After Burn Brae closed in August of 2001, it was only a few years before those who had spent a portion of their lives working there decided it was time for a reunion, which happened in the summer of 2008. At that event, actor/director/stage manager and more Frank Anzalone delivered a eulogy that he researched and wrote, which acknowledged all the former employees who had passed on between the theatre’s opening in 1968 and 2008. Appropriately, Frank felt that those individuals needed to be remembered.
Frank has graciously allowed us to reprise that eulogy here. This page of the site is divided into two parts. Part One is Frank’s eulogy. Part Two recounts the deaths of our friends since 2008, an effort also initiated by Frank. Together, both parts serve as an indelible acknowledgement that performers and staff personnel who passed through the doors of Burn Brae Dinner Theatre walked into a new family.
Part One, as told by Frank Anzalone:
Phyllis Goldblatt was an original: one of a kind. She left us in 2001. Whether on the phone in the Box Office or performing onstage, her credits read like a who’s who of all the female character roles in musical theatre:
Mazeppah – the star of the annual New Year’s Eve GYPSY aftershow.
Vera Charles – in MAME with Lonnie & Tina & Jean Anne & Jane & Vachik.
Dolly – in HELLO, DOLLY! with Danny & Bill in Downingtown and at Riverfront where they shared the upstairs apartment.
Fraulein Schneider – in Cabaret.
Parthy – in Show Boat opposite Dick David.
Eulalie Schinn – in Music Man, also opposite Dick David.
Yente – in the first Fiddler on the Roof & Golde in a later production – both opposite Bob Brenner; ironically, her last role at Burn Brae was her reprise as Yente.
Rosie Brice – in Funny Girl with Rodney & Lonnie.
Gloria Thorpe – in Damn Yankees.
Mabel – in Pajama Game with John & Lonnie at Colony 7.
Frau Schmidt – in Sound of Music.
Mamita – in Gigi with Danny & Eileen & Curry at City Line.
General Cartwright – in Guys & Dolls.
Miss Jones – in How to Succeed… with Rodney.
Aunt Eller – in Oklahoma! with John & KK Preece.
Miss Daisy – in Driving Miss Daisy with Rodney.
And last but not least:
Queen Aggravain – in Once Upon A Mattress, my very first (and wonderful) experience with her!
Rodney Fayman was an actor, dancer, director & performer extraordinaire! It’s hard to believe he’s been gone 15 years. Some of his many roles at Burn Brae include:
Frank – in Show Boat opposite Eileen with Dick & Phyllis and Connie.
Cliff – in Cabaret, when he dislocated Joy Hawkins’ arm one night.
Motel the Tailor – in Fiddler opposite Sharman.
Eddie Ryan – in Funny Girl with Lonnie & Phyllis.
Joe Hardy – in Damn Yankees with Joy.
Richard Henry Lee – in the first production of 1776.
Charlie Davenport – in Annie Get Your Gun with Susie, Otts and KK.
Billy Crocker – in Anything Goes in 1981. We had a ball with Cathy Holz, Kathy Adams, Jane Beckman, Dick David, Kay Todd & Curry Freer, all choreographed by Diane Hamilton.
Finch AND Frump – in different productions of How to Succeed…
Dick David was everyone’s favorite stand-up comic and the best pre-show announcer. Warm-hearted and kind, you were lucky to have him as your friend.
The lovable Luther Billis – in South Pacific.
Captain Andy – in Show Boat. I’ll never forget his “After the Ball” scene with Beth McVey as Magnolia.
Horace Vandergelder – in Hello, Dolly! with Rodney in Downingtown & with Jean Anne Kain at Burn Brae.
Mayor Shinn – in Music Man.
McNair in the first production of 1776.
Elisha J. Whitney – in Anything Goes at Burn Brae, where I loved playing Moonface opposite him.
Suzanne & Rick Adams both loved Burn Brae Dinner theatre. Suzanne ran the box office & Rick, as an archivist, videotaped some of our greatest memories. They were the parents of Kathy & Jennifer Adams, both of whom spent the majority of their childhood performing in Burn Brae productions.
Bobbi Smith was a choreographer extraordinaire, who passed in 2001. She was Vicki’s sister and mother of Lisa and Leah.
She played The American Buck in Cabaret, a slot she shared with her sister Vicki.
Stan Karas, AKA Mr. Debonair.
Nick Arnstein – in Funny Girl with Rodney, Phyllis & Lonnie.
Harold Hill – in Music Man at the Marriott Key Bridge production.
Horace Vandergelder – in the first Hello, Dolly! in Downingtown with Phyllis, Bill & Danny
Linda Kitzmiller was an outstanding singer and a blonde beauty. She was also an elementary music teacher who loved teaching and her students. I first met Linda in 1967 at the University of Maryland in How To Succeed; Linda played HedyLaRue, I was Finch, and Frump & Smitty were played by Professor Ron O’Leary and his wife Anita.
Gypsy Rose Lee – in Gypsy with Sally Jane & Phyllis.
