Des Moines Community Playhouse Honors Playhouse Legends, 7/21

Des Moines Community Playhouse Honors Playhouse Legends, 7/21

Join the Des Moines Community Playhouse in Honoring Playhouse Legends on Saturday, July 21. The event begins at 4:00 PM with a cocktails and hors d'oeuvres reception. The program follows at 4:30 PM. Tickets for Honoring Playhouse Legends are $25 per person and may be reserved online at or by calling The Playhouse ticket office at 515-277-6261.

Begun last summer and continuing until The Playhouse's 100th birthday in 2019, the theatre honors individuals whose talent and devotion to the theatre over a long period of time display the high standards of entertainment, professionalism, and quality that Des Moines audiences expect. Individuals being honored in 2012 are Ruthanne Silverstein, Maxwell Schaeffer, and Lloyd Von Hagen. The Playhouse is also remembering the contributions of three actors who are no longer with us: Michael Cornelison, Pearl Faessler, and Toni Pickard.

Ruthanne Silverstein -- known to friends and fans as Torchie -- has had many memorable roles at The Playhouse including Mame Dennis in two productions of "Auntie Mame" and, most recently, Jeannette Burmeister in "The Full Monty." Her first Playhouse show was in 1958, "Guys & Dolls." Other shows include "Damn Yankees," "You Can't Take It With You," "Plaza Suite," "Lend Me a Tenor," "I Hate Hamlet," and "Crazy for You." Silverstein also spent many hours over the past 50 years, sewing costumes.

Maxwell Schaeffer is a relative newcomer to The Playhouse, first appearing in "Woman in Mind" in 1990. But he has played a myriad of roles in the past 20 years, including Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath," the Wolf Prince in "Into the Woods," and the narrator in the world premier of "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid." Schaeffer is nominated for two 2012 Playhouse Dionysos Awards for his roles this past season in "The Producers" (Max Bialystock) and "Moonlight and Magnolias" (David O. Selznick).

Lloyd Von Hagen has appeared in more than 20 Playhouse shows since his debut in "The Tender Trap" in 1960. Von Hagen is a favorite of Des Moines area audiences with credits including "Oklahoma!," "Mr. Roberts," "The Man Who Came to Dinner," "Our Town," "Tony n' Tina's Wedding," "Moon Over Buffalo," "State Fair," and "Over the River and Through the Woods." When not on stage, Von Hagen has worked backstage on props crew and as a dresser. He is The Playhouse historian.

Michael Cornelison made his Playhouse debut as a youth in "Beauty and the Beast" in 1963. He went on to have a career on the New York stage, and in film and television in Los Angeles. Upon returning to Des Moines, Cornelison acted and directed on area stages. Among his iconic Playhouse roles are Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Robert In "Proof." Cornelison passed away in October 2011.

Pearl Faessler first appeared on The Playhouse stage in the 1963 production of "Auntie Mame." Other memorable shows include "Arsenic and Old Lace" and "Mousetrap." She is also fondly remembered as The Playhouse's longtime opening night house manager, greeting guests with her trademark line. Faessler passed away in December 1998.

Toni Pickard made her debut in 1957 in "The Philadelphia Story." But she will be forever linked with Mama Rose, a role she owned in the 1964 production of "Gypsy." Other favorite shows include "Fiddler on the Roof," "Oliver!," "The Sound of Music," and her final performance in "Our Town" in 1992. Pickard passed away in February 2012.

The Playhouse is the nation's second largest and sixth oldest continuously operating community theatre. Located at the 42nd Street exit of I-235, the theatre has presented a full season of shows since 1919 and also offers a wide variety of educational experiences including classes for ages four to adult, theatre trips to New York and London and volunteer opportunities onstage and backstage.

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