David Ogden Stiers, a celebrated and admired screen and television actor who passed away on March 3, 2018, will be remembered for years to come for his contributions to the Newport performing arts community.
Stiers was the associate/resident conductor of the Newport Symphony Orchestra (NSO), as well as one of its founders and supporters. His leadership helped transform the Yaquina Chamber Orchestra into today’s professional NSO, with Adam Flatt, music director.
While music was Stiers’ avocation, theater was his life-long vocation. Stiers was also an active and passionate supporter of Oregon Coast Council for the Arts (OCCA), serving as one of its honorary co-chairs on the Capital Campaign Committee for many years. However, it was the Summer Theatre Camps and Shakespeare Camps for youth that sourced Stiers’ soul.
Over the years, he generously mentored young thespians in workshops that trained and encouraged Oregon coastal young people in the art of character development, vocal projection and emotional commitment.
In his own words, speaking about the Newport Performing Arts Center (PAC), Stiers often remarked, “It so delights me to see the theater camps and dance recitals involving kids. They think they own this place, and of course they do.”
Catherine Rickbone, OCCA executive director, recalls members of the community inquiring months in advance for tickets to Stiers’ holiday readings of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”
“We miss him. We miss his baritone voice and, of course, his sense of humor,” said Rickbone. “David would always surprise us. When he learned of our needs, he would donate a refrigerator, a microwave, chair or equipment. It was the meaningful little things he did for OCCA and the PAC that still bring tears to our eyes.”
Stiers’ philanthropic good works carried him beyond the halls of the theater. Many nonprofit organizations in Newport, including My Sisters’ Place and the Newport Public Library benefitted from his contributions. In the minds and hearts of Newport residents, Stiers left a lasting impression.
Citizens and members of Stiers’ theatrical family are spearheading a fundraising effort to raise $250,000 of the total $1.6 million required for renovations to the 30-year-old venue. The new David Ogden Stiers Theatre enhancements include a new seating system, new lighting, enhanced sound and acoustics, and improved HVAC for the theater as part of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts (OCCA), Newport Performing Arts Center (PAC) Capital Campaign, Entertain the Future!, Phase VII Studio Theatre Enhancement.
The David Ogden Stiers Theatre will be home for experimental theatre premiering original plays, literary readings, storytelling, piano performances, dance recitals, cabaret-style jazz ensembles, international musical events and a broader youth theater. It will also enable simultaneous programming with the adjacent Alice Silverman Theatre.
Contributions, large and small, are tax deductible. Pledge forms are available at the PAC or online at http://www.coastarts.org.