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The Rossmoor Players

History of the Players from 1980

The Rossmoor Players Club originated back in the 1970's when several residents interested in the performing arts formed a club to read and perform plays.

The Club received a major boost when Sam Newman joined  its ranks in 1980.  Sam, a natural humorist with a flair for writing, took on the task of creating original material for the Club.  He had written 32 original plays!

In the 1990's the Players took another major step forward with the addition of Henrietta Napier, whose life-long involvement with community theatre quickly established her as the Players' principal stage and creative director.  Henrietta was founder of The Villagers, one of New Jersey's finest community theatres.

Retired TV writer/producer/director, Bob Huber, joined the Cub in 1997, providing the Players with another source of original material.

With the addition of scenic designer, Bob Pessolano, and lighting director Cal Schwarz, the Rossmoor Players productions have taken on a semiprofessional appearance, but it was veteran Sam Newman who best recalled the long road to get there.

 

Looking Back
a history of the Rossmoor Players by Sam Newman

I joined the Players in 1980 and one year later my first play, "Some Enchanted Evening" was presented. It was performed in what was then called the Gold Room. The publicity writer for the Players, Veronica Wenzel reported in the Rossmoor News that a capacity crowd had attended. My recollection is that no more than 25 or 30 attended.

In the early 1980's, the Players would have two major pro­ductions a year. Marie Grant, a writer who had had many of her short stories published in the New Jersey magazine, wrote one play and I'd write another. There was a year or two when a third production was added to the schedule. In 1982, Dorothy Brown wrote a musical satire called, "Kids & Parents" that was well received. Dorothy's husband, Harry, who at one time had been a member of a big band, played the piano. Later, Harry was at the piano for a number of my shows.

Announcement for "Some Enchanted Evening" 1981
 

Although the Players presented only two full length plays a year, between those shows we performed "An Evening With Charles Dickens, (1982), "A Tribute To Tennessee Williams" (1983) "Spoon River Anthology" (1984) and others I can't recall.

One of the founders of the Players was Kay Leary who, before her retirement, had been a drama teacher. When I arrived at the Players in 1980, Kay Leary was the sole director in the club. She was in my mind a wonderful director from whom I learned quite a bit. She directed my first play and because I paid special attention to her methods, I was able to direct my second play.

 

In 1982 the Players moved their shows to the Ballroom. We performed several there as well as some in the Meeting House. Four to six metal panels elevated about a foot or so formed our stage. The chandeliers were our lighting.

I might add that for many years, the plays were presented for just one performance.  Also, unlike today, the actors memorized their scripts. Prompters were used in the event an actor stumbled over a line. The prompters were hidden from view but when they had to give the actor the forgotten line they were often heard by the audience which led to hysterical laughter.

I remember one incident in the Meeting House during one of my shows. I had the bright idea to hide the prompter inside the pulpit figuring an actor forgetting his lines could stroll over to the pulpit where the prompter could whisper the forgotten line. My wife, Alyce, who was often in one of my shows wasn't in this one so I talked her into being the prompter. Sure enough, I forgot a line, strolled over to the pulpit and Alyce whispered the line to me, which I didn't hear, I asked again and again I didn't hear her till finally I stuck my head into the pulpit. That got the biggest laugh in the play.

Announcement for "Is there a Nurse in the House?" 1982
 

 

<< From "Love in Bloom", 1985

I should mention we had many members who worked hard at other jobs behind the scenes. Most particularly there was Bernie Grant, Marie's husband, who was the Players lighting director. Bernie concocted a 10 foot board that held five or six 150 watt bulbs which we used as footlights to light up the stage. The stage in the Meeting House was the area where services are conducted. There is what you would call I guess, a rise on in front of that raised area. It was behind this rise that the footlights were place, unseen by the audience. Sometimes a bulb would blow but the actors would carry on anyhow.  Also unseen because of the rise, were the legs of the actors.

The sets for our shows today almost look professional as compared to the sets in the early years. Practically all the shows were done on almost bare stages. Occasionally we'd have a small table with a vase on stage. They were usually borrowed from the parlor in the Meeting House.

In the beginning, the Players opened their doors to everyone. Admission was free for many years until it was absolutely necessary that we raise money to print scripts, programs, and buy props. We started by charging as little as $1.00. E&R Department helped by selling tickets which they no longer do.

DeborahHospital Fund Raiser from 1987
 

Some of the cast from "Little White Lies" - 1994
Program Cover from 1996
Program,1996 supporting Cancer Care
 
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