BTG Legacy Legends: The Lasting Impact of Neil Ellenoff

By: Kate Maguire, Artistic Director/CEO

Text on the photo states: Berkshire Theatre Trustee, Neil Ellenoff, adored this picture. It is a rendering of a photo used in BTG’s production of The Cat and the Canary in 2013. Neil E. Ellenoff 1929–2018

Berkshire Theatre Trustee, Neil E. Ellenoff, adored this picture. It is a rendering of a photo used in BTG’s production of The Cat and the Canary in 2013.

Neil Ellenoff and his first spouse Budd Mann were in the audience at our Stockbridge campus long before I arrived at Berkshire Theatre in 1995. I began to recognize them as they often sat in the front row and attended frequently. They were charming and incredibly knowledgeable about theatre. Years later, I would go through Neil’s library at his Upper West side NYC apartment, which had a vast storage of playbills and plays to help select seasons of productions for us.

The relationship truly began when I asked about their professions one evening after a show at the Unicorn. Budd, I learned, had designed window displays “in the day” in NYC. Neil told me he was an accountant and as he knew I had a young son, Neilhe advised me to suggest an accounting career to him. As Neil said, “accountants will always be needed.” The reality was that our theatre was in need of accounting advice and a new treasurer on our board. I took the opportunity to ask Neil if he would like to become more involved in Berkshire Theatre. His response, his very dry with a slight smile response was, “of course.” And so the relationship began. A relationship that had a huge impact on my own personal life and most definitely helped define a future for our theatre.

He was generous, quick witted, knew theatre well, could sing through all of Gilbert and Sullivan’s pieces from memory, appreciated Ionesco as much as a light musical, had travelled the world, enjoyed cocktails, tea, puzzle making and conversation with dear friends most days at 4 pm, was an ‘old school’ Republican though, liberal in his social views, had a sense of humor that was often unexpected and could make an entire room shift in a minute from dour seriousness to outrageous laughter.

At our theatre, he became our elder statesman, often defining what the code of decorum should be at meetings. He understood that the theatre by nature is ever changing and he never panicked, Neil was always the steadiest in the room. I never saw a temper in him, though we knew what his boundaries were as he made his positions clear with kindness and confidence. He was honest and lived by a strong code of ethics. His security in temperament was inspiring.

When his first spouse Budd passed, Neil left alone shortly after, alone on a cruise trip around the world that they had previously planned. It was, he said, the time he needed and that was respectfully due to their life together. Years later we were thrilled to know he had married a new love, Rick Talbot, and they too found great joy together.

For me personally, I looked forward to seeing or hearing a message from him on my phone. Most often when I listened, he was singing a tune to me and I in turn would call him back and we would sing some old melody together. We could sing through Al Jolson albums and time forgotten musicals. He was there for me always offering wisdom and generosity. And as we grew closer, I would end all conversations with “I love ya Neil” and he would close: “likewise.”

And then he told me the illness he had could not be cured. “I’ve really enjoyed myself Kate, it’s been a good run, our theatre is very important. I’ve been fortunate, and when I go – I will leave the theatre with a gift that I hope will make your lives more fortunate as well.”

The gift Neil left to our theatre was indeed transformational. It has made all the difference in our moving forward and in surviving serious challenges. The treasure of his time and care was all important and while I ache sometimes to sing just one more “April Showers” with him, we are fortunate indeed to have borne witness to the flowers that have bloomed in our lives thanks to dear Neil.

May his memory be eternal.

Plan Your Visit

Read our suggestions on where to dine, and where to hang your hat.

