Local theater groups nominated for awards

  • Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:27 a.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:43 a.m.
JON C. LAKEY/SALISBURY POST  Jackie Batten, Brianna Smith, Kent Beernhardt and Kelly Flick in Piedmont Players Theater production of Monty Python's Spamalot.
JON C. LAKEY/SALISBURY POST Jackie Batten, Brianna Smith, Kent Beernhardt and Kelly Flick in Piedmont Players Theater production of Monty Python's Spamalot.

Local theater groups are up for a total of 42 awards from the Metrolina Theatre Association.

That’s more than half of the association’s 71 nominations for this region.

“What a great honor for our community and for theatre in Salisbury,” said Justin Dionne, managing artistic director of Lee Street Theatre. “This goes to show everyone that Salisbury theatre is not only alive and kicking, but thriving and giving award-worthy performances.

“From the big Broadway Musicals at Piedmont Players, to the more intimate challenging and thought-provoking works of St. Thomas Players, along with the new, off-Broadway style of Lee Street Theatre; all of Salisbury should be proud of our artistic community.”

Piedmont Players Theatre received a total of 22 nominations, a dozen for its production of Monty Python’s “Spamalot” and 10 for the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Color Purple.”

Reid Leonard, the theatre group’s resident director, received four nominations, including outstanding direction and outstanding set design for both “Spamalot” and “The Color Purple.”

“Spamalot” and “The Color Purple” as well as St. Thomas Players’ “Arcadia” are up for the theatre association’s top honor of outstanding production.

“Arcadia” received the most nominations for the Salisbury region at 15.

“I was obviously incredibly proud of all the (Piedmont Players) nominees when I got word this morning because I know firsthand how much work went into ‘Spamalot’ and ‘The Color Purple’ ….,” said Josh Wainwright, Piedmont Players’ marketing director. “But I was especially excited for St. Thomas Players at the incredible response they received for ‘Arcadia.’

“They took on an incredibly complex production and I couldn’t be happier for them to receive the credit they deserve for doing such an amazing job with it.”

St. Thomas Players also received two nominations for its production of “Circle Mirror Transformation.”

“For a town the size of Salisbury to garner 42 out of the 71 nominations is something to celebrate,” said Jennifer Hubbard, St. Thomas Players’ managing director. “And the fact that St. Thomas Players earned 15 alone for ‘Arcadia’ and two more for ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’ is noteworthy because we do it all with volunteers. We have no paid staff or funding from the arts council.”

Directors Beth Homan and David Pulliam earned nominations for outstanding direction for “Circle Mirror Transformation” and “Arcadia,” respectively.

“They were doing it for the love,” Hubbard said. “St. Thomas Players is, and always will be, indebted to our friends at Catawba College.”

Hubbard notes that Homan and Pulliam are theatre professors at the college.

“They taught Justin (Dionne) and look what he’s given to Salisbury,” she said. “We’re all in this together, and I’m proud — very proud — to be part of a theatre community that understands and embraces the fact that we are all in this together.”

Lee Street Theatre received three nods including acting nominations for Hubbard’s performance as Gingy and Claudia Galup’s breast cancer monologue in “Love, Loss & What I Wore.” Dionne has been nominated for outstanding properties design for “The Complete History of America (Abridged),” a play that was so heavily attended the trio of actors who starred in it will perform “All the Great Books (Abridged),” later this year.

“I just think that these nominations are a great way of showing people that they can find quality award-winning theatre here in their home town,” Dionne said.

Catawba garners 11 nominations

Catawba College received 11 nominations in the college/university category.

“Legally Blonde, the Musical” and “Once on this Island,” are both up for outstanding production.

The college also received nods for lead actor, supporting actor, direction, costume design, lighting design and choreography.

“It is a real honor to be recognized with so many Metrolina Theatre Association nominations in such a diverse range of categories,” said Christopher Zink, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. “The range of nominations exemplifies how well rounded our Catawba College Theatre Arts program is.

“The faculty of the Catawba College Department of Theatre Arts would like to congratulate the students, faculty, and staff that made our previous theatre season worthy of MTA recognition.”

Zink tipped his hat to Lee Street, Piedmont Players and St. Thomas Players.

“This round of awards proves that Salisbury has a thriving community of theatre artists and patrons.”

Selecting the nominees

The awards process was a year-long ordeal, which included more than 85 peer nominators who attended 109 adjudicated shows this year and submitted thousands of nominations.

“They then complete a preliminary ballot to select the award nominees,” Wainwright said. “The final vote is certified by an independent accountant, and winners are announced at the awards ceremony.

The Metrolina Theatre Association, which represents more than 60 organizations, along with hundreds of theatrical artists, directors, and producers in the Charlotte region, will suspend the awards for at least a year in order to “re-evaulate the people power it takes to bring them to fruition,” Hubbard said.

“That’s fine with St. Thomas Players; in fact, most members of our theatre committee prefer it that way,” she said. “We don’t think awards are necessary to affirm what a community theatre does, especially a tiny one like ours, and like any awards systems, there are flaws and inconsistencies and politics involved.”

Hubbard said the theatre group likes being a “best-kept secret,” as one patron put it.

“To me, St. Thomas Players has always been the little engine that could,” she said.

Wainwright agrees that none of the theatre companies are in it for the awards, but said “it sure is nice to be recognized.”

“I am just very happy for the Salisbury arts community as a whole and I’m personally really grateful to be a small part of it,” he said.

The winners will be announced during a ceremony held from 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 7 at Omni Charlotte Hotel, 132 East Trade Street, Charlotte. It is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased by visiting Metrolina’s website at metrolinatheatre.org.

Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

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