First Nighters Playbill

by Barry Bauer

This week we’re able to follow-up last week’s photo of the First Nighters presentation of, “The Man Who Came To Dinner” with a playbill from that play. The play was presented on May 7th and 8th in 1965.

It’s most interesting thing to see are the advertisers in the playbill and to know that most of them have gone out of business. The ones that didn’t have changed names and/or moved to a new location.

Thanks to Carole Livingston for this additional information.

The Directors

Hila Bross … was in professional theater at the age of g, traveling with family’s tent shows during the summer and attending boarding schools in the winter. The Hila Morgan Company and the Monroe Hopkins Players were both managed by aunts of Mrs. Bross. She traveled on the road with them throughout the midwest and southern United States. Mrs. Bross later came to live with her grandfather, a minister, and first met Dr. Bross in a home talent show in this same auditorium.

She has directed and acted in various amateur theatricals since that time and is active in church and community matters. Hila was also a director on our first production “See How They Run”.

Joan Davidson . . . is a graduate of Greenville High School and Ferris State College majoring in psychology, doing dramatics on an experimental basis for the effect on emotionally disturbed children. Joan played the lead in “Outward Bound” at Ferris state and the lead in “Southern Belle” at Greenville High. Summers are used for viewing plays at the Cherry County Playhouse in Traverse City.

Wayne Hicks . . . is a graduate of Lansing High School and Michigan State University, and is an accountant. He has played in both high school and college productions and has been active in the local Lions Club shows since their beginning, and has attended many of the Lansing Civic Players productions.

Our Players

Rosalie Ludwick. Daisy Stanley – small town hostess – very much impressed by Whiteside – nervous – upset trying to keep peace between Stanley and Whiteside. Rosalie attended Business College in Miami, Florida and was a stewardess for National Airlines. She is now active in Eastern star and on the Board of Rainbow for girls.

Maxine DeYoung is the prim and professional Miss Preen – Mr. Whiteside’s nurse – and is completely shocked and over-awed by his personality. Maxine is owner-operator of Alward Lake Resort. She played in various high school productions and appeared on a half-hour television program launching a Red Cross blood drive. Maxine and her husband travel extensively.

Charles Caudy plays Richard Stanley, eager young man whose greatest desire is to become a news photographer. Chuck is a senior at St. Johns and had part in “Around the World in 80 Days”, the Jr. class play, and played the mayor in the musical “Check Your Worries”. He is a professional photographer and will be attending Ferris State in the fall.

Judith Reese as June Stanley – 20-year-old rebelious daughter of the Stanleys – Judith attended L.B.U. and is a graduate of Farthing Beauty College. She was on make-up committees for Junior and Senior plays and on tickets and prop committees for “See How They Run”.

Henry Dellar is John the butler. He played the flustered Bishop of Lax in our first production. Henry has long been active in Masonic Lodge affairs with 12 years as secretary and 3 years as president. He took part in church plays in Plymouth, England many years ago and is now semi-retired from Saylor-Beall Mfg. Co.

Treva Hill plays Sarah the cook. Treva is bookkeeper for the City of st. Johns and has worked for various hotel chains through the country-in New York, Detroit, Miami, etc. She is piano accompanist for the Rotary, Lions’ and Exchange Clubs at their regular meetings. She is a graduate of County Normal and taught school and has also attended Lansing Business University.

Theda Murdock is Mrs. Dexter, one of the curious neighbor wom-en. She is employed by Fisher Body Division of GMC in Lansing and very active in Union work.

Cynthia Jones plays Mrs. McKutchen the other curious neighbor woman. Cynthia studied dramatics as a child, is a graduate of st. Johns High School and Michigan state University where she majored in music, and psychology. She appeared in various high school and college produc-tions and was a member of the MSU Singers.

Roger Kowalski plays Ernest Stanley – prosperous local manufacturer – distraught by Whiteside’s intrusion into his household. Roger is St. Johns Recreation Director, a graduate of Michigan State University and has recently accepted the position of Recreation Director of Ferndale, Michigan. Roger was instrumental in forming this theater group through the City Recreation Department.

