Monday May 2nd 2016 9:00pm

It’s that time of year again!  Lest you thought election season was just something flooding the “real world” news, it is election season here at Elmwood as well.  We have several members of the Board of Directors who are stepping down this year and we have several great candidates running to fill the soon-to-be-vacant seats.  We also have one member-elected seat for a two-year term on the Play Selection Committee.  Each of the candidates for these positions has written a statement describing why they are running and why they think you should vote for them.  These statements are below for your consideration.

Board of Directors Candidates

Margaret Young:

margaret-youngI have been a member of Elmwood Playhouse for 19 years and was recently honored with Life Membership. I served previously on the Board of Directors and after a break of several years where I worked on the “Sundays at 7” series, have managed the Elmwood Facebook and Twitter accounts, was qualified as a Director and directed “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and “Harvey,” I feel it is the right time to run again for the Board.

I have served as a Producer, Stage Manager and various crew positions for over 15 productions and performed in 10 shows at Elmwood. Seeing productions from both sides of the stage has given me valuable knowledge of how our Playhouse works. Also, working at other area theaters has given me an opportunity to get ideas from seeing how other organizations operate.

During the past 6 years I worked at one of the most respected entertainment law firms who represent Broadway producers, authors and composers, filmmakers, television producers and production companies. This has given me experience seeing how professional productions are put together. I have always seen Elmwood as a professional operation, and I will help to guide the Playhouse in a professional direction if I am elected.

I have also had experience working with the New York State Council on the Arts and have written grants to support programs at Elmwood. I would like to work with our new Finance Committee to investigate more possibilities to qualify for grant money and other fundraising.

I have been a main Administrator for social media for Elmwood, keeping the Elmwood Facebook page and Twitter accounts active and updated while working with Jennie Marino, Evelyn Russo and lately with Omar Kozarsky to coordinate publicity through the Facebook site and our website.  I feel very passionately that social media is the strongest vehicle to promote our Playhouse, and I want to continue to expand our “footprint” in the social media landscape.

I consider Elmwood to be my home and family, with all its challenges and rewards. While we have a long and successful history, I don’t believe in “we’ve always done it this way” thinking.  I seek to help “renovate” aspects of the Playhouse as Elmwood moves toward its 70th anniversary and beyond.

 Mariann Felice:

Mariann FeliceIt is with great excitement, that I will be running once again for a position on the Board of Directors, of our Playhouse. Having had the privilege of previously serving, for a total of 5 years, I feel I have the clear understanding of the operations of our organization, and what it takes to keep things in motion, and continue to succeed.

During my previous terms on the Board, I’m proud to have been a part of getting “Phase 1” of our renovations underway, along with its fundraising, and was elated to see its completion. For the majority of my time serving I was “liaison” to our Play Selection Committee, and during my final year was appointed Corresponding Secretary. Having taken this path before, I feel I have the experience, understanding, and knowledge of our theater, and what its needs are to continue to thrive.

Through my personal experience working for the County of Rockland, in a supervisorial position for over 22 years,I bring my trouble shooting, and organizational skills,the ability to honor confidentiality, and most importantly, my interpersonal communication skills, which enable me to connect to the best in others. I support cooperative efforts, and “TEAM” is what I truly believe in.

I respectively request you grant me your support to serve on this board of Directors of our Elmwood Playhouse.

Candy Pittari:

Candy PitarriI am an Elmwood Life Member and one of the first Elm Leaf recipients. Currently I write for the Elmwood Newsletter as the Roving Reporter. I previously served on the Board of Directors of Elmwood for 17 years. During my tenure I served two terms as Vice President and one term as Treasurer.

