by Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom
Players by the Sea held its 45th Volunteer Celebration and Pelican Awards on Sunday, August 14th. Players Theatre on Sixth Street North in Jacksonville Beach was packed with fans and actors when Hosts Erik DeCicco, Brooks Anne Meierdierks and Lindsay Curry took the stage at 7:00 PM.
Brooks Anne and Erik warmed up the crowd with a humorous version of the song “Friendship.” Ms. Curry introduced Players President Holly Gutshall who briefly covered some of the milestones reached this past season. First and foremost, the theater finished in the black, thanks to generous sponsors, hundreds of volunteer hours, a strong subscription base and record attendance at their nine productions.
The past season saw Players bring in Hallie Foote, daughter of the late Horton Foote, who offered her professional advice on the staging of his play Dividing the Estate. The first annual Players golf tournament raised $10,000 for the Players School of the Arts. The theatre sponsored a very successful juried art show held in their gallery space, and had two productions signed for the hearing impaired with tickets provided. Mrs. Gutshall also added a note or praise and thanks for the work and guidance of Executive Director Joe Schwarz.
Best Main Stage Production: The Full Monty
Best Studio Production: The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Best Director Main Stage: Shirley Sacks –The Full Monty
Best Director Studio: Dana Branch Vinci – The Great American Trailer Park
Best Actor in a play: Noble Lee Lester – Gem of the Ocean
Best Actress in a play: Antoinette Johnson – Gem of the Ocean
Best Supporting actor: Larry Knight – Gem of the Ocean
Best Supporting actress: Olivia Gowan – The House of Bernarda Alba
Best Actor in a Musical: Erik DeCicco – The Full Monty
Best Actress in a Musical: Shirley Sacks – The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical: Bill Ratliff- Tommy
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical: Brooks Anne Hayes – The Full Monty
Outstanding Musical Direction: Aaron Marshall – The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Outstanding Choreography: Kellina Chavoustie – Tommy
Outstanding Young Performer: Taden Middleton
Outstanding Cameo Performance: Toni Phillips – Dividing the Estate
Best Set Design-Main Stage: Joe Schwarz – Gem of the Ocean
Best Set Design-Studio: Joe Schwarz – The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Best Lighting Design-Main Stage: Jim Wiggins – Tommy & Gem of Ocean
Best Lighting Design-Studio: Jim Wiggins – Dracula
Best Costume Design: Earyle Rhodes – Ain’t Misbehavin’
Outstanding Stage Manager: Susan Roche – Tommy
Outstanding Backstage Volunteer: Deb Wolfe (in loving memory)
Outstanding Backstage Volunteer: Lana Mullins
Outstanding Service-Roger Lowe & Fred Ortyl
The presentations concluded with a duet of the song “Suddenly” from the musical Xanadu featuring Aaron Marshall on the keyboard and Erik DeCicco on roller skates.
Special kudos go to Susan Roche for her outstanding video presentation showing all the nominees in the acting categories on a screen high above the stage. In addition we were treated to short film clips from each of the nine productions. We felt like we were at the Tony Awards in New York!!!
What we really appreciated about the awards was the fact each recipient was given the opportunity to give a short acceptance speech. These proved to be insightful and humorous and delighted the audience.
After the final applause, the crowd moved to the Grune Family Gallery for a reception and buffet. The one thing actors like to do besides acting is eating and Michelle Wiggins, volunteer Chef du Players, tantalized our taste buds with her usual excellent cuisine.
A good time was had by all, and Players has another outstanding season planned and we are already looking forward to next year’s celebration.