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Ragozzino’s passion for theater celebrated
LCC’s main stage dedicated to Ed Ragozzino, former director of performing arts

Posted on June 13, 2012 | in A&E | by

The audience settles in at the Ragozzino Performance Hall dedication on June 1, 2012. (Photo by Eugene Johnson)

LCC’s department of Music, Theater, and Dance formally dedicated its 500-seat performance hall to Ed Ragozzino in an event on June 1.

The event included addresses from faculty as well as performances of dance, music, and theater, representing all three bodies of the triumvirate of performing arts at LCC that Ed Ragozzino helped build.

“Once upon a time, a youthful Ed sat in a theater just like this one — and fell in love with what he saw and heard,” retiring theater instructor Patrick Torelle said.

On Friday, that very same love for the performing arts was on full display for all to see and hear.

Although some speakers knew Ragozzino personally, some did not — and simply shared his passionate vision for performing arts. Regardless of level of familiarity in the theater, a diverse group of speakers and performers came together to honor LCC’s former director of performing arts.

Ron Bertucci conducts his orchestra as they perform before the dedication ceremony begins. (Photo by Eugene Johnson)

The first speaker of the evening, LCC instructor Marc Siegel, shared what it was like to grow up as best friends with Ed Ragozzino’s son Matt — and set the tone early by spontaneously breaking into song, performing “Welcome” from Cabaret.

As the electricity from the first performance buzzed throughout the hall, the host for evening Karen Scheeland joked, “Very understated — no energy. Edward would not have been pleased.”

LCC President Mary Spilde also addressed the audience, speaking on the importance of performing arts and saying she was happy to be a part of the dedication. Spilde said she knew Ragozzino through Rotary and other community events.

Board of Education President Susie Johnston called Ragozzino a visionary that helped shape LCC. “He tirelessly advocated for the arts as a way of life,” she said.

Johnston ended her speech by saying the dedication was “a small gesture for a great man.”

LCC vocal instructor Siri Vik represented the music department with her rendition of “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

Retiring lead theater acting instructor Patrick Torelle spoke kindly of Ragozzino before introducing a scene from Twelfth Night, directed by Sparky Roberts. He said Ragozzino once told him that his favorite play to direct was Luther. “He said, ‘that’s the kind of theater that I want to do — but it’s the big shows that allow you to do the little ones.’ ”

While introducing the scene, Torelle made sure to point out student Jonathan Edwards to the audience as, “the remarkable talent we are all about to witness.”

The dance department was represented in two separate performances. First, dance student Mawriah Melson, who will continue her study of dance next year at UO, performed a hypnotically chilling self-choreographed dance. Later, student tap-dancer Amanda Clarke performed with the Lane Jazz Ensemble.

Marc Siegel entertains the audience with a piece from “Cabaret” during the evening’s event. (Photo by Eugene Johnson)

Scheeland took time to recognize and honor a number of distinguished members of the audience throughout the evening ranging from students, faculty, and board of education members, to former mayor of Eugene Jeff Miller.

Not only did Ragozzino leave a defined legacy in LCC’s theater arts program, but on Eugene’s performing arts community as a whole.

“Ed really cared about the teachers as much as the students,” music instructor Jim Greenwood said.

The evening came to a close with Ragozzino’s longtime friend and protégé Shirley Andreas singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Retiring LCC instructor Ron Bertucci introduced Andreas, saying, “she credits Ed to where she is now.”

Ed Ragozzino’s daughter Elizabeth Allen said that she thought it was a great event. “If my dad were sitting up in his seat, he would have really appreciated it. In fact, I really wish he was here,” she said. “It was the perfect tribute.”

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