Glendale theater troupe gets a glorious donation

This post has been corrected. See details below. 

When the stage lights come up on the Stepping Stone Players’ production of “Oliver!” Friday night, the show will have benefited from a $2,000 donation from the Walt Disney Co., after two of its employees were honored recently for volunteering hundreds of hours last year.

Disney has a community service group that tracks how many hours employees volunteer, and it found that Kurt Sawitskas and April McCaffery logged more than 400 hours combined — most of it for the community theater troupe.

So Disney nominated Sawitskas, who is an engineer, and McCaffery, who is a paralegal, for the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama. When they both won the honor, Disney gave the charity of their choice — Stepping Stone Players — $1,000 on behalf of each of them.

Sawitskas and McCaffery received a note on White House letterhead and a pin from President Obama thanking them for their volunteerism.

Stepping Stone Players does not raise in ticket sales the funds needed to produce its annual musical, so the organization relies on sponsors.

Some of the most expensive items in community theater productions include props, costumes and sets. And it can cost more than $4,000 alone to purchase the license to perform a musical, Sawitskas said.

“This year, I’m just overwhelmed,” Sawitskas said of the show’s supporters.

For example, Lexus of Glendale is offering a free child’s ticket for every adult ticket sold. The production features many children in its musical telling of Charles Dickens’ classic novel about a boy who runs away from an orphanage and joins a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor.

Adult tickets cost $18, and theater officials want to keep the price affordable.

“We do keep our prices a littler lower than our budget so families can come,” she said.

No matter how the budget pans out in the end, the group will continue to rally for its annual productions, and is thankful that so many families volunteer to put on the shows.

This year, there are nearly 15 families behind “Oliver!” from working backstage, onstage or performing for the live orchestra.

What: Stepping Stone Players present “Oliver!”

Where: Hayhurst Hall at Hoover High School, 651 Glenwood Road, Glendale.

When: Aug. 2 through Aug. 18. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: Tickets available online at, or at the door.

More info: (818) 539-6777,

[For the record, Aug. 12, 2013: An earlier version of this story included incorrect ticket information.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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