“Millie” Remembers Matheson, Gilbert

Audiences are raving about Staples Players’ fall production, “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Co-directors David Roth and Kerry Long have created a wonderful show, filled with talented, tap-dancing performers; clever costumes, and a peppy pit orchestra. Technical directors Peter Barbieri and Dave Seltzer added a stunning set, and sophisticated lighting.

But Roth, Long, Barbieri and Seltzer are quick to note that they — and Players — would not be where they are today without the pioneering contributions of Craig Matheson and Steve Gilbert.

This Saturday (November 23, 5 p.m., following the 2 p.m. “Millie” matinee) they join former Players, family members, the audience, Staples Orphenians and the public in paying tribute to those 2 men.

Craig Matheson (right) and Steven Gilbert.

Craig Matheson (right) and Steven Gilbert.

Matheson — the founder of Staples Players back in 1958 — and Gilbert, who started the Staples Stage and Technical Staff — will be honored with the dedication of a sculpture. “All the World’s a Stage” is installed in Staples’ courtyard, a few feet from the lobby of the auditorium Matheson and Gilbert loved.

The 6-foot-diameter steel sculpture was donated by 1965 graduate and former Player Adam Stolpen. Revealing a medley of changing color, light and pattern, it’s named for the famed monologue from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” which compares life to a play.

“Craig Matheson was loved by so many people who were honored to work with him, and were touched by his wonderful, creative and generous spirit,” Roth says. “Working with Craig was an incredible experience.”

Appropriately, the last Players production Matheson saw was “You Can’t Take It With You,” in May. It was the 1st show he directed for Players, in 1958. Matheson died in August.

Gilbert — who died in the 1970s — was beloved for his ability to create, innovate and inspire backstage crews.

“Steven Gilbert taught me early an artistic professionalism that has served me well. Craig Matheson was the consummate teacher and lifelong mentor,” says Staples ’68 graduate Joan Elizabeth Goodman.

“Their gifts enriched my generation of Players. And their legacy extends to the Staples Players of today and tomorrow.”

(Players representatives hope to locate Steve Gilbert’s former wife and 2 children, to invite them to the ceremony. Email contact information to droth@westport.k12.ct.us.)

(Tickets are not necessary to attend Saturday’s dedication. For tickets to the matinee, or this Friday and Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. shows, click here.)

"All The World's A Stage": the sculpture.

“All the World’s a Stage”: the sculpture.

2 responses to ““Millie” Remembers Matheson, Gilbert

  1. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I had Mr. Gilbert as an art teacher at Greens Farms School a long time ago. He must have been very, very young!

  2. For those who never met Craig Matheson, here is a short clip from an interview of him from about 2 years ago:

    It is part of an ongoing series of videos called SaugatuckSTORIES to create a video archive of members of Saugatuck Congregational Church.