I am honored to have been asked to introduce Bill Fisher to the assembled Company tonight as our newest Sudbury Savoyard Yeoman of Regard. I was a member of the Board of Trustees in 2002 and 2003 when we created and codified the recognition program. Our first class of honorees were Founders of the Company, mostly the church members who created and supported the concepts of the Savoyards in the early years. But if you are familiar with our history as recounted in our show programs over the years, you may consider that the Savoyards have been founded twice.

From the beginning, SUMC was open and welcoming to community participation in their annual Gilbert and Sullivan productions. By the end of the 1960s, the productions had grown beyond the capacity of the stage in Town Hall, our first home, and had moved to the large theater at the old Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. Through the 1970s, the Savoyards continued to perform G&S every year, and by the early 1980s, the outside community realized that they needed to step up and more formally share the burden of planning and producing with SUMC members if the Savoyards were to survive. I have long considered this to be the Second Founding of the Savoyards, and it is a member of that round of Founders we recognize tonight.

As our honoree will shortly explain to you, he “wandered in” to the Savoyards in 1984 as a music and theater lover with no presentable performing skills, but keen awareness that not all that goes into a production is danced, acted, or sung. He started as a stagehand, and soon became a Stage Manager, the position for which he is perhaps most well known. But he also recognized that not all that is needed to put on a production happens anywhere near a stage.

One criterion for elevation to Yeoman is “Founding effort in one or more programs that have come to define the Company.” Bill was a member of the first elected Board of Trustees of the Sudbury Savoyards, in 1986. In that role he helped create our organization’s production handbook, our Task Lists, which even today other theater groups marvel at for its ability to cogently guide productions that may involve as many as two hundred people.

Other criteria include “Breadth of significant contribution to the Company across disciplines,” and “Continuing service in areas not always visible to the Company or the public...” Bill has done just about everything in this Company that doesn’t involve actually appearing on stage - read his bio in the playbill for his self-evaluation in that regard. Bill has been an usher, a Trustee, and the group’s Secretary, and has managed the databases and distribution lists of our membership and patrons that keep us together and in contact with our audiences. He pioneered the use of digital photography to assist in our audition processes. He has been a fixture at Saturday work days forever, helping whoever needs a hand, in whatever chore, and taking on the most hum-drum of tasks. (He has introduced an untold number of newcomers to screw-sorting, and he has reportedly memorized the Sudbury Pizza menu so as to assist them in what to order for lunch.) It was at Bill’s initiative that we started videotaping our productions, working as a liaison with one of the founders of one of the first computer-based video editing systems companies. In recent years, Bill has overseen the conversion of our old VHS tapes to more permanent DVDs. This year he videotaped rehearsals to capture dance steps for cast members to review online. This is the kind of stuff he has been doing for thirty years, often at his own initiative.

And if you don’t know where the jellybeans are, you have not made a good enough friend in Bill.

So with no further ado, I am pleased to introduce to you the Sudbury Savoyards’ nineteenth Yeoman of Regard, William (Mr.) Fisher.

Tom Powers

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