00 News & Updates, 04 The USP Walk of Fame

“USPy” Winners Announced

Nearly 100 people gathered at the Pella Opera House last night for Union Street Players Awards Night. Doug DeWolf was inducted into the USP Walk of Fame, and winners were announced for the first annual “USPy” Awards for Outstanding Production and Performance.

The three shows of USP’s 2016-2017 season were adjudicated by five are theatre educators. Judges announced award nominees in early August and the winners were announced at last night’s presentations.

Winners were (in the order they were presented):

  • Technical Achievement: Jim Palmer (Set Design of Noises Off)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress: Kim Beyer (Dixie Plunkett in The Christmas Post)
  • Outstanding Newcomer: Elise Pederson (Alice Garfield in The Christmas Post)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor: Tom Vander Well (Eliott Herzog Jr. in The Christmas Post)
  • Outstanding Young Performer: Mia Andringa (Katie Garfield in The Christmas Post)
  • Outstanding Direction: Wendy Vander Well (The Christmas Post)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress: Lisa Witzenberg (Hattie McGee in The Christmas Post)
  • Outstanding Ensemble: The Three Crows (The Wizard of Oz)
  • Outstanding Lead Actor: Lonnie Appleby (Garry in Noises Off)
  • Outstanding Production: The Wizard of Oz

The big honor of the evening went to Doug DeWolf who was introduced by last year’s Walk of Fame inductee, Spence Ver Meer.

More details about the evening along with photographs from Lisa Morgan, who served as photographer for the event, will be posted when they become available.

00 News & Updates, 04 The USP Walk of Fame, Slider Posts

Spence Ver Meer Welcomed to USP Walk of Fame

USP Walk of Fame Members welcome Spence Ver Meer into the fold (L-R, Pat Moriarity, Peg Moriarity, Deb Linn, Pati Van Zante, Spence Ver Meer, Arvin Van Zante, Lisa Witzenburg, Don Graves, Bev Graves)
USP Walk of Fame Members welcome Spence Ver Meer into the fold (L-R, Pat Moriarity, Peg Moriarity, Deb Linn, Pati Van Zante, Spence Ver Meer, Arvin Van Zante, Lisa Witzenburg, Don Graves, Bev Graves)

Union Street Players (USP), Pella’s award-winning community theatre, welcomed Spence Ver Meer into the USP Walk of Fame at the group’s annual Awards Night October 8th. Approximately 50 people attended the festivities at Central College’s Graham Annex.

Since 2008, USP has met annually to honor long-time members who have gone above and beyond in contributing to the community theatre’s success. Each year an inductee is chosen by the USP Board of Directors. General criteria for nomination is ten or more years involvement, contribution in multiple roles (actor, director, producer, Board member, and etc.) and contributing to the furthering of USP’s mission.

USP President, Tom Vander Well, once again served as Master of Ceremonies for the festivities. He summarized what was another successful year for USP, including The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe which became USP’s highest attended holiday show, USP’s middle-school theatre experience with Tom Sawyer, and another record setting year for USP Drama Camp. The group then enjoyed a year-in-review video.

Vander Well also introduced Spence Ver Meer as this year’s Walk of Fame inductee, citing Spence’s faithful involvement over 20 years. While Ver Meer is most notably remembered by audience members for his multiple turns as leading man crooning Broadway favorites in popular musicals such as Sound of Music and South Pacific, he also served as Director (Pirates of Penzance, Our Town), keyboard player (Vintage Hitchcock), and Board President. Vander Well also celebrated Ver Meer for his limitless creativity.

That creativity was on full display during the remainder of the evening. In Ver Meer’s acceptance speech Spence kept the crowd in stitches as he recounted the many women he’s kissed on stage, and the fact that most of them were never seen on stage again. After his induction, he joined with fellow members of Pella’s fledgling improv troupe in performing several improv games for the evening’s audience. In acceptance of the Walk of Fame honor, Ver Meer gave kudos to the many directors and fellow actors he’d worked with through the years.

As the evening’s audience enjoyed dessert, they enjoyed the improv performance from improv troupe members Kathryn Andringa, Lynn Cutler, Denise Gregory, Kathy Haug, Stephanie Lantz,    along with Spence Ver Meer.

