In late June, one day shy of her 53rd birthday, Jill Charles, artistic director of the Dorset Theatre Festival in Dorset, VT, died of cancer. Ms. Charles (nee Jill Geiger) had come to Vermont in 1968 and joined the Caravan Theatre, later revamping it — with producing director John Nassivera — into the Dorset Theatre Festival after the founders had retired in 1976.
According to company spokesperson Ken Kamlet, on July 12, DTF Board of Trustees President James Faszholz and Chairman of the Advisory Board Edgar Lansbury named Nassivera as the company's producing artistic director. "We are still in the early weeks of our season," Fasholz said in a statement, "and Jill's long illness and passing leaves both an emotional and practical void that needed filling on a permanent basis... John is extremely talented and knowledgeable in all phases of theatrical production."
Nassivera's directing credits include Douglas Carter Beane's Advice From a Caterpillar Off-Broadway. His plays include Phallacies and The Jazz Club.
A freelance writer and editor for various theatre-related publications, Ms. Charles acted in several Festival entries (including Tonight at 8:30 and Play It Again, Sam) and directed 48 DTF shows.
Though already ill, Ms. Charles attended the restored and expanded Dorset Playhouse's June 14 reopening and addressed the audience after the evening's performance of Yasmina Reza's Art: "I was in the hospital on the phone going, `What's happening? What's happening?' And then to come here today; it's like the shoemaker coming up the stairs and all the elves have been working all week and it's done and it's beautiful." — By David Lefkowitz