The theatre has numerous devoted fans at the university as well as within the New Orleans community.
Randy Cheramie, center, stars as Tevye, the beleaguered peasant dairyman and father, in Fiddler on the Roof, the final installment of Summer Lyric Theatre’s 2012 program. (Photo by Michael Palumbo)
October 1, 2012
Summer Lyric Theatre at Tulane University has entertained, enlightened and elevated audiences for 45 years. Now, loyal leaders of the theater community have ensured the shows will go on — and on.
“We want to guarantee professional, high-quality theater for those who come after us,” said Barbara Workman, who has chaired the Summer Lyric Theatre’s Steering Committee for a decade, with her husband, Dr. Mark Workman.
Thanks to Mrs. Workman’s tireless efforts — and the generosity of other key supporters — fundraising for Summer Lyric Theatre is gaining momentum.
Since the decision this summer by the steering committee to raise money that will support Summer Lyric Theatre in perpetuity, four endowed funds have been created. In addition to the Workman’s initial endowment, husband and wife Michael Brown and Linda Green, and Tulane parents and alumni Drs. Maya and Anand Irimpen, joined them in starting endowed funds honoring current artistic director B. Michael Howard.
“His creativity, coupled with his vast range of experience, exemplify musical theater genius,” said Workman. “He has a vision for each facet of the production, months before the show begins.”
A fourth anonymous donor has also established a general Summer Lyric Endowed Fund. “People are thinking beyond right now or even five years from now,” Workman said.
Currently, Summer Lyric relies on ticket sales and small donations to pay for the four performances of three shows every summer. While the prices of everything from fabric to union wages continue to rise, the theater’s steering committee is resolved to keep ticket prices affordable without diminishing the high-quality performance that the audiences expect.
Notably, each musical features a 28-piece professional orchestra — a rarity in theater — which requires an additional $150,000 per season. “That’s one of the things that makes our shows exponentially better than the vast majority of community-based theater,” Workman said.
“Michael’s vision includes remaining loyal to the composer’s musical score. "Whether part of the chorus, or one of the leads, or in the pit — they are consistently the best of the best.”
Workman is confident the theater’s numerous devoted fans will augment the endowed funds. “I believe that once this is promoted, it is going to surprise the university,” she said. “Summer Lyric is so revered within our community. Dixon Hall seats 1,000 guests, and we sell out every show.”
And along with present-day giving, Workman said benefactors can make planned gifts, such as choosing to name Summer Lyric Theatre in their wills.
“Tulane offers numerous options,” she said, “that will keep the legacy alive for future generations.”
Mary Sparacello is a writer in the Office of Development.
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