For approximately 5 years I procured all advertisements for the Elmwood Playbill. I initiated Elmwood’s membership into the Nyack Chamber of Commerce and our first appearance in the Nyack Halloween Parade. When I first joined the Board, the theater was operating at a deficit. Within a relatively short period, that situation was reversed. During my tenure I applied for a grant from the late Eugene Levy. Working with Fran Tarson, I am proud to say we were awarded $10,000 which we then used to upgrade our sound equipment. I believe the current Board has done extraordinary work especially with the theater renovation and social media. However, we are now facing challenging financial times, a subscription base that has shrunk considerably and other challenges such as an aging audience base. Moreover our long term President and several members of the current Board are leaving. These factors have all motivated my decision to run for the Board.

I am a Nyack resident and as such I am often privy to certain information prior to its wide spread publication, for example changes in parking, zoning and other policies that may have an impact on the Playhouse. Having worked in the nonprofit sector for the past 23 years I am well aware of the challenges of fund raising. I have experience in researching, applying for and managing grant monies, and a wide base of community connections.

Now, semi-retired, I have more time and less conflicts of interest in working for our theater. I have acquired additional skills in negotiation, committee membership, event planning and volunteer management during my professional career. I was a strong contributor to our successful 2012 Renovation Gala. In addition to my other duties on that committee I contacted many past Elmwoodians and was successful in receiving written tributes about our theater that are now hanging on view for our theater audience members to see.

I am a trained public speaker and as such I can address audiences of all backgrounds on behalf of the theater. I believe my skill set as well as my philosophy of Board Member devotion and service to Elmwood prior to any outside theatrical commitments make me an excellent candidate for Board Service. I hope you will trust me with that responsibility.

Claudia Stefany:

Claudia StefanyMy name is Claudia Stefany and I have been a member of Elmwood Playhouse for almost 10 years. In that time I have directed 5 shows, performed in 3, produced 2, designed costumes and sets for 4, and have served on committees and crews for countless other productions all here in our little theater.

I am running for the Board of Directors this year because I felt it was time to make a commitment to Elmwood beyond the performance component of producing shows. My years working at the Goodman Theater and The Cincinnati Playhouse-in-the-Park taught me many things; most especially how a successful regional theater needs to be run to stay fiscally solvent but also to artistically challenge the community it serves. I learned how to speak up when necessary but, and perhaps more importantly, I learned when to listen.   I have a common sense approach to most everything I do and it is these qualities that will make me a strong addition to our sitting Board.

I am proud of the work we do here at Elmwood. I am proud to be a member and I would love to be part of helping steer us in a practical and sound financial and artistic direction. What we do in the next few years will strongly impact how Elmwood will not only survive but thrive. I want to help insure that future generations of Rockland theatre lovers and goers can enjoy and participate in all Elmwood has to offer as a successful Community Theater.

Steve Taylor:

Steve TaylorI am just wrapping up my first two-year term on the board, and also served as board secretary for both of those years. It’s been a busy and productive time. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve done my best, done what I can, and supported others in doing what they do. My respect and gratitude for all the people who work so hard behind the scenes at Elmwood has increased tenfold. If you’ll have me, I’d be honored to do my part by continuing for another term.


Kate FarrenKate Farren:

My connection to Elmwood Playhouse began 40-some years ago; Elmwood is my other family. Over these years, I’ve acted, directed, costumed (3 musicals: original designs), and choreographed (once). I’ve served on the Directors Qualification Committee and twice on the Play Selection Committee.

My undergrad degree is in Drama from USC, where I added some tech skills. At White Plains High School I directed plays and musicals, taught theatre, and created a broader theatre curriculum.

I am a passionate and frequent playgoer and play reader, and my tastes are wide.

I believe that the range and depth of my history can be of use to the Elmwood Board and thereby to the membership. In addition to aesthetic considerations, I understand the need for balance in our seasons and frugality in our budgets. Not least, I am a good listener.

Since withdrawing myself from directing, I have not felt of use at Elmwood (and I’m not a very good cook); I don’t want to “rust unburnished, not to shine in use.” Put me to use, and I will give my best.

