Last October’s RAISE THE ROOF NORTH COUNTRY alumni weekend fundraiser was a BIG, BIG success! The RTRNC effort was explicitly a follow up to the wildly successful spring time RTR in NYC.
NEWS BREAK: The WVAA board has just reported on the distribution of the funds raised in the spring RTR and it speaks volumes of the commitment alums have shown to our beloved institution. Those of us who were up north this past summer were well aware each and every day of the grand contribution that RTR made in very practical terms: the tool area in the new North Shop, the accoutrements in new dressing room wing, and the tents and tables in use on the Camp, theatre and shop grounds! Thank you RTR and WVAA!
Back in October, carloads of alums made the trip “back home” on the weekend of the 20th for the two show gala evening at the Inn at Whiteﬁeld. The Inn was abuzz raucous fans, supporters, volunteers, board members and friends for a celebratory victory lap of appreciation for Season 47. Dame Joanne Jacaruso was incredible. She and her staff provided that friendly, one-of-a-kind Inn approach that makes us all feel like we have just walked into a holiday party! Mary Jane Chase opened up her lovely home for the visiting alums. Alums Jennifer Neuland-Gerlach, Francis Kelly, Colin Keating, Bethany Aiken, Mark Bradley Miller, Nathan Brisby, Tessa Faye, Sarah Kleeman, Ethan Paulini, Brandi Varnell, Alaina Mills, Brad Heikes, Taryn Herman, Meghan Pearson, Brendan O’Brien, Justin Parks, Catherine Carter, and Chris Carter were all present. The weekend celebration began on Friday night when the group gathered at the Inn and feted the reunion. After midnight we walked the theatre grounds, stopped in the open area where Birch Hill once stood and shared a song in the pitch black, warm autumn night.
NEWS BREAK: We also saw the concrete footing for the enclosure of the water tank (which is now complete); and the ﬁll process beginning on the west side of the North Shop which will be Gibbs’ new paint area! Alongside the Shop, a new Gibbs approved, enclosed lean-to addition is to be constructed this spring for storage of major scenic and stage pieces. TD Bethany Taylor and I are asking for folks to come up pre-season this year as we have a lot of “stuff” to move and organize and many hands would be a Godsend.
Back to the weekend: Saturday morning the group made its way to Grandma’s and then convened by noon at the Inn to prepare for the evening shows. First step: open up the New South Wing and North Shop for tools, platforms, ﬂats, microphones and stands, sound board, lights, stools, keyboard, and set pieces to convert the main room at the Inn into a warm cabaret space. By four o’clock most of the set up was complete and all the songs (including four group numbers) had been rehearsed. At 7:00 pm on Saturday night RAISE THE ROOF NORTH COUNTRY began. While Joanne and her staff served desserts and replenished drinks yours truly took to the stage to share a letter Gibbs had written for the occasion (just prior to the show the alums gathered as I read an additional and private note he had penned to them). The letter shared a poignant anecdote from the Old Barn, contained a large check dedicated to improving the lobby space, and voiced a toast to the Weathervane and its future! (Much applause followed)
NEWS BREAK: At this time the plans for the lobby including the proposed box ofﬁce and/or ticket ofﬁce are on the agenda for later this off season! Presently the Board is fully committed to continuing work on fund raising for both the capital and annual fund campaigns. In addition, the remaining construction punch list and North Shop Storage Lean-To are top priorities after winter ends and spring time construction is feasible.
Following Gibbs’ letter, and keeping with RTR tradition, the players entered dressed in varied ensembles of black and red. The audience hooted and whistled with big applause when the ﬁfteen performers and two musicians entered. Everyone in that room was thrilled to be back together. The opening number included the reading of letters sent by RTR originators Nicole Lewis and Kevin Smith Kirkwood. With Colin and Bethany splitting duties at the keyboard, solos and duets were offered up with the performers’ personal remarks interspersed throughout. Highlights include: Brad and Nathan’s sweet “Being Green”; Jennifer’s provocative “Patterns”, Brandi’s speech of thanks, Mark and Ethan’s “Lily’s Eyes”, Tessa and Alaina’s funny and endearing remembrances, Francis’ historical and biographical recap, Colin’s jamming “Lucky”, Taryn’s touching “Blackbird”, and Sarah’s soaring “Back To Before” . Again, keeping with RTR tradition the entire ensemble returned to the stage for the rousing ﬁnale of “Brand New Day” (THE WIZ). Applause and bows were followed by a heartfelt encore of “Safe Journey Home”(MOOSE CAPADES). Standing ovation and tears followed! Between shows the visiting continued throughout the Inn and Joanne provided food for the alums. Then it was on with the second show and the Mixer or Act Three to follow which was a chance for meeting and greeting and toasting. On Sunday morning everyone was joined by a number of Board members, volunteer and friends for Brunch at MJ’s. One ﬁnal toast to the Weathervane future was made and the weekend was ofﬁcially a success as Board President Dan Salomon thanked all for making RAISE THE ROOF NORTH COUNTRY a grand Victory Lap!
NEWS BREAK: Plans are afoot for three alum weekends this year so we can all gather again and carry on our many wonderful traditions and rekindle our connections with each other and this very`RTR, this summer with a revival of the WVAA weekend in Whiteﬁeld, and next October with a second annual RTR NC. We can’t do enough to stay connected, share our kinship, and gather as a community to RAISE THE ROOF! Consider yourself invited!!
Here’s to the season and A GrrreAT 48!!
Jacques Stewart ‘87
Welcome to the new Weathervane Alumni Association website! We have redesigned the site to work as a digital newsletter, with email announcements of new articles. In addition to updates and articles about our WVAA activities and Galas, we have our own Sammy Dazzle to keep us informed on much of the recent dish about Weathervane alumni.
The feature of the website that we are most excited about and hope that you will be too is the Members Only section (the Members Area tab). You could think of this like Facebook but just for us! It is possible to upload photos, create discussion groups, link to YouTube videos, and connect to your twitter updates, send private messages to other members and much more.
We ask you to do us and our database meister (our president Timothy Breese Miller) a huge favor- UPDATE YOUR INFO. Sorry- I didn't mean to raise my digital voice. One of the things that we were not able to transfer over to the site from our previous database was what job and when you worked for the Weathervane Theatre. Of course if your email address changes it is important to let us know or go into your Profile in the Members Area and update it.
Once you recieve your email invitation to the Members (Only) Area it will explain how to retrieve your password (your account is already in the system). Once you log in why not post a hello or a message about what you are up to?
I look forward to hearing from you!
Timothy Breese Miller
PresidentWeathervane Alumni Association
If for some reason you do not recieve an invite we probably don't have you correct email address. Just shoot me
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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