HIGHLIGHTS OF 2009
with Elise, Stephen, and Rebecca
Even though 2009 wasn’t necessarily everyone’s favorite year – the Dewsberry/Green household managed to accomplish a great deal and wind up happy and healthy!
In January, Rebecca and Stephen went to Toronto to celebrate the 90th birthday of Edward Green (Stephen’s father). It turned out to be a very important visit, because Eddie (who had been living with Alzheimer’s for a few years), passed away suddenly but peacefully in February. Stephen was able to attend the funeral and say goodbye to a lovely man who will be greatly missed by all the family he left behind. On another sad note, Eddie’s brother Harry passed away just a short while later.
Rebecca was very excited to be able to celebrate the hope of the new year by travelling to Washington, D.C. to attend the inauguration. She was actually on the mall with all those thousands of people when President Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States! February also brought our annual opportunity to host our Gourmet Club friends – and we chose to make our dinner theme all things “coffee” and “tea”.
In March, Rebecca came home for her spring break, and we were thrilled to get a long over-due visit from Tanya (Stephen’s mom). While she was here, she was able to say a final goodbye to Eddie’s sister Lila, who passed away after a thankfully short illness. Eddie and Lila were both loving and wonderful people – and we will miss them both very much.
In April, Stephen and I drove up to Berkeley – in Stephen’s brand new diesel Jetta! – to attend a performance of the musical City of Angels, in which Rebecca and the Jazz Choir were featured. While we were there, the three of us went to nearby Napa Valley to treat Rebecca to her first-ever wine-tasting trip. A highlight of the trip was a visit to a very special vegetarian restaurant – Ubuntu – which had some of the most amazing food we’ve ever eaten including an egg mousse reconstituted to look like a fried egg; a mouth-watering dish of fresh garden peas, mint, and white chocolate; and a salad served over a bed of “dirt” made out of crushed nuts, and topped with edible flowers! It was an experience we will never forget!
In May, we headed back up to Berkeley for the Linguistics Department’s Commencement ceremony where Rebecca officially graduated from college! We were very proud of her – and very excited for her future. After graduation, she came home to Los Angeles just long enough to get her bartending certificate (!) and to have her wisdom teeth removed (!!), and then headed off to Washington, D.C. for an adventurous summer as part of the “Action Factory”. This was a group sponsored by Avaaz – an activist group committed to many liberal causes. The Action Factory was a group of about 20 young people who lived in a house together all summer, and were tasked with coming up with events and “happenings” that would bring awareness to the issue of climate change. Rebecca was involved in many really interesting events, and the group wound up getting a lot of coverage – including making the Huffington Post several times.
At the end of June, we all made it to Toronto for the much anticipated and very classy wedding of Anthony Meles to his bride Cathy. It was great to get to visit our Toronto family – and to see Anthony and Cathy begin their lives together surrounded by so much love and support.
In August, Stephen and I flew out to Washington, D.C. (the first time ever for me!) to help Rebecca move from her Action Factory home into her new dorm/apartment (in a building owned by the University of California) where she would be living while doing an internship at the Department of Justice. It was a really interesting semester for Rebecca – and she learned a lot about what it means to work for the government! We had a great time touring Washington with her – despite the oppressive heat.
In October, Rebecca and I met up in New York to celebrate her 22nd birthday. I was in New York for the annual conference/festival for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and Rebecca took a bus in from Washington to spend a couple of days. I had a lot of fun taking Rebecca to all the old “haunts” we frequented for the first two years of her life when we lived in New York. We also managed to take in a few Broadway shows – including the Tony award-winning Next to Normal, and the revival of West Side Story.
In December, the Dewsberry clan gathered in Kansas City (at the home of my parents, June and Art) to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday (last August) and my Mom’s 80th birthday (next August). It was the first time in … ever! … that June and Art, their three children (Bruce, Elise, and Fred) and their spouses (Peggy, Stephen, and Sandra) and all four grand-daughters (Rebecca, Adrienne, Lisa, and Cara) had gathered for Christmas dinner. June was beside herself with joy! Things only got better the Sunday after Christmas when the Dewsberrys took over the Sunday church service, and then entertained everyone at a party celebrating the two birthdays. June and Art were serenaded by a slide show, some poetry, and choral arrangements of “You Make Me Feel So Young”, and “Young at Heart” – with re-written words by my old buddy, Carl Ritchie – such as “life’s a honeymoon when you know June and Art!” It was a cold, snowy weekend – but we all celebrated the warmth of having the family together!
Stephen had a very full year of “celling” – including playing with the Long Beach Symphony, the Long Beach Pops, the Mozart Classical Orchestra, the South Coast Symphony, the Hollywood Master Chorale, the Symphony in the Glen, Disneyland’s Candlelight Orchestra, and the Long Beach Ballet; as well as playing for the showsSeven Brides for Seven Brothers, Cats, and Nine; and of course, teaching a wide array of private cello students and coaching the cello section of the LA Youth Orchestra. (which might give you some idea of why his grandmother Tillie used to ask him why he couldn’t keep a job …!) Stephen also continues to maintain several websites, act as IT guy for the Academy, and serve on the Board of the Southern California branch of the Theatre Musicians Association.
And, as you might have guessed, I had another very busy year at the Academy for New Musical Theatre. Some highlights include: Salons with Richard Sherman (Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, etc.) and Stiles & Drewe (the Broadway version of Mary Poppins); concert readings of many new musicals including Bonnie & Clyde by Broadway’s Hunter Foster, and The Water by Georgia Stitt (the wife of Jason Robert Brown); working with Placido Domingo, Jr. on a new vampire musical; directing four brand new 15-Minute Musicals; performing in our annual Showcase; and shooting new “guerrilla” musicals including a series at the zoo (in the picture at the top of this letter, I am actually singing as a hippo).
Some things ANMT accomplished this year of which we are very proud: we produced our first show (the wonderful 40 is the New 15 at the Secret Rose Theatre which just received a GLAAD Media Award nomination); we helped launch the first annual New Works Festival with the staff and students of UC/Irvine for whom we are developing a series of new musicals; and we launched a series of LIVE streamcasts on the web in which we were able to give critical feedback on new musicals to writers who were tuning in from London, Finland, Rome, and Australia!
I was also an Ovation voter again (I saw over 60 shows this past season!); served on the New Works Committee for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre; and wrote successful grant applications for grants from the City of Los Angeles and the National Endowment for the Arts.
But my most exciting news is that after six years as Associate Artistic Director, the announcement was made to our Board of Directors (just last week) that I have been named Artistic Director! (Our current Artistic Director, John Sparks, will be retaining his title – ANMT will have two Artistic Directors until John retires.) (Rebecca asked me if this promotion came with a raise … and I laughed heartily … and musically!)
As 2010 begins, Rebecca has finished her stint in Washington, and has relocated to her beloved San Francisco. She has found herself an apartment there, which she will share with her good friend Julie (with whom she roomed in India), and has just started a paid internship with the California Labor Federation (in Oakland). Wish her luck as she begins that amazing adventure called life-after-college!
We wish all of you a happy and healthy 2010 – please come visit us in beautiful southern California anytime!
Elise, Stephen, and Rebecca