Get Started
Did You Know?
Just like NPR, Berkshire Theatre Group depends on the generous giving of its members!
Join Today!
We believe the performing arts can transform a community.
Learn More
Of the 16,000 Berkshire County school children, we serve 13,000 through our BTG PLAYS! Year-Round Educational Programs.
Learn More
Theatre is the place where we go to understand what lies in the human heart.
About Us
BTG's buildings, on two campuses in Stockbridge and Pittsfield, are historic treasures.
Theatre Info
Berkshire Theatre Group believes that the creative arts encourage freedom of speech and debate.
Get Involved
"Out of need will come the way. Once the pandemic ebbs, whenever that is, there will be an incredible need to gather again." - Artistic Director, Kate Maguire
Join Today!
The theatre has existed from the time of the Greeks. We will go on.
Learn More
Join Our Mailing List

Receive the latest BTG News, Updates, Special Offers, and more right to your inbox.

Subscribe

News & Articles

"A powerful piece of theatre...leaves the viewer mouth agape saying WOW.” -Marc Savitt, 
@officialbroadwayworld 

Critics are raving about B.R.O.K.E.N code B.I.R.D switching! This world-premiere play runs for a limited time, now through July 9! 

Read this review– link in bio 💙

📷: @jaceyraeruss
33 0
Hold fast to dreams...

B.R.O.K.E.N code B.I.R.D switching OPENS TONIGHT! Happy Opening to the talented cast, crew and designers! 🌟
53 1
Join us and let us gather courage together for the work that lays ahead. Thank you NAACP-Berkshire County Branch and WAM Theatre for hosting. Facebook event details in the link in our story.
105 1
“I don’t want you to say whatever. I want you to tell the truth.” 

Previews start tonight, and we open THIS SATURDAY! 🌟 

📸: @jaceyraeruss
65 2
Stop by BTG’s table today at the Juneteenth Celebration at Durant Park! ❤️💛🧡💚🖤 

Juneteenth, also known as Black Independence Day, is now a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. It is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture. Originating in Galveston, Texas, it has been celebrated annually on June 19th in various parts of the United States since 1865.
32 0
Repost from @rhargrov 🌟❤️
Happy Saturday! Don’t mind me just jumping with joy to be a part of this amazing cast at @berkshiretheatregroup 🤸🏽‍♀️.
5 days til our first preview!
.
.
#berkshiretheatergroup #btg #brokencodebirdswitching #tarawilsonnoth #worldpremiere #theater #actress #blackactress #blackwomenonbroadway #broadwayworld
50 3
🌟OPENING NEXT WEEK 🌟
Check out the latest feature on @officialbroadwayworld ! Link in bio!
68 2
“It is a story about race and identity, of promise and purpose… but perhaps more importantly, it is the story of the potency of being seen. The universal need to be seen for who we are. “ -Tara L. Wilson Noth, Playwright 

B.R.O.K.E.N code B.I.R.D switching opens next week at the Unicorn Theatre! Ticket link in bio! 🎟
.
.
.
#intheberkshires #BTG2022 #theatre #visitstockbridgema #worldpremiere #berkshires
75 3
Casting for Summer 2022 has been announced! Featured here is the talented cast of B.R.O.K.E.N code B.I.R.D Switching. Check the link in our bio for the full casting announcement! 🌟
88 2
Izzy, one of our education program students, is having a blast at #pride at the Common in Pittsfield! Come join the fun and stop by our table to enter to win TWO FREE TICKETS to Songs For A New World! 🌈🙌
107 6
Join us June 17th at the Colonial for The Black Legacy Project's Premiere Film Screening! 

After the screening, the night will conclude with a community conversation about the Project. Tickets are free and available on our website below!
23 0
We remember and honor all of those who have sacrificed for our country 🇺🇸
20 0
This past Sunday we had a great celebration at the renaming event of our beautiful Artist house! ❤️

Thank you David Lloyd and Meg Mortimer for your generosity and continued support!
66 3
Happy World Dracula Day! 🦇

This day commemorates the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on May 26, 1897. Arguably the most well-known and iconic monsters, Dracula has inspired writers and horror writers all over the world. It's only fitting that there's a whole day dedicated to the Count!

Join us this summer, August 11-27 for this classic tale at the Colonial! Ticket link in bio!
32 0
Follow Us