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2010 Blue Masque Hall of Fame Honorees Announced

October 5, 2010

Category: Alumni, Events, Theatre Arts

Catawba College's Blue Masque Hall of Fame inductees will be honored as part of the college's Homecoming Weekend activities.


This year's Blue Masque Hall of Fame induction ceremony and reception will held in Hedrick Little Theatre at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 8. Those being honored include Billy Burke, Class of '38 Dr. Susan Vick, Class of '67 Reid Leonard, Class of '76 and Greg Alexander, Class of '81.


The purpose of the Catawba College Blue Masque Hall of Fame is to recognize and perpetuate the noteworthy theatre tradition of Catawba College by honoring and memorializing individuals who have made outstanding contributions to this tradition. Inductees into the Hall of Fame must have either attended Catawba College as a full time student, been employed at Catawba as a full or part time faculty/staff member, or contributed to the success of the Blue Masque by performing outstanding service as a volunteer.


The following individuals are recognized for their meritorious life in theatre:


Billy Burke was dubbed "Salisbury's Mr. Music" in a Salisbury Post article written in the 1950s. Born September 30, 1917, Burke had his first piano lesson at age nine. Upon finishing high school, he entered Catawba College, continuing his musical training there while cleaning the music building to pay his tuition. But, Burke's dream of finishing his college degree and becoming a concert pianist were ended by the Great Depression. Instead, he entered Salisbury Business College before working in a series of business related positions, including 30 years as employment manager for N.C. Finishing Company, 19 years as personnel manager at Zimmerman's Clothing Store, and another 10 years in the same capacity for Leon's Clothing Store. During these years he continued his musical career, playing for weddings, concerts, churches, accompanying singers on radio and television, becoming the official pianist for the Miss Salisbury beauty pageants, and numerous likeEvents. One of his proudest moments came when he was asked to compose the music for Catawba College's production of "Huck Finn" in 1954. He wrote 13 songs for the first production and added 2 more when the script was updated for another run in 1958. He has played with the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, while musical selections from "Huck Finn" have been performed by the North Carolina and Salisbury Symphony Orchestras. The Blue Masque named its highly coveted musical award in his honor, The Huck Finn Award. Burke was named Salisbury's "Young Man of the Year" in 1952. And, he has attained the rank of Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League.



Dr. Susan Vick graduated from Catawba College in 1967 with a major in drama. A Blue Masque president and recipient of numerous on-stage and off-stage awards, Vick's many student accomplishments were recognized with the Florence Busby Corriher Outstanding Achievement Award. Upon graduation, Vick toured with the National Children's Theatre before entering Southern Methodist University where she completed a master of fine arts in directing. After teaching at Bowdoin College in Maine and Appalachian State in North Carolina, Vick entered the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, where she completed her Ph.D. in theatre. She then joined the faculty at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts in 1982 and is currently professor of drama/theatre and director of theatre. At WPI, Vick was the first woman to win the Trustees Award for Outstanding Teaching. Other honors include the Alpha Phi Omega Service to Students Award. She has been recognized twice by "Who's Who in Entertainment" and is included in "Who's Who in America, Millennium Edition." In addition to the numerous plays directed at WPI, Vick has staged productions in Boston, Northampton, Amherst, and has thrice toured productions to the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe in Scotland. She has written plays that have been produced off-Broadway and in regional, educational and international venues. Vick is a published poet and has adapted several of Shakespeare's plays for children's theatre.



Reid Leonard graduated cum laude in 1976, with a double major in theatre and English. A native of Lexington, N.C., Leonard excelled in virtually all areas of theatre while at Catawba. Using his training as actor, director, playwright, and designer, Leonard accepted, upon graduation, a teaching position with the Greensboro City Schools. Recipient of the Terry Sanford Award "for creativity and innovation in teaching," he also received numerous statewide theatre awards while teaching at first Page High School and then Weaver Education Center. In addition, for 12 summers, Leonard was also a drama instructor at the Governor's Schools of North Carolina in first Laurinburg and then Winston-Salem. Upon completion of the master of fine arts in directing from Northwestern University, Leonard became a member of the Catawba College theatre faculty for two years. Beginning in 1986 to the present, Leonard has been the director of Piedmont Players Theatre in Salisbury. In this capacity, he has directed and designed sets and lights for 150 plays, to date. And, while director he also oversaw the purchase and renovation of the Meroney Theatre, Piedmont Player's primary theatre structure, as well as the Norvell Theatre, Piedmont Player's youth theatre facility. Piedmont Players was recognized in 2003 for its outstanding work in community theatre by the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Author of several plays, Leonard's stage adaptation of Clyde Edgerton's "Walking Across Egypt" continues to be performed throughout the southeast.



Greg Alexander, a native of Charlotte, N.C., began his study of theatre at Catawba in 1977. A strong and versatile actor, musician and general theatre practitioner, Alexander twice won the department's "outstanding actor award," as well as the Augustine Daly Award for "outstanding theatre student of the year." Upon leaving Catawba, Alexander was accepted into the Actor's Theatre of Louisville apprentice program in Louisville, Kentucky. Additional early professional training and experience included work with the Clyde Vinson Studio in New York, the Philadelphia Theatre Company, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the People's Light and Theatre Company in Malvern, Pennsylvania. In 1989, Alexander was asked to be a part of the fledgling Fantasy Theatre For Children in Sacramento, California. Twenty-one years later, he continues to serve the Northern California theatre audiences as actor, director, and writer. Currently a member of the B Street Theatre acting company, his productions for youth, such as "The Golden Harp," a musical which he wrote and directed, reach out to over 200,000 students yearly. His acting performances for B Street Theatre have ranged from the one-man show "I Am My Own Wife," the Pulitzer Prize winning play in which he played 32 characters, to a leading role in "A Christmas Carol." His directing duties for B Street have included the critically acclaimed adult drama "Wit," as well as numerous youth productions, such as "Junie B. Jones." Alexander has also performed with the Foothill Theatre Company, Sacramento Theatre Company, and California Stage Company, among others.




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Beginning at 7:30 p.m., immediately preceding the induction ceremony, current Catawba theatre arts department students will present a talent showcase in Hedrick Theatre.


Tickets, which include admission to this showcase, the induction ceremony and reception, may be purchased through the Alumni Office.





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