Hindi Greenberg: Musical theater scholarship tribute to loved Nevada County resident
It’s so amazing how a wonderful outcome can result from a terrible tragedy.
On Oct. 16, 2014, Roberta Frank, a much-admired and loved Nevada County resident, died suddenly of natural causes at the youngish age of 72. After the shock of her unexpected demise, followed by a lovely memorial service several weeks later, there was discussion about establishing a meaningful tribute to memorialize Roberta’s contribution to the arts, particularly her beautiful voice and perfect pitch, her piano skills (she was rehearsal pianist for Music in the Mountains Chorale, Sierra Master Chorale, several local schools, and played for numerous theater productions), and her participation in musical theater.
The people involved in Sierra Stages, a local theater company with which Roberta had performed, took the lead and developed a plan to hold a fundraising event to establish a scholarship in Roberta’s name. They created RobertaPalooza, a one-evening musical extravaganza that would be free to attend, but would hopefully inspire attendees to donate money toward the Roberta Frank Musical Theater Scholarship, a $1,000 scholarship to be awarded each year, through the Nevada Joint Union High School District, to a high school senior intending to pursue a career in either theater or musical theater.
RobertaPalooza was held on March 13 at the Nevada Theatre, sponsored by Sierra Stages, with all funds raised going towards the scholarship. Close to 200 people attended the delightful, warm-hearted and touching event, which raised about $6,600 toward the yearly scholarship.
The Mistress of Ceremonies was Krista Thomas, a Sierra Stages board member. Many performers wanted to acknowledge Roberta and participate, but that would have caused the show to run too long, so the final concert roster consisted of 32 performers.
There were singers, pianists, bass players, drummers, guitarists, brass and woodwind instrumentalists and more, who gave of their time to entertain those of us in attendance, performing solos, duets and group numbers consisting of jazz, classical, pop and Broadway music.
Some of the pieces were direct tributes to Roberta, containing a bit of wistfulness, while others were funny or lovely. There was even a world premier piece dedicated to Roberta by local composer Jerry Grant, played by Jerry on saxophone with piano accompaniment.
The audience roundly applauded the efforts of all performers. There is so much talent in our community and when that talent is used to recognize someone who was so special, it’s even more appreciated. In fact, I so enjoyed both the event and the result, that I would personally like to thank all of those wonderful performers, the members of Sierra Stages, and everyone who contributed their funds to the Roberta Frank Musical Theater Scholarship. The scholarship is a wonderful testament to a warm, talented woman which preserves her memory with a caring tribute. What more could any of us ask, but to be so well-remembered by those who loved and respected us?
For more information about applying for the scholarship for 2016 (since the deadline for this year has passed) or to donate towards it at any time, visit http://www.sierrastages.org/roberta-frank-musical-theatre-scholarship.html.
Hindi Greenberg lives in Nevada City.
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