If you have history here at Gretna Theatre and are not currently included in our list OR your entry needs updating, PLEASE drop us a note with the details so we can keep our Alumni List up to date!
Charles “Chuck” Abbott (Trust Me, 1989) was appointed Artistic Director of Maine State Music Theatre in 1990, continued to produce, direct, choreograph and/or perform at MSMT as he did from 1975 to 1984 and retired from that position in 2010. Dedicated to the development of new works, he has directed world premieres of three major new musicals in the past few years: the
Yeston/Kopit Phantom, first at Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, and then finessed a second production at Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theatre; the romantic musical comedy Love is Spoken Here had its first production at MSMT; and a musical about Raoul Wallenberg entitled Another Kind of Hero drew international crowds at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. He directed Lucky Guy, a new musical well on its way to New York production. He has also developed musicals by revising scripts of older classics: Cole Porter’sPanama Hattie, which toured with Ann Miller, and Cabin in the Sky. Recently he stage a revised edition of Oh, Brother! for the York Theatre in NYC.
During his eleven year history with the Walnut Street Theatre, he’s staged their most successful works, including Me and My Girl, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Into the Woods. His direction ofOklahoma! for Los Angeles Opera starring Jean Stapleton and Jodi Benson won him the Drama-Logue Award. His production of Follies with an all-star cast headed by Juliet Prowse and John Cullum opened Houston’s Wortham Theatre Center. He has directed many plays at leading regional theatres including Noises Off (Alabama Shakespeare), A Walk in the Woods (Theatre League of Kansas City), Nuts (The Alley Theatre, Houston), and Bent, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Sly Fox (Alliance Theatre, Alabama, where he was Associate Artistic Director).
In an earlier career, he appeared on Broadway in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Blood Red Roses,and as Joel Gray’s standby in The Grand Tour. He also toured in the first national companies ofMarat/Sade, and as the emcee in Cabaret – a role he has played for 1000 performances and will reprise at the Walnut Street Theatre.
As a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC), he is also a voting member of the Tony Awards.
Piper Lindsay Arpan (Cole, 2006) was born in Georgia, raised in South Carolina, and reared in Louisiana. She has a BFA in dance and a BA in business from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Favorite credits include Delee in Smokey Joe’s Café (Debaun Theatre, NJ), Heidi in Cabaret (Gateway Playhouse, NY), Stepp Sister/Sweetheart in Dreamgirls (Prince Music Theatre, PA), Mack and Mabel(Goodspeed Musicals, CT), and kicking it up as a Radio City Rockette. You might have seen Piper featured on the big screen as a Prisoner of Love Dancer and a Lil’ Old Lady in The Producers: The Movie Musical(2005) starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Classically, Piper has performed with the Carolina Ballet, Sarasota Ballet Dance Link, Dance Repertory Theatre, and the Martha Graham Institute. Piper was in the first national tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot, as the female swing covering and performing all six of the women’s parts. “It has been quite a challenge to learn them all but definitely interesting and fun! Visit the website at www.montypythonsspamalot.com where you can see full cast and tour information.
Michael Arquette (Damn Yankees, 1960) Born Lewis Michael Arquette, the son of well-known actor Cliff Arquette and best known as Charley Weaver of Hollywood Squares, he had a long career as an actor, writer and producer (b. December 14, 1935 – d. February 10, 2001). He was known for playing “J.D. Pickett” on the TV series, The Waltons, where he worked from 1978–1981. Arquette was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Mildred Nesbitt (née Le May) and actor Cliff Arquette. He was a descendant of explorer Meriwether Lewis. He was a part of the famous Arquette family, as son of actor Cliff Arquette and the father of actors Patricia, Alexis, Rosanna, David and Richmond Arquette. He was the father-in-law of actress Courteney Cox and actor Thomas Jane and the former father-in-law of actor Nicolas Cage. Arquette frequently appeared in movies with his sons. While living in Chicago Arquette managed The Second City theater for several years. In 1970, the family moved to a commune in Front Royal, Virginia. His wife, Brenda “Mardi” Nowak, died in 1997 from breast cancer. She was Jewish and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor from Poland, while Lewis Arquette was a convert to Islam. Arquette died in Los Angeles, California in 2001, due to congestive heart failure. Entire Filmography (Actor) and further information available at Wikipedia.
Guy Arbury (Leading man throughout the 1950s at Gretna) (Jan. 31, 1906 – Dec. 26, 1972) made his Broadway debut in Star Spangled and followed with appearances in Hamlet and Henry IVwith Maurice Evans. He also played in Abe Lincoln in Illinois with Raymond Massey and toured in the production of Ivanov with Edward G. Robinson. In 1972, Marbury was found stabbed to death at the Riverside Plaza Hotel, his Manhattan residence. Robbery was the apparent motive and the murderers were never identified. He is buried with his wife Jewel at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, NY in the Actors’ Fund Lot #399 . Broadway performances as listed on the Internet Broadway DataBase(IBDB) website:
|The Rehearsal [Original, Play]||Sep 23, 1963 – Dec 28, 1963|
|First Love [Original, Play]||Dec 25, 1961 – Jan 13, 1962|
|Auntie Mame [Original, Play, Comedy]||Oct 31, 1956 – Jun 28, 1958|
|Touchstone [Original, Play]||Feb 3, 1953 – Feb 7, 1953|
|King Lear [Revival, Play, Tragedy]||Dec 25, 1950 – Feb 3, 1951|
|The Survivors [Original, Play]||Jan 19, 1948 – Jan 24, 1948|
Kaye Ballard (Way Off Broadway, 1998) returned to Broadway in Over the River and Through the Woods after appearing at Gretna Theatre. Born November 20, 1925, sheis an American musical theatre and television actress, comedienne, and singer. She was born as Catherine Gloria Balotta in Cleveland, Ohio to an Italian American family. Ballard established herself as a musical comedienne in the 1940s, joining the Spike Jones touring revue of entertainers. Capable of playing broad physical comedy as well as stand-up dialogue routines, she became familiar in television and stage productions. During 1954 she was the first person to record the song “In Other Words” (later renamed “Fly Me To The Moon”). In 1957, she and Alice Ghostley played the two ugly stepsisters in the live telecast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, starring Julie Andrews in the title role. From 1967-69, she co-starred as Kaye Buell in the NBC sitcom, The Mothers-in-Law, with Eve Arden. She also appeared as a regular on The Doris Day Show, as restaurant owner, Angie Pallucci, from 1970-72. She made appearances on the American television game show Match Game. In 1976 she was a guest star on The Muppet Show. For Broadway drama, she has starred as Helen in The Golden Apple, where she introduced the song “Lazy Afternoon”. She also portrayed Rosalie in Carnival! (with Jerry Orbach), Ruth in Joseph Papp’s production of The Pirates of Penzance, and the title role in Molly. She created the role of the Countess and closed out-of-town in Marc Blitzstein’s Reuben, Reuben and played Hattie Walker in the Paper Mill Playhouse’s 1998 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. She also appeared as Molly Goldberg in an unsuccessful musical adaptation of the popular radio serial. In 2005, she appeared in an all-star road-company production of Nunsense, which was written by Dan Goggin. In 2006, she completed her autobiography, How I Lost 10 Pounds in 53 Years. www.kayeballard.com
Laurie Beechman (Gretna Theatre Benefit Concerts, 1991, ‘92, ‘94) (April 14, 1953 – March 8, 1998) was noted for her work on Broadway and cabaret; she succumbed to cancer in 1998. See: Wikipedia New York Times obituary: Laurie Beechman, the throbbing-voiced singer and actress who played Grizabella in the Broadway musical Cats for more than five years, died on Sunday March 8, 1998 at her home in White Plains, N.Y. She was 44. The cause was complications from ovarian cancer, said her agent and friend, Jim Wilhelm. An emotive belter in the tradition of Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, both of whom were her girlhood idols, Ms. Beechman brought a waifish pathos and a piercing vocal power to her character’s signature song, ”Memory.” Whether on Broadway, on a concert stage or in a cabaret, Ms. Beechman conveyed a strong involvement with her material, delivering the climaxes of big ballads with a full-throated, sobbing intensity. Ms. Beechman was born in Philadelphia, attended New York University and made her Broadway debut in 1977 in the ensemble of Annie. Venturing into the pop arena, she made an album, ”Laurie and the Sighs” (Atlantic), that presented her as a rock belter in the mode of Pat Benatar. When the album sold poorly, she decided to stick to the worlds of theater and cabaret and returned to Broadway as the narrator inJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Her performance in that show won her Tony and Drama Desk nominations for best featured actress in a musical. In 1983 she took the role of Grizabella in the national touring company of Cats wiith the proviso that she step into the part on Broadway when Betty Buckley departed. The chance came four months later. In the late 1980′s and 90′s, Ms. Beechman became a cabaret and concert performer who often blended popular standards and theater songs with light rock-and-roll. She also recorded four more albums. Ovarian cancer was diagnosed in 1989. Despite her illness, she joined the national touring company of Les Miserables in the role of Fantine, performing in the touring production of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Sunset Edition, and singing ”You’ll Never Walk Alone” at President Clinton’s 1997 inaugural gala. In 1997 she rejoined Cats in time to be playing Grizabella when the show surpassed A Chorus Line as Broadway’s longest-running hit.
