2016 SPOTLIGHT Awards

Below are the selections for the most solid work in community theatre in the greater Huntsville area for 2016.  As always with awards like this, some very deserving folks will not be below; a number of very talented folks didn’t even make the nomination list.  Frankly, that’s a good thing, if you think about it.  I wish I could give out awards to even more people, but that’s not how these things work.

It’s nice to be recognized, but we don’t do this for the trophies (which is good, because there aren’t any…).  We do it because we love doing it!

That said, here are winners of the 2016 SPOTLIGHT Awards!

Excellence in Technical Elements

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Excellence in Light Board OperationMultiple cues, well executed.

The Spotlight is on:  Ronnie Foreman for Eurydice
(UAH Theatre)

eurydice-ltg-brd
Photo:  UAH Theatre

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Excellence in Sound Board Operation Multiple sound cues, and all perfectly timed.  Only two mics to handle, but well balanced throughout.

The Spotlight is on:  Jesse Pate for Tuna Christmas
(Theatre Huntsville)

tuna-snd-brd-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence in Lobby Display.  Made the lobby display PART of the show.  Allowed the audience to continue debates about whodunit during intermission.  Drew the attention and focus.  Made it more than just a wall of headshots.

The Spotlight is on:  Sarah Mitchell for And Then There Were None
(Theatre Huntsville)

none-lobby
Photo:  Sarah Mitchell

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Excellence in Scene Design.  It rained.  Onstage.  Into a river.  With water in it.
(Perfect design for the script, and impressive execution.)

The Spotlight is on:  David Harwell for Eurydice
(UAH Theatre)

eurydice-scn-dsgn-rain
Photo:  UAH Theatre

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Excellence in Costume Design.  Huge workload and amazing ingenuity to meet a unique costuming challenge.

The Spotlight is on:  Ethan Mitchell and Beth Keys for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book
(Huntsville M.E.T.)

jungle-costumes
Photo:  Huntsville M.E.T.

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Excellence in Sound Design Mastered a true challenge–aurally creating the underworld, as well as producing the music of “the most talented musician in the world”.

The Spotlight is on: Johnna Doty for Eurydice
(UAH Theatre)

eurydice-snd-dsgn
Photo:  UAH Theatre

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Excellence in Lighting Design.  A stellar job on a challenging show.

The Spotlight is on:  Ronnie Foreman for Eurydice
(UAH Theatre)

eurydice-ltg-dsgn
Photo:  UAH Theatre

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Excellence in Stage Management Very tight production, with a script on which it’s hard to feel what the “right” timing is supposed to be.

The Spotlight is on:  Savannah Rutherford for ‘Dentity Crisis
(UAH Theatre)

dentity-savannah
Photo:  UAH Theatre

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Excellence in Technical Direction Every technical aspect was pushed to extremes in this one.  Amazing production values.

The Spotlight is on:  David Harwell for Eurydice
(UAH Theatre)

eurydice-td
Photo:  UAH Theatre

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Excellence in Performance Elements

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Excellence in Performance by a YouthA huge role, and well done.

The Spotlight is on:  Willem Butler for “Mowgli” in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book
(Huntsville M.E.T.)

jungle-mowgli
Photo:  Huntsville M.E.T.

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Excellence as an EnsembleKudos for the unique challenge, and the high level of attainment.

The Spotlight is on:  Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book
(Huntsville M.E.T.)

jungle-ensemble
Photo:  Huntsville M.E.T.

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

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Excellence as a Featured Actor in a Comedy  A distinctive, memorable portrayal of what could have been a forgettable character.

The Spotlight is on:  Chris Carter for “Kevin” in Superior Donuts
(Theatre Huntsville)

donuts-carter-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence as a Featured Actor in a Drama Solid portrayal of a known personality.

The Spotlight is on:  Corby Holland for “Joe Namath” in Called
(Bank Street Players)

called-namath-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence as a Featured Actor in a Musical Wonderful work as a chorus stand-out.

The Spotlight is on:  Zach Thomas for “Neleus” in Mary Poppins
(Independent Musical Productions)

poppins-neleus
Photo:  IMP

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Excellence as a Featured Actress in a Comedy Simply exudes energy and vitality.  Took the role with both hands, and shook every drop of energy out onto the stage.

