The Really Big Shows!

 

Camp allowed us to explore all creative veins and maybe the biggest opportunity to divulge latent theatrical talents was during the camper production each summer of a hit Broadway Musical of the day in the Big Show.  Now this was a full script, full cast, no holds bared version of a Broadway musical with costumes, stage sets, lighting, music….the whole nine yards….played in front of the entire camp.

For any of those with a good voice or a morsel of acting talent this was our breakout moment to be a star in a big production.  Over the years the full gamut of shows were covered-The The King and I, Fiddler on the Roof, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, and Grease among others.

Below are the camper casts for these gala productions and some stage notes of interest from eminent Oxford reviewers.

The King and I (1956)

King of Siam–Steve Sugar

Tuptim–Peep Hayman

Lun Tha–Barry Greene

1956 King and I Steve Sugar and Peep Hayman
1956: Barry Greene and Peep Hayman as Lun Tha and Tuptim

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Carousel (1957)

Billy Bigelow–Eddie Paul

Julie Jordan–Rona Blankman

JIgger Craigin–?

Carrie Pipperidge–?

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Annie Get Your Gun (1958)

Annie Oakley-Susan Kipnis

Frank Butler-Billy Dinerman

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Plain and Fancy (1959)

Katie–Peep Hayman

Peter–David Katz

Jacob–Stan Bagan

Ezra–Frank Bornstein

1959: Stan Bagan, Peep Cohen, and David Katz in the premier stage production in the new Saniford Hall
1959: Stan Bagan, Peep Hayman, and David Katz in the premier stage production in the new Saniford Hall
1959 Plain n Fancy
1959: Peep Hayman as Katie

We have it on good authority that Plain and Fancy was the first Big Show production in the newly constructed and acoustically enhanced Saniford Hall.  This venue became the go-to venue for Big Shows because the acoustics were superior to The Dell and there was an actual back stage area for prep of the actors and a much better lighting and stage set support structure for a proper production.

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The Boy Friend (1962)

Director/Producer–Kenny Waissman

Maisie–Wendy Miller

Dulcie–Kathy Stoolman

Polly Browne–Sara Lukinson

Fay–Debby Miller

Tony Brockhurst–?

Max Mandeville–?

Percy Parkill/Browne–?

Over the years Saginaw was blessed with some serious director/producer talents that went on to major careers on Broadway after cutting their teeth in stage and variety productions at Saginaw.

2008: Kenny being Kenny at the 2008 Saginaw Reunion
2008: Kenny being Kenny at the 2008 Saginaw Reunion

Kenny Waissman is a Tony Award winning Broadway producer who made a major contribution to Saginaw stage productions in the early 1960’s.  During his career Kenny received Tony nominations for Grease and Over Here! before finally landing the big one for The Torch Song Trilogy.

You can read more about Kenny’s stage accomplishments by clicking here

We believe The Boy Friend was his first Big Show production at camp in 1962 but the one people talk about is Bye Bye Birdie in 1963.  Those cast members involved in any stage experiences with Kenny say he was a funny, engaging, and incredibly creative guy who left them with theater experiences lives that they remember to this day.

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Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

Director/Producer–Kenny Waissman

Rosie DeLeon–Sara Lukinson

Albert F Peterson–?

Albert’s Mother-Robin Goodman

Kim McAfee–?

Mama Mae Peterson–Anita Immerman

Hugo Peabody–?

Conrad Birdie–Johnny Melnick

Harry McAfee–Mark Immerman

Mayor–Mike Goldstein

Mayor’s Wife-Sharon Korman

Kenny is still at it as you can read in this Variety article about his most recent stage contribution in 2016

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Flower Drum Song  (1964)

Meil Lei–Debbie Sitrick

Son–Steve Keyser

Linda Low–?

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Fiddler on the Roof (1965)

Director–Lawrence Stephens

Producer–Stephen Schwartz

Tevye–Phil Kantor

Golde–Terri Buckhantz

Motel–Mark Sisisky

Yente–Sharon Korman

Lazar Wolf–Mike Goldstein

Tzeitel–Eileen Jacobs

Model–Anita Immerman

Chava–Elen Steinberg

Shpnitnze–April Riskin

Bielke–Lauren Kristen

Perchik–Ronnie Goren

Mendel–Gary Salus

Murdcha–Dean Scherr

Avrahm-Robert Gladsen

Nahum–Bob Goren

Grandma Tzeitel–Debbie Sitrik

Constable–Ricky Melnick

Fiddler–Mary Eig

Fruma Sarah–Bunny Hofberg

Rabbi–Jeff Cooper

1965 Fiddler On The Roof Program with all the details
1965 Fiddler On The Roof Program with all the details

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Another huge talent was award winning lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz who spent time at Saginaw as a counselor in 1965 when he was attending Carnegie Mellon as an undergrad.

