January 29, 2009

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Red carpet?
Manchester and Nashua represent at the New Hampshire Theatre Awards

By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Extra live performances are scheduled for the seventh New Hampshire Theatre Awards show. Between those acts, about 42 awards will be presented to professional and community theater participants, Friday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m., at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

Scott Katrycz, along with Peter Ramsey, Palace president and CEO, organizes the show. (The Palace abstains from competing.) Katrycz said they decided to schedule 10 live pieces, up from six, to alleviate “lulls” in the three-hour event.

Manchester is represented in that entertainment. The Manchester Community Theatre Players perform a medley from The Music Man, and New Thalian Players perform from their summer park production of The Wizard of Oz. George Piehl, who heads Stage One Productions, performs the opening number, most likely with a partner.

Nashua’s companies are also on the program, with pieces from Actorsingers’ Seussical the Musical, StageCoach Productions’ Sweeney Todd, and a Peter Pan medley from Peacock Players.

Community Players of Concord perform from The Secret Garden; M&D Productions of North Conway from Godspell, and Rising Star youth company from Rent. Winnipesaukee Players perform a brief rhythmic piece from Caucasian Chalk Circle, Katrycz said.

Of the 72 productions adjudicated for the 2008 awards, 20 were professional and 52 were community shows. Top five professional nominations and top 10 community nominations have been announced and most categories are divided by musical or drama/comedy.

Manchester and Nashua took seven of the top 10 nominations for best community musical with Actorsingers’ Beauty and the Beast and Suessical; Peacock Players’ Peter Pan, StageCoach’s Sweeney Todd and The Secret Garden, New Thalian’s Oz and MCTP’s She Loves Me. Most of those were represented in other category nominations, such as best director, music director, choreographer and in categories for actors.

Deborah Shaw of Nashua is in the running for best director for a community drama/comedy for both All My Sons with Milford Area Players and Enchanted April with Nashua Theatre Guild. Those plays were also nominated for best community drama/comedy. NTG’s Dinner with Friends and Bedford Off Broadway’s Seascape were also nominated in that category.

While a good number of the professional companies nominated are summer stock, Manchester’s Second Stage was nominated for best musical production for Falsettos.

Nashua’s Yellow Taxi Productions was nominated for best drama/comedy for Topdog/Underdog. Peterborough Players’ Doubt: A Parable and Our Town, and Winnipesaukee Playhouse’s The Glass Menagerie and Theophilus North were also nominated.

Clayton Phillips was nominated for best director of a musical for Falsettos while Robert Shea, who also leads the Dana Center at Saint Anselm College, was nominated in that category for directing Babes In Arms at the Barnstormers. Suzanne Delle was nominated for best drama/comedy director for Topdog/Underdog. 

Film actor James Whitmore was nominated for best actor for playing the Stage Manager in Our Town for Peterborough Players. David White competes in that category for his role in Taking Sides, from YTP. Scott Severance was nominated for best supporting actor for Clean Alternatives for YTP.

Video and projection are used throughout the awards show, including skits featuring New Hampshire performers.

Katrycz said they recruit presenters from previous winners, people active in the New Hampshire Theatre Awards effort and the participating groups.

Those who decide the winners are the same people competing for awards, in many cases.

A theater company can apply to have up to two shows judged, and if they have an original work they can also submit that. For each production they submit, they must supply a volunteer adjudicator, said Joe Vago, interim executive director for the Awards.

Matt Gregg founded the Awards with Broussard, editor of New Hampshire Magazine.

Vago said they are currently rewriting their mission and vision statement.

They wanted to “make people aware of the excellent theater in New Hampshire,” Vago said.  Another goal was to provide education by returning the judges’ comments to the companies, and another is raising the level of theater in the state, Vago said.

“I think most people you talk to who have participated in the New Hampshire Theatre Awards would agree that the quality of theater, professional and community, has improved since the theater awards started,” Vago said.


If you go
What: The seventh Annual New Hampshire Theatre Awards
When: Friday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m.
Where: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester
Cost: $29.50 to $50.
Info: Call 668-5588 for tickets, or see www.nhtheatre.com for details.
Dress code: There’s not really a dress code, put people do show up in evening wear.

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