The Spotlight is on:  Joanna DeAtley for “Borachia” in Much Ado About Nothing
(Rocket City Shakespeare)

no-pic-available

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Excellence as a Featured Actress in a DramaExcellent work in two utterly different small roles in the same production.

The Spotlight is on:  Sonia Anders for “Joan of Arc/Catherine” in Bluebeard:  the Trial of Gilles de Rais
(Evil Cheez Productions)

bluebeard-anders
Photo:  ECP

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Excellence as a Featured Actress in a Musical The most jaw-dropping three-minutes of stage focus all year.

The Spotlight is on:  Jamie Clasgens for “Fruma-Sarah” in Fiddler on the Roof
(Huntsville Community Chorus)

fiddler-frumah-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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

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Excellence as a Supporting Actor in a Comedy An incredible challenge, which he made look easy.

The spotlight is on:  Phil Parker for “Dogberry” in Much Ado About Nothing
(Bank Street Players)

ado-parker1
Photo:  BSP

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Excellence as a Supporting Actor in a Drama The perfect portrayal of the character.

The Spotlight is on:  Brian Waldrop for “Mr. Potter” in It’s a Wonderful Life
(Whole Backstage Theatre)

no-pic-available

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Excellence as a Supporting Actor in a Musical Owned the stage, with incredible charisma.

The Spotlight is on:  Patrick Johnson for “Bert” in Mary Poppins
(Independent Musical Productions)

poppins-bert
Photo:  IMP

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Excellence as a Supporting Actress in a Comedy In more ways than one, probably the most insane character onstage this year.

The Spotlight is on:  Mary Segal for “Edith” in ‘Dentity Crisis
(UAH Theatre)

crisis-segal
Photo:  UAH Theatre

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Excellence as a Supporting Actress in a Drama A LOT of stage time for a “supporting” actress, and great connection to the audience.

The Spotlight is 0n:  Tanja Miller for “Narrator” in Bluebeard:  the Trial of Gilles de Rais
(Evil Cheez Productions)

bluebeard-miller
Photo:  ECP

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Excellence as a Supporting Actress in a Musical A lot of levels to this character, with plenty of chances to sing and dance.

The Spotlight is on:  Aisha Richardson for “Vanessa” in In the Heights
(Lyrique Music Productions)

heights-vanessa
Photo:  LMP

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

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Excellence as a Lead Actor in a Comedy Subtle and understated is hard.

The Spotlight is on:  George Kobler for “Arthur” in Superior Donuts
(Theatre Huntsville)

donuts-kobler-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence as a Lead Actor in a Drama Frankly, sometimes it comes down to the difficulty of the part.

The Spotlight is on:  Rankin Sneed for “Scrooge” in A Christmas Carol
(Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theatre)

scrooge-scrooge-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence as a Lead Actor in a Musical Very solid work in this category, with a number of great singers and actors.  This actor had the opportunity to also show off some serious dance moves, and nailed it.

The Spotlight is on:  Christopher Gunner for “Usnavi” in In the Heights
(Lyrique Music Productions)

heights-usnavi
Photo:  LMP

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Excellence as a Lead Actress in a Comedy Nudged out of a very talented pack by the difficulty rating.

The Spotlight is on:  Melissa Waldron McMahan for “Beatrice” in Much Ado About Nothing
(Bank Street Players)

ado-mcmahan1
Photo:  BSP

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Excellence as a Lead Actress in a Drama Given what was available in the script, she definitely pushed to the extremes, and there’s no question that this actress went to some very uncomfortable, challenging places.

The Spotlight is on:  Raye Bonham Carter for “Vera” in Seventh Symphony
(Renaissance Theatre)

symphony-carter
Photo:  Dan Hollenbaugh

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Excellence as a Lead Actress in a Musical Very solid work in this category by all the nominees.  Great heart, and wonderful depth of character from this actress.

The Spotlight is on:  Erin Barrow for “Olive Ostrovsky” in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
(Calhoun Community College)

bee-olive-2
Photo:  CCC Theatre

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Excellence in Artistic Elements

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Excellence in Dance ChoreographyA very difficult choice, which could have gone a few different ways, depending on how one wanted to rate the difficulty level.

