Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pasadena Playhouse Alumni & Associates Annual Brunch Report

What a day!!

Once again the Brunch Committee hit the ground running to transform the Pasadena Hilton’s California Room into a bright, festive space to receive the Playhouse alumni for a day of fun. Red, orange, and yellow balloons rose from the luncheon tables and heralded the way to the Membership/Sign-in table in the hotel hallway. There were also “Playhouse” Fortune Cookies on the tables, each containing a fun fact about the Playhouse. The remainder of the fortune cookies were taken to the Playhouse for distribution among the Green Room, Library, and the Telephone Room.

Special exhibits of Peggy Ebright’s wonderful artwork and photographs of “Brunches Past” by Will Diaz brought smiles and sparked recollections. Neva Wallace performed a poem about actors to hearty applause.

The 2009 winners of the Sumid Scholarship were announced, among them, three Interns who will work at the Playhouse for the next year now that their education is complete. Just another way the Pasadena Playhouse Alumni & Associates supports the theatre.

Alumni First Vice President, Anne La Rose, presented the Playhouse with a framed collection of the R.E.P. – Repertory Exists in Pasadena – materials from the summer of 1967, consisting of the poster and reviews of two of the three shows performed that summer by Playhouse students and recent graduates. Everyone got a big kick out of the Student Theatre ticket prices back then, $2. general and $1.50 for students. The presentation was made in memory of four company members who have taken their final bow: Claude La Rose, Austin Kelly, Ken Globus, and Coy Arnold. These materials represent the last time Playhouse founder Gilmor Brown’s theatrical ideals were put into action.

Anne also presented the Playhouse with a certificate noting that the name, PASADENA PLAYHOUSE STATE THEATRE of CALIFORNIA, will be on a microchip onboard the NASA Mars Science Lab Rover, scheduled for launch in the Fall of 2011. Now, the Playhouse will truly be out of this world!

What wonderful a group of Award winners we had this year. The ball got rolling with Penn Genthner’s introduction of Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard as Man of the Year. The Mayor told of his trials and tribulations, while sitting on the City Council, in keeping the wrecking ball from the Playhouse in the early 1970’s. Anne La Rose brought Playhouse Board member Peggy Ebright to the podium as Woman of the Year to thunderous applause. Peggy recalled Maudie Prickett, her right-hand, in the struggles to save the Playhouse and noted the names of others who fought the good fight. She also mentioned an unsung hero of those days, Coy Wills, the last Stage Doorman before the close in 1969, who checked on the Playhouse daily and reported his findings to Peggy.

Alumnus Robert J Farley returned from his theatre in metro-Atlanta to pass the Gilmor Brown Award to Sheldon Epps. Sheldon spoke of his love of the Playhouse and mentioned the support of the Playhouse Board, several of whom joined us for the day. He also touched on the heart of the theatre, the actors who trod our boards and noted, in particular, perhaps his favorite actress, his lovely wife, Monette McGrath, who was also with us. RJ Muehlhausen took the microphone to give background about a most deserving Keeper of the Flame honoree, Will Diaz, Class of 1954. Will has always been there for the Playhouse for so many years, in so many ways. Will took the podium to a standing ovation.

There was a phenomenal array of Raffle Prizes, this year totaling more than $4200 in value. Among the offerings were a one-of-a-kind handmade porcelain ginger jar with lid, three exceptional ‘art’ photographs of the Playhouse, and a John Wayne collection of DVDs and books housed in a hand-made ammo box that looked for all-the-world like the real thing! There were two signed first editions of the latest installment in a murder mystery series, Oneida stainless service for 12, a four handset phone system, digital picture frame, and an incredible “Lord of the Rings” chess set, to name a few more items. The money raised will help the Alumni’s continued support of the Playhouse.

After we exhausted ourselves at the Hilton, several alumni went to the Playhouse to relax in the Library and reminisce before the 7PM curtain of “The Little Foxes” with Kelly McGillis and Julia Duffy. Anne La Rose led a tour for those who have been away much too long, while others retreated to their hotel rooms or homes to rest before curtain. The show was excellent and enjoyed by all.

If you didn’t join us, I hope you will make plans now for next year. It’s such fun to share the day with old chums and make new friends. See you next year???

Anne La Rose, Class of 1969
Brunch Chair

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