2016 in Review

2016 was quite a year for community theatre in the greater Huntsville area.   I saw a total of 39 shows (I think I only missed two), by 14 theatre groups, in 18 different venues–ten comedies, 13 dramas, and 16 musicals.  What is especially awesome is that seven of those 39 shows were original scripts (two were adaptations)–written by locals–a ridiculously high percentage.  It’s been quite a ride–way more work than I was expecting, but I’ve seen some stellar shows.

And to mark the end of a full year reviewing plays here, below are the nominees for the 2016 SPOTLIGHT awards.  The SPOTLIGHT is on those who created the highest-quality work in 2016.  These are  virtual awards, in the sense that there are no actual trophies or certificates–this website is the only place they will be found. That said, I’ll buy any of the nominees a round, the next time we’re in an adult drinking establishment (assuming they are of age…).

Categories and nominees are listed below, with some discussion interspersed.  For some categories, I was unable to nominate individuals who had done quite well, because their work was not credited in the program.  I’m sorry, but I can only point the SPOTLIGHT at people whose names I know.

There will always be quibbles about which category a show or individual should be in, and you end up with odd juxtapositions (Winnie the Pooh and Macbeth are in the same category?).  That said, I made my decisions.  So, without further ado, here are the nominees for the 2016 SPOTLIGHT awards:

Excellence in Technical Elements

Excellence in Light Board OperationHow well the light cues were executed during the performance.  Distinct from the lighting design.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Sound Board Operation How well the sound was executed during the performance.  Distinct from sound design.  Covers both the playing of recorded sound effects, and the balancing of actor microphones, if applicable.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Lobby Display.  How well the audience was absorbed into the production from the moment they entered the theatre.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Scene Design.  How well the scenery supported the script, setting the period and mood, and providing the performers a great space in which to exist.  Individuals doing this work around Huntsville are unfortunately often incorrectly listed as being the “Technical Director”.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Costume Design.  How well the articles worn by the performers supported the production, setting the period and mood, and distinguishing the individual characters.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Sound Design The design of any sound elements not created by actor voices, or by musical instruments.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Lighting Design.  How well the lighting set the scene, mood, time of day, and delineated the acting spaces.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Stage Management How well the overall production was run, with tight timing, and clearly coordinated efforts in the execution of the play.  (A grey area, putting SMs under “technical elements”–professionally, they are members of the Actor’s Equity Association, not IATSE, the tech union–but I had to put them somewhere…).  Unfortunately, there are few true stage managers here, and I have no category for Deck Chiefs (the person in charge of moving the set pieces around).

The nominees are:

Excellence in Technical Direction How well all the technical design elements were coordinated, in order to support the production as a whole.  The TD is in charge of ALL the technical elements.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Performance Elements

Excellence in Performance by a YouthA catch-all for any non-adult performer who stood out, without making it into one of the “adult” categories below, which were considered first.

The nominees are:

Excellent EnsembleHighest level of skill and ability across an entire cast.  Generally requires that everyone onstage be believable and entertaining, regardless of the size of the part.  Often a show is listed here because it was impossible to select just one or two performers for “Best Supporting” or “Featured” nominations.

The nominees are:

“Featured”:  performer in a part with relatively little time as the focus of attention.

Excellence as a Featured Actor in a Comedy The nominees are:

Excellence as a Featured Actor in a Drama The nominees are:

Excellence as a Featured Actor in a Musical The nominees are:

  • Jonathan Schuster as “John Dickinson” for 1776 (Bank Street Players)
  • Sammy Sledd as “Bee” in Pinkalicious (Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theatre)
  • Jonathan Smith for “Graffiti Pete” in In the Heights (Lyrique Music Productions)
  • Zach Thomas for “Neleus” in Mary Poppins (Independent Musical Productions)
  • David Quinn for “Courier” in 1776 (Bank Street Players)

Excellence as a Featured Actress in a Comedy The nominees are:

Excellence as a Featured Actress in a Drama The nominees are:

Excellence as a Featured Actress in a Musical The nominees are:

“Supporting”:  performer with substantial stage time, without being a Lead.

