From ticket taker to general manager

From ticket taker to general manager

Margaret Bonamico and New Philadelphia Mayor Joel Day


In summer 1972 Margaret Bonamico’s theater professor at Kent State Tuscarawas suggested she work as a ticket taker at the "Trumpet in the Land" outdoor drama. Little did she know her life would never be the same after saying yes. Fifty years later she is still with the organization.

From taking tickets, to being house manager, to executive secretary and box office manager, to general manager since 1987, Bonamico has been actively involved for 50 of the 53 years "Trumpet in the Land" has been in existence. The only role she hasn’t filled is being an actor on stage, although she has appeared in character at a few promotional events.

A reception was held in the pavilion at the Schoenbrunn Amphitheatre after the Aug. 16 "Trumpet in the Land" performance to celebrate Bonamico’s 50 years with the organization.

In addition, at the Aug. 20 performance, New Philadelphia Mayor Joel Day presented a proclamation to Bonamico honoring her many years of service to Trumpet and the community.

Bonamico said she has met and worked with over 4,000 actors, administrators, board members, technicians and other personnel at "Trumpet in the Land."

When asked to pick her favorite year, Bonamico said, “There are so many good things from each year that it is difficult to pick just one. I will say that my dearest and most precious friendships have come from my time at Trumpet.”

"On behalf of past and present 'Trumpet in the Land' board members, we are thrilled to recognize Margaret Bonamico's 50 years of service to the organization,” said Dave Haverfield, board president. “Margaret's passion, dedication and hard work have been the single largest factor in the production’s longevity and success. The organization would not have lasted 53 years without her many talents. She is truly the lifeblood of the organization, and we are excited to continue to work with her to share such an important story about the history of the Tuscarawas Valley and the state of Ohio.”

Bonamico works closely with the Tuscarawas County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Tuscarawas County Historical Society and the Institute of Outdoor Drama. She has been recognized by the Ohio Senate, the Ohio House of Representatives and the City of New Philadelphia for outstanding achievement and community leadership and has been nominated multiple times for the Ohio Arts Council Outstanding Arts Management Award.

She also has received the Tuscarawas County Historical Society’s Zeisberger-Heckewelder Memorial Award for promoting the history of the valley through the presentation of "Trumpet in the Land" and has been honored by the CVB as the Tourism Ambassador of the Year.

The Dennison native also was named a Kent State University at Tuscarawas Distinguished Alumni. Through her leadership Trumpet has been recognized for outstanding community service with the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award.

“I have been in the tourism business for over 35 years, and I have never seen or worked with anyone who has the passion, the drive, the love of theater or the will to succeed like Margaret. Plus she also has an exceptional business mindset,” said Dee Grossman, executive director at Tuscarawas County CVB. “Margaret is the epitome of ‘the show must go on,’ and I for one have enjoyed working with her for more than 30 years.”

One of Bonamico’s proudest achievements, occurring shortly after taking over as general manager in 1987, was working with the Trumpet board to erase a $100,000 debt from the 1986 production. The outreach effort also revived local interest in Trumpet.

“Over the years I have been fortunate to have worked with so many dedicated board members including Herb Zollar, Bob Liberatore, Jim Stoll, Harold Shade, Bill Belknap, Calvin Pretorius and Greg Kimble, to name a few,” Bonamico said. “In addition, I was able to learn many important lessons about running a theater from Rachel Redinger, the founder of 'Trumpet in the Land,' and I will be forever grateful for her.”

Bonamico said she also is fortunate to have known Paul Green, the playwright who wrote "Trumpet in the Land."

“Mr. Green was a great humanitarian and was a big supporter of the United Nations, which is similar to the ideals David Zeisberger tried to realize here in the Tuscarawas Valley,” Bonamico said. “Back when I was house manager, I remember Mr. Green watching the show from the back of the theater, and I always made sure no one sat in his favorite seat.”

In addition to producing "Trumpet in the Land," Bonamico also has been instrumental in presenting other entertainment at the amphitheatre over the years including the outdoor drama, "The White Savage," which ran for 20 years and told the story of frontier legend Simon Girty.

Over the years she has produced more than 20 other musicals including "Grease," "The Wizard of Oz," "Footloose," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Hairspray," along with presenting The Lettermen, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, Michael Martin Murphy and The Forester Sisters in concert.

In addition, presenting "Dracula" during the Halloween season also has proven to be popular. This year "Dracula" will run Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 7 and 8.

Bonamico is quick to give credit for her accomplishments to her family and friends. Her brother Joe has been an actor and director at Trumpet for many years, and her sister Roseann has volunteered as house manager at the theater for countless seasons. In addition, her late mother, Mary Jo Brown, managed the theater concession stand and was known as “Mom” to all.

“Over the past 50 years, there have been hundreds of actors that have worked on the Trumpet stage, as well as many board members who have come and gone. Through all that, there has been one constant — Margaret. If not for her, Trumpet’s doors would have closed years ago.” Joe Bonamico said. “She is the force that keeps Trumpet moving forward. This community and the arts in general in Tuscarawas County have her lasting imprint on them.”

“'Trumpet in the Land' has given Margaret so many wonderful memories and has been a blessing in my sister’s life in so many ways,” Roseann Bonamico said.

Bart Herman, who has been acting and choreographing productions on the Trumpet stage for almost 30 years, said Bonamico wears many hats including general manager, producer, secretary, box office manager and more. Herman said Bonamico has always found a way to cast the show and get it up and running.

“We have been through many trials up on the hill, but Margaret’s ever continuing support and care is what has kept this organization going all these years,” Herman said. “But what means the most to me is her friendship. I speak for all the actors when I say that Margaret is a true friend, mentor and confidant. She is the best, and I love Trumpet and her.”

“Saying yes to Bob Liberatore, my theater professor, when he asked me to take tickets 50 years ago was one of the best decisions I have made,” Margaret Bonamico said. “I have spent my whole adult life with the outdoor drama and don’t regret any of it.”

Bonamico said it is very rewarding and exciting to see so many past employees and friends who got their start at "Trumpet in the Land" achieve success in the theater world.

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