The death Sept. 17 of long-time Lake Worth Playhouse Executive Director Stephanie Smith continues to weigh heavily on the staff, stage crew and actors at the downtown Lake Worth Beach Playhouse which is just now beginning its 71st production season.
“We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our executive director, Stephanie Smith,” LWP posted on its Facebook page Sept. 18. “Stephanie’s impact on South Florida Theater is immeasurable. Her impact on her friends, family and employees is even greater. Her legacy will live on through those she loved, supported, taught and nurtured. May she rest in peace.”
A native of Berwyn, Pa., Stephanie joined the Lake Worth Playhouse in September 2006. She served as LWP’s first general manager and then as executive director – accumulating a total of 17 years with the theater company.
As executive director, she supervised most facets of the main stage theatre and film operations, including marketing, advertising, community relations, box office management, education and outreach, facility rentals, staffing and security, accounting, human resources and all other technical and administrative operations.
Theater officials said she was a member of Actors’ Equity Association. She graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and spent 14 years on tour as a production stage manager. Her last tour was Golda’s Balcony, which won the 2006 Touring Broadway Award for Best Play.
She has worked in regional and community theatres in addition to touring Broadway venues.
“I don’t know how to say goodbye to you, my friend,” Dan Eilola, artistic director at LWP posted on his own Facebook page. “We’ve had so many adventures. So many seemingly impossible circumstances we’ve navigated through. So many successes. So many hours sorting through the aftermath of a season or prepping for a new one. So many conversations about life.”
“You gave me an opportunity that changed my world,” he added. “You taught me to believe in myself, to respect the business, to be kind above all else. You pushed me to achieve things I never thought possible.”
“You were a scrapper, a fighter. There’s no one I’d rather be in a foxhole with or have next to me in the most difficult of circumstances.”
“I’ll do my best to continue your legacy.”
Survivors include two children, Evelyn and Caylee Demil-Smith; a partner, Sharon Cottrel and a sister, Mary.
A celebration of Stephanie’s life will be held Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. at the Lake Worth Playhouse, 713 Lake Ave., Lake Worth Beach.
A Massachusetts native who moved to Florida in 2000, he is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, with honors degrees in English and Journalism. In New England, he worked for the Attleboro (Mass.) Sun Chronicle and the Pawtucket (R.I.) Times, the latter for 28 years. After moving to Florida, he worked as a copy editor at the Palm Beach Daily News, and, in 2001, became a reporter and later, city editor, at the Boca
Raton News where he worked for eight years.