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Crystal Society

Asolo Rep proudly recognizes our Crystal Society members who have made extraordinary gifts or pledges of $1,000,000 or more, for the theatre’s Annual Fund, Endowment and Capital Projects.

To learn more about the Crystal Society contact Tricia Mire at 941-351-9010 ext. 4700 or tricia_mire@asolo.org


crystal_mertz.pngESTHER M. MERTZ, in memoriam

Mrs. Esther M. Mertz was the theatre’s most loyal and long standing supporter. Her support began in the early 1980s and a contribution in 1989 in memory of her late husband made possible the installation of the Dunfermline Opera House, now named The Harold and Esther Mertz Theatre in their honor. In 2003 Mrs. Mertz provided a lead matching gift to the Asolo Theatre Endowment Fund. In 2004 she funded the search for Producing Artistic Director, Michael Donald Edwards, and in 2005 she shared in the cost of renovating the theatre’s lobby. Beginning in 1993, she provided the FSU/Asolo Conservatory with endowed gifts that have historically supported up to five students each season and will continue to support students in the years to come. We miss you, Esther, and you will always be The First Lady of Asolo Rep.


crystal_searing.pngULLA R. SEARING, in memoriam

Elegant and refined, Mrs. Ulla R. Searing graced Asolo Rep with her presence for more than four decades. A bold supporter of the arts and honored member of the Sarasota community, Mrs. Searing gave generously to our area’s most prized arts organizations. Asolo Rep is deeply grateful for the bequest Mrs. Searing granted the theatre. Her handprints are displayed on the theatre’s terrace, reminding us all of her love of Asolo Rep. Thank you, Mrs. Searing, for all you have done for Asolo Rep and for this community.


crystal_peterson.pngBOB and LEE PETERSON, in memoriam

Lee’s early opera training led to a lifelong love of live performance, and Bob was a member of the Mask and Wig Club at the University of Pennsylvania during his undergraduate days. Generous patrons of many Sarasota arts and service organizations, the Petersons always said, “Asolo Rep is the joy of our lives.” Their enthusiasm for the groundbreaking work of the theatre under Michael Donald Edwards’ leadership translated into their founding support of the Artistic Excellence Society. A bold matching challenge issued by the Petersons during Michael’s first season led to an overwhelming response from board members, a true vote of confidence for the new Producing Artistic Director. Lee’s vivacious chairmanship of many Asolo Rep events and Bob’s steady hand as former Board Chair and co-chair of the Capital/Endowment Campaign have meant so much to Asolo Rep over the past 24 seasons. We sadly miss their presence in the board room and on opening nights, but dearly cherish their memories.



Since the 1960s, Asolo Rep has been a part of Bev’s and her family’s life in Sarasota. Access to this theater has opened portals to the imagination and introduced cultural activities that have become lifelong passions. She and Bob would bring their children to performances in the “old” Asolo Theatre when it was housed at the Ringling Museum, and deepened their involvement as the theatre grew. Inspired by Bev’s personal connection to the theatre, she and her family help to make new memories possible for today’s patrons, young and old. The Robert and Beverly Koski Production Center is a testament to this family’s ongoing support of Asolo Rep and its artistic and educational missions.


crystal_mendell.pngJOAN ARMOUR MENDELL, in memoriam

Joan leveraged her prolific poetic talents to support her beloved Asolo Rep: the proceeds from sales of her two published volumes of poetry were designated to benefit the theatre. A true aficionada of all the arts, Joan was a faithful and ardent member of nearly every opening night house, as well as an enthusiastic member of the Asolo Rep Adventures travel club. Her capital gift to name Asolo Rep’s Joan Armour Mendell Scenic Studio was grandly celebrated in February 2012. Walt Whitman said, “To have great poets there must be great audiences,” and in Joan, we were fortunate to have both.