Scott NangleScott Nangle:

Elmwood faces two continuing challenges: expanding membership and growing our audience. Recent building renovations have brought us a long way, but there’s always more to build. As a board member, I’d like to focus on two key issues: 

Building Membership:

“Amateur” is a tricky word. On one hand, it connotes substandard, poorly crafted work. On the other, it evokes the nobler ideal of something done for the love of it rather than for material reward. I’m proud to say that Elmwood wears its “amateur” label in its best sense – a volunteer (unpaid) organization, but dedicated to the most professional standards we can attain.

This embrace of professionalism is not an accident. Elmwood has long been blessed with the wisdom and experience of veteran performers, directors and other arts professionals. We’ve also had the privilege of guiding younger members toward successful performing arts careers. To stay competitive with the increasingly sophisticated theaters around us, we must sustain these values – on stage and off, for our audiences and for ourselves.

This occurs organically in the day-to-day business of mounting shows. It should also occur through deliberate action: formal programs and events. We should, as an organization, actively encourage seasoned members to mentor newer ones, to make them feel welcome and appreciated, to offer them artistic growth, to keep them engaged, and to encourage them to bring friends. In the long run, it will reward our audiences with the polished productions they expect and deserve.

Building Audiences:

In nearly twenty years as an Elmwood performer, I’ve treasured our willingness to tackle challenging, sometimes controversial, plays. This sets us apart from many of our rivals, but it raises genuine concerns about reputation and revenue. Adding warnings to our advertising materials, though necessary, isn’t enough. It frames one of our great strengths as a liability and faces some subscribers with no option but to skip a show, losing the cost of the ticket and eroding or even eliminating the value of a subscription. We owe them (and ourselves) more.

In conversations with audience members I’ve learned in that while a few will inevitably take offense at something we present, the majority are refreshingly open-minded. Even when the going gets a little rough, they find our edgier productions thought-provoking and rewarding. Our marketing should harness that good will to generate curiosity, intrigue and “buzz” for our shows. We can also respect and accommodate our more sensitive subscribers, keep them in the fold, and even encourage them to introduce their friends to Elmwood.

These ideas arise from long personal experience as a performer, and more recently from doing photography and graphics at Elmwood. Other candidates will surely bring valuable insights of their own. My first priority will be to listen; to get a feel for the thinking and experience of the sitting members, and then see what I can contribute. I hope you’ll consider me for the board.

Member at Large Nominee for Play Selection Committee

Ayn Lauren:

Ayn LaurenMy name is Ayn Lauren and I have been a member at Elmwood Playhouse for the last three years, but have enjoyed being an audience member for the last 10 years! I have worn many hats at Elmwood, most recently Co-Producing “Harvey” in the 2015 season.

I feel I would be an excellent candidate for the Play Selection Committee. I have an extensive background in theater. I moved from Florida to New York to attend college at New York University where I majored in Communications. After college I became a Talent Agent at one of the top NYC talent agencies. I became head of the Youth department of J.Michael Bloom which then became SEM&M and was responsible for placing children and young adults in Film, television and Broadway. I enjoyed a very successful career representing, negotiating contracts and shaping careers of young actors. One of the highpoints of my career was working on the regional theater contracts that many agents declined. I exposed my clients to theaters everywhere as long as it was QUALITY theater. I quickly became known as the “theater agent” and was blessed to see almost every Broadway and Off-Broadway show from 1988-1999.

In 1999, I founded Stage Left Children’s Theater in Rockland County. What started as a small youth theater with 30 children has grown to be a very successful youth theater servicing not just Rockland but Bergen and Orange counties as well. I am the Artistic Director at the theater and direct our annual Main Stage production with two casts of children ages 8-18 (30-35 children in each cast). In addition I direct workshops and teach drama classes throughout the year.

I am excited at the possibility to work on the Play Selection Committee. My love and extensive knowledge of theater, knowledge of the workings at Elmwood and the excitement of reading and discovering new plays would make me a wonderful asset to the committee.   I feel that I could help to choose good plays/musicals that would not only sell tickets and but would be appropriate for the size of the venue. I am proud to be part of Elmwood Playhouse and would love to be part of the future of this wonderful theater.


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