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Suffield Players History -- The eighties

1982

"The Script," initiated in 1982, provides us with informational material that nicely fills in the spaces in Player history.  In January, auditions were held for the 50th Player production, The Glass Menagerie.  February saw 38 Players and friends charter a bus for their third annual Big Apple Theatre Trip.  Mapleton Hall was undergoing a face-lift with new paint, stripped woodwork, new electrical system and emergency lights.  The winter of '82 also set loose The Trotsky Brothers...Channel 57's Great Spring Auction spawned the misadventures of a misguided trio of Groucho-masked Russian movers who, in the process of delivering priceless relics to the auction, destroyed them.  These hilarious antics were accomplished by "several" Brothers including George Chartier, Konrad Rogowski, Craig Parker, Lyle and Terry Pearsons and a number of other zanies who wish to remain anonymous.  At the same time, The Emily Dickinson Living Tableau Ensemble, under the (mis)direction of Steve Hays, provided an artistic output for our lady Players, Nadine Glover, Jodie Akeley, Norma Cobb, Kelly Seip, Carol Lutz, Nance and Sue Pearsons and Lorraine Dieli.  Striking poses of great hysterical historical moments through a series of Roman Fountain tableaus, The Ensemble sent the Spring Auction audiences into drama trauma forcing The Ensemble and The Trotskys into video oblivion.

1983

The Players set sail with Luxury Cruise.  Most critics credited the acting to keeping the ship afloat.  With the hilarious antics of Mary K. Makoski and Norma Cobb at the helm the show was kept from running aground.  Add the "Love Boat" routines of passengers Lorraine Dieli and Patty Coope and you had "evenings entertainment in spite of rough water," according to critic Tom Caruso.

1984

One of the funniest musicals ever presented by The Players, Ten by Six by Richard Kinter is cast by Waldo Goodermote and features Player favorites Konrad Rogowski, Lisa Parker, Mary K. Makowski, Lyle Pearsons, Del Ekenberger and for the first time Richard Thornburg.  Critics called it "one of the most stylish musical melodramas ever to grace a local stage."  No one who saw it will forget the "I can go up" angel scene.

RAPT presents a reading of Konrad Rogowski's Orphans of Eternity at Stockbridge Court in Springfield.  Several Players were on hand to read the show which would later be produced by The Players to complete the Dracula trilogy.

February also marked the first showing of "The Wild Tapes."  A large screen television was borrowed from Asnuntuck College to give Player members a private screening of Count Dracula, the Players' outstanding '79 production which was videotaped and then spent three years in the editing by our sound engineer extraordinaire Dave Overson.

The Players hosted the first Associated Community Theatres of Connecticut drama festival (ACT/CONN) at Asnuntuck College and walked away with Best Production award for Vanities, along with Best Director (Denise Boutin), Best Actress-HM (Diane Novak), Best Set Design (Lyle Pearsons), Best Costumes (Nadine Glover), and Best Stage Manager (Del Ekenberger) awards.  Cast members Kelly Seip and Lisa Parker helped bring home the Players first ACT/CONN awards.

At the June annual meeting, Alcorn scholarships were awarded to Adam Roy and Amanda Hastings.

The Drac makes a comeback in an original horror play by Player Konrad Rogowski.  Orphans of Eternity -- Dracula III completed the Dracula Trilogy begun in 1980.  Konrad and Lisa Parker reprised their roles of Jonathan and Mina Harker and the Players "brought to light" a new face--that of Rick Anderson as Dracula's son.  Also new to the Players' stage were Amanda Hastings, Dave Cobb and Robert Wade.  John Howland and Kelly Seip rounded out this production which the Agawam Advertiser called "a creepy drama that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats."
Other moments of the fall of 1984:

  • kick-off party at the Pearsons
  • Drac is Back booth at the Oktoberfest
  • Build Your Own Gargoyle (BYOG) Party at the Hall (Gargoyles were used in Act II of O of E)
    ACT/CONN holds workshop given by Players Nadine Glover and Virginia Kier on low budget costuming.

    1985

    Players present Festival of One Act Plays at Asnuntuck College in February.  On tap were Aloof, This Property is Condemned, The Seventy-fifth, The Gin Game, California Suite, and Talley's Folly.  The winner (selected by adjudicator Steve Hays of Stagewest) was Talley's Folly performed by Konrad Rogowski and Lisa Parker.  It went on to participate in the ACT/CONN Festival.

    An adult fantasy?  Well, not quite.  The Princess and The Pea was a little quirky, out of this world adventure piece which adults as well as children enjoyed.  It starred a large cast of newcomers and introduced many of our acting troupe's children, including Danny Makoski (Chet and Mary K.'s son), Sean Howland (John and Marie's son), Kristie Kreps (Dennis and Sherri's daughter), and Heather Secora (Margie and John's daughter).  The play also marked Margie Secora's stage debut with the Players as the pea-brained Princess Olivia.  Also, Pat Haynes joined us for the first time as the iron-clad Stella the Strong of Slobovia (ooohh boy...)