Crystal_coville.jpgMARGOT & WARREN COVILLE

When Margot and Warren moved to Sarasota in 1994, they met then-Producing Artistic Director Howard Millman, who introduced them to Asolo Rep. The Covilles have since learned that the productions here rival anything they have ever seen on Broadway or the West End. Ardent theatre-goers, they have traveled to London to join the Conservatory students during their London training program. Margot and Warren have been passionate and generous Fellowship sponsors since 2004, and they have been inspirational philanthropic leaders for Asolo Rep and many other organizations. Past-president of the Asolo Rep Board, Warren also served as the Chair of the Capital/Endowment campaign for seven years providing valuable leadership at its launch, guiding and growing the new endowment, and completing several key capital initiatives. Finding Sarasota a world-class city, the Covilles have worked for the last dozen years to improve its visibility and viability as a nexus for the arts.



Maurie and Jack’s involvement in the FSU/Asolo Conservatory student sponsor program has opened a new opportunity for them in their retirement. “We now have a student in each of the 3-year graduate program classes and four alumni students working in the NYC area. This gives us regular contacts both during the school year and also while traveling and attending Broadway theatre. Watching the growth and development of our students’ talents has enriched our lives beyond expectation. Being constantly energized and inspired brings a new dimension and meaning to being senior citizens. We thank The University, Asolo Rep, Conservatory faculty, staff and students for giving us this experience.”



A very generous member of our community has chosen to make this gift anonymously. Although we cannot display a photograph, we would like to paint a picture in your mind’s eye. A patron who has been enjoying Asolo Rep performances for many years, this member of the Crystal Society made the first gift to qualify for the Endowment Matching Challenge with a grand generous gesture in support of the Producing Artistic Director’s chair. Many thanks for your unstinting kindness that will sustain Asolo Rep for generations to come!


Kane.jpgSTANLEY KANE, in honor of Janet Kane

Stanley and Jane Kane have been loving supporters of Asolo Rep for over 25 years. A three-time board president, Stanley’s vision and ardor helped the theatre survive and flourish through many challenges. And Janet’s legendary entertaining talents made the Asolo Rep Annual Galas she chaired the social events of the Sarasota season. Carrying on in Janet’s tradition—Stanley’s annual Starry Night Dinner has marked the unofficial launch of the Asolo Rep season for the past six years. This season, Stanley renews his annual support as a Presenter and will continue his loyal service on the Board of Directors as a Lifetime Honorary Board Member. We are eternally thankful to Stanley and Janet for their extraordinary support and devotion.


Presenter_Yandow(1).jpgWILLIAM A. YANDOW, in memoriam

Bill’s involvement with the FSU/Asolo Conservatory originated in 2008 when he began sponsoring “a special kid from Kuala Lumpur” and blossomed into a passionate relationship with the Conservatory and Asolo Rep. He officially sponsored Ghafir Akbar, Kevin Stanfa, Benjamin Boucvalt, Tony Stopperan, Jesse Dornan, Zlatomir Moldovanski, Benjamin Williamson, Jory Murphy, and Josh James, and made eternal friendships with many other Conservatory students. Ever cognizant of the Conservatory and Theatre’s mutually beneficial relationship­—and the importance of supporting each—he assisted with Conservatory capital purchases, led the successful 2012 challenge campaign for the First Year Student Fund, underwrote Asolo Rep marketing initiatives, contributed to the “Burn the Mortgage” campaign for Guest Artist Housing, and enthusiastically supported the Angels, Directors’ Society and Artistic Excellence Society. A round of applause to you, Bill, for encouraging the theatre and Conservatory’s artistic advancement and for the generosity and affection you have shown our young theatre artists! Your crystal legacy will sparkle and remind us always of your kindness. 



