For the third year running, it is my pleasure to scan the community theatre productions I reviewed this past year, encompassing the second half of the 2012-13 theatre season and the first half of the 2013-14 season and select the most impressive aspects of the shows that I saw. I did a lot better this year as far as number of shows I attended, and I visited many more venues than ever before (15) as I tried to visit theatres I had never been to previously. It was interesting to me to note the differences in the various theatre companies in our area and I came away with the pleasing knowledge that theatre, at both professional and community levels, is very alive and very well in Central Indiana.

I did not get to see every show I had hoped to see and thus many wonderful performances will go unrewarded in these awards – but I saw a good deal of amazing theatre this past year and I am very proud to name the winners of the 2013 “Mitties”.

In the category – Most Impressive Set Design: Lori Raffel, the talented area director, has many other talents as well. She is the recipient of this award for her design for The Little Foxes. Using CCP’s large and versatile stage to full potential, she created a beautifully stylish set for this period piece.

In the category – Most Impressive Costume Design: Greenfield’s Rick-Weils Theatre Company’s The Miracle Worker was costumed by Shannon Cable. Her work was indeed impressive. “Dresses worn by the ladies (and there were many) were well-crafted period costumes that any stage or film company would be pleased to have for their productions. All the characters’ costumes had details in fashion and coordination that were extremely well done.”

In the category – Most Impressive Newcomer: Again from The Little Foxes, Addison D Ahrendts, as the coming of age daughter, Alexandra, shows an acute understanding of her courageous, young character in her adroit portrayal. This award is in addition to the Encore award Ms. Ahrendts received for her work in this production.

In the category – Most Impressive Actor in a Smaller Role: From Buck Creek Players’ hilarious Escanaba in da Moonlight, Tim Staggs, who plays the odd talking Jimmer Neganamee in a flawless whirl, handled a task filled role with aplomb.

In the category – Most Impressive Actress in a Smaller Role: From CCP’s Steel Magnolias, “I was especially taken by Casey Votaw, whose Annelle seemed like she walked right off the street and into the shop. Ms. Votaw used the map of her character’s ever-changing life to fill the stage with broad humor and a wide-eyed sense of discovery.”

In the category – Most Impressive Actor in a Larger Role: From Noblesville Shakespeare in the Park’s Romeo and Juliet, I wrote about the actor who portrayed Romeo this way: “Jordan Donica plays the Romeo role with great energy and a firm understanding of the young man’s feelings and plight. He fills his portrayal with a wonderful voice, balanced movements and spot-on characterization – focusing at all times on the job of being Romeo. It might be said, he steals the show with an immense performance.” College student Jordan is this year’s Most Impressive Actor, hands down.

In the category – Most Impressive Actress in a Larger Role: From Greenfield’s Rick-Weils Theatre Co., Cerissa Marsh was a very convincing Annie Sullivan – passionate, unsure and caring. Ms. Marsh brought a lot of life to the character of Helen Keller’s teacher, a very challenging role.

In the category – Most Impressive Direction: After much thought, I feel I must have two winners this year, dividing the category into Comedy and Drama. In the former, my choice is Jason Gloye, who found a wonderful cast and brought to life a touchingly funny Steel Magnolias at CCP. The Drama category winner is Brent Wooldridge. His impressive direction of CCP’s The Little Foxes gave that cast a wonderful understanding of the complex set of characters.

In the category – Most Impressive Comedy Production: There is no doubt Buck Creek Players’ Escanaba in da Moonlight, directed by John Carver, is the funniest show I have seen, not only this year but, in a very long time. Rare is it that I belly laugh, bending at the waist in my seat and gaffawing – more than once or twice. This play was well cast, well directed and wonderfully presented.

In the category – Most Impressive Dramatic Production: As sure as I am in the comedy category is as befuddled as I am in this one. Three productions stick in my mind as impressive examples of this genre, so I believe I will triplicate the award this year. The Crucible at Zionsville’s Off-Main Street Players, The Little Foxes at Carmel Community Players, and The Miracle Worker at Greenfield’s Rick-Weils Theatre Co. were all impressive productions that any community theatre group would have been proud to produce.

Special categories are for areas I will not normally give awards in. This year I have two special awards:
In the special category – Most Impressive Scene in a Production: Scenes from two different productions win this special award – the table scene from The Miracle Worker at Rick-Weils Theatre Co. (directed by Kathy Hoefgen), in which Annie Sullivan attempts to teach Helen Keller the most basic of table manners, was impressively done by Cerissa Marsh as Annie and Bronwyn Doebbeling as Helen. It was a memorable scene, well choreographed and very well played.

Also impressive was the scene on the bus in Trip to Bountiful at Scottish Rite Cathedral (directed by Matthew Socey) in which Jean Adams as Carrie Watts and Kelly Gualdoni as Thelma, cement their sweet relationship as Mother Watts sits and talks with a young woman who reflects her younger self. It was a tender and beautifully played scene.

Well, that’s it for this year. Congratulations to all the winners. As always, I have immensely enjoyed the opportunity to see the wondrous variety of shows presented in our area. I never cease to be amazed by the talents of the actors, actresses, directors and designers who choose to make theatre their avocation, and I look forward to another great year of Central Indiana theatre.

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