75th Anniversary Honorees
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.
- 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.
1980s to the Present
- 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.
1990s to the Present
- David Cobine - Major RCT director (annually for 30 years!), as well as an actor, board member, committee leader: a devoted volunteer in multiple ways.
- Becky Jewison - A lifetime with RCT: including as a talented costume designer, director, actress, and the founding Managing Director of Stage One Youth Theatre.
- Kathy Clopper and Simon Clopper - Kathy’s long-time devotion to RCT has included serving on the board and directing numerous productions; while Simon has served RCT as an outstanding set designer.
- Ruth Brown and David Brown - Ruth's long-time roles for RCT include director, actress, and board president; while David has served numerous times as lighting designer and technical director.
- Sheila Wissler and Richard Wissler - Sheila has served many times as an assistant director; Dick has helped costume many productions. Both have appeared on stage, served on the board, and for many years assisted in the costume shop.
- Bob Myers and Velda Myers - RCT’s unofficial “cheerleader” & recruiter, Bob also has served on the board, as a set builder, and as a popular RCT actor. For many years, Velda served constantly behind the scenes on crews, in costume shop, and wherever needed.
- Jewell Pyle - A leading lady of RCT, in both musical and dramatic roles; plus many behind-the-scenes contributions on committees, projects, crews.
- Paul Jordan - RCT’s long-time official photographer, his devoted service also includes costume designing, set building, and countless on-stage performances in choruses and supporting roles.
- David Jetmore - This popular RCT actor has contributed a long career of roles in comedies, musicals, and dramas.
- Ray Ontko - This strong long-time supporter of RCT has served on the board, performed on stage, and regularly plays cello in RCT orchestras.
- Larry Parker - Dynamic RCT Manager (and occasional director) during 1987—1996.
- Phil Shore - Phil reliably served on many set-building crews, and he left RCT an extremely generous bequest in support of the scene shop and theatre.
- Karen Adams - A frequent RCT actress and costume designer for many seasons, as well as serving as the costume shop manager.
- George Schmid - A loyal long-time RCT supporter behind the scenes and actor on stage in many productions.
- Paula Werle - A creative RCT contributor in many ways, including as actress, props designer, board member, and just about whenever needed behind the scenes.
- Mark Stolle - A noted leading actor in musical, dramatic, and comic roles, as well as serving on the board and as a technical advisor.
- TJ Rivard and Beth Anne Darr - Both contributed many outstanding, memorable performances on stage; they also served as directors and were leaders in establishing Studio 10.
The 75 Diamond Honorees are just a handful of the amazing people who have made an impact on RCT since its beginning, including the many devoted volunteers who are active at RCT today. We thank all of you for your time and talent! RCT’s 75 years would not have happened without you.
- Cheryl DeLucio – Cheryl is one of RCT’s great choreographers, as well as actress, director, and board member, providing enthusiasm and leadership in every project she takes on.
- Steve Stoller – Music director for numerous RCT productions, Steve’s efforts as the leader of the Murray Centennial fundraising campaign made possible new auditorium seating, enlarged restrooms, and the Annex.
- Dick Woodruff – For many years Dick was the lighting designer of numerous RCT productions and an exceptionally generous financial supporter.
- Nancy Witt – Having grown up at RCT, Nancy has served as set dresser and painter for numerous productions, appeared in the casts of many musicals, and served on the board.
- Marty Hancock – An RCT child star in the leading role of Oliver!, Marty has become one of RCT’s outstanding dramatic actors and musical performers, and always a positive RCT promoter.
- Don Mellen – Starting his long association with RCT as a youth, Don has appeared on stage, has directed productions, and in recent years he has created the annual melodrama for RCT as both author and director.
- Jack Leer- Jack’s long RCT history includes lots of onstage roles, with many stand-out comedy performances; he also has directed for Stage One and often helps out with box office and other needed tasks.
- Phil Harp – Phil has been a major set builder for RCT productions, has served as the supervisor of the Annex set shop, and also has appeared on stage, especially in numerous musicals.
- Jeff Page – Jeff has been a key contributor to RCT productions as board member, as assistant director, many times as stage manager, and also as a cast member.
- Erica Pearson – Always outstanding as an actress, Erica also has directed and choreographed RCT productions, as well as serving on the board and the Stage One committee.
- Sandi Cox – She has been the music director of many great RCT musicals, sometimes multiple times in a season!
- Rick Funk – He is the frequent sound designer for RCT productions, and is always generous with his time and expertise in advising others, updating equipment, or problem-solving.
- Carvin Rinehart – He’s been the inspired set designer and painter for many RCT productions, and for several years has also designed RCT’s artful posters and brochures.
- Sharon Walker – She volunteers many hours as the supervisor of RCT’s costume shop, serves on the costume crews for many productions, and provides a welcoming appearance to the theatre with her flower arrangements & creative decorating.
- Doug Wambo and Shelley Wambo - Both are outstanding comedy performers in RCT productions. Doug also has served backstage as flyman , while Shelley has been a volunteer for Stage One activities and on the RCT Board.
- Charity Hawkins and Chastity Hinshaw – These sisters started at RCT together while in high school; since then, both have appeared in many productions, especially contributing their strong singing talents to musicals, as well as serving on backstage crews.
- The Arnett Family: Renee, Kevin, Mary-Beth, & Nathaniel – Renee has directed, appeared on stage, and served on the board, while husband Kevin has been flyman for many shows. Mary-Beth and Nathaniel both grew from Stage One roles to featured main stage performances, and Nathaniel has served as set builder too.