Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Community Theatre - Part Four

On three previous occasions (usually toward the middle of the year), I have posted reminiscences of my summers with St. Bernard's Studio Theatre in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

The first two posts offered video and photographs from the summer of 1977, when we mounted a twentieth anniversary production of Meredith Willson's The Music Man.

Last August I posted photos and video of The Boy Friend and The Fantasticks, which we presented in repertory during July 1978.

This time around I am posting something about a show that was produced before I became a participant in St. Bernard's Studio Theatre -- the company's inaugural production of Hello, Dolly!, which went up in the summer of 1975.

The coincidence that brought this material to my attention was a very old, very wrinkled, and very yellowed copy of the Wauwatosa News-Times from July 24, 1975, which had on its cover two photographs taken when my family's house was nearly destroyed by fire. (It goes without saying why I kept the newspaper in my archives.) I just happened to leaf through the paper and discovered inside a photograph and article about Hello, Dolly! that I had never seen before.

My guess is few people have seen this material in the past 33.5 years, either. So, while my inclination was to wait until July to post these clippings, I had to ask: Why wait?

The article mentions several people I remember fondly from my few years with the Studio Theatre company, which was as much a family as it was a performance troupe. The article gives a sense of why this was:

The rousing musical has a cast of 90 amateur performers all from Wauwatosa and surrounding areas, ranging in age from five to 52 years old....

Edward Leahy ..., father of 10 children and one of two men taking the leading role of Horace Vandergelder, will ease through an intricate soft shoe dance with Dolly and some 20 men, representing two generations, in another highlight of the show.

Some of Leahy's family also will be actively engaged in the two weekend productions. Brian, 20, is producer of the show and a member of the chorus. Mrs. Leahy, Danny, Kathleen, and Gerald also are in the chorus and Maureen and Ned are members of the stage crew.

Other families who will participate in the show are Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Rise (he is the other Horace Vandergelder) and Sharon and Scott...; James Jacobs and daughter Patty...; William Staudenmaier and daughter Ann Marie...; Mrs. Irene Alberte, one of two who will do the role of Dolly, and children Lisa, Nancy, and Paul...; and Charles White and daughters Vicki and Peggy....

"Hello Dolly" is being directed and choreographed by Rozeann Campbell..., a teacher of dance at Divine Savior-Holy Angels High School and well-known in Wauwatosa theater. Her oldest daughter, Marla, has done the art work on the set while 15-year-old Suzann is costume mistress and Kimberly, 8, will sing in the chorus.
That pattern of family participation repeated itself in subsequent years: Ed Leahy played Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, Gordon Rise was one of two Tevyes in Fiddler on the Roof, and Irene Alberte played my mother in The Boy Friend, to give just three examples -- and each year also saw their own family members in cast and crew.

Click on the images below to embiggen and read the full article for yourself.

I promise more community theatre memories will be posted this summer.

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Cathy Biermann said...

the newspaper cost 20 cents back then?

Rick Sincere said...

Well, it was a weekly newspaper, after all ...