In his post Saginaw career he has written such hit Broadway musicals as  Godspell (1971), Pippin (1972), and Wicked (2003).  He has contributed lyrics to a number of successful films and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, three Grammys, three Academy Awards, and been nominated for six Tony Awards over his career.

Stephen Schwartz getting award for Wicked (xx.com)
Stephen Schwartz with the cast from Wicked (theatermania.com)

Bobbi Newman who knew him when he was at camp recounts “Steven Schwartz directed some of our Big Shows like Fiddler on the Roof…….I sent him an email message about a year ago through the Wicked website. He got right back to me and said he had fun memories of Saginaw.”

Click to read more on Stephen’s outstanding career from the Bio on his website

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Sound of Music (1966)

Maria–Lisa Helrich

Mother Abbes–Carole Herson

Brigitta–Sandy Katz

Captain Von Trapp–?

The Baroness–?

Max Detweller–?

Liesl–?

Marta-Lauri Goodman

Greta-Estee Hirsch

Others-Lauri Goodman and Gail Davis

1966: The hills were alive with Sandy Katz and others in The Sound of Music
1966: The hills were alive with Sandy Katz and others in The Sound of Music

 

Sound of Music Number-Estee Hirsch, Lauri Goodman, and Gail Davis
Sound of Music-Estee Hirsch, Lauri Goodman, and Gail Davis

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Guys and Dolls (1967)

Director–Karen East

Sky Masterson–Don Gettinger

Sarah Brown–Nancy Bliden

Nathan Detroit–Brian Redman

Miss Adelaide–Barbara Chaiken

General Cartwright–Brenda Magazine

Lt. Brannigan–Jimmy Newman

Nicely-Nicely–Stuart Goldstein

Benny Southstreet–Michael Lindner

Arvice Abernathy–Ricky Elion

Harry The Horse–Mike Holtzman

Charlie–Moe Dweck

Big Julie–Steve Greene

1967: The program from this grand production gives all the players down to the chorus
1967: Program from this grand production gives all the players down to the chorus and dancers

“I got the horse right here, the name is Paul Revere, and a guy who says if the weather’s clear….Can do…Can do….this guy says the horse can do”

Who would forget the sweet voice of Stuart Goldstein as Nicely-Nicely rendering this tune.  Stuart’s vocals were featured in Big Shows and other musical endeavors at Saginaw over the next three years as well before he took his talents to New York as an opera singer.

1967: Brian Redman got a "Herbie" for his stirring performance as Nathan Detroit
1967: Brian Redman got a “Herbie” for his stirring performance as Nathan Detroit

Many guys and dolls in the senior ranks used the Big Shows as an opportunity to pursue relationships with “people of interest”.  The producers often found it hard to maintain the theatrical focus of certain performers who were fraternizing backstage during rehearsals.   But eventually the shows went on!

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The Music Man (1968)

Harold Hill–Michael Lindner

Marian Paroo–Margie Feld

Marcellus Washburn–Stuart Goldstein

Young Boy–Stevie Pevner

Mrs. Paroo–

Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn–?

Mayor George Shinn–?

1968 Mike Lindner stars as Howard Hill
1968; Mike Lindner stars as Howard Hill

 

1968: Co-star as Marian Paroo was Margie Feld
1968: Co-star as Marian Paroo was Margie Feld

 

1968: Lindner and Feld with young Stevie Pevner
1968: Lindner and Feld with young Stevie Pevner

 

1968: (R/L)) Mike LIndner, Roni Baer, Lauri Berman, and Cindy Pichon
1968: (R/L)) Mike LIndner, Roni Baer, Lauri Berman, and Cindy Pichon

 

1968: (R/L) Ricky Elion, Stevie Pevner, Mike Lindner, Margie Feld, Stuart Goldstein
1968: (R/L) Ricky Elion, Stevie Pevner, Mike Lindner, Margie Feld, and Stuart Goldstein

