The St. Bart’s Players in Manhattan are celebrating their 90th Anniversary. This is a major achievement for any theatre company, but for a non-profit community theatre company, the milestone is nothing short of spectacular. As the longest-running community theatre company in New York City, St. Barts will present it's next play, "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest," in May.
Lauren Conlin, a member for 5 years, and co-chair of the group, shared that the group was started in 1927 as a non-denominational organization, and was part of the Community Club at St Bartholomew’s Church, its home in midtown Manhattan. Created as “a place where young poets, musicians, artists and dramatists could express themselves, It was a haven for young adults who needed a place for expression within an often inhumane city," she said.
The group survived the great depression, World War II, and the Turbulent Sixties, remaining through it all a sanctuary for those seeking affordable theater. Conlin describes the group as a "melting pot of creativity, talent and management skills that is infused with a hard-work ethic — all of which serves us well in putting together professional shows for our audiences."
The Players at one point produced as many as 5 main stage shows per year under the management of a full-time Artistic Director, with the The St. Bart’s Community Club underwriting the theater with a modest budget, including the Artistic Director’s salary. But through the years, funding to the group decreased. The Players have adapted as its financial and management situation changed, and have operated since 1994 without financial backing other than private donations and ticket sales and, for the first time in its history, without an Artistic Director.
In 2015–16, the Players presented "Urinetown" and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at the Hudson Guild Theatre on the West Side of Manhattan. This November, they will be performing the Sondheim musical "A Little Night Music" at the same venue. In May, they will be producing "One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest" at The Poet’s Den, a beautiful theater space on the Upper East Side.
Barbara Blomberg and Ulises Giberga, two longtime members were recently honored at their 90th Season Gala. Barbara has been with the company since 1973, and most recently appeared as the Mother Superior in their 2014 production of "Nunsense." Ulises, now age 84, has been with the group for nearly 20 years and most recently appeared in the 2015 production of "Our Town." Conlin adds that "we could never have survived all these years without Merrill Vaughn, who, until recently, was the long-time Co-Chair of the group and remains an Advisor to the Board, along with Alyssa Somers Farlow, previous co-chair and now advisor to the group. She has been with The Players for nearly 40 years. Jim Mullins, Tracey and Ken Altman, Hope Landry, Melissa Broder and Dan Grinko have all been with the group for a minimum of 20 years and as many as 30."
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" opens May 17-21st at the Poet’s Den Theater on the Upper East Side. For more information on upcoming productions or to join the company, please visit The St. Bart’s Players at www.stbartsplayers.org