Parkside Players president Glenn Rivano shares the spotlight

Glenn Rivano doesn’t believe in term limits. At least not when it comes to his presidency of the Parkside Players. He’s held the office for 20 years, and there’s a rumor that it may be a lifetime position.

Unlike most people involved in local theater, Rivano is not an actor. He just makes actors look good — he’s the lighting guy.

This is no small achievement, since theater budgets and equipment are limited, but Rivano is able to do a lot with a little.

As a sophomore at St. Francis College in downtown Brooklyn, he joined the theater group. When asked if he wanted to work on sets or lights, he chose lights because, “I wasn’t very good with power tools.”

He eventually became the group’s lighting designer, and has been doing it now, at various venues, for 40 years.

Those groups include Archbishop Molloy High School, Bishop Ford High School, Fireside Theater Company, The Outrageous Fortune Company, Jeff Samaha’s Ridge Chorale Group, St. Francis College TARTS, Theater by the Bay, The Unity Stage Company and Woodhaven Community Theater. You might say he gets around.

But Rivano’s real theater home is with the Parkside Players, a group that was established 34 years ago, with more than 100 productions to date. Located at the Grace Lutheran Church in Forest Hills, Parkside has its own dedicated space, complete with risers for better audience sight lines.

Rivano not only designs the lights for Parkside, he operates them for performances, along with sound, and has produced over 25 shows for the group. In fact, he’s been involved in at least 90 percent of their productions.

Although this work may not qualify as a hazardous occupation, Rivano has had a mishap or two, leading to a shoulder separation and some bruises when a lighting platform collapsed. Knowing his priorities, however, he remembers that when he fell, “I was able to save the lighting board.”

Next up for Parkside, in late May, is the satirical musical “Urinetown,” the rare show that debuted at The New York International Fringe Festival and made it to Broadway. It won Tony awards for best book, original score, and director (John Rando), but lost out for the top prize to “Thoroughly Modern Millie”.

Born in Astoria and raised in Woodside, Rivano lives in Seaford with his wife Linda, and not far from his two grandchildren. For 36 years or so he has worked for the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. He’s a program development specialist – a tech guy who’s responsible for the computer system in nine statewide offices.

Looking back at his many years with Parkside, Rivano finds that today fewer people are willing to help out backstage, and sometimes there’s even a shortage of actors.

So for you readers out there who are looking for some fun with a congenial group, break away from your TV, your computers and devices, and give Parkside a call at (718) 353-7388, and show up. You may even get to meet Glenn Rivano.

Contact Ron Hellman at RBHOFC@gmail.com.

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