James “Jim” Bernard (no credit available) appeared on Broadway with the legendary Bert Lahr, Angela Lansbury and Sondra Lee in Hotel Paradiso (1957) and What Every Woman Knows (1954-55) with Helen Hayes . See the Internet Broadway Database.
Marshall Borden (director/actor Plaza Suite, 2001) born August 10, 1945, he continues with a stellar career in the theatre, as well as playing opposite Lee Meriwether (his wife) as Thurston Howell III in the musical premiere of Gilligan’s Island in Los Angeles. (Pictured with wife Lee Meriwether).
Andrew Brightbill (The Good Doctor, ‘98) left Gretna for Los Angeles and was seen in Felicity for the WB Network.
Jane Brockman (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 2009; Love ‘Round the PianoValentine Concert, 2011) Having grown up in Hershey, Jane is thrilled to have worked at Gretna! Most recently, she was seen as Lady Anne in Camelot with the New York Philharmonic broadcast “Live From Lincoln Center” starring Gabriel Byrne, Christopher Lloyd and Marin Mazzie. She was also the Mother Superior in Showboat at Carnegie Hall. Other NY performances include the New York Theatre’s Musicals in Mufti seriesZorba and Encores! Kismet. Jane also sings throughout the year with the NYC Ballet. Prior to that, Jane was privileged to be a part of the National Tour of Light in the Piazza where she understudied and performed the role of Margaret. Also she was fortunate enough to work on The Producers movie directed by Susan Stroman and Law & Order SVU. For six years Jane performed inA Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden, starring Jim Dale, F. Murray Abraham, Tim Curry, Frank Langella, Tony Roberts and Roger Daltry. She played Nettie Fowler in Carousel, and was on the road with the National Tour of The Sound of Music playing Sister Berthe. Regionally Jane’s credits include Marme in Little Women, Chelsea in On Golden Pond, Marion in The Music Man,Maria in Lend Me a Tenor, Rose in God’s Favorite, Anna in The King and I, Mrs. Upson in Mame,Mrs. Mullin in Carousel, Lizzie in 110 in the Shade, and The Baroness in The Sound of Music, and Glinda in The Wizard of Oz. Other performances include Evita at the Papermill Playhouse, andStarcrossed at the Goodspeed Opera House. She has also been seen on All My Children and in various commercials. Jane has a B.M. degree in Voice from Penn State and an M.A. degree in Opera/Music Theatre from Southern Illinois University. She teaches voice at NYU and travels.
Pearce Bunting (Greater Tuna, 1995) starred in The Travelers for the Discovery Channel, and appeared on Homicide:Life on the Street and As the World Turns. He won on the 1999 Philadelphia Critics Award as Best Actor for the role of Hamm in Endgame; won as Best Performer with the 1999 Judges Prize for his solo performance in The Man in the Green Suit at the International Theatre Festival at San Antonio; was nominated for a 1999 Barrymore Award as Best Performance by a Leading Actor for the role of John Brennan in Coyote on a Fence at The Arden Theatre; and won the 1995 Barrymore Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor for the role of Scullery in Road at the Wilma Theatre. He is a 1988 graduate of the Yale School of Drama and lives in New York City.
Marion J. Caffey (Director, Blues in The Night, 2000) Born in Hempstead, Texas and raised in Gainesville, Florida, Marion is the son of two generations of proud Florida educators. Marion began his career as a song and dance man in New York City in 1981, performing on Broadway and around the world. In 1997, he made a career choice to dedicate his time and talent to conception, directing and writing. 3 Mo’ Divas (A Musical Celebration of Class, Sass & Style) is his fifth successful commercial production; following Blackbirds of Broadway, Cookin’ at the Cookery, Street Corner Symphony and Three Mo’ Tenors. Most recently Mr. Caffey opened his Three Mo’ Tenors in New York City, at Off-Broadway’s Little Shubert Theater, to standing ovations and rave reviews. Three Mo’ Tenors is the first in his “Mo’ Music” franchise. Three Mo’ Tenors is a concert celebration of the African-American tenor voice, crossing 10 musical forms and spanning 400 years of music in one evening. These forms include opera, Broadway, jazz, blues, soul, R&B, rock, world, spiritual and gospel. Three Mo’ Tenors has appeared on CNN, UPN, CW11, NBC’s “Today;” at The Kennedy Center; on The Mark Twain Awards, and has recorded a cast album CD and DVD for RCA. The concert was awarded a Great Performances debut for PBS and was featured at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival. On November 13, 2006, Mr. Caffey became a part of American history by working as Creative Producer/Director of the Ceremonial Groundbreaking for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1997 he wrote, directed and choreographed the world premiere of the musical Cookin’ at the Cookery: The Music and Times of Alberta Hunter. Cookin’… has been produced in over 40 North American theaters and has garnered many awards and nominations including The Drama Desk, The Dora Mavor, NAACP, The Drama League and The New York Times Critics’ Choice as Best Musical of 2003. With the 1998 Broadway opening of Street Corner Symphony at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, he has now performed, written, directed and choreographed on / for the Broadway stage! Marion J. Caffey’s 3 Mo’ Divas (A Musical Celebration of Class, Sass & Style) is the most recent chapter in the “Mo’ Music” franchise. The theatrically staged concert opened to critical and audience acclaim in 2004 at San Diego Repertory Theatre. In 2006 it ran at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, NY and The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for over 128 performances and to 100% standing ovations and critical acclaim. He has also served as director and/or choreographer on Bowfire, Blackbirds of Broadway, Chicago, Forever Plaid, Jelly Roll: The Music and the Man, Little Shop of Horrors, Tintypes, The All Night Strut, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Purlie Victorious, Ruthless, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Spunk, The Colored Museum and 1940’s Radio Hour. Future projects include: Mo’ Music (Tenors & Divas Together – A Television Spectacular), Yass! Yass! Yass! (A Fats Waller Musical) and Win Place or Showbiz.
James Costigan (seasons of ’46 and ’48) (March 31, 1926 – December 19, 2007) acted in Gretna under the name Jimmy Smith. As a writer, he went on to win three Emmy’s for television movies/mini-series including Eleanor and Franklin, Little Moon of Alban and Love Among the Ruins starring Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier . His writing for Broadway theater included Baby Want a Kiss, a 1964 comedy which starred Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. See also New York Times Obituary.