Joan Hopko plays Maggie Cutler – Whiteside’s secretary – sophisticated and cynical with a hidden soft spot, still waiting for the “right man” with a fervent dislike for Lorraine. Joan is a Licensed Practical Nurse, a graduate of L.C.C. School of Practical Nursing and was active in Dramatics Club during high school.

Wayne Hicks portrays Dr. Bradley – the pompous small-town doctor with a desire for literary fame and a book he wants published. Wayne is an accountant, a graduate of Lansing High School and Michigan State University. He played in both high school and college productions and was the Reverend Arthur Humphrey in “See How They Run”. Wayne has been active in the local Lions’ Club Minstrel shows since their be-ginning, and is the assistant director on this play.

James Moore has the starring role of the very famous Sheridan Whiteside. Jim is an attorney and a graduate of Jackson High School, Jackson Junior College and the University of Michigan. He has been behind the scenes in other theatrical endeavors in staging, etc. and played the Russian spy in our first production of “See How They Run”.

Loi DeGroot plays Harriet Stanley – deranged, “wlll-o-the-wlsp”, eccentric sister of Ernest Stanley. Loi is a graduate of Grand Rapids Junior College and majored in art and drama. She played in various high school and college productions.

Eugene Livingston portrays the young, enthusiastic Bert Jef-ferson, owner-editor of the “Messalia Journal”. Eugene played Rev. Lionel Troop in our last production. He started dramatic lessons as a child and in high school played the lead in the Jr. Play “Our Miss Brooks” and played Sir Lancelot in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” in the Senior play. He attended Michigan State University and now operates a farm with his father.

Kaye Fish is Professor Metz, German Professor of Entomology, a “bugnut.” Kaye is a design draftsman at the Lansing Division of White Motor Company. He played in the Operetta “Mikado”, was “Krushina” in “Bartered Bride” and played a negro janitor in “World and Music”. He did the staging for “Bus Stop” while in the Navy on Midway Island, and worked in various capacities in high school productions and with the
Lions’ Club Minstrel Shows.

Joan Davidson plays the glamorous movie star Lorraine Sheldon. Joan is co-directing this production. She is a graduate of Greenville High and Ferris State College. At Greenville High she played the lead in “Southern Belle” and at Ferris State had the lead in “Outward Bound”. Joan played the tipsy “Miss Skillon” in “See How They Run”.

Roy Brisendine is the radio technician. Roy is President of the First Nighters going into his second year in this position and is invaluable to the group.

Daniel Bross plays Wescott. Dan is a graduate of St. Johns High School and was active in both the Junior and Senior plays.

Steve Hopko is playing duai roies tonight – one is Beverly Carie-ton – the effeminate, egotistical movie actor and the other is Banjo – a “Groucho Marx” type slapstick comedian. Steve will be well remembered as Corporal Clive Winton in our first production. He is advertising manager of The Clinton County News, a graduate of St. Johns High School and at-tended Michigan State University. He is active in many local activities and has taken part or directed the St. Johns Lions’ Club Minstrel Show for the past 9 years.

Production Staff

“The Man Who Came to Dinner”
Properties-Doris Hicks, Maxine Brisendine, Joan Hopke

Stage Hands-Robert Brock, Lawrence Fish, Richard Steffens, Don Davidson

Box Office-Donalee Williams, Roy Brisendine, Terry Foster

Prompters-Donalee Williams, Barbara Rann, Marilyn Steffens, Doris Cramer

Programs-Sheila Brock, Roger Kowalski, John Bradley

Posters-Loi DeGroot, Susan Kowalski

Photography-Charles Caudy

Make Up-Jean Cox, Ramona Harper, Doris Parker, Theda Murdock

Publicity-Terry Foster, Steven Hopko


St. Johns Furniture Company, City of St. Johns, Masonic Temple, St. Johns Episcopal Church, American Legion, Mr. B. Stanley Pocuis and the Rodney B. Wilson High School.

Posted in: A Look Back.
Last Modified: August 2, 2012