Member WEBLetter, March 2020

As you can see, it takes two (members) to tango!  (Top left, clockwise) Photos from Venus in Fur, The Gift of the Magi, Leaving Iowa and And Then There Were None.  Photos by Chip Gertzog.

WATCH Nominations Announced

On Sunday January 19, a small group of us attended the WATCH awards nomination event at the Birchmere.  Many thanks to Mario Font for representing Providence Players as its WATCH liaison. We are pleased and proud to announce the nominations for Providence Players’ 2019 productions of And Then There Were None and Leaving Iowa.  Providence Players received thirteen (13) nominations, and the nominees are:

“And Then There Were None,” photo by Chip Gertzog.

Nominations for And Then There Were None

  • Outstanding Hair Design in a Play – Beth Harrison & Robbie Snow
  • Outstanding Makeup Design in a Play – Beth Harrison
  • Outstanding Properties in a Play – Tara Tripp & Kathy White
  • Outstanding Set Design in a Play – John Coscia

Nominations for Leaving Iowa

  • Outstanding Costume Design in a Play – Robbie Snow
  • Outstanding Direction of a Play – Julie Janson
  • Leta Hall Outstanding Ensemble in a Play
  • Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play – Michael Bagwell as “Dad”

    “Leaving Iowa,” photo by Chip Gertzog.
  • Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play – Amy Griffin as “Mom”
  • Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play – Charlene Sloan as “Multiple Characters”
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play – Bobby Welsh as “Don Browning”
  • Outstanding Play – Leaving Iowa
  • Outstanding Sound Design in a Play – Christopher Crockett

Congratulations to all the nominees.  The WATCH Awards Event will take place at the Birchmere on Sunday, March 22.  If you plan to attend, you will need to get your tickets soon as the event has sold out the last few years.  Take a look at all the recent awards!

Michael Donahue
Michael Donahue

Director Michael Donahue shares his insights on William Inge’s Picnic

Our next mainstage production will open in just a few weeks.  We asked Michael Donahue, the show’s director, to share some insights on his approach to this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.

Q: Why did you want to direct Picnic

A: “The play Picnic takes place on just another Labor Day in the sleepy town of Liberty, Kansas when the train whistle blows signaling the anticipation both of a potentially disruptive arrival and the possibilities of adventure beyond the constraints of the town.  A pandora’s box of longings is released which results in an intense journey full of humor but also the mystery of the journey’s end.  This is a Labor Day that none of the characters will ever forget.  I was compelled to direct this story with all its theatrical possibilities.”

Q: As an American classic written in 1953, why is this story relevant to today and today’s audiences?

Michael Donahue as George and Chuck O’Toole as Paul in “Moon Over Buffalo.”  Photo by Chip Gertzog.

A: “Both Hal and Madge agree that what they long for is the ability to realize “I am me.” They both struggle to realize their own self and push against the pressures of the social world imprinting identity onto them.  For Madge, its desire to be regarded beyond her beauty, and Hal wanting to be seen as more than a physical specimen. Within this societal construct is the natural longing for meaningful relationships that give strength to the realization of “I am me.”  This struggle for self-identity is as prevalent in the 21st century as it was in the 1950’s.”

Q: Why should people come see this production, and what do you want audiences to come away with after seeing it?

A: “‘Picnic’ is a story that young and old will be able to relate to and find humor as well as pathos.  The audience will enjoy the strength of the women and relate to the eternal comedy of women and men attempting to communicate and understand each other (more specifically the men). The play is rich in language and the story compelling in witnessing the journey of the people of Liberty, Kansas on a Labor Day none of them will ever forget.”

Thanks for the insights, Mike.  We appreciate your sharing them with us!  Go to the Meet the Director and Cast post to learn more about the amazing cast of this production.

David P. Whitehead
WEBLetter Editor

Danine Welsh
Danine Welsh

Board Member Spotlight:  Danine Welsh, Board Member, Actress, Producer & Stage Manager

Danine Welsh has been a member of Providence Players since 2010. She joined the board in 2013 and has held the position of Vice President.  She has acted in two shows, “Is He Dead?” and “Snow White and the Family Dwarf,” and has stage managed and worked crew for many others.

“I was working with a woman who had auditioned for All My Sons at Providence Players in 2009. We were in the middle of something when she got a call from the director who said, “I’d like to cast you in the role of Annie. You’ll be kissing my husband.” With a call like that, how could I not come see the show?!

Danine Welsh
Danine as Cecile Leroux in Is He Dead?  (Yes, both photos!) Photos by Chip Gertzog.

My husband, Bobby, and I were immediately struck by the quality of the production and the welcoming atmosphere of the company. It had been years since going to see a community theater production and it reminded me that all of the excellent work done to create this award-winning show was done by volunteers! Here was a group of people who loved theater so much that they were willing to donate their time, talent and energy to creating this gift for their audiences to enjoy.

Danine (with husband, Bobby Welsh) as the leaders of the Dwarf family in Snow White and the Family Dwarf.  Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Our daughter, Elise, was bitten by the theater bug early, and Bobby did shows after college, so it was only a matter of time before the two of them started auditioning and getting cast in shows. I started helping where I could, mostly in the box office, and I’ve never looked back.

As a member of the board, it has become clear to me that running a community theater organization takes all kinds of people. You need those who like to act, of course, but you also need people with organizational skills; those who excel at reaching out to others to advertise, ask for help, solicit playbill ads; those who can design sets and direct others to build them; lawyers who make sure we are running the organization well and correctly – the list goes on and on. What a joy it is to work alongside them and call them friends.

