Spring 1985: Minstrel


Excitement is the keyword in this production. Minstrel shows were the reigning form of entertainment for over one hundred years. Its popularity was based on its common denominator form of joke lines and the energy of the minstrels themselves. In the 1950's, I remember seeing a Minstrel show in my church basement. As far as I know, it might have been the last Minstrel Show in the world. I was only six at the time.

Studying this art form and researching the historical background has been self satisfying and also frustrating. There are so few books on the subject that future study would have to take me to larger libraries in New York.

Then, working with one of the finest composers in history was in itself most rewarding. Stephen Foster's music is so ingrained in our very fiber that every rehearsal was uplifting and fun. Stephen's life, unlike his music, is nebulous and obscure. As an author, I had to begin to manipulate the facts. I tried to stick to the first hand accounts of Stephen's life but I also realize I have to create more out of the Foster sequences if the piece is to make any progress.

Many people have taken part in the three productions of this play. Each time I learned more about the power and flaws in the writing. I thank each actor for his patience and talent. I am grateful for all their ideas.

This present group has proven to be one of the most talented groups I have ever worked with. I Thank each of them and hope you love them as much as I do.

— John

This play has been lovingly dedicated to Mildred Sheehan

Director: John Cieslinski
Music Directors: Terry Benedict, Keith Conrad, Rob Edwardsen
Choreography: Brian Smith
Dance Captains: Julia Ferreira, Christy Jones, Maryanne Lettis, Kimberly McConnell, Barbara Muller, Allyson Pilcher, Wendy Webster
Producer: Patti Anne Montrois
Designer: Sarah Freeman


Mr. Tambo
Kathy Palokoff
Mr. Bones
Michael Bellavia
Mr. Interlocutor
Scott Smith
Eliza Foster (Stephen's Mother)
Christine Dettman
Mit Foster (Stephen's Brother)
Terry Benedict
Stephen Foster
Scot Zaffora-Reeder
Jane Foster (Stephen's Wife)
Maureen Barry
Cooper (Stephen's Music Associate)
Peter Dunbar
Stump Speaker
Michael Bellavia
Kimberly McConnell
John (Jeannie's Father)
Brian Smith
George Maloney
Frank DeCrescendo
Rob Edwardsen
Lena DeCrescendo
Wendy Webster
Lena DeCrescendo
Barbara Muller


Todd Calvin, Joe L. Cornish, Peter Dunbar, Rob Edwardsen, Kevin M. Figler, Maryanne Lettis, George Maloney, Mary Carol Maloney, Rebecca Maloney, Miriam Marshall, Patti Anne Montrois, Dan Ofsowitz


Fred Montrois
Fred Montrois
Keith Conrad


Production Crew
Maureen Barry
Lighting Designers
Todd Calvin, Craig Mertens, David Smith, Scot Zaffora-Reeder
Program Design
Maureen Barry, Miriam Marshall, Fred Montrois, Patti Anne Montrois
Off-Monroe Players, Inc.
P.O. Box 18722
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 232–5570
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