Mitty Awards 2015

Well, it’s that time again. Time for the 5th annual Most Impressive Theatre Awards – the Mittys! For those of you who aren’t familiar with this ‘prestigious’ set of awards – since 2011 I have been giving them out annually here on ASOTA. Each year, I select the most impressive accomplishments in theatre which I have seen (and reviewed) over the course of the calendar year. You can view last years awards here: Part 1 and here: Part 2 .

Beginning last year, I have awarded the best of what I see in both community theatres (part 1 above) and in professional theatres (part 2). I define professional theatres as those which hold Actor’s Equity contracts.

This year I attended and reviewed 24 shows. In that total, I include all shows since the last Mitty announcements were made – so there is actually one show which occurred in late December that is in the mix here. So here are the 2015 Most Impressive Theatre Awards in the community theatre class:

In the category – Most Impressive Set Design – Community Theatre Division: Belfry Theatre’s production of Noises Off featured possibly the most challenging set in theatre – one that must spin or be unassembled and reassembled so as to feature a backstage look of the proceedings in Act 2. Then, of course, the set has be facing front-side out again for Act 3. In my review of this show, after praising the hard working cast, I wrote: “The compliment extends to the remarkable set change crew whose precise work during the act breaks, as they twice turn the well-designed set (by Terry Prentkowski) 180 degrees, is a marvel.”

Lion group

Elaborate period costuming, in CCP’s “The Lion in Winter” wins the Mitty in this category.

In the category – Most Impressive Costume Design – Community Theatre Division: The Lion in Winter, a period play set in 1183 offered by Carmel Community Players topped this category. Linda Grow, in what I am told was her first foray into the craft, had her hands full but did a very impressive job with the design and construction of every player’s outfit.

In the category – Most Impressive Newcomer – Community Theatre Division: here we have a tie, although they were both in the same production. From my review for Jake’s Women at Center Stage: “Young Julia Frisby and younger Bella Doss, share the role of Molly – portrayed at present age – 21, and past age – 12, respectively. Both give nicely rounded performances as Ms. Doss does a fine job delivering some typical Simonesque zingers while Ms. Frisby is especially effective in an emotional imagined reunion with her late mother.” Both were equally impressive in their roles.

In the category – Most Impressive Actor in a Smaller Role – Community Theatre Division: In Buck Creek Players’ fine production of A Few Good Men, Aaron E. Smith gives a dynamic performance as the gung-ho Marine Lt. Jonathan Kendrick. His outward intensity showed a good understanding of this character and was noteworthy on that account.

In the category – Most Impressive Actress in a Smaller Role – Community Theatre Division: I just recently saw Spotlight Players’ holiday offering, It’s A Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play. One actress in particular impressed me with her performance of an array of characters.  Elisabeth Giffin showed a certain verve in her roles, creating feelings of both a carefree comic nature and, when necessary, feelings of distress and wantonness. And she did it all with what seemed to be an enviable effortlessness.

In the category – Most Impressive Actor in a Larger Role – Community Theatre Division: Every year I have one or two selections which are without question. I was most impressed by an actor who is very familiar to me, a person I have directed, and who is a good friend – Laurence Adams (I call him Larry) whose portrayal of Jake in Center Stage Community Theatre’s production of Jake’s Women has already won him an Encore Award. From my review of the play: “…this play belongs to Jake, played with complete abandon in a tour de force rendition by veteran actor, Laurence Adams… Jake is complicated; a manic-depressive creature, controlling, angst-filled, living in his past, wanting to command his future, while lacking a basic trust for women. Adams soars through all these facets and more in a truly exceptional display of his thespian skills.”

In the category – Most Impressive Actress in a Larger Role – Community Theatre Division: We have another tie here. First, I was most impressed with an actress who, again is familiar to me, having worked with her onstage. From my The Lion in Winter review: “Susan Boilek Smith shines in the role of Queen Eleanor, who has been let out of her prison cell (10 years or so ago, she tried to kill Henry) for the Christmas court. In a role filled with humor and conniving, Ms. Smith puts forth a deep, well-conceived and multi-faceted portrait of this complicated and original female…  I believe this is her best work.”

Our other winner had won in this category a year ago. From Spotlight’s It’s A Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play: “Jean Childers Arnold (my 2014 Mitty Award winner for her superior work as Bella in CCP’s Lost in Yonkers) is perfect in the role of George’s wife, Mary. Her eloquent conveyances of Mary’s character are spot-on and a pleasure to see and hear.” She really did an excellent job in this show.

In the category – Most Impressive Direction – Community Theatre Division: This year’s award winner is Jim LaMonte, who provided great guidance to his cast of voice actors in Spotlight Players’ It’s A Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play. The story really came alive as we listened to the arc of this very familiar tale. From my review: “…under LaMonte’s sharp direction the story is effectively told with emotion and joy as the pay-offs.”

In the category – Most Impressive Production – Community Theatre Division: Although I only saw a handful of plays on the community theatre level this year, I do not think I could have seen a finer, more completely realized production than Jake’s Women at Center Stage Community Theatre. “Under the carefully crafted direction of Jan Jamison, her talented cast members once again show just how amazingly good central Indiana community theatre can be…. It is an outstanding production of a rather difficult play.” Kudos to all involved!

Special categories allow for awards areas I would not normally give awards in. This year I have one special category:

In the category – Most Impressive Ensemble Cast – Community Theatre Division: This special award goes to the 9 member cast of Noises Off, which was produced at The Belfry. Again, from my review:

“Director (Ron) Richards does an exemplary job managing this troubled crew through a web-like set of situations and movements, especially in the extraordinary second act, which presents a back of the set view of the play’s goings on. By this time, the story is a tangle of love triangles, jealousies and physical comeuppances. The entire troupe shines in this display of nearly silent acting chores. It is great fun to see this unusual combination of pantomime and slapstick.

Overall, the cast does a fine job with a truly difficult endeavor. It is evident that this show required a lot of precision from all involved and this was indeed well accomplished.”

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That’s it for another year. Congratulations to all the winners! I certainly encourage my readers to continue to go out and see the outstanding memorable shows and performances in community theatres all around the Greater Indianapolis area! They have a lot to offer for a very reasonable ticket price.

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