On Monday July 13th, Washington’s theatre community is coming together for a special fundraiser at Signature Theatre for DC actress/director/teacher Jane Pesci-Townsend entitled “Give it up for Jane!”. Signature Theatre’s Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer promises the cabaret will be “fun and Crazy – every trait of Jane’s personality! The cabaret evening features Signature favorites Sherri L. Edelen, Eleasha Gamble, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Matt Conner, Evan Casey, Nick Blaemiere, James Gardiner, Channez & Rob McQuay, plus a number of special guests!”
The benefit hopes to raise $10,000 to help pay medical bills for the actress, who has been battling cancer. A donation bucket will be at the door. Those wishing to contribute but unable to attend can call the Signature box office – 703 820-9771 – for more information.
Signature Theatre is located at 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington,VA.
We asked Joel Markowitz to tell us more about Jane:
“When I relocated here in the mid 80’s, one of the first shows I saw was The Revenge of Mrs. Foggybottom, and the singer/actress/comedienne I fell in love with, and have always made sure I saw every one of her stage performances, was Jane Pesci-Townsend. Jane has done it all on and off the stage. Who will ever forget going on for Christine Baranski as Mrs. Lovett at The Sondheim Festival’s Sweeney Todd and driving the audience into a frenzy. It’s local theatre folklore.
I’ll never forget Jane’s hysterical rendition of “I Hate Musicals” in Ruthless-The Musical at Source Theatre, and her hysterical, yet frightening rendition of “You Wanna Be My Friend?” in Maltby and Shire’s Closer Than Ever at The Marquee Lounge. I could go on and on and on about her performances that I have loved, and the joy she has brought me and local theatre goers, but let’s talk about how Jane has and continues to inspire and train a new generation of young actors.
Every time I talk to a group of young actors, or write about them in one of my Scene Stealers articles, or my Theatre Schmooze column, or sit down and podcast them, it never fails that one of these young actors tells me how Jane Pesci-Townsend has touched his or her life. They have learned their craft from “The Master” either at Catholic University, where she has taught voice and musical theatre performance for eleven years, at Theatre Lab’s About The Musical Theatre Institute, and at Signature Theatre’s Kennedy Center-based Summer Music Theatre Workshop OVERTURES.
Jane has directed shows in so many theatres in the area, including The Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts (BAPA), The University of Maryland, College Park, The Catholic University of America, Montgomery College, and at Paradigm Players, which is devoted to supporting and starring actors who have special needs. And, it’s always gratifying watching Jane direct some of her former students at CUA, as she did when she directed Jason Robert Brown’s The Last 5 Years at MetroStage in 2005, which starred Tracy Olivera and Mark Bush.
I could probably write a book about Jane Pesci-Townsend and her past and ongoing contributions to the DC area theatre community. Her fans and students and the entire theatre community wish Jane a speedy recovery. Hurry back to the stage. I’m waiting for your next performance!”