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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.



  • 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.



  • 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.