Thanks and Thoughts from Margaret Young

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I am still floating on the love, laughter and great time I was given on Saturday April 30 at the Elmwood Playhouse Gala Awards Dinner with the wonderful Elmwood family.

I want to attempt to thank everyone, and I know I will fail utterly, but here goes: It’s been wonderful to look back at photos and see the event all over again. Thanks to Omar Kozarsky, Carolynn Whitford and others who took pictures. To the Hip Hop All-Stars who performed the “Renovation Rap (with homage to Hamilton)” that I wrote, and to which Mike Serpe added genius verses, Stavros Adamides, Marissa Abreu, Larry Beckerle. Thank you also to Larry Beckerle for mastering the ceremonies. Thank you to the fashion models for wearing and parading Suzanne’s costumes: Bridget Clark, Mariann Felice, Mike Serpe, Lisa Spielman and Tiffany Card. My great thanks to Chris Bankey, who dug deep and re-wrote the HOT MIKADO finale, and played for the various musical presentations in the evening, and to my amazing co-star Diva, Stephanie Vitale, for suggesting the “Happy Days” duet, and to the other Haughty Maid Bridget, to Wendy Portney and Mike Serpe again for making my fantasy a reality: performing the “Joy” of HOT MIKADO one more time.

To my dear partner in all things theatrical, and in home and life, Michael Edan, for making me light up inside while simultaneously trying not to cringe and weep with all the amazing wishes and words of admiration he gathered and showered on me. And for the catch in his voice that I…caught. I don’t know yet who all the people were who gave him those words, but I will find out, and meantime they live in my heart and I will cherish them.

I wanted so much to get to every table and greet you all and thank you. I didn’t. And I want to say that while I missed the many people who couldn’t or didn’t attend for various reasons, you were all somehow there. In my speech from the dinner, which I am posting here, you’ll see why.

My heart overflows with all kinds of waves of thanks, pride and joy-joy-joy.

“Good evening, my dear friends. I always loved the way Alfie Byrne in A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE uses that phrase for his theater troupe, and really means it. I mean it too.

Thank you to the Life Membership Committee and the Board for the presenting me with Life Membership. Thank you to the amazing Jimmy Guarasci, who makes beautiful events like this come together so effortlessly, with Kathy and Mike Gnazzo and Evelyn Russo planning and setting up to make this evening happen, and thank you to the members I called upon to do what we do best – play dress up and perform! It is my heartfelt delight that I am sharing this honor with Suzanne, congratulations to you my dear friend.

I am honored and profoundly grateful to the living entity that is Elmwood Playhouse and all of you, its tribe. I know that our theater lives and breathes, it is more than walls and paint and props, and tears and laughter and singing and drinking (and I have dealt with all of those, in many combinations).

But here’s my not so secret thought: I believe that the echoes of every person and every performance that had a life on that stage, seeps into the walls of the Playhouse and stays there forever like permanent layers of paint. If you scrape here, you may hear a line or two from BUS STOP, the first show from 1958, knock there and the sound of the chorus in CANDIDE from 1980 comes singing out. There is probably some stage blood from SWEENEY TODD and JEKYLL & HYDE lurking in the floors, and of course Bob Olson’s voice is in those walls, laughing or yelling, or cursing – and so are the last pure notes of “Bring Him Home” from LES MISERABLES. There are the voices of repetition in thousands of rehearsals with who knows how many directors, choreographers and musical directors speaking that one dreaded word: “Again!” And not least there are the echoes of applause, laughter and yes, silence in those walls from thousands of audiences watching shows that triumphed or failed. There is so much in the walls of our Playhouse that we had to push them out to make room for all the echoes to come.

Now, I have another not-so-secret: I’ve become a Life Member many many times that you don’t know about, since I came here. When I was sitting downstairs in the dressing room getting ready to perform in my first show THE GIFT OF LOVE, and thinking: okay, this is a home for me. When I was producing and watching A RAISIN IN THE SUN or A THOUSAND CLOWNS, and thinking how proud and lucky I am to be here to help create these performances. When I choreographed an opening dance ritual for THE CRUCIBLE that doesn’t exist in the script, and I had the audacious thought that I could possibly direct something someday. Even sitting at board meetings, CERTAIN board meetings, when ideas were coming together and plans could actually be visualized, and I could see us being recognized and respected in the region for the work that we have been doing for so many years. I knew at those times I was going to be here for life in some way or another. Because now I am in those walls too, and so are you. Let’s all keep renovating and re-inventing this Playhouse, and I don’t mean just the building. The past may be in the walls, but the life of the Playhouse is ongoing, and I am honored to be a member supporting that life. A Life Member.”

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