Behind the Stage Door of the Hampton Playhouse - 32nd Season 1980
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The company this season included popular TV actor Kevin Tighe (of EMERGENCY fame) and popular New York actor Victor Arnold. Kevin starred in CHAPTER TWO along with Playhouse favorites Aida Berlyn and Frank Vohs and newcomer Barbara Knowles. The SLY FOX starred Victor Arnold. The Playhouse's version of burlesque shows had become very popular with the audiences and has now proven to be one of the most requested shows in recent seasons with the result that a new edition has been provided every two or three years since. Burlesque Follies featured a lot of wonderful singing and dancing and of course a female and male stripper...something for everyone...all, of course, done in extremely good taste! Follies featured apprentices and regulars Pat MacDonnell, Steve Witting, Renee Rogers, George Hosker, Scott Fergang, Gillian Lasa and Sarah Christie. Musicians included Steve Bredice - sax, Mark Adams - drums, David Goldberg - trumpet & bass guitar. Set designer for workshop - Janet Storck. Emil Sanzari , friend of Mr. Christie the producer and fellow teacher, joined the company and served for several years in a variety of capacities including 'diversion' in the box office for Bobby and Alfred during the early evening hours before the show.
Dick Sabol remembers... 'SLY FOX - had great fun playing a rapist cop. John Vari graced the Hampton stage. John kept running around backstage saying 'Oh my God! What do I say? What's my cue?' And then he would go on stage and nail it. We were a great cast. SUGAR - Steve Witting was an apprentice and a gangster side-kick to my Spats. Three of us did a knock down tap number to rousing applause. I enjoyed giving Steve hard earned acting tips because he showed promise. I remember Charlie Davisson, our stage manager, prodding Richard Sabellico, who had some costume problems, to be ready for the 'places' call. Suddenly the orchestra began to play. I will never forget Charlie's face when he heard the music. His mouth fell open and a look of horror came to his face. 'Oh my God!' he cried, dumbfounded. 'They started the show without me!' And he ran off.
Janet Storck remembers... "A couple of weeks after I was first hired in 1980, I found out that I had cancer - Hodgkin's Disease. I told John and Alfred and offered to step out of the picture. They said they really wanted me to be part of the team and that, if I wanted, I still had a job. During the summer, they were incredibly supportive when I had to fly to New York for chemotherapy. They always made sure I had plenty of people to help me with my work and that I wasn't overdoing it (and in summer stock that's very rare). John and Alfred helped me more than they could ever know. They showed me through their compassion and confidence that I wasn't just a sick person. I knew they liked my work (and me), and that gave me strength to keep going. It was the beginning of a 5 year professional relationship - and an even longer friendship."
Renee Rogers remembers... "I was an apprentice at Hampton for several summers. My freshman year at Northwestern University I was applying to summer theatres and the girl across the hall from me, who had been a junior in the workshop, said that Hampton was great and if there were two guys still there named Steve and Pat, I'd have lots of fun... She also gave me the tip to request box office duty.) Well, it was June of 1980 that I met Steve Witting and we're still together. He and Pat really endeared themselves to me one night after several gruesome hours by myself trying to paint the peeling ladies' bathroom floor with a long roller brush. I couldn't find any paint thinner in the shop to clean up with and Pat and Steve confidently told me to chuck brush and all into the dumpster. 'No one will know.' My family still laughs at how I introduced Steve to my Dad, grandmother and uncle on the lawn outside the theatre one night and then we summarily drove off to Lamie's for drinks -- without him. My housing was a room upstairs in the barn adjacent to Maddy's which reached the high 80's on summer days. I remember communal dinners at Maddy's including the ever-special cheese strata. It was a fascinating combo of white bread, cheese, egg and 'good things' as Maddy would say. Especially vivid was opening night because an excited apprentice tram Hawaii named Susie choked at the dinner table and had to be given the Heimlich maneuver. Oversexed apprentices were often seen giving each other backrubs in the living room. I remember working in the box office and a customer attempting to bribe me for tickets. As he forced some cash through the window, I kept insisting that the show was really sold out. He left in disgust. One day John Vari came to visit and leaning on the box office shelf, referring to Steve, he asked me it I was 'Gonna let this one get away.' He made me seriously consider how I felt about this funny actor I'd spent the summer laughing with. I remember Sarah Christie making her way from the managerial house to come check on ticket sales. She was often looking for Alfred or fretting about something that needed to be done. I loved the rhyming games she and Alfred would banter around. One day she was walking toward the motel units brandishing a toilet brush and I asked her what she was doing. She said she was gonna wash my pussycat. She was pushing 90 at the time!"