Excellence as a Supporting Actor in a Comedy The nominees are:

Excellence as a Supporting Actor in a Drama The nominees are:

Excellence as a Supporting Actor in a Musical The nominees are:

  • Travis Davis for “Mordecai” in You Can’t Stop That Spiel (TammDan-Hassett)
  • Cameron Duvall for “Sonny”  in In the Heights (Lyrique Music Productions)
  • Patrick Johnson for “Bert” in Mary Poppins (Independent Musical Productions)
  • Chuck Puckett for “Ben Franklin” in 1776 (Bank Street Players)
  • Matthew Richards for “Peter” in Pinkalicious (Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theatre)
  • Chuck Thompson for “Thomas Jefferson” in 1776 (Bank Street Players)

Excellence as a Supporting Actress in a Comedy The nominees are:

Excellence as a Supporting Actress in a Drama The nominees are:

Excellence as a Supporting Actress in a Musical The nominees are:

“Lead”:  performer in a part around whom the story revolves.  Almost always has the most stage time; usually has a “character arc”.

Excellence as a Lead Actor in a Comedy The nominees are:

Excellence as a Lead Actor in a Drama The nominees are:

Excellence as a Lead Actor in a Musical The nominees are:

Excellence as a Lead Actress in a Comedy The nominees are:

Excellence as a Lead Actress in a Drama The nominees are:

Excellence as a Lead Actress in a Musical The nominees are:

Excellence in Artistic Elements

Excellence in Dance ChoreographyHow well the performer movements during musical numbers supported the production, while also being “interesting”.  Some consideration for technical difficulty of the moves, though that is not of primary importance.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Fight ChoreographyHow well the physical contact and stunts supported the story line and characters.  Should be believable, while always being safe.

The nominees are:

  • None.

Excellence in WritingQuality of script itself (whether derived from source material, or truly “original”).  Distinct from the quality of the performance.

The nominees are:

Excellence in Music DirectionHow well the music, whether played or sung, supported the production. 

The nominees are:

“Direction”:  How well the various elements and performers were molded into one coherent vision, with an understanding of the script requirements, and mixed with a dash of showmanship.

Excellence in Direction of a ComedyThe nominees are:

Excellence in Direction of a DramaThe nominees are:

Excellence in Direction of a MusicalThe nominees are:

  • Vivienne Atkins, Mary Becher, and Jenny Stricklin for A Year With Frog and Toad (Independent Musical Productions)
  • Vivienne Atkins and Peter-John Sligting for Mary Poppins (Independent Musical Productions)
  • Susan Godwin for 1776 (Bank Street Players)
  • Luz Ludrillano for In the Heights (Lyrique Music Productions)
  • Terrena Mann for Pinkalicious (Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theatre)

“Production”:  the overall artistic effect of a show.  Very much a “gut instinct”, combining the emotional impact of a script and the performance, with the quality of execution of all the components.  The shows most likely to be recommended to friends and families.

Excellence in Production of a Comedy. (non-musicals whose primary purpose is to generate laughter)

The nominees are:

Excellence in Production of a Drama. (non-musicals whose primary purpose is to generate emotion other than laughter)

The nominees are:

Excellence in Production of a Musical. (shows in which random people break out into song and dance for no reason that would be logical in the real world)

The nominees are:

Excellence as a Theatrical Company.  The group with the most consistency in producing high-quality productions.  Consideration does require a certain number of productions during the year.

The nominees are:

And that’s it.  Winners, with commentary, will be announced at some point in the next week.  Stay tuned.

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3 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the mention. Correction, my name is Carlos, not Charles, Bofill.

    Like

    1. Carlos, my apologies. Fixed. I’ll be ecstatic if that’s the only typo. Thanks for letting me know.

      Like

  2. David Giambrone says:

    I’d just like to thank you for this lovely honor of being nominated for my work in 1776. It was a privilege to be associated with such a fine ensemble and directing staff! Please keep up the GREAT work with the reviews! Sincerely, Dave Giambrone

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