    The Second ACT/CONN Festival is hosted by the Suffield Players and held at Asnuntuck College.  Our show Talley's Folly takes Best Production Runner-Up and Director/Actor awards go to Konrad Rogowski.  Set and Lighting Design awards go to Craig Parker and Konrad Rogowski, and Jerry Zalewski and John Howland, respectively.

    How The Other Half Loves saw the debut of Paul Gessay as Frank Foster, husband to Kelly Seip.  It also marked the Player directorial debut of Margie Secora.  Other cast members of this zany Ayckbourne comedy included Player President Patty Coope, Mark Ekenberger, John Howland and Marie Howland.  A special production was done in November for cablevision.  Gene Biggio organized the taping done with a huge video trailer set up outside the Hall.

    Winter brought back the cast of Gin Game, John Howland and Kelly Seip.  For the umpteenth time this show would be produced in preparation for the ACT/CONN Festival scheduled for April.

    1986

    ACT/CONN awards went to Players entry The Gin Game garnering Best Actress for Kelly Seip, Best Actor-HM for John Howland, Best Director-Lyle Pearsons, Best Costumes to Kelly and Lyle.

    A series of children's workshops was held in June to introduce young people to acting, auditioning, stage managing and lighting.  Margie Secora and Lyle Pearsons rehearse the children for a mini-production of The Wizard of Oz.  Little did they know this marked a dramatic career change for both of them.

    Another workshop, "Backstage 101", was held for adults where 20 attendees from various community theatre groups picked up valuable tidbits from Jerry Zalewski, Dave Overson, Nadine Glover and Bob Thomas from Fitchburg.

    Continental Cablevision aired two Suffield Players productions in March on their community access channel.  The Gin Game and How The Other Half Loves get top ratings.

    The Players' spring production of the musical Is There Life After High School? proved to be a sellout.  The show marked the directorial debut of Ted Levine and featured stellar ensemble performances by Lisa Parker, Craig Parker, Kim Whiteley, Margie Secora, Paul Gessay, Lyle Pearsons, Roger Ochs and Pat Haynes.  The rock'em-sock'em High School Reunion Gala on closing night proved there was life after.

    Hayfever by Noel Coward was produced with "wit, humor and plenty of gusto" according to the Agawam Advertiser.  There were many debuts in this stylized British comedy directed by--you guessed it--Waldo Goodermote.  They include Mara Dresner and Mary Bellenville, but perhaps most notable was the appearance on stage of Dana Ring and Dorrie Mitchell who have stayed with the Players ever since and actively contributed so much on stage and backstage.  Veterans included Lorraine Dieli, Dick McCarty and Mary K. Makoski--all who gave "FIRST-RATE performances."

    1987

    Patty Coope resigns as President and Gene Biggio becomes new Player leader to help usher in 35th season.

    ACT/CONN entry is Jury of Her Peers which garners Best Costumes, Set, Stage Manager, and Best Director-HM.

    Spring production is the "moving, passionate" Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.  Mapleton Avenue is transformed into a French cafe and the 5 member ensemble of Pat Haynes, Lisa Parker, Konrad Rogowski, Richard Thornburg and Margie Secora bring the audience to its feet with a "level of singing, dancing and acting talent that is extremely commendable and impressive."  Ted Levine directs and Secora choreographs this "thoroughly enjoyable" musical.

    Players take over operation of Mapleton Hall when Association leases it to Players for $1 a year.

    Jesus Christ Superstar kicks off the 35th Anniversary season with its most expensive and most profitable show thus far.  The 40 member cast, directed by Lyle Pearsons, created "a production as polished as any professional touring company" (Journal Inquirer).  Featured players are Jeff Piubeni, Kelly Crowley, Margie Secora, Konrad Rogowski, Roger Ochs and Pat Haynes.  They led this "show of superlatives" to critical acclaim including the Moss Hart award for the Best Community Theater Production in New England.

    1988

    Something entirely different was offered--an audience participation murder mystery play written by 3 Players members: Gene Biggio (President), George Chartier (Publicity), Lyle Pearsons (VP Planning).  "Another unforgettable show," "a skillfully crafted who-dun-it," a "light-hearted send-up of the mystery genre."  The cast included Player favorites Kelly Seip, Mary K. Makoski, John Howland, Ed Gogulski, Mark Proulx, Dana Ring and Margie Secora.  Newcomers were Tim O'Brien, Phil Prather, Kim Wilker and Nannie Brown as the doctor from the audience.

    The first part of the play, Sorry, Wrong Number, went on to win 5 awards at the Connecticut Drama Festival including Best Connecticut Production.

    Crimes of the Heart marked Konrad Rogowski's first full-length, mainstage directorial debut.  The play marked the end of the 35th Anniversary season and the 13th show for its lead actresses Kelly Seip, Mary K. Makoski and Lisa Parker.  "The case delivers the kind of exemplary acting which distinguishes SP as one of the finest Community Theatre groups in our area."

    35th Anniversary Masked Ball was held to celebrate the year.  The Hall was transformed into an 18th century French Ballroom with feasting, dancing, amusements betting on hamster races (and touring the stalls of various other livestock including chickens and sheep), and even dueling.  A grand end to a grand year.