We are always proud of the fact that Lamplighters form a bridge between academia and the fully professional opera and theatre world. We do this in the progression of Singers, Stage Directors, Conductors, and Costumers from our stages to the world. A most recent example of this fine tradition is Hannah Velichko! She came up the ranks as a student intern then professional stitcher with us, and she graduated to wardrobe crew with HAMILTON when it was in SF two years ago. This January, Hannah was asked to work wardrobe for the stellar production of HAMILTON in Puerto Rico! And, she asked one of her mentors, Judy Jackson to join, along with George Ashworth. Nicolas Aliaga Garcia attended as the guest of another staffer, so….the Lamplighters did represent at HAMILTON in Puerto Rico!
One of the very popular items that our donors can bid on at our Gala or Too Much Happiness events is a walk-on role in one of our productions. In the case of our recent production of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, we had four donors do a total of five walk ons! Here is a look at our wonderful guest Pirates in costume, both onstage and backstage. We were delighted to have them with us, sharing our love of G & S, and our thrills on stage! Here are a few of the things they said about the experience:
“Yes, Jim be prepared for a guaranteed good time, and the cast/crew is very supportive! Enjoy the moment. I did!!” – Jon Keller, our guest pirate in Mountain View
“By the way, when viewed from the stage right wing where I caught most of the performance, it was interesting to watch Charles Martin’s bellowing as the Head Bobby. He puts so much force into that powerful voice that the walls shake. […] Really impressive!” – Ron Oremland, our guest pirate in San Francisco
“Miriam did a grand job of fitting me for a pirate costume yesterday. Can’t wait to put it on for Saturday’s performance.” – Jim Ensign, our guest pirate in San Francisco
“I’m soooo excited!” – Barbara Edwards, our guest pirate in Livermore
It is great fun for both the guest and the cast to share in these experiences; a wonderful bonding!
Keith Bucher, our Principal French Horn, passed away on August 4, 2018. He first played with the Lamplighters in 1977. He studied at Northwestern University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and started his musical career in the US Marine Band in Washington DC. From 1978 to 1987 he was a fixture in the pit orchestras for major San Francisco musical theater productions and performed with many organizations from the Bay Area to Sacramento including the SF Horn Quartet which arranged and played Sullivan’s music for their performances. He served on the Lamplighters orchestra committee, assisted in the music library marking orchestra parts and always volunteered to play for the sing alongs. Keith especially enjoyed playing Iolanthe and Gondoliers, always loved Pirates and the orphan/often joke and enjoyed wearing his collection of Lamplighters ties for the matinees.
The memorial for Keith was held on September 23, 2018 at the Sacramento Dharma Center. There were Buddhist prayers, music and remembrances by family and many friends. Keith’s grandson Sol, tooted a few notes on the “French Horn” that Keith made for him out of a hose and a large funnel, sang “Row, row, row your boat” and then everyone sang with him. Gregory Sykes, Daryl Schilling, Katie Dennis and Adrienne & Tom Duckworth were also there and Larry Gardiner, President of AFM, Local 12 spoke and read a letter from Forrest Byram about his adventures with Keith when they were freshmen in college (see below). Cara Jones organized a French Horn Quintet and Katie talked to her about including a Sullivan piece and playing in the group. We sent them music for Arthur Sullivan’s “The Long Day Closes” which they arranged for French Horns and Katie played with them. It was a beautiful ending for the ceremony.
From Forrest Byram:
I’m sorry I can’t join you today to celebrate the life of a very nice guy, but I have to work. I think a mandatory matinee is something Keith would completely understand. I met Keith in 1971 when we were freshmen at Northwestern University. He was a musician and I was a tuba player. When our government drew numbers for the following year’s draft, his was something like number seven or eight, so he knew he would not have a sophomore year. Let’s just say that he made a concerted effort to spend his one university year living life to the fullest. You can’t really appreciate that statement unless you know something about the dormitory in which he, and later I, lived– Asbury Hall.
Northwestern had a half dozen or so small dorms that housed around 25 guys each. For the most part, they were converted houses. Asbury Hall had formerly been some sort of religious residence and on the third floor was a high ceilinged room with stained glass windows. The Fire Marshall said that if a fire started on the first floor, the entire building would be engulfed in under four minutes.
It was one of only two dorms that were not allowed to be co-ed. One, Allison Hall, was a standard dorm that had been built with a donation that specified women only. Asbury, on the other hand, was declared “unfit for female habitation.” It was just across the street from the Music School, so it was a location preferred by musicians, especially those given to off beat behavior. The only rule in Asbury was “There are no Rules,” so it was the perfect place to “live life to the fullest.” I daresay that we did our best to achieve that. Of course, that was then, this is now.
There are musicians who, when they need a substitute for something, recommend somebody who can just barely do the job. This is to protect themselves from being replaced. Keith was not that kind of person. I know of a very fine horn player that he used as a sub in the theaters in San Francisco. He felt that she was a good player who deserved a break. He didn’t worry about himself.
