Remember Milton Lyon who directed Princeton's Triangle Club shows? In 1973, when Princeton University transferred operation of the McCarter to the McCarter Theatre Company, Mr. Lyon was its very first executive producer and it flourished under his leadership.
No need to remind anyone of the late Albert Hinds, Princeton's most celebrated centenarian and the oldest alumnus of the Princeton Regional Schools.
But what of Harold "Sunny" Perrine, Princeton's "Candy Man," who once sold the sweet stuff from his wheelchair in front of the town's two movie theatres at the time, The Princeton Playhouse and The Arcade.
Each of these three Princeton personalities has a seat in the new Princeton Performing Arts Center (PPAC) auditorium at the Princeton High School. Mr. Lyon's seat comes courtesy of Dana Communications. Albert Hinds received his seat in person from representatives of the Princeton Education Foundation's Take A Seat Campaign at a Black History Month celebration at the John Witherspoon Middle School in February. Mr. Perrine's seat was bought by Landau's on Nassau Street.
"It's not a front row seat," commented Robert Landau, "and it wasn't the most expensive seat in the house, but it's wheelchair accessible and that's important because Sunny was a Princeton fixture in his wheelchair, which came up Witherspoon Street at one mile per hour."
Robert Landau remembers Mr. Perrine well. "Sunny provided many of us with the perfect childhood memory: he was always happy and kids got candy," he said. "If you could bottle Sunny's work ethic you could get rich. He once received an entrepreneurial award from the [then] Mayor Barbara Boggs Sigmund for his business that evolved from selling tigers' tails to candy.
"When Sunny died in 1991, my brother Henry went to the funeral and found dramatically few people there. Sunny had no family and it seemed that he was gone and forgotten. We felt very close to him and we've wanted to do something in his memory. This seat in the new auditorium has given us an opportunity to do that. It's a very nice way to remember Sunny."
Among others who have had seats named in their honor are: Patty Soffronoff, past chair and founding member of the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF) and Bill Johnson, Principal of John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS). Ms. Soffronoff's was the first named seat, purchased by the PEF board. Current PHS Drama teacher Pat Wray and former PHS choral director Thomas Hilbish also have chairs named for them.
Albert Einstein will also have his own seat. As will former PHS alumna and former math teacher and assistant principal, Florence Burke, for her work with the high school operettas and choral concerts, and the late Rebecca Annito, the 10th grade student who died last fall.
Several seats have been purchased by groups: several grades at JWMS, the Latin Club, and a group of parents who got together to memorialize Ms. Annito.
One family, the Bolsters, has purchased 14 seats in a row, one for each of the Bolster children all of whom attended Princeton public schools.
Check to District
At last night's Princeton Regional Schools (PRS) Board of Education meeting, representatives of the Princeton Education Foundation's Take a Seat campaign were scheduled to present a large format check to the district for $200,000. The meeting was to take place at 8 p.m. (after press time) in the cafeteria of the John Witherspoon Middle School.
In addition to the Take a Seat campaign, the amount raised comes also from a ShopSmart initiative and from an anonymous donor. "This will cover the purchase of the pit cover/stage extension and the choral shell in time for the Grand Opening of the new PPAC at the high school in October," said PEF President Anne Burns in an email communication received on Monday, June 19.
Of the approximately $200,000 that has been raised so far, over $116,000, will be spent on the choral shell and another $49,000 will be spent on the stage extender/pit cover.
"The Take a Seat campaign is not over, however," she said. "Although we have sold over 50 percent of the seats that's nearly 3000 there are still seats remaining at all donation levels. We still need to raise another $70,000 to supply the PPAC with acoustic drapes. Beyond that we would like to raise additional funds to begin to build an endowment for the Foundation for future District needs.
"We encourage anyone who might be able to help with our outreach to alumni reunion classes or to corporations over the summer," she said.
So far donations at the Circle of Stars (over $1000) level, have been received from Commerce Bank, Hillier Architects, Parker McCay Attorneys at Law, Princeton Radiology, and the Verizon Foundation.
Donations at the Benefactors ($1000) level have come from Cranbury Education Foundation, Henderson Sotheby's International Realty, The Rotary Club of Princeton, PACF Einstein Fund, The Princeton University Store, The Princeton Packet, and Town Topics.
Patrons ($500) level donors are: Cranbury Station Gallery; Dana Communications; Herring Management; Rue Insurance; Terra Momo Restaurant Group; Triangle Reproductions of Princeton; Anne Skalka & Associates, CPA; Magnolia Consulting, Barry Sagotsky; David E. Fiero DMD; John F. McCarthy III, Counselor at Law, LLC; and Twin Hens: Kathy Herring & Linda Twining.
Major spaces that have been sponsored are: the Lobby, the Grand Entrance, vocal and instrumental music rooms, practice rooms, the ticket booth, the concession stand, drama spaces. Premier spaces for the black box theatre and band instrument room are still available for donor funding.
According to Ms. Burns, the order for the first set of seat plaques will be made by the end of June, if not sooner, depending on the estimated production time. This will be the only order placed before the auditorium's Grand Opening celebrations in October. Donations that are made after this order is placed will be recognized at the opening celebration by a "temporary" cardboard plaque.
Sponsors Still Needed
Take a Seat has been the Princeton Education Foundation's major initiative for more than a year. The campaign mobilized all sectors of the community, including the offices of Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand and Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman, Borough and Township merchants, alumni, parents and an "army" of PHS and community volunteers, as well as the Cranbury Education Foundation and the Charter School.
Ms. Burns expressed gratitude to everyone involved in the campaign for their dedication. "We couldn't have done it without each and every one," she said. "Thanks must also go to TAS Co-Chairs, Alison Fox (until recently PEF president) and Shari Powell; Holly Holcombe (newly named Vice-President); Lisa Paine and Marge D'Amico (Publicity and Press Relations); Inkyung Yi (PTO liaison); and former PEF member Mia Cahill (now a member of the Board of Education), and especially to Superintendent Judith A. Wilson and Assistant Superintendent Lewis Goldstein," said Ms. Burns.
Donations for seats range from $250 to $1000 and a commemorative plaque will be placed on each sponsored seat.
The PPAC auditorium will serve all Princeton public schools' performing arts programs, as well as community organizations. The Take A Seat campaign intends to provide enhancements to the facility that will make it a professional quality performing center. It is to be named the Trego-Biancosino Hall in honor of William R. Trego, long-time PHS Choir Director and the late Anthony J. Biancosino, a dedicated PHS Studio Band Director.
For more information, call (609) 806-4214, or email email@example.com, or view http://pefnj.org.
Return to Top | Go to Next Story