With Much Revelry, LMC-TV Honors Shakespeare Director
and Teacher Dee O’Brien
by Joan R. Simon
Dee O'Brien and a cast of characters
from current classes at Mamaroneck HS
(November 18, 2004) More than 200 people gathered on Sunday
evening, November 14, to honor Dee O’Brien, Hommocks
English teacher and founder of the student-based Semi-Royal
(SRSC) which she has directed for more than thirty years.
On hand were many former and current students and their parents,
along with friends and supporters, as LMC-TV presented Ms.
O’Brien with their seventh annual Sunny Award for community
Dressed in elaborate period costumes, current SRSC participants
performed a medley of Shakespeare scenes and humorous adaptations,
with high school senior Teddy Cecil serving as “Master
of Revels.” Ms. O’Brien thanked them for “representing
the thousands of students who have gone before you.” And
some of Ms. O’Brien’s more than 3000 former students
returned to support their admired teacher and Shakespeare
MHS students Jessie Bear and Steve Northrup perform
at the award ceremony.
Where are they now?
A group of 1997 graduates who are still “in the field” was
on hand, including Jonas Wadler who has written and performed
a one-man Off-Broadway show “360: No Action, No Passover,
No Emergency.” Catherine Zambito, who was Kate to Mr.
Wadler’s Petruchio in a SRSC production of “Taming
of the Shrew,” is currently studying acting with Susan
Batson (coach to Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn) and has made
a film that will be shown at festivals this year. Pip Huffman,
another ’97 graduate, said he preferred “behind
the scenes roles” in the theater world and is currently
assistant to a casting director.
Dee O'Brien with former students
Annie Witten and Susannah Cherasky
First year Columbia Law School student Susannah Cherkasky
(class of ’99), whose three siblings have also participated
in Shakespeare productions, remarked, “I miss Shakespeare.
Doing Shakespeare gives you confidence at an age when you
need it. If you can learn Shakespeare at age 16, you can
do almost anything.”
Paying tribute by video tape were other former students,
including MHS ’04 graduate Matt Devine, who thanked
Ms. O’Brien for helping him “not only as an actor,
but as a person,” and reminded the current SRSC players
that “Dee doesn’t do this because she has to;
she does it because she loves to.” Mark Alhadeff, who
has continued to act since graduating from MHS in 1992, remarked: “So
much of what I do now comes from this spark that happened
when I was working with Dee. I feel like those experiences
were the fondest memories I have of performances. They were
so uninhibited, so pure.”
Some of Ms. O’Brien’s former students are still
a part of her life today. Maria Zambrano, who performed Shakespeare
as a middle schooler in 1987, is now Ms. O’Brien’s
colleague at the Hommocks where she is a special education
teacher. “She reminds me of the Pied Piper. Wherever
she is children of all ages want to follow her.” Even
her dermatologist, Dr. Elizabeth Marsh, is a Shakespeare
alumna, having been Ms. O’Brien’s “first
Rosalind” in the late 70’s SRSC’s production
of “As You Like It.”
In accepting her award, Ms. O’Brien quoted Shakespeare
as she thanked the audience:
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world that has such people in’t.
LMC-TV will air the Sunny Award program on Channel 75:
Nov. 22-23: 6 pm (12 am; 6 am; 12pm)
Nov. 24-25: 8 pm (2 am;
8 am; 2 pm)
Nov. 26-28: 11 pm (5 am; 11 am; 5 pm through
Monday at 5 pm)