SEASON 22:   2017-2018

When he came to act in our ensemble of last season's The Man Who Came to Dinner, neither Tom Stevenson nor we knew he would dominate our stage to open this season with the performance of his life as Doremus Jessup; a small-town newspaper editor who becomes a resistance leader in the stage version of Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here. Onstage throughout most of the show, he electrified audiences as his humble character rose to heroic action in this fictionalized account of Americans resisting the establishment of a fascist dictatorship in our country.

A few months later, Tom returned to don the wig and gown of a British defense barrister - Sir Wilfrid Robarts in Agatha Christie's courtroom mystery, Witness for the Prosecution. Again, his solid presence anchored the production, as he championed a man accused of murder when the circumstantial evidence overwhelmingly pointed to his client's guilt. It was a masterful portrayal.

Finally we come to Romeo and Juliet, in which Tom plays Montague-the proud nobleman whose son woos and wins the daughter of a rival. Once more Tom delivers a sterling performance. He is a director's dream - an actor who forces the best out of himself onstage and who backstage, during the rehearsal process, sets an example of professionalism to inspire co-players. Bravo, sir!

Em Ricciardi is a marvel. Whether stage managing or working tech, Em is a solid pro - approaching duties diligently, with an eye for detail. And the demands on stage managers require them to ensure all cast members, set pieces and props are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be.

Stage managers must know the show forward, backward and inside-out. They need to be diplomats, reassuring cast members and, at times - when the pressures of rehearsals and the hell week leading to show runs are fraught with stress - enduring the occasional complaint about this, that or the other thing - and then finding ways to resolve those and other problems as they arrive.

When Em handles tech chores, they are done. Expertly. And when stage managing - whether it's a challenge-ladened spectacle such as Twelfth Night, The Threepenny Opera or Romeo and Juliet or a small cast, prop heavy and set change demanding piece of fluff like The Charitable Sisterhood Christmas Spectacular - our amazing Em rises to all occasions, doing so with grace, good will and an ever-present smile on the face. Huzzah, Em!

The demands of theatre are many. Long hours, arduous repetition, and stretches of idleness followed by periods of intense focus and concentration. The result? Onstage magic - made possible at ActorsNET by the likes of enormously talented people like Tom Stevenson and Em Ricciardi.

Tom Stevenson
Em Ricciardi