Murphy Coote, standing. Diana Mendel, seated.

Next, it would have been so wonderful if we had taken a few minutes for each of these first-season pioneers to reminisce about that 1972 season—its joys and aggravations.  I loved being at the Drover’s, but being spread among three rooms was a bit trying.

I wish I had publicly thanked Julie Barnhart and Diana Mendel who were with us all weekend, who created the clever slide show which ran during the reception, who provided the lovely cake, who organized the Friday evening Open Mic, who put together the programs to hand out each evening, and who have been instrumental in making sure that the Playhouse had a 50th season.

Chelsey Barnhart, Julie Barnhart, Diana Mendel, Brian Knutson

Finally, I am so grateful to Emily Hores, long-time Playhouse participant, for organizing the wonderful Saturday show, Playhouse Rewind, to Heather Vulgamore Deerfield for writing the Rewind script, and of course, to all of those talented performers from across the five decades who performed on Saturday evening.  

Sisters–Emily Vulgamore Hores and Heather Vulgamore Deerfield

I think one of the most important things to have come out of the weekend celebration was this:  After 50 seasons, the Brooke Hills Playhouse still means an awful lot to an awful lot of people. It means that those who have worked on the stage and behind the scenes in that old barn have a special place in their hearts for both the place and their fellow cast and crew members. And it means that above all, we want to see Brooke Hills Playhouse continue on for generations to come.  To that end, let’s look forward to our next reunion.  May it not take another 50 seasons for that one!


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