By BRENNA GRITEMAN
The man who brought “The Sound of Music” to the stage and the 20-plus-year music director for Johnny Mathis will be forever in the spotlight with their induction into the Fifth Third Bank Wall of Fame at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts.
This year’s inductees, Russel McKinley Crouse (being honored posthumously) and John “Scott” Lavender, will join the inaugural class of five enshrined on the wall last spring. Wall of fame inductees are chosen based on nominations taken year-round. Nominees living or deceased must be from or have an association with Findlay/Hancock County and must have demonstrated expertise in the performing arts, including the disciplines of music, dance, theatre and visual arts.
A free and public induction ceremony will be held at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, 200 W. Main Cross St., on May 24. The evening begins with a community reception, light hors d’oeuvres and cash bar at 5 p.m., followed by the announcement of the wall of fame from 6:30-7:30. The Marathon center will also announce its 2017-18 season, as well as a new series it’s launching, during the event.
Heather Clow, executive director for the Marathon center, said five nominations were received for this year’s round of wall of fame inductees.
“It’s amazing, the talent in this area — and on such a high level,” she said.
Mary Beth Hammond, Fifth Third Bank vice president and senior private banker, added due to the volume of nomination forms that are received each year, it is “very appropriate” to nominate someone year after year until they are chosen.
Russel Crouse was born in Findlay and went on to have a long and storied career as a Broadway playwright, producer and theater manager. His collaboration with Howard Lindsay is considered one of the longest and most successful in Broadway history, and together the two wrote and produced “The Sound of Music,” “Anything Goes” and “Arsenic and Old Lace,” among a host of other hit plays.
Crouse received the 1946 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “State of the Union”; a Tony award for “The Sound of Music” and a 1959 Special Tony Award for his collaboration with Lindsay, lasting longer than Gilbert and Sullivan. He is a member of the Theater Hall of Fame.
Scott Lavender began his musical career as a seventh-grader by forming a garage band at Findlay High School, then earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Bowling Green State University and a master’s in instrumental conducting at California State University. He is a published composer and a welcomed guest with orchestras around the globe, but is perhaps most famous as the longtime musical director for Johnny Mathis. He also spent time as music director for Glenn Yarbrough and Toni Tennille.
Lavender went on to be an adjunct associate professor at BGSU, teaching conducting and jazz-related courses; conductor for the Ohio Northern University Symphony Orchestra; Tiffin University artist in residence; and an adjunct professor of music at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California. He lives in Findlay and will be present at the induction ceremony.
Last year’s inaugural class of inductees included Gavin Creel, David Cryer, Clifford Leroy Hite (posthumous), Dr. William Jack McBride (posthumous) and Wendene Wilson Shoupe.
Nomination forms may be downloaded at www.marathoncenterarts.org/info/walloffame .