Stage 62 in Carnegie celebrating 50 years of spectacle
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When an all-volunteer group or organization comprised of people from all walks of life survives and thrives for half a century, it's well worth noting and it's a reason to celebrate and commemorate their efforts.
And that's what will happen this weekend as Stage 62, which was founded in Bethel Park, will mark 50 years with the performance of Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, 300 Beechwood Ave., Carnegie -- the group's home since 1990.
This will be the 169th performance for Stage 62, which has staged musicals, comedies, dramas and children's shows with an ever-changing cast of actors, singers, directors, musicians, stage crew, costume and set designers and those who volunteer for "front of house" such as selling tickets.
Stage 62 moved to Carnegie 22 years ago but it's always drawn its casts and other volunteers from "all over," said Jackie Nicoll of Bethel Park.
"I was at the very first meeting in 1962," Mrs. Nicoll said. There were nine organizers present "and sadly I believe I'm the only one left." The troupe's first show in November 1962 was "Teahouse of the August Moon," performed in Bethel Park Junior High School on Park Avenue. Its first performance in Carnegie was "Godspell."
Among the most popular performances based on ticket sales have been "Titanic" in 2009, "The Music Man" in 1998 and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" in 1996, said Rob James of Crafton, who is the director for the anniversary performance Saturday.
Mrs. Nicholl performed and directed in Stage 62 for its first 27 years. She has many memories, including her performance in "The Madwoman of Chaillot," when she was the madwoman.
The company's "show must go on" fortitude was tested Nov. 22, 1963 -- hours after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
"We didn't know what to do," Mrs. Nicholl said. "So we went ahead and did it."
Pat Evey, another member of that cast, said, "I guess it was the right decision. We played to a very good-sized house, and learned something about resilience."
Mr. James, who has been with Stage 62 since 1996, said the company stages a big musical in the fall, a children's play in the winter, a nonmusical comedy or drama in the spring, and a smaller musical in the summer.
Mrs. Nicholl was initially surprised that people would drive from Gibsonia, Monroeville, Sewickley and Pittsburgh for auditions, rehearsals and performances.
"There was so much talent, and we built a great patron base very quickly," she said. "It's always been a wonderful, vibrant group of people who love theater. We got artistic satisfaction from putting on very good plays. It was a wonderful part of my life. I just hope Stage 62 continues for many years."
Saturday's performance will be followed by champagne and dessert in the reception hall and studios. Tickets are $62 for reserved orchestra seating and $35 for open seating in the balcony. A shuttle will run from the Main Street municipal lot.
Proceeds will benefit Stage 62's 51st season, which includes "The Producers," "Pinkalicious" (a show for children), "Next to Normal" and "Avenue Q."
First Published September 20, 2012 4:54 am