Our honoree this year embodies the true meaning of the words “Savoyard Family” because his wife, Nancy, and daughters, Robin and Karen, must share in the responsibility for this honor. If it wasn’t for their initial participation, we would never have enticed Tom Powers to become a member of The Sudbury Savoyards.

Nancy’s first show was in 1986, while Tom was most likely home babysitting. However, younger daughter Karen first became a Savoyard two Iolanthe’s ago in 1987 when she was 6 years old and helped with costumes by pinning rags onto Iolanthe’s cape. Robin appeared onstage with us for Princess Ida in 1996.

Tom’s first introduction to the work behind the scenes of The Sudbury Savoyards was in 1988 by David Larrick, a previous Yeomen of Regard honoree. Tom and David worked together at Digital and David was doing his first year as Technical Director for Utopia, Ltd. after conducting the last 7 productions.

David truly regrets that he could not be here to participate this evening but he did contribute his personal recollections to include in this presentation.

David said “although I had been talking up the Savoyards to everyone I knew all along, I suspect that my stories about my new role as TD were of more interest to Tom than my Music Department talk…” Tom will likely tell the story in more detail but as a result of their relationship the comment “it’s all David Larrick’s fault” pretty much sums things up for the last twenty years.

Tom recalls that probably at the first Savoyard party ever held at his home on Union Avenue, Sally Osborn handed him a sketch of circles inside rectangles. “Makeup mirrors?” he said. “Yes” she said, whereas Tom proceeded to craft the mirrors that we still use today.

Over the next few years Tom participated in Lighting Crew, Set Construction Crew, then Set Construction Chief for The Sorcerer in 1992, when Sally Osborn approached him to run for the Board of Trustees. Tom said no, but fortunately reconsidered. Tom used the makeup mirror project as the basis for his candidate statement and got elected. Sally later told David that they finally got someone from Tech! Tom served two terms on the Board as the Second Trombone until 1996, in addition to taking on the position of School Liaison until 1999. When you have children in the school system, you do what needs to be done.

In 1995 Tom founded our newsletter “The Sudbury Savoyards Sandwich Board.” It was originally intended to replace ad hoc letters the Chair would write to the members, so the newsletter was established as a fixed format template to cover all bases of our news year round. The title of “Sandwich Board” may or may not have been inspired by some publicity event that took place during that year’s Mikado.

In 1998 for the dual production of “Trial- by- Pinafore” Tom tried his hand as Set Designer in addition to the roles of Technical Director, Set Construction Chief, Theatre Liaison, and Newsletter Editor. One does not wear just one hat in this Company, as many of us well know!

This is the year the official Sudbury Savoyards Tech Shirt was born. Tom said he coined the phrase on the front of the shirt that says “Tech is what keeps the cast from performing pale and naked on a dark, empty stage.” But Tom says he must give credit for the back of the shirt to David Larrick who originally said that we perform “Gilbert and Sullivan on a grand scale.” These shirts have become the required backstage attire for our technical crews and have even made appearances at Theatre III, Vokes, and other local companies!

I asked Tom what his least favorite role has been and he replied “of all the jobs I’ve done, the one I was most eager to get rid of was School Liaison.”

Our last production of Iolanthe, in 1999 actually took place in April of that year. Nick Costello, our school contact, said we needed to change our dates to a school vacation week so the Board chose the April break and everyone hated it. I can recall painting sets in the back parking lot in the 70 degree sun where the paint was drying faster than we could roll it on.

I personally have many fond memories of the 1999 Iolanthe with Tom as Technical Director because it was my first attempt as Set Designer and I took our phrase “Gilbert and Sullivan on a grand scale” quite literally. I believe I heard it called “the impossible set” and even “the set from hell,” but always with affection and never from Tom, or at least not to my face.

Tom is ingenious when it comes to using materials for theatrical purposes. For Patience in 2003 he suggested using sewer pipes for the columns. He must have seen the look on my face and nonchalantly added “don’t worry, they’re clean.” I later calculated that the set weighed over 1200 pounds.

