Tribute to a Treasure - Celebrating Harold Seeley
Rase photos by Martha
For more than three decades
Harold Seeley has trod the boards of the community house and Saturday evening,
August 7, an eon’s worth of experience turned out on the stage at the Cherry
Grove Community House.
The audience selected
tickets at the box office for this event and donations were made in
abundance. Honoring Harold would best be
done by providing something of lasting usefulness as tribute to the man who was
recycling long before it became the latest cause célèbre.
Hail to the Queen
The man himself, Harold
Robin Kradles escorts the
guest of honor
To his special seat
A plaque is dedicated
president of the Arts Project of Cherry Grove, opened the evening with a
heartfelt introduction that clearly showed his close relationship to the man of
the evening. Michael also presented a
challenge to the audience – to show our love for Harold by providing funds to
assure the proper operation and safety of the theatre we all love. Michael sent donations boxes around the room
and encouraged those who preferred to pay with credit cards to visit the lobby
and he would announce the total at the end of the evening.
He then turned the ceremonies
over to the Shapiro Sisters and Rick Byrd and Dr. Patrick Fratellone who were
our hosts for the evening.
WORDS OF TRIBUTE
Grove glitterati including
the lovely Bella, Ruth and Susan Freedner, Margo, Luisa Verde and Gary Greene,
Panzi, Linda Dickerman and Barbara Hirsch, Philomena, Robin Kradles, Queen
Beach DeBree and many others on stage and in the audience knew this was a
must-see, must-be evening.
Hearing Harold interact at
times with the loving performers giving tribute, you knew something really
historical and wonderful was happening.
Cherry Grove people know that those around us and on stage are our
friends, our community, our chosen family.
Celebrating the many sets Harold has done for shows for the Arts Project
and the Doctor’s Show is something that comes naturally.
The Community House in
Cherry Grove was floated over in the middle of the last century and it’s only
purpose from its arrival was for theatrical purposes, making it the sole venue of
its kind on all of Fire Island until the recent completion of Whyte Hall in the
Pines. It’s hard to imagine an orchestra
pit where there is now front row seating in the Community House. It is equally hard to imagine a time without
our glorious proscenium with its “Haroldry”, the design, brainchild and
everyday wonder from Harold’s prolific creativity that tell the story of the
life of this theatre.
Bradshaw Smith shared
excerpts from several interviews he’s doing with Harold, including one where
Harold speaks of some of the amazing features in the proscenium, whose style he
lovingly calls Cherry Grove Rococo.
There are bits and pieces of shows that Arts Project has done throughout
its history including swords from “Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the
Forum”, Helen Ely’s brooch and even Harold’s nose from when he played classic
hobo clown Emmet Kelly in Circus Circus.
His brilliance continues to illuminate the Community House and Harold’s
designs will be featured at this year’s end of season Arts Project of Cherry
Grove Ball so get your tickets early, seating is limited.
By the end of the evening,
Harold, seated onstage in a box seat hand crafted especially for the event,
there remained a handful more of surprises.
First, Michael’s announcement that in this one evening we raised over
$12,000 toward the renovations made this season all in Harold’s name. Next, a special propline was announced,
dedicated in Harold’s name, that permits special props up to 200 lbs to be used
safely in shows and artwork for an accompanying brass plaque in his honor was
displayed for the very first time. Joan
Van Ness and Lorraine Michels had long encouraged Harold to frame his original
sketch for the proscenium, so they had it archivally framed for display in the
theatre. Finally, the first use of the
propline saw two Harold’s flying down – both dressed resplendently in his
favorite Mickey Mouse outfit from last year’s Ball. The first was turned over and all who wanted
to sign the back as a giant greeting for Harold were encouraged to do so. The second will be given to the archives,
Harold’s passion at the Arts Project.
Harold’s genius was celebrated roundly and well in the community he loves
and it was an evening where we got to show him a bit of love in return.
Thank You To Our Arts Project Members and the Entire Cherry
This is an open THANK YOU letter to everyone who participated in, enjoyed, and/ or
contributed to the Harold Seeley Gala this past weekend. I do hope you all had the opportunity to
attend this very special tribute to Harold on August 7, 2010 and we certainly
had a packed house! It was an incredible
event made possible by our wonderful presenters and performers who are all very
talented. Each and every one gave 110%
from the heart to entertain our honoree and guests for the evening and we thank
you know, the Gala was also a benefit for the theater rigging upgrades that the
APCG Board of Directors has undertaken this season. I am thrilled to announce that the Gala has
$ 13,050.00 to date! The
level of gratitude from the community for Harold's 34 years of continuous
service to the Arts Project simply cannot be overstated and the funds raised as
a result of the Gala are a tribute to the generosity of both Harold and our
Arts Project supporters. We will continue
to accept donations in honor of Harold for the theater rigging initiatives
throughout the remainder of the season.
Please see any board member or myself if you would like to
contribute. Or just stop by the APCG
ticket booth during regular box office hours to make your donation and note
that it is for the Harold Seeley tribute.
We will use these gifts specifically for the theater rigging work.
board of directors and I cannot thank you enough for your generosity and
continued support. Together we
great things happen and our efforts certainly
would not be possible without you!
With Sincere Thanks,
Michael Coffindaffer, President