Buddy Crutchfield (Director, Camping With Henry & Tom, ’99) resides and works in New York City as an actor/director, as well as running a dance school with his wife, also an actress/dancer. Pictured with choreographer wife Gail Pennington Crutchfield. Credits include the Original Off-Broadway Production in 2001 ofSummer of ’42 as Mr. Sanders/Walter Winchell/Pete (Understudy); Doctor, Doctor as Jay (Off Broadway); Six Wives; and the Broadway revival in 1992 of The Most Happy Fella. As director he opened Freckleface Strawberry, The Musical in 2010.
George Curley (Ladies’ Night in a Turkish Bath, 1959) was the original Indian, Mortimer, in The Fantasticks which had its record-breaking Off-Broadway run. He also appeared on Broadway as Devlin in the comedy Thieves(1974-75), the comedy Moonchildren (1972) as Cootie’s Father, understudy for Mr. Willis and Uncle Murry and as the stage manager, and in the play The Great White Hope(1968-70) as the Photographer, Weigher-in, Mr. Farlow, Stage Hand, Fight Fan and Civic Marcher. Mr. Curley was also the stage manager for Below the Belt, Just for Openers and The Game is Up at Upstairs at the Downstairs. Pictured bottom right in original photo from The Great White Hope (top left) and as Mortimer in the original cast photo of The Fantasticks .
Robert DeMora (Tillie, 1960) became an accomplished costumer, designing for over 24 films including Academy Award nominated The Marathon Man and Cruising. Other films include Bette Midler in Concert: Diva Las Vegas (TV, 1997, two Emmy Nominations for Art Direction and Costume Design), Beaches (1998), Stealing Home (1998), The Birdcage (1996) The Last Dragon(1985), Risky Business (1983), Grease 2 (1982), American Hot Wax (1978), and Exorcist II The Heretic (1977).
Jay Devlin (Camping With Henry & Tom, ’99) left Gretna to continue on stage and in episodes of the TV show Law & Order. An actor and dancer, he was born May 8, 1929 and debuted in Wonderful Town at the Camden Music Fair in 1958, New York debut in The Littlest Circus as Ringmaster/Clown at the Golden Theatre in 1960. Principal theatre appearances as Alfred in Little Murders (Circle in the Square, 1969), as Bill in Hot L Baltimore (Circle in the Square, 1975), King of Hearts (Minskoff, 1979). He toured as a dancer in Wonderful Town (1958) and Carnival (1963). He appeared in the films Cross and the Switchblade, Three Days of the Condor, and on television in All My Children, Law & Order and Law & Order Criminal Intent. Favorite roles include Senex, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Alfred, Little Murders; Charley, Where’s Charley; and Walter Burns, FrontPage.
Elinor Donahue (Love Letters, ‘99) promised that after a 62-year career, which included the long running Father Knows Best, she would retire after her engagement in Gretna. Thus far she has kept her word.
Paul Dooley (On Borrowed Time, ‘51) has enjoyed a long career in film including the Academy Award-winning Breaking Away.
Joseph Elic (Good Night Ladies, 1953) has made audiences laugh for half a century, and has also been seen in dramatic roles in such films as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Robin and the Seven Hoods and Frank Capra’s Pocketful of Miracles.
Jamie Farr (Catch Me If You Can, ‘00) once again did record-breaking business at Kansas City’s New Theatre in Moon Over Buffalo.
James Fields starred opposite Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame.
Leonard Frey (Make a Million and Sailor Beware, 1961. During that same summer in true ‘Summer Stock’ fashion he served as a Gretna Theatre “Technician”. In 1962 he appeared in Plain Betsy. We may have credited him erroneously in our Anniversary Program as appearing in Tillie the Mennonite Maid - further research required.) Born Sept. 4, 1938 in Brooklyn, Leonard Frey originally wanted to become an artist but, in college, he became interested in acting. He made his stage debut in an off-Broadway production of Little Mary Sunshine and his film debut as a celebrant in Finnegan’s Wake(1966), but first rose to prominence in the role of Harold, the self-proclaimed “Jew fairy”, in the stage and screen versions of The Boys in the Band (1970). Frey is probably best known for the role of Motel, the timid tailor, in the film version of Fiddler on the Roof(1971); this performance landed him a nomination for a Supporting Actor Oscar. He continued to work on stage, in the movies and on TV throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but he never again attained the level of critical success he enjoyed in Fiddler on the Roof(1971). On August 24, 1988, Frey died from complications related to AIDS. He is remembered at Gretna as a kind and gentle man.
Melanie Fry (Honky Tonk Angels, ‘00) appeared in Always, Patsy Cline in London.
Teri Furr (GEORGE M!, 2009), a native of Harrisburg, is excited to be making her Gretna Theatre debut alongside of husband, Rusty Reynolds! Teri made her Broadway debut covering and performing the role of Dainty June opposite Tyne Daly, and later Linda Lavin, in the Tony Award winning revival of Gypsy. Other Broadway and National Tour credits include Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, Dreamgirls with BJ Crosby and Pump Boys and Dinettes (Prudie Cupp). Some of Teri’s favorite regional roles include Maggie in A Chorus Line (Theatrefest), Sister Mary Leo in Nunsense (Westchester Broadway Theatre), Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, Joan in Dames at Sea, Beth in Under Glass (Luna Stage) and Li’l Bit in How I Learned to Drive (Women’s Theatre Company). Teri has been seen on or promoted products in commercials, voiceovers or print for: Loving, All My Children, As the World Turns (Brandy), WebMD, Ace Pharmaceuticals, Happiness Express, Tiger/Hasbro, The Fur Vault, and Congoleum to mention a few. She has appeared in numerous workshops and readings in NYC and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity. Love and thanks to Rusty & their beautiful daughter, Annie.
Bill Galarno (Note: We’ve met Bill at auditions in NYC and he let us know his first theatre job was with Gretna Theatre in 1959 in Plain and Fancy!) has appeared on Broadway in Abe Lincoln in Illinois with Sam Waterston, The Sound of Music as Herr Zeller with Constance Towers, and Candide with Alan Arkin. National tours include 110 in the Shade with Will Geer, Move over Mrs. Markham as Alistair and The Sound of Music. Off Broadway he’s appeared in Elizabeth Rex. Equally at home with musicals, comedies and the classics, Bill’s recent New York, regional and stock productions have included 45 Seconds from Broadway, Measure for Measure, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Deer Park, Spoon River Anthology, Cymbeline, Richard II, The Count, Tuesdays with Morrie, Singin’ in the Rain, Gigi, Charlie’s Aunt and many, many others over his long and varied career.
Kevin Gray (Colorados 1987, Three Phantoms in Concert 2008), Broadway Musical Performer, Is Dead at 55. Reprinted from Playbill.com. By Robert Simonson 12 Feb 2013
Much of Mr. Gray’s career was spent playing leads in the large-scale musicals that thrived in the 1980s and ’90s. Following a stint playing Raoul, he stepped into the title role in Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera in 1990. He later played the Phantom on tour, winning Florida’s Carbonell Award for his performance.
A notice on the The Phantom of the Opera Facebook page reads, “We are truly saddened and shocked to have to report the passing of former Phantom star Kevin Gray. A former Raoul and Phantom, he was a beloved member of the Phantom family and the Broadway community. He suffered a sudden heart attack at only 55. All of our hearts, prayers and thoughts go out to his beautiful wife Dodie Pettit an original Broadway cast Ballerina. They had just celebrated with us at the 25th Anniversary. He was a true talent, teacher and gentleman who will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”
Mr. Gray again sang the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber when he starred in a tour of the revue Music of the Night, and played Pontius Pilate in a 2000 Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. He appeared as The Engineer in the Los Angeles and Toronto stagings of Miss Saigon.
