2003 Hall of Fame Recipients
West Palm Beach, Florida
Beverly Blanchette graduated from Florida State University’s School of Theatre and earned an M.F.A. in acting and directing from Florida Atlantic University, where she studied with master acting teacher Zoe Caldwell.
Ms. Blanchette serves as dean of theatre at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she manages a department of over two hundred-fifty theatre majors and seven faculty members. An impressive number of Dreyfoos alumni have gone on to attend professional secondary acting programs at top colleges and conservatories. Ms. Blanchette is an accomplished playwright, actress, and director.
She has been her school’s Thespian troupe sponsor since 1997 and has chartered four Thespian troupes since 1977. She has directed main stage shows at the International Thespian Festival, the Florida State Thespian Festival, and the American High School Theatre Festival at the Edinburgh Fringe. She has directed all-state shows and one-act plays at the Florida Thespian Festival, served as a member of the board of directors and the main stage screening committee, and conducted numerous workshops.
Ms. Blanchette is a charter member of the Florida Association for Theatre Education and has served as its president and conference chair. Her many honors include the Florida Association for Theatre Education Outstanding Educator and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Foremost Arts Educator awards. Under her guidance her school received the Educational Theatre Association’s Outstanding School Award in 2003. She is listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and is designated as an Outstanding Young Woman of America.
Virginia “Ginny” Chizer may well have set a record for active Thespian longevity. She was inducted into the Thespian troupe at Horace Mann High School in Gary, Indiana in 1948 and fifty-five years later she was still “acting well her part” as a volunteer.
A cum laude graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Ms. Chizer built the drama program at Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati from a single drama class to three. She taught for twenty-four years and directed more than fifty plays and musicals.
Very active at the state level, Ms. Chizer routinely attended conferences as a main stage screener. She directed the Ohio All-State Show, and at least one of her students participated in it for many years. She was inducted into the Ohio EdTA Hall of Fame in 2001.
Even after her retirement in 1993 she continued to attend the International Thespian Festival and worked in Festival security each year. She also volunteered at the EdTA home office, helping organize the college scholarship audition program and Play Marathon, and twice directed new student work in the Thespian Playworks program.
Her thirty-five-year participation in the Cincinnati theatre community includes acting, producing, working tech, directing, and board membership. She was active in the Cincinnati chapter of the Association of Community Theatres and the Ohio Community Theater Association, serving as an adjudicator, responder, and board member for both organizations. She received ACT-Cincinnati’s prestigious Art Rouse Award for her years of dedicated service to Cincinnati theatre.
Ms. Chizer’s influence and commitment to young people is manifested in the numerous former students who perform professionally in theatre, film, or television, and the many others who teach drama to new generations.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Michael Peitz’s long involvement with theatre began with his induction into Thespian Troupe 615 at Ottumwa (Iowa) High School in 1965. He taught theatre and speech for twenty-five years and has served in a range of capacities for EdTA, including troupe director, state director, regional director, president of the governing board, and executive director.
He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech with an emphasis in theatre at the University of Northern Iowa in 1970, and two years later he received his Master of Arts degree in speech from UNI.
Mr. Peitz taught theatre and speech at several high schools in Iowa between 1972 and 1997. Along the way he served as sponsor for three Thespian troupes, two of which he chartered.
At Benton Community High School (Van Horne, Iowa), Mr. Peitz expanded the number of theatre courses and productions, purchased the school’s first lighting system and contributed to the design of its new theatre. Under Mr. Peitz’s guidance, Benton Community High School performed several times at the Iowa state Thespian festival and on the main stage at the International Thespian Festival.
In 1986 Mr. Peitz became Iowa state Thespian director. During this period he hosted four state festivals. He was inducted into the Iowa Thespian Hall of Fame in 1997.
In 1996, Mr. Peitz became president of EdTA. The following year the EdTA Board of Directors appointed him assistant executive director, and in 1999 he succeeded retiring executive director Ron Longstreth. For ten years he presided over a period of steady growth for the organization. He was instrumental in building bridges between EdTA and other groups and organizations such as Broadway Cares, the Bravo Network, and Camp Broadway.
John Jensen, an actor and former student, summarized Mr. Peitz’s influence this way: “[Michael] helped me to realize that the one truly unique thing I can bring to any role is my own life experience. Theatre is a very powerful art form–it has the ability to change lives. It has certainly changed mine.”