Friday, November 14, 2014

Board Spotlight: Sharon Karmazin

In John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar,  the character of Anthony Reilly says, “There’s the green fields, and the animals living off them.  And over that there’s us, living off the animals.  And over that there’s that which tends to us.”  At George Street Playhouse, that entity which watches over and guides us is our incredibly dedicated and generous Board of Trustees.
 One such Board member is Sharon Karmazin, who was first elected to our Board in 1994, and currently serves as Secretary.  She is an award-winning Broadway producer and former Director of the East Brunswick Public Library.   In 1996 she established the Karma Foundation, which supports the arts and culture, autism, education, literacy, health and human services, and the development and enrichment of Jewish life.  Besides George Street Playhouse, she serves on a number of boards that include the Rutgers University Board of Overseers as well as the Rutgers President’s Council Executive Committee. 

Ms. Karmazin took a few moments to chat with GSP’s Director of Marketing about her life as a Board member and Broadway producer – as well as mother and grandmother.

Besides your involvement with George Street, you are a notable Broadway producer as well.  What role has theatre played in your life?  Has it always been a part of it?  When were you first bit by the theatre bug?

“I've been hooked on theater since I saw the original King and I with Yul Bryner for my seventh birthday. My parents were modest people but they loved going to Broadway and often brought me. My dad loved music from shows so there were always 78s and later LPs of shows like South Pacific and Brigadoon playing in my childhood home. Seeing shows like The Diary of Anne Frank, The Music Man, Damn Yankees, Kismet, My Fair Lady and others was part of my growing up years. Looking back at my high school yearbook, my two aspirations were to be a U.S. senator or a theater critic. To this day, I always find some aspect to appreciate in a show, even if on the whole, the show isn't very good.”

How did you first become involved with George Street Playhouse?

“Adelaide Zagoren (a longtime friend of the Playhouse and Board member) was a friend, a role model and a mentor. She was the person who recruited me to the Board over 20 years ago.”

You have so many facets – you were a respected librarian in East Brunswick, an innovative philanthropist, member of a number of boards, including the Rutgers Board of Overseers, and most recently, The Actor's Fund as well as award-winning Broadway producer.   Is there one aspect that takes precedence over the others?

“What is so wonderful about my life day to day has been the opportunity to participate in all of these activities and more. It keeps me very busy with a group of diverse, yet overlapping interests. My most favorite time is the time I spend with my children, Dina and Craig, and my grandchildren, Hunter and Harper, and the time I spend with my partner Dave. We travel a lot and theater and art are often a part of what we do, both home and away. Then through my connections with theater, collecting studio glass, producing in New York and my volunteer and board activities, I have met wonderful like-minded people, learned so much and made many new friends.”

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