Other Broadway roles included a turn as the King of Siam in the 1996 revival of The King and I, and the short-lived Chu Chem in 1989. Off-Broadway, he appeared in a 1984 revival of Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures; the 1987 David Hare-penned musical The Knife starring Mandy Patinkin; and a staging of The Death of Garcia Lorca, all at the Public Theater.
Regionally, he acted with The Portland Stage Company, Boston Shakespeare Company, Stonington Shakespeare Company and The Mount Gretna Playhouse.
Recently, he played Scar in a national tour of The Lion King, and in 2011 took on the position of associate professor of theatre at The Hartt School at the University of Hartford.
Mr. Gray is survived by his wife, Dodie Pettit.
Bill Harp (set designer, ’50) received Emmy’s for his work on The Carol Burnett Show, My Name is Barbra, Moonlighting and LA Law; he was nominated for the award 24 times.
Jona Harvey (Steel Magnolias, ‘90) recently appeared in Great Expectations at Philadelphia’s Hedgerow Theatre.
Judy Williams-Henry (Three Penny Opera, ’87 among others) recently returned from yet another European triumph with her company, Movement Laboratory.
Charlton Heston & Lydia Clark (1947 Summer Season) Following graduation from Northwestern in Chicago,Charlton Heston and his wife, Lydia Clark , spent the summer of 1947 doing 10 plays in 10 weeks with Charles Coghlan at Gretna Theatre. He went on to fame and fortune in the film industry, she as a photographer, but they never forgot their humble beginnings, returning to Central Pennsylvania in 1992 to perform together in LOVE LETTERS as a fundraiser for Gretna Theatre.
Art High (Tillie, ’81) recently appeared in the Fulton Theatre’s 1940’s Radio Hour.
Pat Julian (Executive Director, 1997-2002) broke every attendance, box office, and subscription record in the history of the theatre. He received Governor’s Citations for his productions of BLUES IN THE NIGHT and John Amos’ TALLEY’S COMET as well as a Harrisburg Magazine’s “Best of the Best” Award. He also commissioned Gretna’s Arts in ducation outreach series , Amelia Earhart, Lost Hero and Road to Freedom which still tour our regional schools. He is currently a producer at the historic Theatre Guild, where his projects include the London blockbuster, SHERLOCk HOLMES THE LAST ACT and concerts with JERRY SEINFELD, BILL COSBY and GEORGE BENSON.
Kathryn Kendall (Hello, Dolly! 2009; Mame 2010; “Marmee” in Little Women the Musical 2011) is thrilled to return to Gretna Theatre. This marks her
fourth Jerry Herman show and she treasures having had the privilege and honor of working with Mr. Herman on the critically acclaimed Barrington Stage production of Mack and Mabel in which she played Lottie and “tapped her troubles away!” Most recently she appeared in By Strouse, a celebration of the music of Charles Strouse, which was performed for Mr. Strouse as a tribute at his acceptance of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Arts & Culture. Prior to that, she was delighting (and terrifying??) audiences with her nefarious portrayal of the Wicked Witch/Miss Gulch in The Wizard of Oz. New York, National, and Tour credits include 42nd Street (Dorothy Brock, Maggie Jones), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Hildy, Mazeppa, Mr. Monotony Singer), Showboat (Ellie) with Eddie Bracken, Sister Robert Anne in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of Nunsense with Sally Struthers, Forbidden Hollywood (Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Liza, Cher, Ann Margaret, Doris Day, Bette Midler, Audrey Hepburn), 42nd Street (Anytime Annie) with Jerry Orbach and Tammy Grimes, Merman…Who Could Ask for Anything More? (Merman) at Lincoln Center, Kiss Me Kate (Bianca) and Shenandoah (Jenny) both with John Raitt, Off-Broadway revivals of Fiorello (Mitzi) and The George White Scandals (Lead) at the New Amsterdam Theatre, Lyrics and Lyricists Series (Soloist), Empire and Postcards on Parade at the York, Broadway Backwards and the world premier of Paper Moon with Gregory Harrison (Featured Roles). Her numerous regional credits span the country at prestigious theatres such as the Goodspeed Opera House, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, George Street Playhouse, Studio Arena, and the American Musical Theatre Festival to name a few. Favorites include Gypsy (Mama Rose), Dirty Blonde (Mae/Jo), Anything Goes (Reno Sweeney), Bells are Ringing (Ella), Urinetown (Pennywise), and Threepenny Opera (Jenny) which she performed for playwright Bertolt Brecht’s son, Stefan. TV credits include recurring roles on The Edge of Night and Loving. Ms. Kendall also does TOEFL voiceover recordings for Educational Testing Services. She is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory.Richard Kline Gretna Theatre’s Musical Director under Charles Coghlan from 1959 to 1967. Richard was a musical director for a total of 80 musicals including Gretna and the following theatres: Ephrata Playhouse, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, USAF, Hempfield High School and most recently The Actors Company for the Fulton Opera House.
Ronald Knight (leading man, ‘64, ‘65) enjoyed a long career in the theatre co-starring with Yvonne DeCarlo and Joan Fontaine, among others.
Elizabeth Ward Land (The Will Rogers Follies, 2010) varied show business career encompasses musicals, plays, concerts, voice-overs, commercials and television. On Broadway, she appeared as Marie in The Scarlet Pimpernel (original cast, all three versions), Passion, City of Angels, and as a featured soloist in The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber starring Michael Crawford at Radio City Music Hall and Royal Albert Hall in London. Off-Broadway credits include The Green Heart (Manhattan Theatre Club), Hello Again (Lincoln Center) and Chess. Liz starred in the National Tour of The Prisoner of Second Avenue opposite Hector Elizondo, as well as National Tours of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Les Miserables, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain. She has starred at some of the country’s finest regional theatres: Sacramento Music Circus as Charlotte in A Little Night Music, Betty Blake in The Will Rogers Follies, Elsa in The Sound of Music, Gloria Thorpe in Damn Yankees, Elsa in The Sound of Music; Lela Rogers in Backwards in High Heels at the Asolo; Anna in The King and I, Lucy in The Thing About Men and Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me, Kate at Musical Theatre West; Helen Dubin in Boulevard of Broken Dreams at Coconut Grove Playhouse; Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet at Goodspeed Opera House; Keely in Pete ‘n’ Keely opposite David Naughton at The Alpine Theatre Project; The Evil Queen in Snow White for Disneyland; Connee Boswell in The Boswell Sisters at The Old Globe in San Diego; and Mother Superior in the Pre-Broadway tryout of Sister Act at the Pasadena Playhouse and the Alliance Theatre. Her voice-over work includes the games Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Reservoir Dogs, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Infinite Wars; the television series Alien Abductions; True Confessions, Adam’s Rib and American Appetites for L.A. Theatre Works; and Disney’s Enchanted. On TV: One Life to Live, Crumbs, The Amanda Show, 10-8, All My Children. Elizabeth was honored to be chosen as Barbra Streisand’s stand-in for her 2006 Concert Tour. Her acclaimed debut CD, First Harvest, was named by BroadwayWorld.com as one of 2008’s Best Recordings, and is available on ITUNES and LMLMusic.com.
Robert Lansing (leading man ‘54) played in Tennessee Williams’ Garden District prior to achieving TV stardom. He went on to star in such series as Twelve O’clock High, 87th Precinct and The Equalizer.
Lisa Layne (A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, ‘98) repeated the role in Nashville to rave reviews. Ronald Long (Man Who Came to Dinner ‘47 and Life with Father ‘50) was a noted English actor who went on to a distinguished career on Broadway where he appeared in Nature’s Way. He also played the lead role in Witness for the Prosecution on Broadway, replacing Francis L. Sullivan, and on a national tour. He ended his career in the long-running soap opera, Love of Life.
