"It's a family reunion sort of thing," says John Neville-Andrews of the celebration the Folger Theatre will hold tomorrow in honor of its 15th anniversary.
"We'll be bringing back lots of people who have worked at the Folger and gone on to other things, and others who have worked at the Folger and not gone on to other things," says Neville-Andrews, the theater's artistic producer.
All family reunions involve recollections of embarrassing youthful escapades, and this one will be no exception. And Neville-Andrews intends to "keep people entertained" in his role as master of ceremonies by recounting some of his actors' more harrowing backstage experiences.
"One actor was backstage needlepointing," says Neville-Andrews, charitably declining to name the suspect. "When his cue came up, he dug the needle in too far and this rosette was stitched onto the front of his costume. By the time he decided to cut it off, he missed the cue.
"Another actor, who had been reading, came on stage in 'Hamlet' wearing his very modern-looking horn-rimmed glasses. What's worse, they were the kind that got darker as the lights got brighter."
Guests at the 8 p.m. celebration (open to the public; tickets are $25) will be treated to slides and talks by several Folger actors; and to performances by Richard Bauer as Shylock and Mikel Lambert as Portia from "The Merchant of Venice"; Michael Tolaydo in scenes from "Richard II" and "Hamlet"; P.J. Benjamin in a bit from the musical "Charlie and Algernon"; and Neville-Andrews in scenes from his performance in "Whose Life Is It, Anyway?" The evening will conclude with a reception in the Great Hall of the Folger Library.
Some Folger veterans, like Howard E. Rollins Jr., who performed in 1976's "Medal of Honor Rag" and is now starring in the film "A Soldier's Story," and Richard Kline, who went from "Henry V" to TV's "Three's Company," won't be able to make it to the reunion. But this is one reunion where family members won't be chastised for failing to put in an appearance. As Mary Wittington, the evening's coordinator, puts it, "It means that they're working."