David Hansen, James Alexander Rankin, Beks Freeman, Connor Krohn and Kelly Elliott

Georgianna (Jan) Roberts (center) with son Stephen Roberts (left) and daughter Ellen Roberts (right)

Great Lakes Theater (GLT) held its Backstage Bash fundraiser on April 13, at the historic Hanna Theatre for 300 guests. The evening began with a cocktail party and silent auction, followed by a main stage performance and backstage bash party with food stations and dancing on stage.
VIP’s enjoyed a Gala-xy Cabaret performance in the Hanna Salon – a post-eclipse celebration— the brainchild of GLT artist Jillian Kates. It featured “out-of-this-world” performances from Kates and the star-power of Jodi Dominick, Jason Eno and Boe Wank, with musical accompaniment by GLT’s Music Director Matthew Webb.
Attendees also participated in a special “Starcatcher” Parachute Drop fundraiser (named for Peter and the Starcatcher, opening Feb. 7, 2025) and a 50/50 drawing.
The event celebrated the legacy of three “leading ladies” who have been long-time

Natalie Epstein (center) with son Jonathan Epstein (left) and son-in-law Marty Gawry (right)

trustees and pivotal members in the success of GLT: Natalie Epstein (age 97), Georgiana (Jan) Roberts (age 92) and Janet Neary (age 91).
It was a full night of honoring women, appropriately so, as it was predominantly women who brought GLT to life in 1962. In 1972, women like Elaine G. (Lainie) Hadden and members of the Junior League helped save Playhouse Square from the wrecking ball. In 1982, women trustees of GLT made it possible for the company to move to Playhouse Square after its early days at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium. Now, Sara Bruner will be the first woman to lead the company when Charles Fee retires in 2025.
The mission of GLT, through its main stage productions and its education programs,

Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee with Sara Bruner, Producing Artistic Director Designate

is to bring classic theater to the widest possible audience. Since the company’s inception, programming has been rooted in Shakespeare, but its commitment to great plays spans the breadth of all cultures, forms of theater and time periods, and provides for the occasional mounting of new works that complement the classical repertoire.
The company’s commitment to classic theater is magnified in its educational programs. GLT has a strong presence in schools, offering an annual series of student matinees— for nearly 20,000 students in 200 schools. For almost 40 years, an acclaimed school residency program led by teams of specially trained actor-teachers has reached 50,000 students in 70 schools.
David and Denise Maiorana served as co-chairs along with Kristine Tesar. The event’s main sponsors were TRG and law firms Calfee, Jones Day, and Thompson Hine. Tricky Dick and the Cover Ups performed live music and In Season Catering Co. provided food. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA C. TURNER