 

2016 Almost Maine, Slider Posts

Chilly Night in “Almost, Maine” Warms Hearts

USP Almost Maine Cast Photo - 1 (1)

Almost, Maine is set in the depths of winter on a moonless night in northern Maine. It’s a chilly, snowy setting and much of the cast, costumed by Linda McQuade, spend their time on stage sweating in full winter regalia. It’s one of the many contrasts that playwright John Cariani wove into the magical, heart-warming tales of love and relationships. On Sunday April 17, Union Street Players production of Almost, Maine ended its four show run with a good word-of-mouth crowd who endured unseasonably warm temperatures both outside and inside the Joan Kuyper Farver auditorium.

Directed by Kevin McQuade, who made his USP directorial debut, the seven cast members delighted audiences with the script’s nine vignettes which produced both laughter and tears. The ensemble cast was anchored by a number of USP veterans including Spence Ver Meer, Jana De Zwarte, Wendy Vander Well, Tom Vander Well and Sara Collins. Ana Lucia Riegstad was cast in her third straight USP production and Stephanie Lantz made her USP stage debut. Tyler Coleman and Charlee Eekhof provided musical accompaniment between scenes. The show was well managed by Stage Manager Alex Dean, a student at Theatre Central. Pat Moriarity joined the show mid-stream to act as Producer (sadly, his last USP show before he and Peggy move to Arkansas). Arvin Van Zante ran the lights and sound, and Mark Schaefer provided back stage assistance. Mat Kelly designed the minimalist set. Cody Kori assisted with sound effects.

Spring productions are typically smaller shows for Union Street Players. The productions are performed between February and April with average attendance numbers (363) which fall well below those of summer productions (884) and holiday shows (1009). The four show run of Almost, Maine was slightly above average with 374 audience members over the four performances:

Thu Apr 14:  58
Fri Apr 15:  141
Sat Apr 16:  80
Sun Apr 17: 95

 

Next up for Union Street Players:

Sabrina Fair by Samuel A. Taylor
Directed by Cyndi Atkins
Roles for 14 adults ages 21-81
Auditions May 10/12 at 6:30 p.m.; May 14 at 9:00 a.m.

00 News & Updates

USP’s 2016 Season

2016 USP Season Graphic SquareUnion Street Players, Pella’s award-winning community theatre, is excited to announce our 2016 season. Each year USP produces three main stage productions in the Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium of the Pella Community Center. Our 2016 season is an exciting mix of comedy, romance and heartwarming family fare that local audiences will love.

Our 2016 spring production, Almost, Maine, is a romantic comedy that in recent years has been produced by more high schools and community theaters than any other play. It is a heartwarming string of related scenes set in the depths of a Maine winter, and it is sure to keep audiences laughing while tugging on the heart-strings. Under the direction of Kevin McQuade, Almost, Maine will be the perfect show for date night or your small group’s evening out.

Many famous Hollywood classics began as stage plays, and our summer production will allow our local audience to experience the script that launched two popular films. Sabrina Fair is a romantic comedy that tells the story of a chauffeur’s daughter, returning from school in Paris, who upends the wealthy aristocratic New York family her father has worked for all her life. The play became the classic film, Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and then a popular remake starring Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford. Sabrina Fair will be directed by Cyndi Atkins (who also directed USP’s Annie) and is slated for a late July production.

Our 2016 musical is a holiday show slated for the first weekend in December. The Christmas Post is a heartwarming family musical inspired by two Norman Rockwell paintings. Set during the post World War II era in a local department store, it tells the story of a young widowed mother who struggles to raise enough money to buy her children Christmas presents. The musical was a big hit for USP when it was first produced in 2006. Wendy Vander Well, who directed the original production, will returns to the director’s chair the 2016 show.

Please continue to follow unionstreetplayers.com for the latest on show dates and audition information. Auditions are always open to the public and no roles are precast. USP is a non-profit volunteer organization and is always looking for individuals who are interested in getting in on the act both on stage and back stage. You can follow us on Twitter @unionstplayers or get the latest by clicking “Like” on our Facebook page.

00 News & Updates

Big Turnout for USP Annual Potluck Picnic; New Leadership Selected

2015-2015 USP Board of Directors (L-R) Denise Gregory, Deb Linn, Cyndi Atkins, Kim Beyer, Cody Kooi, Mark Schaefer, Jana De Zwarte
2015-2016 USP Board of Directors (L-R) Denise Gregory, Deb Linn, Cyndi Atkins, Kim Beyer, Cody Kooi, Mark Schaefer, Jana De Zwarte

Union Street Players gathered at West Market Park on Monday evening, August 10, for the annual membership meeting and potluck picnic. This has been an annual event the past few years and this year’s crowd was bigger than ever with over 50 people in attendance. Under the canopy of the north shelter, after everyone had enjoyed the feast, the annual meeting was held.