Lois – in Kiss Me Kate with Dick Stillwell, Jean Anne Kain & Steve Baumann.
Nickie – in Sweet Charity with Sally Jane, Bob Frankfurt, Gail, Danny, Josh, Bonnie and Tina.
Lady Larkin – in Once Upon A Mattress (she was stunning!) with Itzy, Phyllis, Walt, Linda Lachman, Danny, Steve Liebman, Gail, and me!
Andy Callaghan was a superb actor.
Sir Harry – in Once Upon A Mattress.
Bud Frump in the first production of How To Succeed…
Debbie Sullivan (she died too young). She was a beautiful dancer extraordinaire and a devoted friend. It was simply magical & breathtaking to watch her dance the role of Louise opposite Steve Wappel in Burn Brae’s final production of Carousel.
Lisa Sterling (she died too young). Lisa was a sexy knockout singer and a looker – she always had a smile on her face!
Doris – in Damn Yankees with Gil Stotler, Lonnie, John Preece, Jane, Dusty, Phyllis and Dick.
Art Cavanaugh was a set designer and builder extraordinaire and a gem of a man. Art built sets for Burn Brae, City Line, Riverfront and Downingtown theatres.
Lee Blattau (he died too young). Lee played the Leather Apron in the first production of 1776, and later took over the role of the Courier from Scott Ellis. Lee was a sweet-faced boy with a good heart, who became a dear friend and confidante to me. Lee always said I looked like Roz Russell in my Charles Thomson wig.
Bruce played the wonderful Ben Franklin in the first production of 1776.
Dick played the memorable John Hancock in the first production of 1776.
Jon played George Read in the first production of 1776. When members of that cast sang Christmas carols at the White House in December of 1975, it was so cold that Jon got drunk trying to keep warm. Bob Brenner, Connie Dameron and Danny Schiff were also there that day.
Jim Jeppi (he died too young) was a wonderful dancer and a mischievous cut-up.
The Knife Grinder – in the second production of Oliver! with Cathy Holz, George Bonifant, Lani, Pam, Steve Wappel, Catherine, Josh, Jane & Jed, which was choreographed by Diane Hamilton.
Pippin – in Pippin at Philadelphia’s Riverfront Theatre with Larry Friedman, Eileen and Curry Freer.
Jim also performed in West Side Story at City Line.
Mark Murphy (he died too young); Mark was a handsome young man with a beautiful voice; Diane Hamilton was his dear friend.
Lun Tha – in the 1980 production of The King and I.
Jim Propst was a Bartender extraordinaire and a great pal of John Preece and Catherine Blaine.
Ziegfeld Tenor – in Funny Girl.
Kay Todd was a great lady and actress.
Mrs. Harcourt – in Anything Goes.
Mae Peterson – in Bye, Bye Birdie at Riverfront.
Pat Anthony (Saavedra) was a charming, beloved and warm-hearted actor who loved the theatre and the people at Burn Brae.
Samuel Chase – in the first production of 1776.
He played both Lazar Wolf & Tevye in different productions of Fiddler on the Roof.
Uncle Max – in The Sound of Music.
Ben Franklin – in the 1989 production of 1776.
Rick Stohler was a fine actor and singer who performed at several dinner theatres before passing away in 2002.
Juan Peron – in Evita at BBDT
Men’s Chorus in Show Boat at BBDT
Richard Henry Lee in the 1990 version of 1776 at BBDT.
Tony Pantoja was a great dancer.
Marvin – in Sweet Charity during 1969 with Sally Jane Heit.
Orie Seltzer passed in 1985.
He played Big Jule in the first Burn Brae production of Guys & Dolls (1969).
Mike Malone was the talented choreographer of Sweet Charity. He died in 2006.
Kenneth Daugherty died in 2005.
Daddy Brubeck – in Sweet Charity.
Harold Hill – in an all-black cast of Music Man for John Kinnamon at Colony 7 when it was known as “Burn Brae East.”
Beverly Friedman was the wife of Itzy and the mother of Larry, Bruce & Mona. She always had a twinkle in her eyes and an unforgettable laugh. She and Phyllis were best friends from childhood.
Jim Festa (he died too young). Jim attended the US Naval Academy.
Covered Motel for Frank Anzalone – in Fiddler on the Roof in 1979 at Burn Brae.
Come Blow Your Horn with Rodney and Stan and Joy Weiman.
Eulalie Schinn – in the first production of Music Man.
Curry Freer might still be alive, but no one at Burn Brae has seen him since 1988. Curry and John go back to the days of the American Light Opera Company (ALOC).
David Simonson died of cancer at age 13.
Little Jake in Annie Get Your Gun.
David also performed in The King and I and in The Sound of Music between 1972 and 1974.
Hy Goodman played the irreplaceable Big Jule in Burn Brae’s first production of Guys & Dolls with Bob Frankfurt and Sally Jane Heit.
Arvide – in the 1981 production of Guys and Dolls at Burn Brae.
