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Play Troupe mourns our President

Pamela Meadows

Port Washington Play Troupe is heartbroken to announce the passing of our President, Artistic Director and North Star, Pamela Meadows.

 

Pam served as a creative leader and singularly inspirational force within Play Troupe for more than half of the company’s 94-year history. She first joined the company as a performer in 1971, the year she married her soul-mate, Ron Meadows, already a member. Then, as someone who loved and had studied making theater with children, she steadily transformed the experience of growing up in Port Washington for thousands upon thousands of young people.

 

In 1971, Pam stepped up eagerly to become director of the Play Troupe Children’s Show, turning an occasional production for youth performers into a cherished annual tradition. She spearheaded everything from fundraising to finding performance spaces to collaborating one-on-one with her young talent. These shows often included multi-generational casts, enabling the children to benefit from working with experienced mentors and for whole families to create together.

 

In 1972, Pam and Ron (who served as technical director), founded Play Troupe’s Teen Summer Theater at the request of Children’s Show participant Kathe O’Connor, who entreated Pam to direct shows over the summer for kids who didn’t attend sleepaway camps. The program debuted at the bandshell in Sunset Park with a production of Anything Goes that went on gamely in spite of a summer downpour. Shows like Oliver, Annie, The Robber Bridegroom and On the Town followed, and even a Peter Pan featuring the same harness and rigging system used on Broadway to fly the actors. (Now independent of Play Troupe, the program lives on as the Port Summer Show.)

 

Directed by Pam, the Teen Summer Theater enriched the lives of Port teens with creativity, fun, shared purpose and empowerment. Current Board Member David Barnett served as the founding musical director at age 15. Participants routinely built props and costumes, helped with set construction and learned to appreciate every facet of theater-making. “Graduates” of the Teen Summer Theater emerged so inspired and capable that in 1984, a group of them founded Harbor Theater Company, a Play Troupe program just for young adults that produced shows like El Grande de Coca Cola and Sweeney Todd. To this day, you can find professionals working across film, TV and Broadway (both onstage/onscreen and off) who started out as one of “Pam’s kids.”

 

This period brought Pam immeasurable creative and personal happiness, as she enjoyed the rich and loving community she herself helped build and sustain. By then, she had already joined the ranks of Play Troupe’s most influential members and leaders, who’d also become extended family. These included the Kleins, the Roystons and the Nissens (who just lost Pam’s beloved contemporary Bob Nissen this summer).

 

With the exception of its annual Varsity Choral Society concerts, Play Troupe fell dark during the recessions of the 1990s and early 2000s. But when the company re-emerged, it was with Pam once again at the helm.

 

When Ron passed in 2011, Pam’s community traveled from near and far to comfort her and reconnect. And in 2013—with a new Board of Directors full of grown, loyal Teen Summer Theater graduates and other longtime collaborators—Pam oversaw the revival of Play Troupe to rich, full activity. This included full-scale musicals like Grease and Guys and Dolls, Children’s Shows Alice in Wonderland and The Emperor’s Tales, and radio dramas co-produced with and broadcast by LIU Post’s WCWP. In recent years, Pam encouraged her Board to break new ground. The results were educational music revues like Cole Porter: The Man & His Songs and comedy improv nights at the Port Washington Public Library. During the pandemic, Play Troupe even started offered streaming performances of plays like The Importance of Being Earnest.

 

Through it all, Pam inspired the best in all of us with her joy, sharp wit, matchless creative instincts and whole-hearted commitment. She believed in the power of the arts to create true community, even family, along with delightful entertainment. We are devastated to lose her. In gratitude, we will remain devoted to her vision and her legacy.

 

To Pam’s family and loved ones, Play Troupe extends deepest condolences. We can never thank you enough for sharing your treasure with us.

Play Troupe will be back on stage soon.

© 2021 Port Washington Play Troupe. All rights reserved. Port Washington Play Troupe is a registered 501(c)3 organization.

Classic children's stories (old and new) with music, performed by inter-generational casts. Since 1947.

Musicals for adult performers. Expect the unexpected, whether in choice of show or casting. Since 1984.

Fine choral music with accompaniment, performed every Christmas season. Since 1989.

Vintage radio dramas, with songs from the era, recorded in front of a live studio audience. Since 2014.