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."