On Friday, June 7th, over 250 guests gathered for a sneak peek of the new Hamilton Family Arts Center for the 25th Anniversary Granfalloon. The evening honored the Arden’s eight past board presidents: Kate Allison, Sheila Kutner, Lynn Haskin, Hether Smith, Tom Butler, Lee van de Velde, David Fryman and Ellen Foster. The event grossed over $175,000 in support of the Arden’s programming.
In anticipation of the upcoming 25th anniversary Granfalloon, Co-Chairs June and Steve Wolfson hosted a fabulous Preview Party in their home on April 24th. The evening included delicious wine and dinner and a special performance from Alex Keiper who will appear in our upcoming production of A Little Night Music. Guests included Granfalloon sponsors, Host Committee and this year’s honorees – past presidents of the Arden’s Board of Directors.
Join us on Friday, June 7th to celebrate the Arden’s 25th anniversary!
In honor of our anniversary season, we held a one-night-only 25th Anniversary Concert on Monday, November 5th at 7 pm. Celebrating 25 years of Arden musical theatre, this event featured a number of fabulous Arden artists and was a fond look-back on favorite Arden musicals including Baby Case, Sunday in the Park with George, and A Year with Frog and Toad.
Big thanks to all of the talented artists who donated their time to make this event great: Griffin Back, Billy Bustamante, Jeff Coon, Ben Dibble, Eric Ebbenga, Liz Filios, Krissy Fraelich, Anne Robinson Frey, Gary Giles, Robert Hager, Joilet Harris, Mary Martello, Tom McCarthy, Michael Ogborn, Steve Pacek, Linda Pierson, and Ann Pinto. The concert raised over $15,000 in support of our anniversary season – thank you!
Here are some photos from the performance and post-show champagne toast!
All photos by Mark Garvin.
25 years of the Arden. We can tell the age of children’s theatre by how tall the Nolen kids have grown. Our New Home in Old City has been around long enough to need a sprucing itself. A former Arden Professional Apprentice is now the President of our Board.
Like counting rings in a tree, there are many ways we mark the progress of 25 years. We’ve moved from a scrappy mom and pop start up, to become a thriving cultural institution, with a seat at the table in Philadelphia. As we begin to celebrate this anniversary season, I’ve had so many conversations with people about their fond Arden memories—they usually begin with “I remember when you were at St. Stephen’s!” or, “You know, I remember the first time you did Frog & Toad…my kids loved it, and still sing ‘Snail with the Mail.’” It’s moving and humbling to hear how memories formed at our theatre are fondly cherished by the people we serve.
To encourage the sharing of these stories, I’d like to humbly proffer my own first Arden experience. In 2003, my high school sweetheart took me to a performance of Pacific Overtures. A typically daring Sondheim musical, it featured an entirely male cast (including Philly favorites Scott Greer and Steve Pacek) and was directed by Terry Nolen. The moment from that show I will always remember was when a Japanese official’s wife, anticipating certain failure for her husband’s diplomatic mission, commits honor suicide. He rushes back in to tell her the impossible—he has succeeded, and they needn’t endure the shame. As he kneels beside her prone figure to wake her, she slumps to the side and a single red ribbon rolls out across the floor, beautifully and simply representing her spilled blood. Witnessing that heart-wrenching loss elicited a collective gasp from the audience, and at that moment any shreds of farcical moments from a man playing a woman fell away. Who would have ever thought a musical about the Westernization of Japan could be so poignant.
Ten years later, I am delighted and honored to find myself behind-the-scenes at the theatre that enchanted me so much as a younger person. As we look to the future, let’s celebrate the past together—what was your first experience with the Arden?
You can share your memories of 25 Seasons of the Arden by emailing email@example.com. We’ll post your responses here on the blog, on our Facebook page, and in our stagebill.