By Susan Montander
For over 60 years, the Shakespeare Club of Pasadena has presented full scale Broadway Musicals and donated the proceeds to many local charities. In keeping with their Mission Statement of “providing cultural enrichment and philanthropic support to the community”, The Shakespeare Club of Pasadena will be presenting their 70th benefit performance, another Broadway Musical favorite, The Pajama Game (MYI International) on March 24, 25 and 26, 2017.
This musical is based on the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell and the book is by George Abbott and Richard Bissell; the music and lyrics are by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The Production Staff will be; Director – Bill Shaw; Choreographer – Rikki Luggo; and Music Director – Brigham Freeth. It will be presented at the Louise K. Taylor Performing Arts Center in Monrovia and will feature a live orchestra, beautiful sets and costumes and an exciting talented cast of Club members and volunteer friends. They will be donating net proceeds to their Scholarship Fund for graduating seniors in the Pasadena Unified School District. Each year a check is presented to four carefully selected graduating seniors in preparation for college.
Organized in 1888, The Shakespeare Club has the honor of being the oldest Women’s Club in Pasadena. In 1907, the Club provided and maintained a women’s “rest room” in the downtown district of Pasadena. They helped form Juvenile Court, raised funds for a Truancy Officer, started children’s playgrounds, and helped pass child labor and curfew laws. The Club has had much to do with the organizing of the Pasadena Humane Society and holds a life membership in that organization. In 1928, the Shakespeare Club donated the land and built “Rosemary Cottage”, making it a home to 19 teenage girls. Today they continue to work closely with the residents of Rosemary Cottage through the recent organization of the Green House Guild. During the First World War, Club Members made garments for soldiers under the direction of the Red Cross. The ladies also spent many hours preparing jellies and jams and other homemade goodies, to send to the soldiers. In 1913, they established a public market for small producers to sell their goods. It was through their efforts that many sanitation and pure food regulations were established.
One of the oldest Club traditions is the association with the Tournament of Roses, which began in 1897, contributing toward prizes each year and serving picnic lunches in Tournament Park to visitors. The Club entered its first float, a decorated carriage, in 1906, and four prize-winning floats in 1929 – 1932. The Queen’s Luncheon, held yearly at the Club and has been a tradition since January 1952.
In 1954, the Club founded the “Annual Scholarship Awards”, presenting scholarships to four outstanding high school graduates in Pasadena. Throughout the year, the Philanthropy Department works hard to raise money for the needy and underprivileged of Pasadena. Each Christmas, the Club donates toys and clothing to children in need and raises monies for worthy non-profit organizations.