Steve Luker (George M! 2009, The Will Rogers Follies 2010; Burt & Me 2012) Steve has appeared in over 80 legit shows including Broadway (42nd Street), National and European tours (Footloose, 42nd Street), Radio City, Off Broadway (The P Monologues), Regional Companies (North Shore Music Theatre, Goodspeed, TUTS, Gateway Playhouse, the John Engeman Theatre, Crossroads, Mill Mountain, New Harmony, etc.). He received a Barrymore Award Nomination for Best Actor in a Musical last year for the role of Sewerman in Bristol Riverside’s Dear World. TV: Law and Order, Cosby, Hope and Faith, One Life To Live, As the World Turns, etc. plus numerous commercials
Joseph Masiell Appeared in 1961 in “Plain Betsy.” After leaving Gretna he went on to appear in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris with Mort Shuman, Elly Stone, Jacques Brel, Shawn Elliott and Judy Lander, as well as in New York as Chuck Rosenfeld in “Cindy” in 1964 at the Gate Theatre and in 1965 at the Cricket Theatre. In “Leaves of Grass” at Theatre Four in 1971, in “How to Get Rid of It” 1974 at Astor Place Theatre, in “Tickles by Tcuholsky” at Theatre Four in 1976, in “Joe Masiell Not at the Palace” at the Astor Threatre 1977-78 and as Malatesta in “Non Pasquale” 1983 at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre.
Andrea Marcovicci (Benefit concert, 1997) continues her career as an international force on the cabaret circuit. She won high critical acclaim for her performance at London’s Talk of the Town.
Ricardo Martin (musical director, Blues In the Night, ‘00) passed away from lung cancer this year.
Gary Mazzu (director, Catch Me If You Can, ‘00) went on to stage The Renaissance Festival in Denver.
Marci McGuiggan (Swingtime Canteen, ‘98) has been cast in two upcoming New York productions; It’s a Blackout to run off-Broadway this summer and Charles Bausch’s new comedy Shanghai Moon.
Eddie Mekka (The Good Doctor, ‘98) starred with his Laverne & Shirley pal, Cindy Williams in a record-breaking tour of Grease.
Lee Meriwether (Plaza Suite, ‘01) went on to be one of the judges for the 2001 Miss America Pageant, appearing also on the 50th Anniversary edition of the Today Show. She also appeared with husband Marshall Borden in the musical premiere of Gilligan’s Island as Lovey Howell. BIO: www.leemeriwether.com Archivists will continually remind you that Lee was successively: Miss San Francisco, Miss California and Miss America. And though most know Lee as “Betty” in the highly successful CBS series, Barnaby Jones, where she co-starred opposite Buddy Ebsen for eight years, and was nominated for both the Golden Globe and the Emmy. Lee has had starring or recurring roles in no less than nine different series, ranging from the first women’s editor with Dave Garroway on the original Today Show on NBC to her three year run as Lily on The Munsters Today for Universal. Some of Lee’s successful series include: Time Tunnel, The New Andy Griffith Show, Mission: Impossible, The F.B.I., 12 O’Clock High, and Dr. Kildare. Lee was born in Los Angeles, Lee won the pageant titles while attending San Francisco City College as a Radio and TV/Theatre Arts major. Following her year’s reign as Miss America, Lee joined The Today Show, which gave her the opportunity to use her pageant scholarships to study acting with the famed teacher Lee Strasburg, as well as dancing, singing, and fencing with some of the top coaches in New York. Lee’s beginnings in the entertainment industry include her first TV role – The Philco Television Playhouse, with Mary Astor, her first Motion picture lead – The 4-D Man, with Robert Lansing, and her first professional stage appearance – Hatful of Rain, with William Smithers and Lou Antonio.
Her noteworthy film roles include Catwoman in the original Batman movie. She also portrayed Andy Griffith’s pregnant wife in Angel in my Pocket, as well as Rock Hudson’s southern wife in The Undefeated. Lee “swam” with Namu, The Killer Whale and has a great deal of fun in reminding film buffs that she played the “man” killed by Kim Novak inThe Legend of Lylah Clare.
Live theatre, however, continues to be Lee’s first love. Attesting to that fact is her long association with Theatre West, a professional actors’ workshop in Hollywood. Of the countless appearances she made at T.W., three stand out in her memory: Spoon River Anthology with Betty Garrett, Aesop in Central Park with Richard Dreyfuss and Ladies of Hanover Towers with Carroll O’Connor. She appeared there in the 40th Reunion production of Spoon River in the role that Ms. Garrett originally portrayed.
An assortment of her recent national stage credits include: the female version of The Odd Couple, (two productions), Last Summer at Blue Fish Cove, for which she received the Drama Logue Award for Best Actress as well as the San Francisco Critics Award. The Business of Murder, with Van Johnson, Sondheim’sFollies, with seven former Miss Americas, a national tour with Anthony Zerbe and Roy Dotrice of Country Matters (Sex and Shakespeare!) and most recently productions of the musicalsHello Dolly, Mame, The King and I with George Chakiris, and I Do, I Do, Pirates of Penzance and the 20th Anniversary Tour ofNunsense with Kaye Ballard, Mimi Hines, Georgia Engel and Darlene Love. And four national tours of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite with her husband Marshall Borden. The future looks to be quite busy for the Borden household. Marshall, a playwright as well, sold his adaptation of “The Count of Monte Cristo” to the National Theatre of Canada in Stratford, Ontario and played for 90 performances in their 2004 season! He is now busy writing the novel of his movie script of “The Artful Lodgers,” a television series proposal and a musical version of The Count. Lee has kept busy appearing in “Love Letters” with Beau Bridges, “Long Day’s Journey into Night” and “Rockers” by Sherwood Schwartz. She finished a 2nd tour of “Nunsense,” which began at Theatre West with Betty Garrett, Bridget Hanley, Barbara Mallory, Rhonda Stovey and Sandra Tucker. Along with her love of theatre, Lee has enjoyed one of the most difficult acting jobs of her career. Reading John Saul’s gothic thrillers, “Second Child,” “Shadows,” “Guardian,” “Black Lightning,” the serialized “Blackstone Chronicles,” “The Presence,” “The Right Hand Of Evil,” “Nightshade,” The Manhattan Hunt Club,” “Midnight Voices” and “Black Creek Crossing.” The last nine were under Random House’s Audio Publishing. She has adapted the Spoon River anthology ino a one woman production where she plays 14 women and a Chinese boy, ages 8 to 96,with accents from China, Ireland, Middle Europe, and Scandinavia, as well as several regions of the U.S.. This show, entitled “Women of Spoon River: Their Voices from the Hill” premiered at the Robinson Theater on the IU Southeast campus in New Albany, Indiana.
Her favorite role?
Even when she’s on stage, in front of a camera, or family outings Lee can always be counted on to have several other activities going on simultaneously. She is active with a number of humanitarian endeavors and charities. She still serves as Honorary Chairman of ABILITY FIRST (formally the Crippled Children’s Society). She was an honorary member of Women in Show Business, a Philanthropic organization that funded reconstructive surgery for needy children and was twice named their “Angel of the Year.” She has also served as National Education Chairman of the American Cancer Society and as the Los Angeles Chairman for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. For many years now there has been a special place in her heart for the Blind Children’s Center, and the Jeffrey Foundation and the pet organization, “Actors and Others for Animals.”
Sally Mercer (Frankie & Johnnie, ‘97, Hedda Gabler, ‘85) recently appeared at the Walnut Street Theatre in Angel Street.
Freda Payne (Blues In the Night, ‘00) continues to star in cabarets throughout the country. She and Melba Moore broke the house record at the Claridge in Atlantic City.