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West Side Story (1969)

Maria–Julie Ridge

Tony–Michael Lindner

Anita–Ronni Baer

Bernardo–Don Gettinger

Action–Stuart Goldstein

Riff–Charles Cooper

Doc–Joanne Lipman

Others-Lauri Goodman and Linda Rosen

Others–Cyndi Pitchon and Margie Cohn

Ronni Baer as Anita with Lauri Goodman and Linda Rosen
Ronni Baer as Anita with Lauri Goodman and Linda Rosen down stage
The Shark girls sing "I Feel Pretty"
The Shark girls singing “I Feel Pretty” include Ronni Baer, Lauri Goodman, Cyndi Pitchon, and Margie Cohn

The Sharks and The Jets had fingers snapin’ in this 1969 production.  Don Gettinger as Bernardo…Mike Linder as Tony….Julie Ridge as Maria…Ronnie Baer as Anita….it had all the street sashay of the Broadway original.

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The Pajama Game (1970)

Babe Williams–Ronni Baer

Sid Sorokin–Stuart Goldstein

Poopsie–Maxine Hofberg

Gladys Hotchkiss–?

Vernon Hines–?

Mabel–?

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Bye Bye Birdie (1971)

Rosie DeLeon–Ronnie Baer

Albert F. Peterson–Stuart Sisisky

Marie Mae Peterson–Stephanie Baer

Ed Sullivan–Jeff Cooper

Conrad Birdie–?

Kim McAfee–?

Harry McAfee–?

Hugo Peabody–?

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South Pacific (1972)

Emile De Becque– Marc Sandhaus

Ensign Nellie Forbush–Barb Miller

Lt. Joseph Cable–Mike Dubin

Liat–Rena Holt

Bloody Mary–Janice Astor

Luther Billis–Barry Kutler

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Fiorello (1973)

Fiorello LeGuardia–Chuck Levine

Ben Marino–?

Floyd–?

Morris–?

Thea–?

Dora–?

Marie–

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Grease (1974)

Danny Zuko–Marc Silverstein

Sandy Dumbrowski–Debbie Glazer

Betty Rizzo–Deb Forman

Frenchy–Michelle Miller

Doody–Stevie Pevner

Kenickie Murdoch–Andy Breslau

Jan–Lisa Finkelstein

Sonny–Harry Altman

Marty–Janice Astor

Teen Angel–Murry Rosensweig

Roger–Sammy Leibowitz

1973: Stevie Pevner, Marc Silvertein, Harry Altman, Andy Berlaeu
1974: Stevie Pevner, Marc Silvertein, Harry Altman, Andy Breslau

 

1973: Sammy Lebowitz, Lisa Finklestein, Marc Silverstein, and Janice Astor
1974: Sammy Lebowitz, Lisa Finklestein, Marc Silverstein, and Janice Astor

 

1973: Stevie Pevner, Lisa Finklestein, Sammy Lebowitz, Marc Silverstein, and Robin Feld
1974: Stevie Pevner, Lisa Finklestein, Sammy Lebowitz, Marc Silverstein, and Robin Feld

Stevie Pevner, who first played the young boy in a Big Show in the 1968 production of Music Man, played Doody in this production.  Theater was clearly his calling as he went on to be a successful literary agent as well as a film and theater producer in Hollywood.  His productions since 1991 have gotten significant literary acclaim in Hollywood and New York.  As you can read in his bio below he continues achieve success in both movies and stage productions.

(Click to read Stevie Pevner’s career bio)

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Note: If you have any corrections or additions to the camper casts from these or other Big Shows we would like to get your input.  Also, if you have any photos, programs, or stories of interest for these Big Shows that can enhance this posting please e-mail them to Moe at moedweck@comcast.net.

 

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4 thoughts on “The Really Big Shows!

  1. Moe,

    Here are ssome Fill in the blanks:

    1972 South Pacific: Emile De Becque : Michael Dubin
    Joe Cable : Hal Friedman

    1973 Fiorello: Fiorello LaGuardia: Chuck Levine

    Like

  2. As part of the chorus in The Boyfriend, Kenny told me to stand in the front and mouth the lyrics. I have never attempted to sing in public again!

    Jackie Abelman Cohen

    Like

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