In the summer of 2008, the Weathervane Theatre Alumni Association established the Richard and Terry Portner Fund in recognition of the many contributions the Port- ners have made to the Weathervane Theatre since their association began in 1968. By providing an annual gift of $1,000 to the theatre for spe- cial projects, guest artists, guest directors or guest de- signers, according to the needs of the theatre, the Portner Fund furthers the mission of the WVAA to enlarge creative and financial support for the Weathervane Theatre.
Alumna Nicole Lewis was selected as the 2011 recipient of the fund for her work as guest director of the Weathervane’s production of Race by David Mamet. Nicole made her Weath- ervane debut in the 1995 acting company of Once On This Island. She returned for both the 1997 and 2004 seasons. She recently per- formed in the Broadway and touring productions of HAIR; All My Sons for the Intiman Theater; and the Philadelphia Theater Com- pany’s production of Race.
As I step down from theWVAA Presidency, I have been asked to reflect a bit on the organization and my feelings as I leave its board. That’s a tall order. As you can imagine, the parting, as the Bard said, is a sweet sorrow. I’m not going far, of course. I’ll still be around to help out when I can, and I’ll always be cheering for theWVAA and the theatre I love. But still, it is a leaving of sorts, and my heart is full. There is so much I could tell you about, so many great stories and memories. Here are just a few.
Most of you know the story of how the WVAA began. Jeff Zadroga, Rick Farrar and I were visiting Gibbs pre-season 1999, painting sets and soaking in the benefits of spending some time at theWeathervane, when I innocently asked Gibbs the question, “What would you like for the theatre?” His answer: form an alumni association!
Returning to NY, we reached out to some alums with whom we had made deep connections during our seasons ‘up there’, folks we knew loved the place as much as we did, could bring the right spirit, and had certain skill sets and the experience necessary to create this thing that would become... well, at the time we weren’t sure exactly what it would become, only that Gibbs had asked for it and it sounded like a great thing!
First memory. Day One, sitting around the coffee table in Gibbs’s and Rhonda’s apartment. Rick, Jeff, Rhonda Picou, Ron Trenouth, Kellee Marsh, and me. Looking around the room at each other and asking the question, what are the possibilities and how do we accomplish them? That first year we met almost weekly, some of us traveling into the City from a distance, in order to write the Bylaws, formalize a board of directors, obtain 501(c)(3) non-profit status, create our logo (thanks, Gibbs!) and marketing materials, gather as many alumni names as we could to start the data base, organize the financials, and much, much more. We worked hard, puzzling and researching and feeling our way, begging friends and relatives for help with their particular expertise when we needed it. Picture us in animated discussion, talking over each other as the ideas built one from another, and always, ALWAYS, laughing and hugging it out, knowing that we had a level of trust and admiration for one another, forged from theWeathervane experience.
Memory #2. A phone call from Jeff to me that went something like: “I’m inWhitefield and I’m standing in front of a building, an old Grange Hall, not far from the Spruces, and it’s for sale! It would make a perfect rehearsal space. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could buy this building for them?” This was within the first year. We had no money and probably had no business contemplating buying real estate (!!) But in typicalWeathervane fashion, we jumped in and found a way to make it happen.
Another memory: Looking across the stage at Rick and the other board members during the very firstWVAA alumni show. The show, a retrospective of theWeathervane which Rick had written and directed, involved a wonderful, new-at-the-time program called Power Point with a presentation of WV photos throughout the years. The program had crashed the day before, and we were in danger of losing the centerpiece of the show. Rick and Rhonda, Jeff, and Mary Jane Chase, whom we had only just met when she came to the rescue with a computer for us, had worked throughout the night before to restore the program and download photos. The show went off without a hitch, AND from the stage we were about to announce the purchase of the Grange Hall! As we all looked at each other across that stage, I remember feeling such pride and joy at what we had all accomplished that first year.
Memory #4. Another phone call. Again from Jeff. We needed to have an emergency board meeting immediately because the Grange roof had fallen in from the weight of the snow, and our brand-new-to-us building was exposed to the elements and in danger. I remember that meeting well. We met by phone, Rhonda standing on a street somewhere in the theatre district, about to go see a show, Jeff traveling for work, me in CT, others too, at their respective homes. We cried and commiserated a little, and then we got into emergency mode, and quickly made decisions. Rhonda didn’t miss a minute of that show. And, pretty quickly, the Grange got a beautiful new roof.