The Spotlight is on:  Nikki Ahlf, Hope Keys, and Gabriele Gonzalez for In the Heights
(Lyrique Music Productions)

heights-choreo
Photo:  LMP

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Excellence in Fight ChoreographyA number of shows had physical stunts, slaps, falls, punches, and out-right brawls.  Almost all were executed safely, most managed to generally support the needs of the script, but unfortunately, none were exciting or even believable.

The Spotlight is off.

spot-off

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Excellence in WritingThis was a clear choice.  Very solid writing.

The spotlight is on:  Chuck Puckett for Called
(Bank Street Players)

called-writing-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence in Music DirectionNot an easy decision, but ultimately, this was the work with the cleanest difficult music.

The Spotlight is on:  Barry Petty for Mary Poppins
(Independent Musical Productions)

poppins-music-drctn
Photo:  IMP

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Excellence in Direction of a ComedyProbably the hardest decision on this list of awards–went back and forth many times.  In the end, the award goes to the show that touched many different emotions–a very deep, rewarding experience for the audience.

The Spotlight is on:  Sam Marsh for Superior Donuts
(Theatre Huntsville)

donuts-drctn-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence in Direction of a DramaWhile weak in some casting decisions, this production took some artistic choices to the edge, and it paid off.

The Spotlight is on:  Mandy Hughes and Lee Hibbard for Macbeth
(Rocket City Shakespeare)

macbeth-direction
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence in Direction of a Musical Solid work with a very large cast.  Perfect emotional and dramatic impact.

The Spotlight is on:  Susan Godwin for 1776
(Bank Street Players)

1776-musical
Photo:  BSP

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Excellence in Production of a ComedyA quality production of a very good script. 

The Spotlight is on:  Superior Donuts
(Theatre Huntsville)

donuts-show-jw
Photo:  Jeff White

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Excellence in Production of a Drama. The audience sat in stunned silence at the conclusion of the performance.  Truly impressive work.

The Spotlight is on:  Eurydice
(UAH Theatre)

eurydice-show
Photo:  UAH Theatre

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Excellence in Production of a Musical. There were “cleaner” shows than this one, but this show had the greatest overall emotional impact and artistic excitement.

The Spotlight is on:  In the Heights
(Lyrique Music Productions)

heights-show
Photo:  LMP

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Excellence as a Theatrical Company.  This theatrical group put on a solid, entertaining show every single time in 2016, and is a reliable bet to continue to do so.

The Spotlight is on:  Bank Street Players

BSP

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And that’s it.  Congrats and kudos to everyone.
Winners are welcome to leave their acceptance speeches below in the comments.
(They have thirty seconds before the music starts…)

I’m looking forward to an even better 2017.
See you at the theatre!

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Note:  I scrounged the photos above from the web.  Let me know if I got any credits wrong.
I’ll also be more than happy to insert pictures above for winners missing them, if anyone sends them to me.  Email address:  HuntsvilleTheatreReviews(at)gmail.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Sarah Mitchell says:

    Small note: costumes for The Jungle Book by Huntsville M.E.T. are completely owed to Beth Keys. She was the sole costumer. Thank you for the mentions.

    Like

    1. Sarah, I was wondering who did the clothing that went with the puppets. I didn’t have it in my notes, and the show’s “playbill” page is down. Thank you! I will add her name.

      Like

  2. Patrick Johnson says:

    I’m grateful to Huntsville Theatre Reviews for the amount of time, thought and energy that it took to put this all together. I thank IMP for the opportunity to be a part of such a fun show. I’d like to thank all the cast members in their 20’s for being patient with these 40 year old feet as we ran tap numbers until we died. I can honestly say that I enjoy the directors chair infinitely more than the actors spotlight, but I jumped at the opportunity to be on stage with the very talented Maddie Johnson, my only daughter. I had a blast. Lastly, I thank the audiences. The crowds were great in number and energy. Thank you again to HTR for the review and award. I’m honored.

    Like

  3. Editing note: on 18 Jan, corrected the name of the person earning the Spotlight for Sound Board operation.

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Comments are closed.