Ron O’Leary, Ph.D., was a Theatre Arts professor at University of Maryland, College Park. He was a wonderful director, performer and teacher who worked for Burn Brae Productions at West End. He was Anita O’Leary’s husband and the father of their children.
George Chapin was a Burn Brae pioneer.
Harry Beaton – in Brigadoon with John Kinnamon, Suzanne Brock and Jean Anne Kain.
Riff – in the first production of West Side Story in 1968 with John Kinnamon and Bob Brenner.
Charlie Miller was Burn Brae’s first caterer, who also served as a pallbearer at the funeral of Bernie’s Dad in 1969.
Mr. Gwen Brown was Charlie Miller’s assistant for those many early years (1969-79).
Lois Benson was Diane Hamilton’s beloved mother who had a contagious warmth about her. She managed the Greencastle Apartments, where we would rehearse in the rec room. John Kinnamon said Lois would always accommodate our rehearsals and was a great friend of the theater. She was one of my personal favorites. Dick David lived at Greencastle!
Keri Tolton [this entry not part of F. Anzalone tribute] From 1973 through much of 1974, Keri Tolton was in the cast of several shows, including Cabaret, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific and The Sound Of Music. Keri died of breast cancer in 1993.
To add another Burn Brae participant or to correct errata, please send details via the form on the Contact page. Remember, the above list concerns friends who passed prior to 2008.
Part Two, Memories of Burn Brae Family members who have left us since 2008:
Bernie graduated Washington School of Law and joined the Army, stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He often bragged that during his time there, not one Korean MIG got anywhere near Houston. He then practiced law in Washington, DC before joining John Kinnamon as a partner at Burn Brae. Between 1968 and Bernie’s retirement in 1986, that partnership mounted over 300 productions in 7 different states.
Jean Anne Kain – one of BB’s major and most beautiful leading ladies.
Fiona in Brigadoon.
Kate in Kiss Me Kate.
Sarah in Guys & Dolls.
Agnes in I Do, I Do.
Dolly in Hello, Dolly!
Eileen Blackman – A natural triple threat, AKA “the sweetheart of Burn Brae.” She starred in at least seven shows in Burn Brae’s Philadelphia theatres, including three title roles – Gigi, Molly Brown and Charity. Her productions in Burtonsville included:
Ellie in Show Boat.
Liesel in The Sound of Music.
Sonia Walsk in They’re Playing Our Song, opposite Rodney.
Rosemary in How to Succeed…
Bob Frankfurt – one of Burn Brae’s major leading men, and a talented director as well.
Sky Masterson in Guys & Dolls.
Vittorio Vidal in Sweet Charity.
Michael in I Do, I Do.
Emile de Becque in South Pacific.
Barry Hamilton – Music Director for numerous Burn Brae shows & husband of choreographer Diane Benson.
Itzy Friedman – A million laughs in a million shows!
Benny Southstreet in the 1969 Guys & Dolls.
King Seximus in Once Upon A Mattress.
Uncle Max in the 1972 Sound of Music.
Jacob & Potiphar in the 1988 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, with his eldest child, Larry, in the title role.
The Padre in Man of LaMancha.
Muleteer in Man of LaMancha.
Kralahome in the 1986 production of The King & I.
Lancelot in Camelot.
A Chorus Line.
Stephen R. Hayes
Stephen was an actor and director from northern Virginia, where he worked at three K&L Productions houses: The Riverside Conference Center in Fredericksburg, The Hayloft in Manassas and the West End Theatre in Alexandria.
Toni Jo Emelio Doucette
January 22 1948-August 14, 2018. AKA Toni Jo Emilio. She performed in several shows during 1972 and 73, including Music Man (Mrs. Paroo), The King and I, Fiddler, Pajama Game, Cabaret, Mame, Oklahoma, Oliver and The Sound of Music. Contributed by her proud and loving niece, Abbey.
Jon was a very intense and talented actor who not only toured nationally in New York productions, directed and appeared in dozens of productions at Burn Brae and other Kinnamon-Levin properties for nearly 25 years, but also excelled on the operations side of dinner theatre in positions, like General Manager, Head Chef, Bar Manager and more. COVID-19 took Jon in January of 2021.
Walt was a Burn Brae legend. A native of Brooklyn, NY, his association with Burn Brae began in 1970, when he directed and played Jigger Cragin in Carousel. Other productions included The King and I (three times), Once Upon A Mattress, Oliver, Under the Yum Yum Tree and The Star-Spangled Girl. Walt passed in March of 2021.
Born in Iran and of Armenian descent, Vachik was at Burn Brae as actor, singer and house manager for most of the 1970s. He went to the West coast and became a respected character actor and International film maven, appearing in dozens of films and television shows, including NCIS: Los Angeles, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., In Living Color and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Vachik died on January 22, 2022 from complications of COVID-19.
To add another Burn Brae participant or to correct errata, please send details via the form on the Contact page of this site.