Bernadette Peters (Gretna Theatre 1965 Alumnus – appeared in The Sound of Music and Riverwind) was born Feb 28, 1948 as Bernadette Lazzara. Bernadette got her equity card at the age of 9 and took the name Peters (her father’s name). Her Broadway debut occurred one year later at age 10 in the 1959 New York City Center revival of Most Happy Fella. By age 13 she was touring as an understudy for Dainty June in Gypsy.
In 1965 when she was 16 years old, accompanied by her mother, she found her way to the Gretna Theatre stage in bothRiverwind and as Leisel in The Sound of Music.
Bernadette’s Bio from the Gretna Theatre program of “Riverwind” which ran June 28th through July 3rd, 1965:
“Pert and pretty Bernadette Peters understudied and played the role of “Dainty June” in stock and with the National Co. of “Gypsy,” and also appeared in the N.Y. City Center’s production of “Most Happy Fella.” Otto Preminger directed her in the pre-Broadway edition of “This Is Google,” and she has appeared in plays and musicals in Pa., N.Y., Ohio, and New Jersey. She was also featured in, among other shows, “Miracle of the Orphanage,” for the Hallmark Theatre on television, and in “A Boy Called Ciske,” for Kraft.”
In 1966 she reprised her role of Jenny Farrell in “Riverwind” at the nearby Bucks County Playhouse. By 1966 upon graduating from high school she worked off-Broadway in The Penny Friend and in 1967 she appeared in Curly McDimple (Of local interest: A production of Curly McDimple attracted author Richard Dahdah, a long time friend of Lebanon Community Theatre Director Richard Gingrich, to Lebanon in 1985 to attend the opening night of his production that year). Also in 1967 she understudied in The Girl in the Freudian Slip. That same year, only two years after her Gretna Theatre appearance, she made her Broadway debut in Johnny No – Trump. 1968 brought her to the stage as Joel Grey’s co-star in the Broadway musical George M! garnering a Theatre World Award for a Debut Performance. There was no stopping her now! Her 1968 role of Ruby in Dames at Sea brought her more critical acclaim and her first Drama Desk Award. In 1969 she appeared in LaStrada. And in 1971 received her first Tony nomination for On the Town. In the early ‘70’s Bernadette moved to LA to concentrate on a film, television and singing career with great success, earning both Golden Globe and Grammy awards, and Emmy nominations. But she could not stay away from the stage, returning to New York in Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel in 1974 garnering yet another Tony nomination. By 1983 she was back on Broadway and the toast of the town getting a Tony Nomination for her performance in Sunday in the Park with George. 1987 she was again recognized with her second Drama Desk nomination for her portrayal of the Witch in Into The Woods. She has been seen in many shows since that era and is a two time Tony Award winner for her performances in Song and Dance 1985 and Annie Get Your Gun 2000. She followed her second Tony with smashing reviews in the 2003 revival of Gypsy, a show that was near and dear to her heart since her days as Dainty June, and we are happy to report that she once again delighted Broadway audiences in the 2010 revival of A Little Night Music.
One of her most recent achievements is that of author. Her debut book ”Broadway Barks” was a New York Times best seller and is followed with the recently released “Stella Is A Star.” She is a staunch supporter of the ASPCA.
In the minds of Gretna Theatre followers her highest award to date is the ‘Gretna Theatre Trouper Award’ for not missing a performance in The Sound of Music despite nearly losing her voice!
Follow her career at www.bernadettepeters.com
John Pielmeier (Colorados, ‘87) wrote the acclaimed Agnes of God, which enjoyed a Broadway run. The film version starred Jane Fonda, Ann Bancroft and Meg Tilly.
Jim Plummer a Lebanon native appeared in “Make a Million” and “Sailor Beware” in the 1961 season. He is an Air Force Veteran and has been in radio for over 30 years, as of 2008 with Radio PA a division of WITF in Harrisburg.
Mathew Popecki (Rumors, ’93) is a regular cast member at the Rainbow Dinner Theatre.
Faith Prince (Threepenny Opera, Colorados, 1987) Broadway/Production Contracts: Broadway Debut 1989 Jerome Robbins Broadway (Tony Award Nomination, Drama Desk Nomination); 1991 Nick and Nora (Outer Critics Circle Award); 1992 Guys and Dolls (as Adelaide, Tony Award Winner Best Actress, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award); 1994 Fiorello; 1994 What’s Wrong with this Picture; 1999 Little Me; 2001 Bells Are Ringing (Tony Award Nomination, Drama Desk Nomination, Outer Critics Circle Award Nomination); 2002 Noises Off; 2008 A Catered Affair (Tony Award Nomination, Drama Desk Nomination, Outer Critics Circle Award Nomination, Drama League Nomination; 2009 The Little Mermaid (as Ursula), 2010 Billy Elliot (as Mrs. Wilkinson) National Tour.
Off Broadway: 1981 Scrambled Feet (debut); 1986 Olympus on My Mind (Lambs Theatre), 1986 Groucho, Living Color; 1990 Bad Habits (Manhattan Theatre Club with Nathan Lane); 1999 Falsettoland (Fringe Theatre Company); 1999 Leap of Faith (Public Theatre); 2000 The Torch-Bearers; 2002 A Man of No Importance (Lincoln Center).
Note: 2002 Leap of Faith at Hershey Theatre – We sent a note to Faith prior to her performance at Hershey Theatre that year, and from the stage she mentioned her memorable summer at Gretna Theatre. We met her backstage after and she graciously autographed memorabilia for us – and has since been generous to Gretna Theatre with posters and playbills from many of her Broadway turns.
Rachel Ricca (Always, Patsy Cline, ‘01) continues to perform in Florida and has recently signed a recording contract.
Rita Rehn (Catch Me If You Can, ‘00) won the prestigious Best Actress award from the New Jersey Drama Critics for her performance in As Bees in Honey Sting.
Jay Robinson (What a Life, ‘47) starred on stage, film and TV for the next fifty-plus years. His trademark portrayal of Caligula in The Robe and Demetrius and the Gladiator set the standard for anyone who ever played the role. He has performed in scores of TV series and films including Cheers, Murder She Wrote, Big Top Pee Wee, My Man Godfrey, The Wild Party and Transylvania Twist. He is currently the host of the Discovery Channel’s Beyond Bizarre, a show about the paranormal.
Tom Roy (At Long Last Leo, ‘91, Broadway Bound, ‘92, Rumors, ‘93) appeared in the film Twelve Monkeys with Bruce Willis.
Wayne Rogers (No Time for Sergeants, ‘57) starred in the series Stage West prior to his role in M*A*S*H. He is currently an investment banker and president of his own company.
James Secrest (Virginia Woolf, ‘70) continues to appear regularly at the best regional theatres in America.
Larry Sheaf (Mr. Hobbs’ Vacation, 2010) is returning in 2010 for a sixth season as Gretna’s dramaturg, having just completed a role in Twelve Angry Men and the lead in Don’t Dress For Dinner at the Lebanon Community Theatre and is a company member of Gretna Theatre’s American Hero Biography Series production of Keeping Mr. Lincoln. Larry has been in area theatre productions every year since 1975 and has directed over seventy plays as well. Thanks to wife Alison for her continued encouragement and support all these years.