That year also began the tradition of spray painting his tools gold. Well, not his good ones. It started with the old hammer, then the broken staple gun… I’m sure he’s wondering what’s next to turn gold…

For the year 2000, Tom proposed that we go to a 2-weekend performance and include the school vacation week as our Tech week. This was fine with the school so we changed our performance dates to the February school vacation period. That was also when our traditional after the-last-show Strike changed to take place the next day, on the Sunday during the day where it was not only safer for all involved, but another opportunity to have a party after our work was done.

In 2003 Tom was once again elected to The Board of Trustees and served as Chairperson in addition to his other roles in the organization. Tom is also responsible for drafting many of our policies which define how we operate as a Company and keep us safe, as well.

It was also Tom who recognized that off-season projects like the Summer Shows and 4th of July Parade Floats required new ways of thinking by the organization.

But there are three things Tom said he would never do for a main-stage production because it is “too much work:” 1. Act 2. Sing 3. Dance

Little did we know that he would be bitten by the acting bug in 2003 when he appeared as David Bliss in the summer production of Hayfever! Tom said the Hayfever opportunity just dropped in his lap when they needed a male to read opposite someone for auditions, and he thought it was a friendly direction staff, so he said, what the heck, and found himself cast in the show.

In 2005 he reappeared on the summer stage as Malachi Stack in The Matchmaker, where he says his participation was “a more conscious effort on his part.”

I asked Tom what his favorite job is and he said it must be Set Construction because he can’t imagine ever not building things. He even built a lemonade stand for Robin’s wedding while helping out with the set for California Suite last summer.

Tom says that one advantage of his Savoyard link is that he only lives one mile from the “main office” which is convenient for parties, work days and any “construction emergencies.” We’ve even parked a parade float in his backyard several times and who wouldn’t enjoy that?

To quote David Larrick again “I can’t think of Tom without remembering the tool belt, his wearable shop, containing every carpentry tool he might need, plus duplicates for others to borrow.”

Tom himself does not like a lot of fuss and is embarrassed by a lot of recognition. Yet it was he who, in 2003, proposed the idea for honoring those who have gone above and beyond, established the criteria, and came up with the title “Yeomen of Regard.”

This honor is not a popularity contest, nor does it go to those necessarily most visible to the Company. This honor is presented for “Extraordinary service in support of the mission of The Sudbury Savoyards as defined in the Company’s bylaws.”

These include:

  • Founding effort in one or more programs of the Company that have come to define the Company.
  • Continuing service in areas not always visible to the Company or the public but which are critical to the continuing survival of the Company.
  • Breadth of significant contribution to the Company across disciplines.
  • Personal sacrifice or contribution beyond expectations.
  • Long-term effort in support of the goals of the Company.

Truth be told, Tom was never a “theatre person.” As a supportive husband he tolerated the Opera. He still claims he does not care much for musicals. As a talented Carpenter he enjoys solving complex problems. As a Savoyard he continues to manage teams and oversee crews. The Company Newsletter is in it’s 12th year of publication. Last year he and his family were featured in our publicity for The Grand Duke titled “All in the Family.”

Tom has chaired this organization with enthusiasm, deep understanding, patience and vision. Since our last production of Iolanthe in 1999 the Savoyards have donated over $95,000.00 through our sponsor, the Sudbury United Methodist Church, to the United Methodist Committee on Relief to help fight world hunger.

So what began as merely a lunch-hour errand to pick up some set materials has turned into a great fortune for The Sudbury Savoyards.

I think you will agree that Tom Powers not only meets, but exceeds, the criteria that has been established for the Yeomen of Regard honor.

I know I have said this before, but if it was not for Tom Powers, The Sudbury Savoyards would not be as we know it today.

I would now like to present our 2007 Yeomen of Regard Honoree, Mr.Tom Powers.

Andrea Roessler,
Archivist/ Yeomen of Regard committee

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