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Black Tie International:
The Episcopal Actor's Guild Benefit



The Episcopal Actor’s Guild Benefit

 Photos and story by Fiddle Viracola


Alice Evans, Betsy  Parrish,

Ken Starrett, Elowyn Castle

Alice Evans, Betsy  Parrish,
Fiddle Viracola and Annette Jolles

Ken Starrett and Elowyn Castle, the Guild’s current President


 Barbara Andreotis, Diane Finley 

Paul Trueblood

 Barbara Andreodis and Diane Finley 

Paul Trueblood


Annette Jolles, Nicholas Pavik

Letty Ferrer, Sharon Gans Horn

Annette Jolles and  Nicholas Pavik

Letty Ferrer and Sharon Gans Horn


An incredible musical evening took place at the Episcopal Actor’s Guild, founded in 1923 in the
Little Church Around the Corner at 1 East 29th Street.


This non –for- profit charitable fellowship, open to all religious affiliations and theatre professionals, claims Basil Rathbone, Tallulah Bankhead, Peggy Wood, Joan Fontaine, Rex Harrison, Charlton Heston and Sam Waterson etc. as past officers or on council. Elowyn Castle, the Guild’s current President is aided by V.P. Peter Von Berg. The executive director is Karen Lehman.      


One of its numerous past programs, a benefit for actors in need, continues to this day.

Ken Starrett, North American Director of the Noel Coward Society, joined the Guild’s  Ms. Lehman, Ms. Castle and staff in presenting the Spring Event Series, with Elizabeth Parrish (Betsy) and Alice Evans, Two Broadway Divas Celebrating Life and Love with musical director icon Paul Trueblood in a stellar musical evening, directed by Annette Jolles.


Betsy Parrish was featured in Broadway hits La Cage Au Folles and Deathtrap; Off-Broadway’s Little Mary Sunshine and Riverwind; Summer and regional leads including The Yale Repertory where she was associate professor and a fellow of Davenport College. Meryl Streep said in interviews what she learned from Betsy at Yale. Her New York Cabarets she creates and performs while being the Master Teacher at the Stella Adler Conservatory.


Alice Evans blossomed in 10 Broadway shows that included Man of La Mancha, How to Succeed in Business and Sweet Charity. This student of Julliard co- starred with Howard Keel in I Do, I Do, and received The Buffalo Courier Express Performance Award for Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well plus a nominated Best Actress, Connecticut, Critics Circle Award for Suddenly Hope, at the Rich Forum in Stamford.      


They compliment each other, with Paul Trueblood’s strong supportive, music direction that groomed performers like Sally Ann Howes,
 Anne Francine, Matthew Broderick, Judy Kaye, Karen Akers, Nancy Dussault, Opera star Youngok Shin, Etc. and two
Carnegie Recital Hall programs with Michael Feinstein, His list goes on.


What pros! These three are still here, doing what they do, even better, under Annette Jolles direction.


Annette Jolles received an Emmy for the TV 9/11 Memorial from Ground Zero plus six past Emmy nominations. Symphony Spaces’
Wall to Wall Sondheim
is one of her diverse body of works that includes writer, director, producer, and choreographer. She teaches at Yale, The Jerusalem Syndrome and Wallenberg are two of her many upcoming projects.


In this musical presentation, songs we know, we hear for the first time, but, now, their words tell stories so filled with new meaning, wit, and nuance they awaken the universal plight of love, pain, and joy in the audience. Like magnets; they bring to surface our similar, emotional
re-calls. We laugh. We cry, then applaud with the sold-out house of creative souls erupting into a standing ovation.


 A party followed in the Guild room that looks like a cragged Anglo, neo-gothic style, attic. Ceiling beams are criss-crossed wooden pliers above a plush red rug. Cheese and wine flowed through the spirited chatter of guests that included: hand therapist, Wendy Burnett,
retired City Planner Dorothy Senerchia, Sally Darling, Letty Ferrer, performer (in footsteps of her parents Uta Hagen and Jose Ferrer); Gonzalo Beltram, Sharon Gans Horn; critic, playwright, Joel Benjamin, Elizabeth Hepburn, Nicholas Pavlik, Diane Finley, agent,
Barbara Andreodis, etc.


What is here…holds what was. Party goers circle hung theatrical treasures: A framed White House letter from President Bill Clinton
honoring actors and the Guild, next to Governor Pataki’s; Rosa Ponselle’s (ruffled like Carmen) signed photo near Margaret Hamilton’s
(witch in The Wizard Of Oz) antique cabinet, holding two retired, rhinestone crowns of stage royalty, remembering “when” to a red
satin slipper.  Shakespearian, photos brown with age and faded importance, face tarnished baby angel props. Across the archival room,
The Garrick Theatre 1896 flyer of William Gillett’s Secret Service leans towards the Annie and The Fantasticks posters.
 Every inch has a story.


What a room to see these theatrical gifted souls, fill their cup to the brim, in a show that must go on! 
 I felt pride in being in the arts, in this milieu.


What a long way from 1870 when the most famous actor of his time, Joseph Jefferson, know for his Rip Van Winkle, asked a NYC
church rector to do funeral services for actor George Holland when  actors were among the social outcasts. “An Actor! We don’t do
actors! Go to the little church around the corner” the rector snapped. His reply evoked such indignation from Mark Twain writing in the
 press; it gave the Church of the Transfiguration its nickname, the Little Church Around the Corner and thus began its sanctuary-
oasis for theatre artists. “God Bless the Little Church Around the Corner,” Joseph Jefferson said.  I agree!



For more information about The Episcopal Actor's Guild please visit:


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