A Fond FareWell
Every year new members join our family, while veteran members age out. This year, we had four members who have been consistent assets to the Wildwood family and it is difficult to imagine what the upcoming season will be like without them. We often find ourselves wondering how we were able to not only manage to find these members, but also be lucky enough to work with them in collaboration. Perhaps, in the opinion of one Alumni, it is due to Wildwood’s inclusive nature.
“After being excluded from the "theatre clique" in every school I'd attended, I started Googling for other theatre opportunities in the area.” recalls Shabnam Salek. “I happened to find Wildwood just as auditions were coming up for City of Angels in 2011. I knew nothing about the company or the show, but I jumped on it!” Shabnam was Wildwood’s webmaster and she has redesigned our website twice. Shabnam had also been an active actress in the company since 2011 when she was featured as the “Angel City Four Alto” in City of Angels. She returned the following two years to play Gymnasia in A Funny Thing Happened on The Way To The Forum and Sheila in A Chorus Line. Shabnam took a two year acting hiatus from 2014-2015 while working in Los Angeles as a graphic designer, including creating new webpages for Disney. For her final season with the company, she returned to the stage as Carla in Nine. “I've had a great time getting into this character and using her very passionate personality to become more comfortable with myself as an actress.” Carla was a big hit with our audiences and Shabnam was even cited as a highlight by Peter Winnard of DC Metro Theater Arts. Another one of Shabnam’s talents is how she connects with her cast members and how welcoming she was to our new members this year. She is like a big sister to the younger members of the company.
“I've been playing the drums for roughly 18 years. After doing something for so long, it becomes a part of you.” Is the word from Paul Grossman. “Overall, the drum parts I've had to learn with Wildwood have been more fun instead of challenging, which is nice because I get to focus more on musicality, rather than technicality.” Paul has been Wildwood’s “go to” drummer since he joined the pit for our 2011 production of City of Angels. Since then the prospect of Paul joining a show has been a great point of anticipation. This year he ended his Wildwood journey by playing drums for our production of Grease. Fittingly, this year Paul was placed in the back center of the stage elevated on a platform, allowing the audience to not only hear, but see his skills. Paul is revered not only for his drumming, but his one of a kind ability to turn a phrase. “So yeah, I think Wildwood has allowed me to improve on becoming a better overall musician. Also, they let me wear bow ties sometimes. Everyone plays better when they wear a bow tie.”
As a “learning theatre company,” we strive to not only put on successful productions, but positively affect the lives of our company members. “Wildwood has helped me become a better person.” says Rose Weich. “I've always been really shy and reserved. Between all my work with pit, designing, and especially being on the board, I've had to learn how to step outside my comfort zone and ask for help when I need it. Being on the Board of Directors was a whole new way to explore the workings of theater. For that I am grateful.” Rose had been a loyal member of Wildwood since 2008. She has served on the Board of Directors since 2010, played in both pit bands this summer, and designed/coordinated costumes for Nine and Grease respectively. Rose was not only a talented designer but a talented seamstress as well. A large chunk of the lovely costumes in Nine were handmade in addition to being designed by Rose. The glowing success of this past season would have been impossible without Rose’s unwavering talent. Before this year Rose was best known for her musical talents on reeds. However, Rose is not the only talented musician we will be losing this year.
Last but certainly not least is our diligent producer Mattia D’Affuso. “I have always been highly interested in management and administration...particularly arts administration.” Mattia originally joined Wildwood as an actor when he played Joe in our 2010 production of Merrily We Roll Along. He also performed the following year, then served as associate producer, and then finally serving as producer in 2013. Mattia was the longest running producer in Wildwood’s history, producing for five years of his eight year tenure with Wildwod. Mattia’s hard working but lovable demeanor is an excellent example of what Wildwood is all about: professional yet fun. Finishing out his tenure at Wildwood, Mattia produced both of our productions this season, something that Wildwood has not attempted since 1991. “I am particularly excited to be giving so many people the opportunity to participate this year as we do two productions.” Not shockingly Mattia’s thoughts are ever still with Wildwood’s future, “I am also excited about seeing so many new faces in our company...so many driven and talented young adults that I am positive will devote time to and take care of this company for the years to come the same way I have.”
These four have truly been some of Wildwood’s most important members. Not just in my time with the company but possibly ever. Though it could be considered cliché, anyone that has has worked with Wildwood this past decade will tell you it was a privilege to work with these four. They have bettered Wildwood as a company and as a community. We wish them the absolute best in the future and hope that their Wildwood family will continue to shape their future.
- Rocky Nunzio