Danine as stage manager of Picnic.  Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Like my friend, Mike Dazé (whose spotlight was here a year ago), I am more comfortable behind the scenes than onstage, though I have enjoyed treading the boards with the company twice. I was the box office manager for a couple of years and have stage managed several shows, putting my organizational skills to work. I am stage managing the current production of Picnic, and I look forward to seeing you at the show!”  We can’t wait to see the show, Danine, and thanks for all your efforts on behalf of Providence Players!

Save the Dates:  Providence Happy Hour, Season Announcement Event, and Annual Membership Meeting

Providence Happy Hour (non-members welcome, so bring a friend!) – The next Happy Hour will take place on Tuesday, March 10, 6-8 p.m, Liberty BBQ in Falls Church.  The first one was a blast!  No need to RSVP, just show up!  Cash bar – pay as you go!  What is the Providence Happy Hour?  Got to the Member Events page for more info.

Season Announcement Event (members-only event) – Like last year, we have scheduled a public announcement of our 2020-2021 season.   This year’s event will take place on Tuesday, April 28, 6-9 pm, place TBD (more info to come).  Not to be missed!  In addition to getting the news about the new season, it is a wonderful time to celebrate with other members.  See the photos from last year’s event!

Annual Membership Meeting (members-only event) – Save the date for Providence Players’ annual membership meeting – Monday, June 8 at 7pm, at the The Italian Cafe.  You will receive an Evite invitation in May, but no need to wait until then to mark the date!  Reminder:  you must be a member to attend this event.  Did your membership expire?  No problem!  You can renew online.  It’s quick and easy.  Or, just come to the event and renew at the door.  We’d love to have you – either way!  If you have a question about membership, you can email us at

Providence Players selects two new board members

From time to time, Providence Players will recruit new members to its board.  As some board members are fond of saying, the board represents a small group of individuals committed to and willing to share some of their expressed talents in running the business of Providence Players.   In addition to theater talent, the current board brings a host of skills and abilities required of any nonprofit to lead, run and govern the work of the group in pursuit of its mission:  legal, marketing, fundraising, finance, community outreach, government relations, writing, project management, data management and more.  Check out the current board.

We are proud to welcome two new members to the ranks:  Nick Manicone and Mike McLaughlin.

Nick Manicone

Nick Manicone graduated from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1991.  He graduated from Columbus School of Law at Catholic University in Washington, DC, in 1996.  He has practiced labor law with a focus on airlines since that date. From 2000 through 2008 Nick was Headquarters Counsel for the Communications Workers of America at their headquarters in Washington, DC.  From 2008 through the present, he has acted as Staff Counsel for the Teamsters at its International Headquarters in Washington, DC.  He specializes in practice under the Railway Labor Act and before the National Mediation Board.  Nick has performed in two productions at Providence Players, including the role of Diamond Louis in Front Page and the Clerk in To Kill a Mockingbird (in support of his daughter Sophia who played Scout).  Nick lives in Vienna with his wife Becky and two children, Sophia and Izzie.

Mike McLaughlin

Mike McLaughlin is a licensed engineer and attorney with over 40 years of professional experience providing advice on environmental matters. He is an expert on environmental compliance, remediation, and allocation of response costs.  He is a Senior Vice President and Director of SCS Engineers, a national environmental engineering and construction firm; Mike began his career with SCS after his freshman year at Virginia Tech, and joined the firm full time after receiving his law degree from Washington & Lee University School of Law. He has been active in the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources for many years, and currently serves as its Budget Officer. Mike, his wife Prince and their children Sarah, Mary and Regan started The Young Hearts, a group of teens dedicated to improving the lives of young people affected by life-altering illness.  For the past eight years, Providence Players and The Young Hearts Foundation have collaborated on the holiday production, having generated some $50,000 for medical research, providing support for families affected, and raising awareness.

Blast from the Past:  Rumors

Cast of the 2014 award-winning production of Rumors. (Top to bottom) Roxanne Waite*, Zell Murphy, Andra Whitt*, Don Myers, Beth Hughes-Brown*, Craig Geoffrion*, Charlene Sloan*, Lauren Sullivan*, Patrick David* and Eric Jones.  Directed by Liz Mykietyn,* winner of the WATCH award for Outstanding Director for a Play.  Photo by Chip Gertzog.* (* denotes current member)

Quick Quiz

For two free tickets to Picnic, answer the following question correctly:  What specific plays have been produced on a Providence Players stage more than once?  

The winner will have the correct number of shows and correct show titles.  Any wrong answer will disqualify the submission.  Please submit your answer to our email address for members:   (Sorry, Board members and Chip Gertzog are not eligible!  Sorry, Chip.)

Member Updates

  • Welcome back renewing members:  Mary Zuzik Andrechik, Don Beatty, John Coscia, Deborah Davidson, Jennifer Dure, Brendan Dure (and family), Jimmy Gertzog, Noor Krajah, Jenny Madorsky, Beckie McNair, Ari Post and Emma Stein, Chloe Sinder (and family), Cheryl Sinsabaugh, Tara Tripp, Bobby and Danine Welsh (and family – hi, Elise)!
  • And welcome new members:  Anastasia Brunk, Raeanna Larson, Sara Joy Lebowitz, and Mike Sarisky. Welcome to Providence Players!

(Have an update you would like to share with your fellow members?  Please send an email to with the subject line “Member Update” and we will include it!)
(In a show with another company?  Join our Facebook Group page.  Share the news!)
Click here to see a list of previous WEBLetters.
Editor:  David P. Whitehead (send a message to David)