Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 13, 2013

Memories on stage

Lee Ward
CNHI News Service

ASHLAND — By LEE WARD

The Independent

PRESTONSBURG Memories can be strong enough to unite people over space and time.

That’s what Bonnie Azzelino is hoping.

A veteran of the Jenny Wiley Theatre stage, Azzelino is organizing a reunion of the theater’s alumni. The event is planned for July 26 through 28.

“While planning a trip home (to Virginia) for a high school reunion in 2010, I contacted several alumni and friends from JW on facebook to see who could gather at the theater for a reunion,” she said. “Unfortunately, only three of us — Viki Perry, Wayne Bishop and I —were able to attend. However, we had such fun, we decided to try for a larger one in the future, and here we are.” Azzelino appeared in “The Sound of Music” in 1971; “Carousel” in 1972 and was Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in 1972.

She said so far, 30 plan to attend, but she said anyone who has worked in theater there at any time is welcome, even those who have not been contacted. She said she continues compiling a list of attendees.

Those attending will see shows at Jenny Wiley, which will include “Church Basement Ladies,” “Oklahoma” and “The Sound of Music,” the show that Azzelino was hired for at the theater in 1971. They also will tour the Mountain Arts Center and the Jenny Wiley Amphitheater.

“There have been lots of changes since we were there,” Azzelino said.

They will stay at May lodge and have a group dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.

In the summer of 1965, actors from Paintsville performed “South Pacific;” after the success of the musical, the troupe was invited to perform at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park and became the park’s first show.

Azzelino said she’s put in about 30 hours of work per week since forming the official reunion committee in October; the committee includes Viki Perry of Louisville, Wayne Bishop of Hazard, Jack Wicker of Knoxville and Jim Combs of Lexington. Jenny Wiley Theater staff helping make the reunion a reality are Martin Childers, Ginger Steele and Carolyn Glodfelter. She said tasks include researching and drafting price packages, designing name tags and searching online and via Facebook for alumni.

“The hardest part is locating the females who have married and changed their names,” she said.

She also has spent time emailing and messaging people with information, setting up and maintaining the bank account and trying to maintain the group's Facebook page in hopes of drawing more contacts.

The process has been a joy, though.

“I've always considered JW to be one of the greatest times of my life, and I'm thrilled to be reuniting with former cast mates and friends,” Azzelino said.

 LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.