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News of Otsego County

Sam Goodyear

Tribute by Sam Goodyear: George Goetz loved Springfield summers, books, art

Tribute by Sam Goodyear:
George Goetz loved Springfield summers, books, art

He looked, with his shock of snow-white hair, like Boris Yeltsin. His bearing was ambassadorial, with all that the word implies: courteous, cordial, tactful, informed, balanced, refined.

George Goetz, longtime summer resident of Springfield, died in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, on July 25 at 90, in the gentle loving presence of his family.

Sam Goodyear Plans Tribute To Chuck Schneider Saturday
LETTER from SAM GOODYEAR

Sam Goodyear Plans Tribute

To Chuck Schneider Saturday

To the Editor:

Along with countless members of our community, I was saddened to read of Chuck Schneider’s death. It stirred multiple memories, as I had the privilege of singing in several Glimmerglass operas and Orpheus Theatre musicals under his direction.

In every instance, seeing him in the pit made me feel safe and secure.

I felt that he was not only keeping his eye on the production as a whole, but me personally.

And then there were all those memorable Catskill Symphony Orchestra concerts. I remember
seeing whole families in attendance, parents and children, and thinking what a rich experience was being provided among us.

Working so hard under considerable pressure to navigate highly complex waters cannot have been easy, yet I never once, not one single time, saw Chuck lose his considerable cool. Always calm, always patient, always cordial, he maintained his cheerful and generous nature for the benefit of art.

From 1 to 5 Saturday afternoons, I host a classical music program called “Play It Again, Sam,” on WSKG Public Radio. It can be heard at 105.9 FM in Otsego County, and is streamed live on the internet at wskg.org (click Listen Live-WSKG Classical).

I will devote the 4 o’clock hour this coming Saturday, Oct. 24, in tribute to our maestro in thanks for the
inestimable pleasure and enrichment he brought to us all.

SAM GOODYEAR
Binghamton

Austin Sears, 72, Dies; Founded Cooperstown Summer Theatre Fest

Austin Sears, 72, Dies;

Founded Cooperstown

Summer Theatre Fest

Austin and Margarita Sears in 2013, after they decided to close the Cooperstown Summer Theatre Festival after almost three decades. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Austin Sears, 72, creator, manager and actor at the Cooperstown Summer Theatre Festival for three decades, exited life’s stage on Dec. 17, 2019, in New York City.

Austin Sears, actor and founder of the Cooperstown Summer Theatre Festival.

“We met in 1979,” his wife Margarita said in an interview this week.  “The 40 years I knew him, it was all Cooperstown.  It was all theater.  That was his life.  That’s what he talked about and did every day – looking for actors, soliciting scripts.”

The curtain went up on July 6, 1984, inside the renovated barn on West Lake Road about a mile south of Glimmerglass Opera.  The first performance, Noel Coward’s “Private Lives,” played to a packed house.  At the end, it poured, and cars got stuck in the mud looking to exit.  “Kirn’s was coming back and forth to pull cars out,” Maggie said.

The operation – an Equity company, featuring unionized professionals – continued as the Theatre Festival, then as the Cooperstown Summer Theatre & Music Festival, (bringing Linda Chesis to Cooperstown for the first time; she later spun off the Cooperstown Summer Music Festival, which continues today).  In the final years, the Leatherstocking Theatre Company performed there.  The Austins finally closed its doors in 2013.

“When you’re on the outside looking in, you don’t realize how much work is involved,” Austin said in an interview at that time.   A season included 72 performances – two matinees, five evening shows a week, “on a hand-to-mouth budget,” the founder said.

“I found him so congenial,” recalled Sam Goodyear, who acted for Sears at the summer festival, and later contracted with him to use the facility for the Leatherstocking Theatre Company.  “He was such a sweet-hearted person, with an amazing wry sense of humor.  He was a total delight to work with, on stage and off.”

Austin Sears was born on Nov. 2, 1947, in New York City, to Bernard Horatio Sears, an ivory and ostrich merchant, and the former Gustava N. Pototska.   He was raised in the city, receiving his B.A. from City College of New York’s Theater Department, then a master’s in film from Columbia.

Then he immediately “became an actor.  And that’s all he did,” said his wife, the former Margarita Malinova, a concert pianist whom he met in 1979.  The couple had a son, Will, an Olympic skating contender, who died of a cardiac malfunction at age 20 while training in 2002.

Early on, Sears performed in London at such famous venues as the Drury Lane Theatre (as Hillary McKenzie, “The Boiling Oil Machine,” 1969) and the New Vic (Dr. Seward in “Dracula,” 1973.) Back in the U.S, in 1974 he played the title role in the National Shakespeare Company’s “Hamlet,” and played King Arthur in national tours of “Camelot” in 1979 and 1983.

In 1979, he made his film debut in Universal’s “Running,” a sports drama starring Michael Douglas, and later played FBI Agent Jones in “Prince of the City,” Warner Brothers, 1981.”  In 1977, he had played Luke O’Hare in the PBS series, “Best of Families.”

Soon after they were married, Maggie Sears recalled, the couple began looking for a suitable barn to convert to a summer theater.  Her husband had played Hamlet in a National Repertory Theater Production at Cooperstown High School, and he loved baseball, which drew them here.

Coming to scout out Cooperstown, they drove along Route 7, then Route 28 on a “golden day.  Everything was a golden color,” Maggie remembered, and they were entranced.  In the summer of 1983, the young couple rented a house in the Otsego Golf Course community at the north end of Otsego Lake.

It was then they discovered the barn on Drs. Cam and Mary Goodwin’s 100-acre property.  Ed Johnson, the well-known local primitive painter, was realtor.  Dennis Murray, newspaperman turned contractor and Maureen’s husband, worked with Sears to develop and implement the renovation.

Years of hard work – and fun – followed.  In the 2013 interview, the couple recalled the stage’s original golden curtain, eaten by raccoons over the winter.  Against expectations, “Dracula” was “a total flop.”  But “No Sex, Please.  We Are British,” was a sellout. Renting a house on Richfield Springs’ James Street one summer to lodge actors, neighbors complained of thespians frolicking au natural on the grounds.

Mrs. Sears said her husband died of a longtime chronic condition. Not wanting to trouble friends during the holiday season, her husband received a private ceremony.  At a later date, she plans to place a monument in “Will’s Garden,” and his remains will join his son’s there, a few steps from the center of his life and career.  A service will be held at that time.

Sam Goodyear’s Featured In July 4 PBS’ TV Special
YOU CAN SEE ‘INVENTING’ NOW

Sam Goodyear Featured

In July 4 PBS’ TV Special

Sam Goodyear, right, as John Adams, jousts with other Founding Fathers is a PBS special to be aired locally on WSKG at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3.
Sam Goodyear, right, as John Adams, jousts with other Founding Fathers is a PBS special to be aired locally on WSKG at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3.

“Inventing America: Conversations with the Founders,” featuring Sam Goodyear, formerly of Cooperstown and Oneonta, as John Adams, will air at 5:30 p.m. July 3 – this Sunday – on WSKG, the Binghamton public television station.

“Making a Nation” – as this first segment is called – is about 60 minutes long, runs as an interview with three of the Declaration’s signers—Thomas Jefferson ( Bill Barker) and Benjamin Franklin (John Hamant), as well as Adams, all actors with Colonial Williamsburg —and one delegate to the Second Continental Congress, John Dickinson, who refused to sign, revealing the conflict behind the historic event.

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