Six to be inducted in Arts Hall of Fame


E. Collins



M. Collins


A gala fund raising event, entitled "A Night on the Stage at the Capitol, will be held Saturday. The event will also include the induction of six new members to the Rome Arts Hall of Fame: Walter R. Brooks, author; Eleanora and McKinley Collins, musicians; Peter Loftus, stage director; Randy Fields, dance director; and Shirley Waters, arts advocate.

The event will be from 4-7 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre, 220 W. Dominick St. Tickets for the event are $30 and are available from the Capitol Theatre Box Office at 337-6453 or at the door on the day of the event.

The fundraiser will include live entertainment, an art gallery display, hors d’oeuvres, and the chance to win prizes. This year’s silent auction will include goods and services donated by the Capitol Theatre’s Board of Directors and staff.

Pianist Greg Unangst will perform cocktail music during the event, and theatre organist Avery Tunningley will perform at the Capitol Grand Organ during the Hall of Fame segment.

Each year, nominations for the Arts Hall of Fame are collected from community members and arts organizations, and a committee made up of individuals from Rome’s arts community chooses inductees.

In an official statement, the Capitol Board of Director’s noted that, "The Rome Arts Hall of Fame honors individuals with a connection to the Rome community who have made outstanding contributions to the literary, performing or visual arts. The Rome Arts Hall of Fame provides the opportunity to remember past contributors to the arts, to celebrate current outstanding artists and to inspire young people in future artistic endeavors.

More about this year’s inductees:

• Walter R. Brooks was an American author best remembered for his short stories and children’s books, particularly the 26 books he wrote about Freddy the Pig. Born in Rome on Jan. 9, 1886, Brooks did editorial work for several magazines, including The New Yorker. His short story "Ed Takes the Pledge" about a talking horse was the basis for the 1960s television comedy series, Mister Ed. Walter Brooks died in 1958.

• Eleanora Collins has been the choral director of the First United Methodist Church of Rome for many years. In her career as a teacher, she used her music in working with the developmentally disabled. In 1974 she was one of six educators selected to perform with her students at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate the potential of those with special needs.

• McKinley "Mac" Collins has been a resident of Rome since his family moved here when he was a year old. As one reviewer noted, "Collins is a distinguished baritone-bass who has performed in concerts around the world. He sang at the United Nations for an international awards ceremony and toured Greece and Italy with the Helenophile Chorus and Orchestra. Churches, schools and art centers throughout the state have invited him to share his talent with their appreciative audiences."

• Randy Fields has choreographed more than 80 productions over the span of his career. Drawing upon his experiences performing in regional theaters and touring companies up and down the east coast, he has taught modern dance in both college and community venues. Rome audiences will recognize Randy’s work as a performer, choreographer or both for virtually every SummerStage production at the Capitol. Other venues with which he has worked include Players’ Theatre, Rome Community Theater, Clinton Central School, Holland Patent High School, and Hartford Youth Players Theatre. Fields has also written and directed a musical revue, "We’re Still Here," for Elderlife in Utica.

• Peter Loftus has been the resident director for SummerStage shows at the Capitol Theatre for the past 14 years, often appearing on-stage as a performer as well. Active in theater throughout the Mohawk Valley, Peter also has directed and performed with Players’ Theatre, Grace Church, Town of Trenton Community Education, and the Mohawk Valley Ballet. His longest running production is Scrooge, which has been a fixture at the Stanley Theater each December for the past 26 years. He also teaches theater skills at Mohawk Valley Community College Summer Semesters. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Broadway Theater League.

• A tireless advocate for the arts in Rome and throughout Central New York, Shirley Barnard Waters has served on boards and committees too numerous to list. Perhaps the most visible monument of her support of the arts is the Rome Art and Community Center, which she helped found. More than one institution in Rome has noted that without Waters’ inspiration and support, the positive impact they have had on the community would not have been possible.

For more information about 2009 inductees, as well as past inductees, check out the Capitol’s website at