Photo Flash: The Group Rep Gives Back With Charitable Childrens' Event
It's the most wonderful time of the year, especially for the Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, which for 38 years has provided holiday cheer for children-in-need.
In the beginning, a merry band of eleven actors, directors, writers and producers, with Santa in tow, would visit various group foster homes, play games with the kids, put on a show, and bring a gift for each child. The event has grown over the years, as the holiday tradition continued and the need grew, the Group Rep moved the Kids Holiday Party to their theatre. Today, many company members serve as volunteers and performers.
The theatre was decked out for the holiday festivities. This year's guests were entertained with skits, songs, a performance of the play Rocky the Renegade Reindeer, plus lunch and sweets served up by the GRT company members. Past Board President Bert Emmett and GRT company friend Shelley Herman served as MCs. The entertainment included pianist/vocalist Paul Cady and vocalist Theresa Ford, magician Jefferson Black, Abbott & Costello skits by actors Van Boudreaux and Chris Winfield. Rocky the Renegade Reindeer was directed by Robert Axelrod and featured Robert Axelrod, Cynthia Bryant, Christina Carson*, Deanna Gandy, LizAnne Keigley, Lauren Peterson, Tom Regan*, Judy Rosenfeld, Savannah Schoenecker, Shalonda Shaw-Reese, Suzan Solomon*, Silke Sorenson, Chris Winfield, John William Young, and Sarah Zuk. The grand finale included the arrival of Santa (John William Young) with a gift selected for each young guest.
The party would not have been possible without contributions from GRT members' family and friends, with additional support from Alliance Data Corporation, Turner Broadcasting System, and the Rotary Club of North Hollywood who made the Group Rep Holiday Kids Party their charity for toy donations.
Former longtime member Irene Chapman and past Board President Janet Wood who have been the co-chairs of the Holiday Kids Party for 18 years, organized and produced this year's event. Company members decorated the theater from stem T. Stern and hosted the event; committee members Liza Standish and Stephanie Colet shopped and wrapped the 90+ gifts.
Janet Wood explained, "For many of these children, this is their first experience of live theater. These children live in foster care facilities (not individual foster care homes). The groups of children's charities change each year; most are foster group homes, but in years past, it has also included a group of children battling cancer. This year's guest organizations included group homes David & Margaret Youth and Family Services, Ettie Lee Youth and Family Services, Hathaway-Sycamores Youth and Family Services, Hillsides Group Homes, Trinity Child and Family Services, and Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services.
"Each year always brings added precious memorable moments," said event co-chair, Irene Chapman. Several years ago the "We Can" cancer group took part in the event, and there was one five-year-old boy who was sheer joy to behold. Even though his condition was tenuous, he participated well in all that we presented and with great enthusiasm. His gentle and humble demeanor affected us all. It stirs and warms the heart."
Janet Wood remarked, "As 2017 comes to an end, the company members of the Group Rep hope that they have made the holiday better for some children in need. Hosting the party, makes the holidays better for the members of the Group Rep. All in all, it was a terrific, heartwarming day!"
Written By: Steve Peterson
Photo Credit: Doug Engalla
Lareen Faye, Pascale Gigon
John William Young
The Cast of ROCKY THE RENEGADE REINDEER