Donation saves Shakespeare

08/05/2010 12:00 AM |


Roy Morrow (left) has come to the rescue by closing the $3,500 gap in Northeast Stage’s budget for this weekend’s free Shakespeare in the Park productions of ‘Julius Caesar.’ With him during Tuesday night’s technical rehearsal were board president Amie Sponza and actor Steve Buchanan.

Saved! Just when Northeast Stage members were scrambling to split their attention between preparing for their August production of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” at Mitchell Park and closing a funding gap between the money they had raised and the $3,500 they still needed, a guardian angel came their way.

Roy Lindsay-Morrow, who became a part-time Greenport resident with his wife, Nancy, several years ago, called The Suffolk Times Friday after a story had appeared in the paper about the theater group’s loss of both government and grant money due to the recession.

“That group that needs $3,500 — they’ve got it,” Mr. Lindsay-Morrow said, asking to be put in touch with Northeast Stage leaders. Within minutes, he and board president Amie Sponza were able to make arrangements for the infusion of funds into Northeast Stage’s coffers.

The $3,500 from the couple means that the theater company can offer the free production to the community without having to dip into its reserve funds, which are needed for future productions, Ms. Sponza said.

For Nancy and Roy Lindsay-Morrow, giving has become something of a habit. Last year, they contributed $80,000 to cover the cost of bringing seven pipe bands to Greenport from as far away as Newfoundland and Florida for the 20th annual Maritime Festival. Mr. Lindsay-Morrow also brought the Saffron United Pipe Band of Babylon to a Suffolk County Police Conference gathering at Claudio’s in Greenport last fall and brought a pipe band to perform at the finale of the Greenport High School’s production of “Peter Pan” the previous year.

Why is the couple so generous to their adopted village?

Because they can be, Mr. Lindsay-Morrow said. The Scottish-born Mr. Lindsay-Morrow, affectionately known as Sir Roy, is part owner of the Oban brand of Scots whiskey.

Last week’s story reported that Northeast Stage was engaged in what it called an “11th-hour rescue” to mount the show at Greenport’s Mitchell Park Aug. 6, 7 and 8. Although the show would go on, future productions would have been jeopardized without additional contributions, Ms. Sponza said. Once the upcoming Shakespeare production is over, the group will begin work on “Bottoms Up” by the late Southold playwright Daniel Rosenblatt, to be staged sometime this fall. Although organizers had closed some of the gap through their fundraising appeal, Ms. Sponza and director Amanda Newcomer expressed both thanks and relief when they got word of the Lindsay-Morrows’ contribution, which allowed them to focus their energies on the ambitious production of “Julius Caesar.”

“I am so grateful Roy is helping out and, honestly, we would not have been able to raise the total this fast without him,” Ms. Newcomer said.

At the same time, she noted that Northeast Stage is grateful to those who made small donations.

“People who gave $20 and $30 donations out of a belief in the cause are as valuable to us,” she said. Many of those donors “don’t have huge incomes and reached into their pockets to give what they could in support of our artistic work when they didn’t have a lot of money to spare.”

To scale back costs, the theater company had cut stipends to its actors and support staff and even cut out travel allowances. Still, Ms. Sponza estimated the cost of the production at almost $9,000.

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