Timothy Shew (Shenandoah, 2008; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 2009) Broadway: Bye, Bye Birdie 2009 revival. The Civil War at the world-famous Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. For 7 years, Tim has played Santa Claus at NYC Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular and also completed a 1½ year run starring as Officer John Lonigan in the Bernstein/Comden & Green Broadway production of Wonderful Town with Brooke Shields. in 2008, Tim made his film debut as Officer O’Rourke in the movie musical, The Producers. He can be heard on the Chicago and Shaggy Dog movie soundtracks, and was recently seen on the Carnegie Hall Stage in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. He has appeared on the Broadway stage as Jean Valjean in the Tony Award winning Les Miserables; The Scarlet Pimpernel as St. Cyr (original cast recording – Atlantic Records); and in the Alan Menken, Tim Rice production of Disney’s King David (original cast recording – Buena Vista Records). Tim was featured in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls and can also be heard on the Grammy Award-winning Broadway revival recording of Guys and Dolls as Rusty Charlie. Other Broadway credits include Sunset Boulevard with Betty Buckley and the pre-Broadway Andrew Lloyd Webber/Hal Prince Whistle Down the Wind. Tim has gone on to perform the role of Jean Valjean for over four years in three other productions of Les Miz, again on Broadway, and the tenth anniversary production in Australia. Audiences may be familiar with his work in American touring companies of Showboat, Evita and South Pacific. Tim has performed with symphonies and orchestras worldwide, recently with Marvin Hamlisch at the Kennedy Center’s 35th Anniversary Celebration. He has numerous radio commercials to his credit and television includes Law & Order: SVU, Ryan’s Hope and a recurring role as “Bruno” on Guiding Light. For the last 15 years, Tim has produced Broadway Sings on Park Avenue, a concert to benefit children affected and infected with HIV and AIDS and works extensively to educate and assist at-risk kids. Tim resides in New York City with his wife Jane and proudest production of all…20 year old son, Jonathan. Tim’s extensive work as a vocal director/clinician/adjudicator for theatre, choral and show choir festivals has taken him around the world. He is thrilled to return to Gretna Theatre, having headlined last season’s Shenandoah, to star ‘cheek-tocheek’ with his real-life wife, Jane Brockman in Seven Brides….
Harry Sheppard (Heaven Can Wait, ‘50) passed away at the age of 83 in Philadelphia after a distinguished career appearing with Maurice Evans in As You Like It, Jose’ Ferrer in The Silver Whistle and Sylvia Sydney in Joan of Lorraine.
Amanda Sprecher, Manheim PA, has been acting on stage locally since the age of four. She will be making her Broadway debut in April, as Melinda, in the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee courtroom drama, Inherit the Wind starring Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy. Amanda was last seen on the Gretna Theatre Stage as a dwarf in Snow White under the direction of Renee Krizan. Professionally Amanda appeared locally in musicals at the Fulton Opera House and the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre. Visit the websitewww.broadway.com for more information about the show and Amanda’s debut.
Diane Stone-Fusaro (She Loves Me ’88) now is the marketing director at the Lancaster Opera Co.
Sally Struthers (Always, Patsy Cline,2001, Nunsense, 2010) After her run with the show at Gretna Theatre, she took Always, Patsy Cline to Los Angeles, winning raves from the critical community. Ms. Struthers is a two-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner for her performance in the groundbreaking series All in the Family. She starred in the Fox television series 9 to 5 and her own CBS series Gloria. Her recurring roles included the CBS comedy Still Standing and the CW’s highly acclaimed Gilmore Girls. Sally was “heard” as the voice of the teenage dinosaur Charlene Sinclair in the ABC prime-time series Dinosaurs. She is also the voice of Pebbles Flintstone on the Pebbles and Bam-Bam cartoon series and the lead female character on the popular Disney cartoon Tailspin. Struthers’ television movies include: A Gun in the House, And Your Name is Jonah, The Great Houdinis, Hey, I’m Alive, In The Best Interest of the Children, Deadly Silence, My Husband is Missing, and Intimate Strangers. Sally co-starred in two legendary motion pictures in the 70’s: Five Easy Pieces with Jack Nicholson and The Getaway with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw. She was featured in two independent films: Out of the Black and A Month of Sundays with Rod Steiger. Sally made a cameo appearance for actor/writer/producer Mario Van Peebles in the Sony feature Baadassss! Sally’s first two Broadway forays were in Wally’s Café with Rita Moreno and Jimmy Coco and in Neil Simon’s female version of the Odd Couple with Brenda Vaccaro. For three years she starred as Miss Mamie Lynch on Broadway and on tour in the Tommy Tune production of Grease. In the 20th Anniversary National Tour of Annie, Sally played the coveted role of Miss Hannigan.
Sally was named Best Actress by the Los Angeles Artistic Director Theatre Awards for her role as Louise Seger in the musical, Always, Patsy Cline, a true story based on the relationship between Seger and Cline (a role which she performed at Gretna Theatre as well). She also won the 2003 Ovation Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Agnes Gooch in the Los Angeles production of Mame. She has starred in regional productions of Hello Dolly, Anything Goes, The Fifth of July, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, and The Full Monty. For thirty years, Struthers has worked tirelessly to help the hungry and uneducated children everywhere. She has visited these children in the United States and many Third World countries, and has filmed numerous public service announcements and documentaries on their behalf. Because of her devotion to children and animals, Sally has received numerous humanitarian awards. Her best reward, however, is her darling daughter Samantha.
Ted Swindley (Author, Always, Patsy Cline, ’01 and Honky Tonk Angels, ‘00) has completed a new work which he plans to premiere at Gretna
Loretta Swit (Shirley Valentine, ‘00) recently starred in Song of Singapore at the New Theatre in Kansas City and The Vagina Monologues in New York.
Rachel Taylor (Robert Lansing’s leading lady during the summer of ’54) starred in numerous television shows and movies. She was at one time married to Jason Robards.
Robert Ennis Turoff (Director, Chorus Line ‘01) staged the national company of Damn Yankees, and the premiere of Chaplin at his Sarasota Theatre.
Rob Ventre should be remembered by the Gretna audiences for his appearances in our Groucho: A Life in Revue (2004) The Foreigner (2004) and opposite Marion Ross and Paul Michael in Over the River and Through the Woods (2002). A Lebanon native Rob is appearing in the Strouse and Adams’ concert version of the Musical It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman! at The Duplex, 61 Christopher Street Manhattan, March 11-13. It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman! was produced in 1966 starring Bob Holliday, Linda Lavin and Jack Cassidy. “The story drops the Man of Steel into a 1960s Metropolis and finds the city may not really need a hero anymore,” according to the producers Opening Doors Theatre Company “It features characters familiar to Superman fans: Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Perry White, etc.” The show failed to find an audience in the age when a satiric “Batman” was already appearing on television. It ran 126 performances and spawned a cast album (and a cabaret hit with the tune “You’ve Got Possibilities”). The Opening Doors production will be directed by Casey Burden with musical direction by Steven Bednasz. Choreography will be by Rick Delancy. The cast will include Suzanne Adams, Bryce Bermingham, Andrew Cao, Desireé Davar, Autumn Hurlbert, Sarah Lilly, Eric Martin, Ivory McKay, Rovi Roth, Jason B. Schmidt, Michelle Solomon and Rob Ventre. For more information visit the website www.theduplex.xom.
Christopher Vettel (Beau in Mame, 2010; Mr. Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis, 2012) has appeared in the 30th Anniversary Tour of Annie (Bert Healy) and can be heard on the Time-Life Cast Recording. He was also in the 2nd National Tour of Sunset Boulevard starring Petula Clark (Cliff/Joe u/s) and has performed in the Chicago and St. Louis companies of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Santa Claus). Regional credits include Charles Lindbergh in Flight of the Lawnchair Man (Goodspeed Musicals), Richard Henry Lee in 1776 (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival), Thomas Andrews in Titanic (Fireside Playhouse), Phillipe in Phantom (Westchester Broadway) and Carl Magnus in A Little Night Music (Barrington Stage Co.). He has also appeared, as soloist, with the Opera Company of Boston, Opera New England, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the final concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
Scott Wakefield (The Will Rogers Follies, 2010) has previously won several acting awards for his portrayal of Will Rogers including the Honolulu P’Okela award and the Boston Outer Critics Circle Best Actor Award. He has appeared on Broadway in Nothin’ But The Blues and Ring of Fire and Off Broadway in The Joy Luck Club, Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge and The American Clock. Most recently, Scott played the title role of Louis De Rougemont in Shipwrecked: An Entertainment for California’s Sierra Repertory Theatre. Other regional credits include Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Alliance Theatre, The Walnut Street Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Milwaukee Repertory, and Missouri Repertory, to name a few. Many years ago, Scott performed at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse in Pump Boys and Dinettes (which he also directed) and Noises Off. An avid singer/songwriter, Scott has recorded two CDs of original songs: Older than Dirt and Vegetarian Nightmare. They can be found at www.ScottWakefield.com.
