The Online Journal for Center Stage Playhouse
by Michael Sabatino…
I joined Center Stage Playhouse in Sept of 1970, one year after it was founded. The first play I was involved with was Don’t Drink the Water. I had a minor role. We were at the time at Foster Hall. The next play was Anything Goes. We had a double-decker set thanks to the talent of Bill O’Hara. Bill was a master at set design and set decoration. He was one of our original members.
My involvement with Center Stage was very varied. I worked in every capacity through the years, in every function except for set design. I left that to my husband Robert. You name it I did it. I served on the board for most of the 70s and 80s.
There were many memorable shows for me. My first Main Stage directing experience was Arsenic and Old Lace in 1984 with Jean Eifert, Lucille Loiselle, Russ Bourriene, and Ed Friedman in the leads.
One of the most exciting experiences was performing at Lincoln Center on two occasions. The first was when we took our 1980 production of Godpsell on the road. We performed it during the Lincoln Center Holiday Festival. That show was one of my favorites to perform; it was a very exhilarating but exhausting show. We had generally had full houses every night – well over 200 people in attendance when we were based at Bronx Psychiatric Center. The following year we did Fiddler on the Roof in Damrash Park for three nights to audiences well over 600 people. That was Lincoln Center’s Summer Theater festivals.
Another great experience was being in the chorus of Evita. I had sixteen costume changes and at times was under-dressed with three costumes!
Being in Sweeney Todd was a real theatrical experience. Center Stage did a great job with this production, sold out every night, truly a challenging production for a community theater group with rave reviews and lots of talent. We even had a working barber chair!
There were so many productions, it’s hard to remember them all. We did many comedies and dramas. My favorite comedy was Flea in Her Ear. We did this entire show in black and white – costumes, make-up, and set. I played Baptiston, an old rheumatic.
Well, hope that gives you some insight to the past. Of course, in later years, because of time commitments, I did mostly house committee and performed in a few workshops, but the memories live on forever!