I think the idea of giving to others is something that you can also see in his work with the union. You don’t necessarily get a lot of glory from that work, but you do get to know that you are being of service to others. I think this was an important part of his life. It was one of the steps he took as he trudged the road of Happy Destiny. That is a roadway that has been greatly improved by the traces of his footsteps.
The Lamplighters Orchestra wants to say thank you, thank you for the music stand lights. Makes such a difference to be able to see all the tiny notes. We are the slaves of duty… and now we can see too!! We thank the following for making this possible:
Willa & Henry Anderson
William & Kathleen Brodhead
Jim & Judy Bangsund
Geoff Dottery & Cliff Willwerth
James Ensign & Wanda Jones
F. Lawrence Ewing
Joseph Giammarco & Claire Kelm
Jon Keller & Susan Jorgenson
Martin Lewis & Steve Siegelman
Fred & Judith Lothrop
Charles Manning & Rena Kirkpatrick
Jananne & Mike Mead
Ed Moore & Catherine Burke
Rik Myslewski & Marilyn Bancel
Baker Peeples & Ellen Kerrigan
Kirstine Schaeffer & John Skalicky
John Emery Smyth
Jennifer Vlahos Kessler & Gabriel Kessler
Lamplighters Music Theatre is both humbled and proud to have received a tremendous number of Theatre Bay Area Award Nominations for Calendar 2018. The word of mouth appeared to build over the year, and we had more and more theatre peers come to our two main productions as adjudicators. Both THE GONDOLIERS and THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE received great recognition, and as individuals and a company we received 15 Finalist nominations; one of the largest number of nominations received by any theatre company this year! Mark November 5th on your calendar, and attend the awards ceremony at Herbst Theatre if you can, in support of these nominations:
All nominations in Tier 2 (based on budget and union status)
Outstanding Properties Design
Elisabeth Reeves and Frances Silcox for The Pirates of Penzance
Outstanding Costume Design
Judy Jackson and Miriam Lewis for The Gondoliers
Miriam Lewis for The Pirates of Penzance
Creative Specialties: Wig Design
Kerry Rider-Kuhn for The Gondoliers
Outstanding Music Direction
David Drummond for The Pirates of Penzance
Baker Peeples for The Gondoliers
Outstanding Direction of a Musical
Nicolas Aliaga Garcia for The Pirates of Penzance
Outstanding Ensemble of a Musical
The Pirates of Penzance
Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role in a Musical
F. Lawrence Ewing for The Pirates of Penzance
Outstanding Performance in a Principal Role in a Musical
Erin O’Meally for The Pirates of Penzance
Deborah Rosengaus for The Pirates of Penzance
Outstanding Production of a Musical
The Pirates of Penzance
For the past few years one couple in Livermore has been inviting Lamplighter cast members to stay over during the weekend because of the long drive, and they even host the closing party, since Livermore is our last stop in the Summer. Some candids of grateful performers from a pre-show breakfast at the home of Gus Manning and Rena Kirkpatrick, along with a description from Gus of what it is like to be surrounded by Lamplighters!
August 26, after striking the set of Lamplighters’ final 2018 performance of The Pirates of Penzance, the Company (cast members, direction and production staff, friends, and hangers-on) headed to the Kirkpatrick-Manning residence (also known as Manning Motel) in Livermore to celebrate the success of Pirates and life in general. A few Company members who had stayed at the residence throughout a weekend of performances helped to prepare for the event.
A clear majority of the Company was in attendance at the event with guests numbering near to 75. Many Lamplighters brought gifts of food and beverages, plain and exotic, to sustain celebrants including the exhausted performers. The ample cuisine was supplemented by lively, at time raucous, conversations touching on a weekend of splendid performance, great and small issues, including the history, philosophy, and significance of Lamplighterism, speeches covering anything and everything, and just plain whoppers.
Many public and private appreciations were expressed by Company members to their compatriots including farewells emotionally expressed to members departing to seek their fortunes elsewhere. A number of participants took the opportunity to don appropriate or inappropriate costumes to bathe in the hot tub, or to be splashed upon therefrom. As is customary at Lamplighter celebrations, a variety of spontaneous and artful demonstrations were observed and appreciated. Details of such demonstrations are best kept in our hearts and not documented, as “what happens in Livermore stays in Livermore”.
Director Nicolas Aliaga is bringing a fresh new concept to our summer production of Pirates of Penzance. As costumer designer Miriam Lewis explains, “We’re setting this production in 1897, which is when you get the idea of the New Woman. What this means for us is that women were doing a lot of things that had previously been only done by men, both professionally and for personal pleasure. The women in our ensemble have to be active in order to pursue their interests. They can’t wear the beautiful, giant hoop skirts used in past productions. So they are wearing things like bicycle bloomers, split skirts, and knickers. They will really be able to climb over rocky mountains!”
“We want these modern daughters of the Modern Major General to be able to be very active in their costumes. They can be archeologists, or geologists, or naturalists. And the idea that women could be more active in their leisure pursuits went hand in hand with the idea that they could be more active in a social sense. The suffragette movement had been going on for some time, but was still very important in 1897. All of this is reflected in the change of costume for our women.”