Chuck and Margie are strong supporters of Asolo Rep and its mission to bring the highest level of adult and family theatre to our community, while also engaging our local schools and students. Chuck has served on the Asolo Rep board for six years, and he and Margie look forward to being part of an ever-increasing degree of professionalism in all of the Theatre’s endeavors. ​



An Asolo Rep board member since 2006, Herman has been extremely active and generous as co-chairman of the Facilities Committee—negotiating, strategizing and supporting the decision to purchase and renovate the Robert and Beverly Koski Production Center, acquire twelve apartments that comprise the Warren and Margot Coville Guest Artist Housing, and secure the Phillips Club residence in New York City. In 2016, the Frankels’ gift made possible the acquisition of a much-needed adjunct facility, the Herman and Sharon Frankel Asolo Rep Annex.  Co-Producers and ardent supporters of the theatre’s work, Herman and Sharon are in every Opening Night audience applauding the performance.  They have sponsored five students in the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training program, and continue to support Asolo Rep’s partnership with the Conservatory with a generous contribution towards the London Study Tour.  As new Crystal Society members, Sharon and Herman’s philanthropy shines through many facets of their beloved Asolo Rep!



Originally from Northbrook, Illinois, Larry, Debbie and their family have always admired, enjoyed and participated in the performing arts. Since moving to Sarasota in 2009, they have been actively engaged with philanthropy serving in leadership positions across many organizations. At Asolo Rep, Larry serves as Board President, and Debbie is our shining ambassador to the community, who helped take our Gala to new heights as a co-chair in 2015. As supporters of Asolo Rep’s productions, Education & Outreach programming and endowment, they say, “For years, we have enjoyed the theatre, but we have never felt so connected with a performance as we do at Asolo Rep. This theatre provides a unique experience where the stimulating conversation that live performances provoke is heightened by our engagement with the actors. We are so grateful to be a part of Asolo Rep’s family.”  Larry and Debbie joined our Crystal Society this season with their second Endowment gift, committed in 2017 in memory of their daughter Dori Haspel.


Toulmin_Headshot_394x385.jpgVIRGINIA B. TOULMIN, in memoriam

A keen businesswoman with a generous heart, Virginia was one of our greatest friends and benefactors throughout her dynamic life in Sarasota. Upon graduating from Washington University, Virginia was recruited as a stewardess nurse on the B&O railroad. There she met her husband-to-be, patent attorney Harry Toulmin, Jr. Harry encouraged Virginia to apply her medical knowledge and Midwest common sense to his business ventures, including Central Pharmaceuticals. Virginia steered the company to tremendous growth, and in so doing, sowed the seeds for her philanthropic legacy. A true lover of the arts, Virginia helped many Sarasota organizations become what they are today. As a 2006 CVA Hall of Fame inductee, Virginia professed “it’s important to help other people when you’re able to do so.”  CVA summed it up, “her unselfish spirit, gentle wisdom, and quiet generosity serve as an example for others to emulate.” We are grateful to induct Virginia into our Crystal Society posthumously, and to celebrate the joy she brings as a forever member of the Asolo Rep family.


Slane_Headshot_394x385.jpgEVA T. SLANE, in honor of Stephan Slane 

Born in Germany to Austrian parents (her father was an opera singer, and her mother, an actor), Eva arrived in America in 1939. As a New York City theatrical agent, Eva nurtured the careers of artists including James Earl Jones. In 1964, she married Stephan Slane, founder of the North Shore Music Theatre, which was once New England’s largest not-for-profit theater due to their guidance.  A true woman of the theater, each year Eva takes in 100+ performances in the U.S. and London.  Eva follows her lifelong passion for theater and encouraging youth to take part by serving on the boards of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and Asolo Rep.  Her support of our partnership with the FSU/Asolo Conservatory has seen her sponsor 16 students since 1998!  Now mentoring a student in each class, Eva delights in getting to know the entire student body. Her generous and caring nature is treasured by everyone she meets. Eva’s gifts to Asolo Rep over many seasons, and her planned gift designated for student fellowships, usher her in as the newest member of our Crystal Society.