Announcing the 2019 recipient of The Steinebach Award for Outstanding Contribution to Live Theater: Dean Hussey!
To say Dean's contribution to live theater is outstanding does not even begin to scratch the surface. He has participated on our production team in a number of ways over five years. He's gone way beyond pushing the "GO" button behind our sound board. Dean has composed music and created sound cues for a number of shows, most notably Bike America, for which he composed the full soundtrack as his senior project. Our 2018 summer production required Dean to commit countless hours of composing, editing, and working with the rest of the cast and tech crew through rehearsals and performances. Missi Smith, the show's director, was thrilled with Dean's artistic interpretation through music, and she loved how his work enhanced the production.
Though he has typically remained behind the scenes in the tech booth, Dean recently went in front of the audience in our Reader's Theater production of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Adding another whole level of risk, and stepping even further out of his normal comfort zone, he became a strong advocate for those living with autism while teaching his fellow cast members about his own experiences with it. His participation on stage, for the first time ever, greatly enhanced the production. The guy can act, too!
Our founders, Carolanne and Egon Steinebach took huge risks to begin The Merc Playhouse Society. They committed to building a theater that has grown into a community gem over the past 20 years. Without their countless hours of work, their dedication to live performing arts, and their inspired vision, we wouldn't be the organization we are today. We are happy to honor people in our theater community who show the same type of dedication to live performing arts, and Dean could not be more deserving of the award this year.
Dean is graduating from Liberty Bell High School in May. He will be greatly missed at The Merc while he bravely ventures out into his future, but we are certain he has many successes ahead of him. We just hope he comes back to see us once in a while, and maybe work on some more shows...
Egon Franz Steinebach, resident of Twisp, husband of Carolanne, and one of our founders, died peacefully on January 8, 2018. The story of his contribution to the arts in our community begins with a serendipitous moment that led to an artistic thought. The thought created a vision, and the vision became a legacy.
In 1994, Egon & Carolanne Steinebach stepped into what was then the Twisp Mercantile to shop the close-out sale. Carolanne spoke to Egon, who had wandered off to the back of the building, "I found something to buy. Where are you?" He replied, "Over here." They both looked up, discovered the distance between them was the length of the building, and had the same thought. The acoustics in the Mercantile made it perfect for a theater--they could hear each other in a regular speaking voice from across the building.
Carolanne and Egon had been coming to the Methow Valley to stay in their cabin since the 70s. They knew the art community, so Carolanne ran right across the street to Methow Arts Alliance and told Laura Fine, executive director at the time, that the organization should buy the building. Laura replied that they should buy it. Although the idea was rejected initially, ever-wise Egon said, "Keep the thought and it will happen." The bones of the building were excellent, Egon and Carolanne knew it would be the perfect performing arts space, so their vision remained a dream for the following four years.
In 1998, the dream became reality. Egon and Carolanne took the risk and jumped in head-first. Innvesting in the purchase and remodel of the building, they formed The Merc Playhouse Society. The first season of live theater began in 1999.
For ten years, Carolanne and Egon ran The Merc. As Technical Director, Egon was responsible for lights, sound, and all the technical aspects of the theater space. For nearly all of that decade, he worked tirelessly and without pay. Egon loved theater and likened it to flying. "You launch yourself into space" is how he often described it. He loved the risk that came with producing each show.
We are forever grateful that he and Carolanne saw the vision that launched The Merc into our community—a legacy that continues today.
We remember Egon for his love of theater and for his love of The Merc. We remember his smile, his knowledge, and his wonderful stories. His passion for music and the Open Merc program he hosted for years will resound in our space long into the future. The sound of his laughter and his instruments are built into the fabric of our walls.
Thank you Egon, for all you did for arts in the Methow. May you rest in peace.
**The Merc is accepting messages of condolence to be forwarded on to Carolanne at email@example.com or at PO Box 425 Twisp, WA 98856. Memorial details will be announced in the near future.