Inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame, August 16, 2004.
Once upon a time, boys and girls, a young man came to the Dayton Theater Guild to be the second male dancer in a production of The Enchanted Cottage. Oh it was a very long time ago--fifty-one years actually. And for all those years he has been a vital part of theater in Dayton. Always a part of the Guild, but many of you will know that there is hardly a stage past or present where he has not acted, directed, designed the set or worked upon in some other way.
Like many newbies he had a few things to learn. I?m told by Jean Barger Rice, the Guild guardian of foibles, that he had a habit of speaking so quickly that in one early play he managed to compress "purple plummy mahogany sideboard" into three syllables- "purrplumboard".
But artists are not measured by the length of their beards. Not even Hirschfield. In these last few years he has managed a moving performance at the Phoenix in Indianapolis, to be a part of a well-received production of Cabaret at La Comedia and to direct a fine staging of Boy Gets Girl at the Guild. I have no doubt the best is yet to come.
It would be easy to give you a long list of credits of his work but you'll hear a lot of that this evening. And rightly so. Suffice to say, excellent theater has occurred and continues to occur with surprising frequency whenever he's onboard.
I remember Fred's first directing assignment when he cast me as the Roman god Mercury (no doubt because of my athletic good looks) in a sophisticated romantic comedy called Amphitryon 38. That's back when you didn't use four letters to spell sex.
Even then Fred was a perfectionist with an eye for every subtle detail. I recall that he agonized over a way that I could get 3x5 file cards from my sandals before making a funny retort. He was sure the audience would understand that they were "foot notes". We eventually passed on that.
What I must tell you is this-my compatriot has from the beginning had a quiet passion for theater that has never faded and a love for the Guild that has never failed.
He has been in the thick of the Guild from his first rehearsal and thankfully, he just won't quit. Dedicated? He earned the gold-lettered cup that is awarded at the Guild for working on five consecutive shows in a season while a resident student at Ohio State. He set the standards for graphic design at the Guild designing our logo, for many years our programs, our brochures and much of the interior. And as part of that tiny group of people that can be counted on when no one else is there to help he has been a willing schlepper to get done whatever unpleasant behind the scenes job there is. Wherever the Guild may be today, Fred Blumenthal carried the torch for years to get it there. At his twenty-fifth anniversary party as a Guild member he said that this was not just his life, it was his home.
It has been my good fortune to witness many of his achievements as an actor, director, designer, et al, et al.
Tonight it is my honor to commend to you an artist for all seasons, my pal Fred Blumenthal.