Barbara Walsh (A Streetcar Named Desire, ’97) continues to dazzle in Broadway productions, winning a Tony Award and Drama Desk nomination for her work in Falsettos.
Ruth Webb recalls “learning two musicals in two weeks and it almost did me in! I have two left feet, so naturally, the choreographer hated me. I was always getting kicked by the other gals because I was out of step. It was then that I began to contemplate a career as an agent.” She appeared at Gretna in the 50’s in Wonderful Town, The Boyfriend and Auntie Mame and took a full-page ad in Variety to thank Gene Otto, (Sr. & Jr.) and Mr. Coghlan. Even then it was apparent that Ms. Webb knew how to sell! And, after a career on Broadway – which included roles in On the Town (replacing Betty Comden), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Early to Bed – and nightclub appearances At the Latin Quarter, Café Society, and others, that’s exactly what she did. The Ruth Webb Agency went on to represent some of the biggest names in show business, including Mickey Rooney and Claudette Colbert. Ruth semi-retired, living In Los Angeles and went on to represent the “survivors” from the hit reality TV show, Survivor. Ruth knows the territory – she was a true show business survivor. She passed away in 2006 at the age of 88
Below By Robert Simonson 13 Dec 2006 from Playbill.com:
Ms. Webb’s roster of clients during her 45-year-career as an agent included such talents as Mickey Rooney, Bernadette Peters, Al Pacino, Ben Vereen, Martha Raye and Gene Barry. She was particularly adept at shepherding stars into comeback performances. She handled Rooney when he landed his career-reviving star role in the Broadway production of Sugar Babies. Yvonne DeCarlo was cast in Follies while in Ms. Webb’s care. And her client Gene Barry won a starring part in the original La Cage aux Folles.
When her agency expanded to the West Coast in the 1970s, Ms. Webb ferried many of Hollywood’s one-time silver screen kings and queens into new careers in dinner theatre. Among the actors she helped in this way were Kathryn Grayson, Claudette Colbert, Ginger Rogers, Rhonda Fleming, John Carradine, Dorothy Lamour, Donald O’Connor, Gloria Swanson and Gig Young.
Ruth Webb knew the dinner theatre and summer stock circuits well. She began her career as an actress. Her aunt, Mary Ann Dentler, was the producer of The Bandbox Players, a stock company. Ms. Webb worked with the troupe as a young girl. Later, she toured in stock, lying about her age in order to get parts. Her summer stock credits included Auntie Mame, Kiss Me Kate, Wonderful Town, Pal Joey, The Boy Friend, Damn Yankees and Show Boat. She also worked as a model, her image appearing in “Town & Country” and in an ad campaign for Chesterfield cigarettes. On Broadway, she acted in On the Town, playing the role of Claire DeLoone.
She formed the Ruth Webb Agency in 1962, taking on some of her former co-stars as her first clients. She often boasted of being the first agent to handle the careers of Al Pacino, Ben Vereen and Bernadette Peters. In the late ’60s, she married Robert Cosden and the business was renamed the Webb-Cosden Agency for almost a decade. The two later divorced. In recent years, Ms. Webb hooked into the burgeoning world of reality television, representing many of the original cast members of the hit CBS show “Survivor.”
In 1990 in recognition of her contributions to the movie industry, Ms. Webb was inducted into The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Outside of show business, her interests included animal rights, particularly where they concerned raccoons. Her awareness of the ring-eyed nocturnal mammals began when she adopted her son’s abandoned pet raccoon, Baby. Thereafter, she always had a raccoon or two in her care. She fought for their better treatment in California and Nevada and was known to cart them about to restaurants and appointments (she had a special permit to own the animals). She also enjoyed raccoon images, collecting more than three thousand figurines, paintings and stuffed creatures over the years.
The Ruth Webb Agency will continue, headed by her longtime friend and partner, Sherri Spillane, under the guidance of Ms. Webb’s friend and business manager for the past two decades, Harold J. Levy.
As of 2006, she is survived by her constant companion of 35 years, Jamie Stellos; Ruth’s sons Michael Benajam and Jack Webb and grandchildren Michael Zachery Dean and Simone.
Ken Wesler (General Manager, ‘89-‘90) Executive Director of the Strand-Capitol Theatre Center in York, PA. Executive Director of the Stamford Center for the Arts, Stamford, CT. Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE. Managing Director, Rubicon Theatre Company, CA.
Dick Westlake (Director, Cole 2006) Posted May 11, 2010 by the Fort Myers Florida Weekly: Actor, director and educator Richard D. Westlake died Saturday, May 8. He was 72. He taught theater at Edison Community College for 24 years, and then devoted himself to acting on-stage again. A much-beloved figure in the local theater community in Florida, he performed in Fort Myers and Naples, at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater and Off-Broadway Palm, the Florida Repertory Theatre, Theatre Conspiracy, Sugden Community Theatre and the now-defunct Naples Dinner Theatre. He also performed at the Mt. Gretna Theatre, the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Pennsylvania and at the Broadway Palm West Dinner Theatre in Arizona. He was rehearsing for “Love, Sex and the IRS” at the Off-Broadway Palm when diagnosed with cancer. The cast dedicated their final performance of May 2 to him. Mr. Westlake was bestowed the Arts Journalist of the Year Award at the Angel of the Arts Award ceremonies May 3. He wrote a monthly column, “Hob-Knobbing and Theatre Bopping,” for Happenings magazine, in which he interviewed someone in local or national theater. Theatre Conspiracy artistic director Bill Taylor (and former theater student of Mr. Westlake’s) accepted the award on his behalf. He said he’d asked Mr. Westlake if there was anything he wanted to say if he won. Mr. Westlake said that he’d like a standing ovation. The audience, full of actors, singers, dancers, writers and artists, happily obliged, standing to clap and cheer, while Mr. Taylor took photos. The family is planning a celebration of life, with the date and time to be announced later. On Facebook, the family wrote: “ ‘The final curtain has closed and the theater is dark.’ Dick passed away early this morning and is now at peace. The family would like to thank all of you for the wonderful words, thoughts and prayers that have been posted here over the last few weeks. He heard them all.”
Jeff Williams (Mr. Hobbs’ Vacation, 2010) is happy to be making his Gretna Theatre debut. Theatre credits include M. Butterfly (Capital Rep/Philadelphia Theatre Company), The Crucible (Northern Stage), The Sisters Rosensweig (TheatreWorks), Art (Hangar Theatre), Terra Nova (Clarence Brown Theatre), Over The Tavern (Human Race Theatre), You Never Know (New Harmony Theatre) as well as the Broadway companies of The Pirate Queen, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Music Man and the National Tours of The Will Rogers Follies and Me and My Girl. Film and TV work includes The Producers; The Musical, The Sopranos, As The World Turns and One Life To Live. Jeff is a Syracuse graduate and has been a proud Equity member since 1987.
If you have history here at Gretna Theatre and are not currently included in our list, PLEASE drop us a note with the details so we can add to or correct our Alumni List!