There are so many more memories: A wonderful joint-retreat we had inWhitefied, with the then WV board, to discuss how best to work in tandem; Rick getting another emergency call that the old Barn could no longer be used and could he use his expertise as an architect to design a new theatre in time for it to be built for the next season? (the season opened in the high school but moved to the new theatre with theWVAA alumni show, proudly, the first show in the new space); countless hours spent installing new ceilings in the Grange, painting each board first, then handing it up to those on the scaffolding to install; the fabulousWV retrospective book, “Nights of Northern Lights;” and of course all the alumni weekends and shows: the beloved faces in the audience, and the beloved faces of the crew, staff, and alumni old and new. Family all.
As I said, the memories are numerous and rich. And I am so grateful to every one of you who helped make them. A special thank you to those board members I was lucky to serve with: Tim, Mary, Scott H. and Scott M., Nanette, Kathleen, Amy, Jason, Joanna, Jennifer, Mary Lee, Taryn, and most especially the rest of the original “gang of six,” Rick, Jeff, Rhonda, Ronnie, and Kellee. And, of course, Gibbs. There are no better friends than you.
I urge you to become more involved with theWVAA. Do yourself a favor and say yes when you are asked to help out, whether it be as little as helping with a mailing, or as much as serving on the board. You won’t be sorry. The memories you make will be incredible- richer than you know. I can’t wait to hear all about them.
With love, Cindy
Cindy Hathaway Mathieson WV ‘91, ‘92
￼THE GANG’S ALL HERE The 2011 Alumni Company performed “Chicago, Burlesque, Cabaret, Oh My!” conceived and directed by Jennifer Neuland Gerlach. Photo: D. MeddingsMy concept this year was to bring together the best and brightest stars of the Weathervane Theatre, past and present. I put together a show that showcased each performer’s talents without fuss and muss. I was counting on each person to bring their individual talents together to create a potpourri of fun, feisty and wonderful music, and delightful performances. “Chicago Burlesque Cabaret, Oh My!” was meant to be a little fun, provocative and unexpected. What I didn’t expect would happen, was the magic that came from our youngest and newest members of the Weathervane Alumni Association.
I had an idea early on in the process of putting together a show that included and featured the 2011 intern company along with our wonderful past and present performers. I have always loved working with young and fresh talent, experiencing through them the excitement of all that there is to learn in the business. In the process, I met some eager, amazing, talented and dedicated men and women who I would jump at the chance to work with again, anytime, anywhere. These performers brought a wonderful energy to the mix that made me proud.
I really wanted to meld the Intern Company and the alumni performers together to show the full spectrum of talent that the Weathervane produces. After all, the alumni’s are our past and current and the Interns are our future. Together they all brought out the best in each other, and I hope gave the audience what they have come to expect with the Alumni shows.FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT! Alumni show music director Bobby Hirsch- horn at the keys with director Jennifer Neuland Gerlach. Photo: T. Breese MillerThe Weathervane Theatre has a spectacular record of bringing in terrific and eager young students. Well this year I had the opportunity to choreograph the future of the Weathervane. And let me tell you, the future is safe in their hands.
Our alums stepped up to the plate and as always and were shining stars in their own rights with each and every one of them bringing experience and sparkle to the Weathervane stage. Among those who performed were Claudia Rose Golde, Tim Breese, Kellee Marsh, Kathleen Suss, Lou Steele, Rick Farrar, Joanne Jacaruso, Joanna Hoch, Nicole Sakowitz as well as 2011 company members; Scott McGowan, Robert H. Fowler, Simon Fortin, Shinnerrie Jackson, Francis Kelly, Guil Fisher, Dana Musgrove, Katherine McLaughlin, Taryn Herman and artistic director Jacques Stewart.
Many thanks to Jeff Zadroga and Nanette DeWester who jumped in as Stage Managers for the weekend and made life easy and smooth backstage. Our wonderful band: Bobby Hirshhorn, Dan Salomon, Ben Salomon and Colin Keating made the music magical.Together the Alumni and Intern Company brought pizazz, sophistication and a little sass to this year’s Alumni show. It was my privilege to work with such a wonderful collection of talent. Thanks to all and on to next year!
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