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The Lucy Jordan Award

AEA's Lucy Jordan Award Goes to Diane Ronneberg

AEA member Shannon Warne congratulates Diane Ronneberg

AEA member Shannon Warne congratulates Diane Ronneberg

This year's recipient of the Lucy Jordan Humanitarian Award is Diane Ronneberg, wardrobe mistress and dresser.

Members and colleagues have sung Diane's praises: "She truly goes 'above and beyond' in taking care of the performers' needs. She's more sensitive than any other dresser I've worked with in terms of how to approach the performer," says Lewis Wilkenfeld, Artistic Director, Cabrillo Music Theatre. "Diane is patient beyond belief… and compassionate," says Lise Lange, wardrobe. "She solves problems before you even know they're problems. She's almost entirely unflappable even in the face of the biggest backstage meltdown. I remember thinking that if they were tasked with the same job, my own mother or husband or brother wouldn't have taken care of me as completely, as calmly, as cheerfully, as Diane," according to actor Jill Van Velzer. "She goes the extra several miles always serving the production, selflessly. Diane sets the standard and helps any theatre with which she works to brand themselves with a gold star," adds Linda Purl, Producer, California International Theatre Festival. And, from actor Shannon Warne: "Diane deserves to be acknowledged because she is an incredible no-nonsense, ultra-organized, professional dresser, with a big heart and a warm hug."

Diane moved from New Jersey to Southern California in her sophomore year of high school. She planned to be a physical therapist, but gave up her dream when she got married and had a family. She worked in many areas-a sporting good store, a silk screening business, part time as an aide in a gifted classroom-but always loved theatre.

She was living nearby when the Thousand Oaks Civic Center opened, housing two theatres. They advertised for volunteer ushers, and she says, "I felt like I wasn't doing anything. I was divorced; my life was dull and boring, and I thought this might be fun." She though she'd found her niche as an usher, but six months in, Theatre League's ANNIE came to town. Their wardrobe mistress and Phoenix-area professional Margie Bell, whom Diane considers her mentor, asked her to replace a missing dresser. Although that dresser finally showed up, when their next show, 42nd STREET, arrived, Diane was asked to help dress the ensemble. She quickly realized that she was hooked-and the rest is history. And that's how she has spent the last 15 years, dressing everyone from ensemble to principals, locally and on tour.

Upon learning she had received the Lucy Jordan Award, Diane was surprised and honored, noting she is just doing her job. "For all these wonderful people I've taken care of, it's been a blessing. I've thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope to do it for a while longer."

The Lucy Jordan Humanitarian Award, established by the Western Region Stage Managers Committee in 1992, commemorates the unflagging spirit of former Western Region Field Rep Lucy Jordan, who died unexpectedly in May of that year. It is the only recognition award given by the Western Regional Board and honors any members of the extended theatrical family who "go above and beyond the call of duty."


Award pages:

Arizona Theatre Service
Diversity on Broadway

Lucy Finney Jordan began her career as a ballerina and danced as a musical chorus gypsy. She met Glenn Jordan, a Stage Manager, and fell in love, becoming a wife and mother. Later, when Glenn became a producer, she wore the hat of Associate Producer for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. When Glenn passed away, she knew she still needed the theatre in her life, and applied and was accepted for the position of Field Representative for the Western Region of AEA.

Lucy Jordan was a friend, advisor, and confidante to principals, chorus and stage managers alike. Whether at auditions, first rehearsals, opening nights or membership meetings, her office was open to all; and her home phone number was given to, and used by, many who needed to resolve an emergency or seek an opinion. For many people in the Western Region, Lucy Jordan was the face of the union. Ms. Jordan died on May 15, 1992 and this award in her honor was created that same year.

Recipients of the Lucy Jordan Recognition Award are:

    • 2017 - Michelle Polgar, Managing Director of the Mary Moody Northern Theatre at St. Edwards University
    • 2016 - Jay C. Sarno, San Diego arts leader
    • 2015 - No award given
    • 2014 - Mary Lou Westerfield, AEA Western Regional Director/Asst. Exec. Dir.
    • 2013 - Richard Connema , theatre critic
    • 2012 - Glenn Bruner, stage manager
    • 2011 - Connie McMillan, theatre supporter
    • 2010 - Lynne Soffer, actress, acting coach, teacher, and dialect coach
    • 2009 - Diane Ronneberg, wardrobe mistress and dresser
    • 2008 - Christopher Comte, Membership Director, Seattle Local AFTRA
    • 2007 - Rick Starr, Hollywood Sheet Music
    • 2006 - Don Toner, Managing Artistic Director/ Producer of the Austin Playhouse
    • 2005 - Dirk van Allen, actor and tireless theatre advocate
    • 2004 - Gordon Davidson, Artistic Director and Producer of Center Theatre Group
    • 2003 - Joseph Ruskin, Actor & AEA Councillor
    • 2002 - No award given
    • 2001 - Dr. Barry A. Kohn, Director & Physician of the Actors’ Fund Free Clinic
    • 2000 - Shawn Newmann, Western Regional Board Secretary
    • 1999 - Gary Marthaler, member of the Wardrobe Union
    • 1998 - Frank M. Young, Founder, President and CEO of Theatre Under The Stars and Executive Director of 5th Avenue Musical Theatre
    • 1997 - John Cauble, Signatory for Guest Artist for Universities
    • 1996 - Patricia MacDonald, House Manager of the Doolittle Theatre
    • 1995 - Tom Rolla, Gardenia Night Club
    • 1994 - Keith Stava, San Bernardino Civic Light Opera
    • 1993 - Howard Caine, Actor
    • 1992 - Iggie Wolfington, Actor & AEA Councillor Emeritus

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