“The First Annual Faculty Follies will be presented on Tuesday evening”, announced the November 1941 issue of the Towerlight. Faculty members were to present a two-part program, the first of which was a kind of music hall performance with “all the members of the faculty who can be crowded on the stage”.
“The second act,” the Towerlight continued, “will consist of a soul-searing ‘meller-dramer’ entitled Curse You, Jack Dalton.” Finally, the article explained that “No definite information as to the members of the cast could be obtained.”
The Towerlight, as can be discerned by the program for that evening’s event, was a little wrong. The melodrama came first, and the music hall portion was last. But as for who performed, it seemed to be almost the entire faculty, from librarians, to campus elementary school teachers, science professors, athletics directors, and school staff.
Certainly the highlight must have been seeing the school president, M. Theresa Wiedefeld in costume. She is not listed on the program at all, but the only pseudonym I can find on it is for Mlle. Zara, “That World-Famous Oriental Dancer, the Sensation of the Great Chicago’s World Fair, the Woman Who Has Broken a Thousand Hearts while performing her Terpsichorean Arts”. I had to look up “Terpsichorean” — it means she danced.
Given that Dr. Wiedefeld looks like Little Bo Peep in her costume, I don’t know for certain that she danced as the mysterious Mlle. Zara.
The Follies were a hit. “We take our hat off to the casting director of the late Faculty Follies, which was such a downright, rousing success. The casting was a master work,” the Towerlight reported in the December issue.
This was not the first faculty production, but it was certainly the most grand, and the first with write-ups in the Baltimore Sun. It would take another ten years for faculty to hit the boards again.
“For the first time in a few years, the faculty and alumnae will present Arsenic and Old Lace,” reported the Towerlight in March of 1954. This time, the Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Society on campus was using the play to raise money for future projects.
This time there was no coyness about STC’s President, Earle T. Hawkins, playing a part. He is listed in the program as “Mr. Witherspoon”, the manager of a sanatorium.
Other faculty events continued through the 1950s thanks to the efforts of the Student-Faculty Committee. This committee organized concerts, dance recitals, and variety shows. It also branched out into sports with Student-Faculty Basketball games. “Cheered on by a crowd of about 200,” reported the Towerlight in 1961, “the faculty handed a defeat to the student team.” These basketball games would continue through the 1970s, even as the talent shows grew more sporadic.
One of the last talent shows we have programs for was sponsored by the Towson Faculty Wives’ Club. Admission proceeds were given to the Sarah Long Cornthwaite Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in memory of David Cornthwaite who was the Principal of the Lida Lee Tall School.
Dr. Hawkins again makes an appearance, as do faculty members from across the disciplines.