It was a groovy, far-out evening as Pull-Tight Players celebrated another season of shows at the Franklin Elks Lodge on Saturday, July 8. The theme centered on the classic Rowan & Martin “Laugh-In” variety show and included songs, sketches, and guest appearances from numerous cultural touchpoints of the 1960s.
Pull-Tight Board of Directors Vice President Leslie Berra and longtime artist member Jeanne Drone again served as event co-chairs. The evening looked back on our first full season since the Covid pandemic forced the theatre to go dark in 2020. A costume contest, dinner from Martin’s Barbecue, throwback comedy bits, and 60s song medleys kept the banquet a festive occasion.
The banquet’s entertainment segments spanned the entire evening and included:
- A 60’s popular song medley
- A review of songs from the musical Hair
- The cocktail party sketch from “Laugh-In”
- “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” by Tiny Tim (Matt Grimes)
- Gladys and Tyrone’s park bench sketch (Pat Street and Cabot Pyle)
- Goldie Hawn with two educational segments (Erin Hailey)
- Lily Tomlin’s Edith Ann (Jeanne Drone) and Ernestine (Bev Kassis)
- The award presentation for Leading Actress by Agent 99 and Maxwell Smart (Sarah Kieffner and Dan Kassis)
- The award presentation for Best Ensemble Actor by Samantha Stephens and Endora (Jennifer Bennett and Daryl Tallent)
- The “Laugh-In” joke wall
Board of Directors for 2023-24
Following some final remarks at the close of her term, outgoing board President Lynda Gibbs passed the gavel to new president, Johnny Peppers. He joins the following Board of Directors lineup for the next season:
- Leslie Berra, Vice President
- Iain Macpherson, Treasurer
- Savannah Aiello, Secretary
- Stephanie Dillard, Parliamentarian
- Jennifer Bennett, Cindy Davis Massey, Cabot Pyle, Pat Street, and Wade Woodruff, Members at-Large
Lynda Gibbs, Bre Hall, and Carmela Hofstee concluded their board terms. Gibbs will remain as President Ex-Officio for one year, a non-voting position.
Board Treasurer and lifetime member Iain Macpherson presented the in memoriam segment, recognizing two longtime Pull-Tight volunteers who passed away in the preceding 12 months.
Vance Ormes, in Macpherson’s words, was “legendary.” It was his vision as a teenager that led to the creation of Pull-Tight Players in 1968. He helped mount the very first stage production, Our Town. After many years away from Franklin, Vance re-established his connection with Pull-Tight and served as an Honorary Member of the Board of Directors for one year. Vance passed away suddenly at this home in Florida in September 2022. Read our tribute to Vance.
Similarly, Don Dicie was a dedicated volunteer who lent his hand to all aspects of Pull-Tight. He was a marvelous piano accompanist who could play any song in any style. Don accompanied several shows at Pull-Tight back in the day and appeared on stage on at least two occasions: The Hasty Heart and Christmas with Little Women. Don passed away at age 80 in 2022.
Cast and crew from each show of the 54th season voted for outstanding technical volunteer and most congenial cast members. The winners were as follows.
The Play that Goes Wrong
Techie Award: – Savannah Aiello, Assistant Stage Manager
Congeniality Award: Lee Davies
All My Sons
Techie Award: Steve Mook, Set Chief
Congeniality Award: Cabot Pyle
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Techie Award: Melanie McBurney, Assistant Director/Choreographer
Congeniality Award: Lisa Graham, Melanie McBurney (tie)
The Book of Will
Techie Award: Carmela Hofstee, Properties Coordinator
Congeniality Award: Roger Csaki
Techie Award: Dustin Greenleaf, Stage Manager
Congeniality Award: Myna Sowell
Techie Award: Dan Linney, Set Designer/Chief
Congeniality Award: David Blackburn
For the first time since 2020, Pull-Tight’s season ticket holders were invited to vote for awards in acting categories. The awards were as follows.
- Best Lead Actress: Myna Sowell as Jean Perkins in Funny Money
- Best Lead Actor: David Blackburn as the Emcee in Cabaret
- Best Supporting Actress: Pat Street as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret
- Best Supporting Actor: J.T. Landry as Max Bennett in The Play that Goes Wrong
- Best Featured Actress: Sydney Hooper as Charlotte in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
- Best Featured Actor: Barrett Thomas as Ernst Ludwig in Cabaret
- Best Ensemble Actress: Breanna Theobald as Annie Twilloil in The Play that Goes Wrong
- Best Ensemble Actor: Roger Csaki as Richard Burbage and Others in The Book of Will
Lifetime voting membership
The Board of Directors conferred Lifetime Voting Member status to two longtime Pull-Tight volunteers. Voting membership usually requires a minimum level of involvement during each season.
Linda Dunn was involved in the early years of Pull-Tight. She is a past board president and Hall of Fame awardee. Linda directed Our Town to celebrate the 10th season, as well as directing The Last of the Red Hot Lovers. She starred in productions of A Streetcar named Desire, To Kill a Mockingbird, Butterflies Are Free, and others.
Alan Mancuso was a charter member of Pull-Tight and performed in the first production of Our Town, as well as the 10th anniversary production. He appeared in The Girls in 509; Bell, Book & Candle; Night Watch, The Miracle Worker, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Odd Couple, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Harvey, You Can’t Take it With You, Wait Until Dark, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Lost in Yonkers, just to name a few. Alan directed The Sandbox, Bus Stop, The Man Who Came to Dinner, The Gazebo, Father of the Bride, and Oh, Kay! He served on the board of directors, created artwork, worked on publicity, as provided make-up for several shows.
Howard Tellis Friend of the Year: Philip Martin
Jim Highfill Techie of the Year: Michael Hall
Behind the Scenes: Ricki Keckley
Newcomer of the Year: Joey Echeverria
Cam Davis Spirit Award: Peggy Macpherson
Player of the Year: Tim Massey
Hall of Fame: Lenny West