2023 Season is in (Many) Good Hands!
Cheers! and Best Wishes!
I still remember my first audition. Friendly faces sitting behind a long table and a big empty room except for Sue at a piano on one side and me in the middle. "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning." I got the part! My first since high school. Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof.
Nearly 20 years later, I'm ending a second term as President as well as a very memorable time at The Summer Place, Naperville's Community Theatre. I've moved away from town, and the long drive combined with many, many hours of work are more than I can afford now, so it's time to say so-long. But not goodbye. With email and zoom, I'm just a few bits away, and my company will still provide this website to keep you all informed. So I'll stay in touch, but now Kate and I can do a few things that we've been putting off.
Kate's the first I'd like to thank as I sign off as President. My wife, business partner, and an unsung hero for Summer Place. Some years back she started posting on social media - it's her profession - and we saw a huge spike in ticket sales after years of a slow decline. She's been posting ever since and many of the old photos and the "theatre this weekend" notices you've read are her doing.
Our daughter Emma is next. She joined me in Fiddler, and about 6 years ago I joined her in applying to the Board of Directors. Again. I'd been on the board but left. "It'll be different. It'll be fun!" It has been. She's led the volunteer effort, been House Manager, led the orchestra numerous times, and has been VP for the past four years. We've done it all together, from walking in Hawaiian shirts in freezing Christmas parades to painting the stage floor at 3:00 in the morning, just after building tombstones for the Abbey! She's leaving at the end of this year as well, since she's moved away from Naperville and her work is making it too hard to continue.
There's many more people to thank for their assistance to me and their commitment to Summer Place. Our Treasurer, Jeff Sand, should be first. He's meticulous in the details that keep our efforts moving forward, safely and per our contracts, and he spends untold hours keeping our books. If that's not enough, he's a talented theatre technician and is often found behind the sound board or with an impact drill building a set. Steve and Sabrina Zeidler, the original daddy/daughter team on our board, have given many hours of service. And Ted Waltmire is our resident historian and the most persistent on our board. He stayed on and contributed as he fought is way back from a stroke and even wrote a musical about it! It was a pleasure bringing that show to life at the Pavillion in 2021, by the way, Ted.
The previously-mentioned are the people who served with me for some time on the board, but I'd also like to say thanks to Susan, the other Susan(!), Cynthia, Cindy, Noreen, Joleen, Heather, Lynn, Matt, Stuart, Diane, and mostly Judy who convinced me at numerous Chamber of Commerce meetings to come audition.
I started this essay with a promise of being in good hands. That's due in large part to the new members who worked with me on Sound of Music and didn't want to leave! and are now Directors on our Board. Matt Whalen, your new President beginning January 1, has a passion for this troupe and good ideas to grow the organization, and his connections to other groups in Naperville will be invaluable. He's returning to the board. Like me, he was on it, left it, and now returns with renewed vigor and a five-year plan!
Christina and Jason Peck, a young couple (who made the perfect Leisl and Rolf, didn't I call it?) have been acting with us since 2019. Jason just joined the board and is already helping with grant writing. Christina has been on the Board running social media promotions and will be your new Vice President.
Taylor Weisz moved from Peoria and was looking for a theatre home. I'm so happy we grabbed her before another troupe did! She has this great balance of kindness and no-nonsense. It made her a great Stage Manager for Sound of Music and will undoubtedly help her in her new role as Secretary.
Those are your new officers. Jeff is continuing as Treasurer, so, along with Ted, Steve, and Sabrina, our board has continuity going forward. Rounding out the list of Directors are two more talented people. Sam Dempsey, past Tech Director for North Central College, has a wealth of stagecraft know-how and is also well-plugged-into the community, specifically NCC, where incidentally Summer Place got its start back in 1966. Sam was there at 3 in the morning with Emma and me, or should I say, we were there with him. He spent many late hours bringing Sound of Music to the stage in record time.
Last but not least is Erin Doty who besides having the most adorable little actress for a daughter (Ava played Gretl and was our little hurricane, as I called her, backstage), is very good at promotions and has many contacts in the theatre world, which will go far for us. Thank you all for becoming a part of the Summer Place family!
We have a great partner in the Naperville Park District. They arrange the use of rehearsal space and even the use of the high school auditorium. A very special thanks to Brittany Malett who is our liaison. It's been a genuine pleasure working with you.
The biggest thank you goes to our audience. We have guests who attended our show last summer who have been attending shows of ours going back over 50 years. They tell us of hot evenings in the tent on the North Central campus; about times when rain on the metal roof of the pavillion made it impossible to hear the actors! We're fortunate now that we have the cool and dry Central HS Auditorium, and look forward to receive those guests again this June.
Big Theatre Productions, Little Theatre Prices, Performed by Friends and Neighbors.
I coined that phrase maybe 10 years ago and still think it's the perfect description of what we're all about. We have some really talented people in this town and around the Chicagoland area, and groups like Summer Place give them a way to share that talent.
It's so fulfilling to get on the stage, trying your best to entertain a room of strangers sitting out in the darkness in front of you. Of course you know somewhere out there are some friends or family members who came just to see you, to see your big moment on stage. And then the whole audience laughs at your line or tears up at your song, and gives your fellow cast members a standing ovation at curtain call; it's a feeling like no other! Community Theatre makes it possible.
The audience gets something in return: art made in the moment, a truly unique experience, a chance to see a Big Broadway show just down the street, to be truly wowed by a scene or a song, and then meet the people afterward and tell them how much you enjoyed their performance.
I hope you feel the same way; that no matter what side of the curtain you're on, you see the benefit, and you'll continue enjoying live theatre together in Naperville.
Summer Place: best of luck; break a leg!