This Season of Celebration has indeed been one to remember. Along with a slate of fantastic productions, the memories made through special festivities and events will last another 25 years. We keep saying this, but it is hard to believe that the milestone year is coming to an end. We know you have your highlights…here are some of ours.
Hal Cropp (Commonweal Executive Director)—I have three memorable highlights from our 25th season. The first is the reunion presentation for the 25th Season Gala, with the return of many alumni, revisiting favorite scenes from our history from Crimes of the Heart to Talley’s Folly, Steel Magnolias and beyond. The second was the sheer joy of playing Sherlock Holmes opposite my stellar cast mates, most notably my Irene Adler, Stef Dickens, and my ever-steady Watson, Jeremy van Meter. Finally, reconnecting with my Jewish heritage while taking my Christian cast along with me to The Last Night of Ballyhoo. What an ideal season and a great way to celebrate 25 years!
Scott Dixon (Resident Ensemble)—My favorite memories from 2013 will definitely include working with our amazing 2012 Apprentices in their production of Miss Julie, and the great fun working with the very funny and talented Amanda Rafuse and Catie Glynn in Blithe Spirit.
Janine Holter (Million Dollar Club Member)—My favorite memory of the 25th season was Blithe Spirit specifically the performance that was dedicated to my Mother, Janet Holter. My Mother and I enjoyed many performances at the Commonweal prior to her passing away in 2012. Being the quiet and unassuming person she was, I am certain she could not have imagined that she would be honored with a performance dedicated to her! The highlight of the evening was to share with Mother’s family the Commonweal experience. From all parts of Minnesota Janet’s siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews and children were able to become part of what Janet enjoyed each summer. The program dedication brought tears, but the performance of Blithe Spirit brought nonstop laughter. Thank you, Commonweal, for sharing your talent in honor of my Mother, Janet Holter. She is smiling.
We welcomed back all of our cherished friends:
Ana Hagedorn (Annual Company)—This year has taken me on a whirlwind of an adventure on stage! I will always cherish the amount of creativity, dedication and artistry that came with creating Miss Julie from the ground up. Speaking of that show, I have to mention the talent of the 2012 Apprentice Company. We really kicked some Strindberg butt together! I also couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of ladies to share the dressing room with during Blithe Spirit. As a cast we were directed to have fun and that is exactly what we did both on and off stage. Lastly, one of the nearest and dearest to my heart is all the camaraderie and support that blossomed during The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Without that we wouldn’t have the laughter that brings us to tears nor the breathtaking story we share on stage.
David Hennessey (Resident Ensemble)—I will remember three highlights from our 2013 season. First, our insanely program-packed opening weekend: A Doll’s House, Ibsen Fest, Ibsen Road Scholar, and an encore performance of the apprentice play, Miss Julie, and our 25th Season Gala party and retrospective, complete with encore performances by many wonderful Commonweal alums.
Second, the Commonweal’s receipt of the first annual Ardee Award for Outstanding Greater Rochester Arts Organization.
Finally, an early performance of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which tested the concentration discipline of me and my scene partners. Just before I was to enter as Moriarty, a simulated smoke bomb—consisting of a sharp blast of corn starch—was to blanket the stage in fog. But a slight miscalculation showered much of the powder directly on me instead toward the stage. I had to play the scene as if nothing had happened, though my face and hair were covered in white dust which must have detracted from the sinister goals of the evil Professor. It’s a good thing that Hal and Stef did not laugh when our eyes met, because I would have followed suit if they had!
We renewed our commitment to a valuable lesson:
Diana Jurand (Apprentice Class)—The highlight of this season for me was working on Blithe Spirit with a wonderful and eclectic cast. I have to summon up one night in particular when Edith (my character) was about to enter with Madame Arcati (Nancy Huisenga) and instead of saying her usual line, Nancy shouted out, very enthusiastically, the words “DING DONG!” and then immediately shot a look at me, and clapped her hands to her mouth in horror. I essentially did the same back at her but had to immediately step on stage. I entered to unfortunately meet eyes with Amanda Rafuse who was trying very hard to stifle a laugh, which only made me nearly burst out into laughter, which she saw, and in turn was even MORE challenged to stay in character. It was all I could do to keep my composure until I finally made my way off stage and ran to the dressing room to find Catherine Glynn to share with her my peals of laughter and to explain what she had heard over the monitors.
Julie Warner (Core Million Dollar Club Member)—It was a dream come true. Taking a bow on the Commonweal Theatre stage with friends whom I consider my family was a thrill of a life time. I was lovingly supported by my family and friends sitting in the audience, a humbling and yet honoring experience. I played the role of a postman in Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure coming onto the stage and saying a line…or two. My family has been coming to the Commonweal Theatre for twenty three years and we are so proud of how far the company has grown not only in space and talent but in integrity, warmth and love. I am pleased to have been a part of their history.
Gary Danciu (Annual Company)—The highlight for me this season was performing as Joe Farkas in “The Last Night of Ballyhoo.” I’ve never played a character where if I met him on the street I would like him so much. I look forward to performing in this show every night, and it’s a great a way to end this season. The play’s message of self acceptance is very important to me and it is an experience that I am going to cherish well after closing.
We remembered stories from years past:
All in all, Season 25 at the Commonweal has been everything we expected and much more. If you’ve been with us from the beginning or if 2013 was your first experience, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing some time with us and making the year so memorable.
Oh yeah, there was also ALL of this…….