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RCT 75TH ANNIVERSARY RECOGNITION OF 75 STARS FROM RCT’S HISTORY

One decade is announced with each show of the 75th season. Watch for additional honorees throughout the season.

 

THE BIRTH OF RCT:  1940’s—1950’s

  • Norbert Silbiger  –  founding director of RCT, 1941—1962.
  • Hazel Thornburg Emery –  “Founding Mother of RCT,” led the creation of RCT in 1941.
  • Opal Thornburg –  an RCT founder and author of the first RCT history, 1941—1959.
  • Dail Cox –  first president of RCT.
  • Fentress Tucker –  second RCT president, serving four terms; also lighting technician.
  • Helen Bringle –  actress and leader in developing children’s theatre in Richmond.
  • Hazel Pigg –  RCT officer and leader especially for box office and stage properties.
  • Peen (Mrs. Jack) Fisher –  board officer and leader for RCT’s membership sales and box office.
  • Jane Kemper –  early supporter, leading RCT actress, and Junior Players director.
  • Helene “Smiles” Frankel –  leading RCT actress (and former World War I entertainer).
  • Mary Helen Backmeyer –  leading RCT actress and board officer.
  • Jo Jordan –  leading RCT actress.
  • Charles Matthews –  long-time leading RCT actor, 1947—1999.

 

THE 1950’s—1960’s

  • Hubert Rolling  –  RCT’s first full-time director after founding director Silbiger;  he served for two seasons, 1962—1964, directed a diversity of challenging plays, and instituted open auditions.
  • Chris Ringham  –  RCT’s full-time director for 1964—1967;  under his dynamic personality and directing style, these three seasons were artistic and financial successes;  they included first RCT productions of My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Miracle Worker.
  • Charles Stilwell  –  RCT’s full-time director for 1967—1970;  he was known for his skilled directing of actors during his three seasons, which included RCT’s first Neil Simon plays, first production of Oliver!,  and a state Best Play award for The Lion in Winter.
  • Geneta Kern  –  A leading lady of RCT musicals in the 1950s-60s, including South Pacific (RCT’s first musical), Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma!
  • Deskin Jones  –  An RCT actor whose memorable roles included both comedy (such as Harvey) and drama (such as Look Homeward Angel).
  • Ned Berheide  –  A favorite RCT comic actor during the 1950s-60s, whose memorable roles included Mister Roberts, Damn Yankees, The Pajama Game.
  • Bill Woehrmann  –  A favorite RCT musical-comedy actor during the 1950s-60s.
  • Manfred Blum  –  RCT orchestra director for numerous musical productions of the 1950s-60s (before becoming the founding director of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra).
  • Barney Maple  –  A leading set builder for RCT (such as No Time for Sergeants and Desk Set), with valued skills both in building sets and in recruiting set-building crews.
  • Art Vivian  –  A leading actor in RCT productions (from Merchant of Venice in 1953 through two productions of On Golden Pond, in ’84 and ‘91) and a guiding financial supporter as well.

 

1960s—1970s

  • Joan Vigran – A dynamic RCT leader as a board member, a talented actress, the director of many memorable RCT productions , and also a director for Junior Players.
  • Dot Toney and Joan Rutledge – For many years, the dedicated coordinators of the RCT costume department and the costume designers for numerous productions.
  • Ray Zaleski – RCT Board president for three seasons in the mid-60s, and an RCT booster beyond those years.
  • Galen Miller – A leading actor in numerous musicals and dramas, spanning from 1960 to 2001, and also served RCT as a set builder.
  • Joyce Eilar – A leading singer-actress in musical productions (including as Marian in RCT’s first Music Man), later a music director, and always an RCT supporter.
  • Marjorie Johnstone – A leading actress in a wide variety of productions: dramas, comedies, and musicals, including as Eliza in My Fair Lady.
  • Charlotte Norman – The choreographer of many RCT musicals of the 1960s-70s.
  • Carl Cook – Reliable lighting designer for numerous RCT shows of this era, as well as set builder and  director.
  • Bob Sizemore – A leading RCT performer (including as Harold Hill in RCT’s first Music Man), the board president for four seasons (1967-71), and later the director of numerous big musicals, including Annie and Big River.

 

1970s—1980s

  • Michelle Avery  –  She’s an RCT all-star from the 1970s to the present:  a memorable leading actress (as the Unsinkable Molly Brown and Funny Girl, & many other roles), as well as a skillful director, conscientious board member, and volunteer for many RCT projects.
  • Dee Ball Johnson – With her talented flair for comedy, Dee has entertained RCT audiences both on stage (Once Upon a Mattress & many others) and as a director (Fools).  
  • Jane Stephenson – She has served RCT from the 1960s onward as an actress, a director, and, with her husband, Bill, a devoted longtime supporter.
  • Bill Jacobs – For RCT audiences Bill was a longtime favorite performer:  a talented clown in many comedies (such as Fools) but also delivering powerful dramatic performances (Death of a Salesman and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf).
  • Ruth Lee – During RCT’s first seasons with volunteer directors, 1977—1984, Ruth was the dedicated and award-winning director of one production per season.
  • Ralph Burkhardt – A music teacher and orchestra director at Richmond High School, Ralph served as the music director for several RCT musical productions.
  • Ed Eby – A Richmond music teacher and church choir director, Ed served RCT as a music director or “coach” for numerous productions.
  • Gary Bash – Employed as RCT’s managing director during the mid-‘80s, Gary brought creative enthusiasm to the job and directed RCT productions of Oliver!, Grease, and a memorable summer fundraiser called Best of Broadway.
  • George Blakey – A former history prof at IU East and a longtime supporter of RCT, George wrote the second volume of RCT’s history, Act II, which covers the years 1959—1979.