“Sam” Bitzelberger Earns Mary Martin Prize
Location: Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College Department of Drama has named Samantha Bitzelberger the recipient of this year’s Mary Martin Prize, a scholarship award that Matthew Weir ’90 established in 1992 in honor of his grandmother, the great actress Mary Martin.
Bitzelberger will direct her senior thesis, David Lindsay-Abaire’s wildly imaginative comedy Fuddy Meers, on Friday, November 8 and Saturday, November 9, at 8 p.m. in Tawes Theatre of the Gibson Center for the Performing Arts on the Washington College campus.
Bitzelberger, a senior from California, Md. is currently working towards her Drama major with minors in Information Systems and Business. A graduate of Patuxent High School, she was born in Honolulu and “grew up a Navy brat” and describes theater as “one of the few consistencies in an otherwise tumultuous military childhood.” Bitzelberger’s theatrical début had a global bent, as she performed early on in Italy and Iceland, in roles that included Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Barbara in Night of the Living Dead and Holly in The Wedding Singer. At Washington College, she has been seen as Dr. Halbrecht in Scotland Road and Mortimer in last year’s The Fantasticks.
In addition to acting, Bitzelberger discovered directing as a passion and directed a new one-act play for the student-run Independent Playhouse in the fall of 2012. She also has set her sights on film and digital media, an interest she has nurtured by working in the College’s Multimedia Production Center and serving as the Drama Department’s videographer.
Bitzelberger’s on-campus activities are not limited to drama and video. She is a sister of the Sigma Tau Chapter of the Alpha Omicron Pi fraternity and is vice president of the Panhellenic Council; as a campus leader, she was inducted into the Greek leadership honor society, Order of Omega.
Michelle Volansky, the associate professor of drama who chairs the department, describes Bitzelberger, as “unflappable” and “steady as a rock. She says she will get things done, and heaven help the person who tries to block her,” Volansky adds. “I love Sam’s dedication to our department as well as the integrity she brings to everything she does. I am so proud of how she has evolved during her career here.”
Bitzelberger expressed her gratitude to the Drama Department for the honor of receiving the Mary Martin Drama Award. “I am humbled and blessed that I was chosen. I am forever grateful for the WAC Drama Department, from the professors to my peers. It is truly an honor that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
The mention of the name “Mary Martin,” brings to mind a particularly vivid set of images: Ensign Nellie Forbush washing that man right out-a her hair, Dolly Winslow—whose heart belongs to Daddy—shedding her furs, and Peter Pan teaching the Darling children to fly and to crow.
Since her debut singing “When Apples Grow on the Lilac Trees” at a fireman’s ball in Weatherford, Tex., at age 5, Martin brought to life—on stage, screen, television, and radio—a formidable range of characters including Maria in The Sound of Music, for which she won the Tony Award in 1960. Martin also garnered Tony Awards for her work as Peter Pan (1955) and as Annie Oakley in the touring company of Annie Get Your Gun (1948). She toured the United States and the world as Dolly Levi in the international touring company of Hello, Dolly!, which included engagements in Okinawa, Korea, Japan, South Vietnam, and London.
In addition to the Prize, the Mary Martin Program in the Performing Arts at Washington College provides research funds for drama faculty and students, an artist’s residency and a lecture series. For more information on the drama program and the Mary Martin Program, please visit: http://drama.washcoll.edu.