IMG_4643
Carolyn Scharff (seated on left) played Yente in this summer’s “Fiddler on the Roof.” She will be honored as this year’s inductee in the USP Walk of Fame.

During the meeting, the USP Board of Directors announced that this year’s inductee to the USP Walk of Fame will be founding USP member, Carolyn Scharff. Scharff has served USP faithfully on and off stage over the years. She will be inducted at USP’s annual Award’s night held at the Pella Opera House on October 3rd at 6:30 p.m.

Outgoing President, Tom Vander Well, presided over the meeting and gave his annual report to the membership. A few highlights from his report include:

  • USP had 39 members.
  • YTD USP is at nearly a $13,000 in the black. As a non-profit USP is not in business to make money, but wise fiscal management and profitable productions allow us to reinvest in our facilities, improve our productions, and provide opportunities that further our mission.
  • USP received a record $14,173 in patron support.
  • USP produced 3 great main stage shows:
    • Christmas Carol
      • Attended: 991
      • Profited $2642
    • Anne of Green Gables
      • Attended: 529
      • Profited $1426
    • Fiddler on the Roof
      • Attended: 1517
      • Profit: $6343
  • USP continued our award-winning tradition:
    • Lonnie Appleby won ICTA award for Outstanding Lead Actor (Ebenezer Scrooge/Christmas Carol)
    • USP had several finalists in ICTA’s annual awards:
      • From Ham Buns and Potato Salad (April 2014) Cyndi Atkins as Lola Van Dam – Supporting Actress, Mat Kelly and Anne McCullough Kelly – Scenic Design, Arvin Van Zante – Lighting Design
      • From A Christmas Carol (December 2014) Lonnie Appleby as Ebenezer Scrooge – Lead Actor, Jana De Zwarte (Mrs Dilber), Denise Gregory (Charwoman), Jim Palmer (Old Joe), Spencer Ver Meer (Undertaker) – Ensemble
      • From Anne of Green Gables (Feb/Mar 2015) Pati Van Zante – Costumes
  • USP welcomed Don Graves into the USP Walk of Fame in October of 2014.
  • USP added new audio equipment (gift from Pella Shakespeare) and new LED lighting instruments.
  • The Costume Shop led by Pati Van Zante and the Costume Shop Committee updated flooring, cleaned and organized, set new rules for school rentals, and continued to provide costumes for area productions.
  • Thanks to the hard work of Vice-President, Deb Linn, we made $5100 in advertising income and covered all of our program costs.
  • For the first time we welcomed a sponsor other than the Pella Community Center, Hopkins Roofing who sponsored Fiddler on the Roof.
  • Once gain, thanks to Brystal Hopkins and Suzi Jones, USP Drama Camp was a bigger success than ever with more kids than ever. Offering classes two sessions of classes for over 120 campers.

Vander Well mentioned that this will be the last time for him to present the President’s Report after a decade of service. He is stepping down from the Board along with three other long-time Board members: Wendy Vander Well (Treasurer), Anne McCullough Kelly (Secretary), and Mat Kelly (At-Large Member). Elections were held for the 2015-2016 fiscal year and new Board members were elected by the membership:

Cyndi Atkins, President
Deb Linn, Vice President
Kim Beyer, Secretary
Denise Gregory, Treasurer
Jana De Zwarte, At Large
Cody Kooi, At Large
Mark Schaefer, At Large

While the composition of the Board has changed, USP will continue to benefit from solid, veteran leadership. Deb Linn, Mark Schaefer, and Cody Kooi are continuing in their positions. Cyndi Atkins, Denise Gregory, and Jana De Zwarte have served on the Board in prior years. Kim Beyer is the only new officer who has never served on the Board before.

New Board members will begin their tenures on September 1. USP’s next meeting is Monday, September 14th at 7:00 in the Pella Community Center. Everyone is welcome at USP’s monthly meetings, though you must be a member to vote. Annual membership in the organization is $10 for adults and $5 for junior members.