2009 Encore Awards Night – An Almost Live Report

Last Monday night, the Encore Award winners were announced at a gala event held at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre.  I decided to try to post the winners to my @IndyTheatre account on Twitter as they were announced.  As it turned out, my seat was so near the stage that I felt I would be conspicuously rude if I appeared to be more interested in my iPhone than in what was going on on stage.  So I circled the winners on my paper program as they were announced, and came home to finish my micro-blogging of the event.  I wrote a total of 150 (I think) tweets before going to bed.

I have copied them here because I want to be able to go back and read them whenever I want.  I also want to be able to search them while also searching my regular blog posts.

I would like to share just a few more thoughts about my experience of being an Encore judge, and then the tweets, and THEN I will be finished with my Encore judging year.

Voting was very difficult.  In many categories, I knew going in to the awards event that I would be happy if just about any of the nominees won.  It was very exciting but also a little odd to have seen and judged all but two of the shows and yet still not have a clue about who the winners would be.

For the past three years I have also served on a nation-wide book award committee: the Alex Award through the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association. We email each other daily about the books we have read and what we thought of them. The nine of us meet twice a year in person, too, at various locations around the United States, and spend HOURS talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the 400+ books we’ve been looking at, trying to whittle them down to a list of ten award winners. We take straw polls throughout the year to see if the group is anywhere near consensus on even a single book, even though we know we have not finished reading everything there is to read yet. We present and defend to each other the books that we most want to win, even “bleeding on the table” at the final committee meeting for a book that we find particularly deserving. When we take a final vote, it is private and each person is supposed to vote for the ten books that he or she thinks is most deserving of the award, but the results of the final vote are shared immediately and we all know going in to the nationally televised press conference the next day which books will be announced as that year’s winners of the Alex Award. (We share the press conference with other youth awards such as the Newbery and Caldecott Awards.)

Those conversations and that process teach me a LOT about what makes a book effective. I went into Encore judging hoping that I would get to have similarly educational conversations about theatre.

However, Encore judges (at least in my experience) rarely email each other, and never about what we thought of the shows. We meet in person two or three times a year, but only to double- and triple-check the ballot counts. We can’t help talking about the shows then, too, but it is very informal and sort of clipped and noncommittal, as if it would not be fair to talk about the shows too much in case we influenced each other too heavily.

Final voting, as you probably already know, is done completely independently. We each mail our final ballots in to a certified public accountant. He is the only person (besides the trophy manufacturer) who knows ahead of time who the winners are.

Judging books is different from judging live theatre shows, of course, because even though your understanding of a book changes every time you read it, the book itself is always the same, whereas a single performance of a live theatre piece can never be re-experienced except in memory. Also, a book award committee is trying to identify good books that other people will then be able to go and read for themselves. A theatre award committee is trying to identify excellence in order to celebrate and encourage more excellence; the shows are long over by the time the awards are announced.

Also, the Alex judges are not related to any of the authors or publishers involved with the contestants, whereas most Encore judges have worked at one or more of the theatres whose shows they are judging and think of their home theatre as family. I understand and approve of the thinking behind the Encore Association’s approach to judging, especially since it is very difficult to find qualified people to be Encore judges in the first place.

Still, my favorite part of judging for Encore – other than seeing the shows, of course – was the final meeting in August, where we talked about our ideas for the Judges’ Special Awards. We had all been writing down our ideas on our ballots as we mailed them in throughout the year, but now it was time to make the final decisions. Most of the judges besides me had decades of experience and tons of theatrical expertise. I loved hearing about what they thought was worth considering as a “Special.”

I am totally behind the ten things we picked – they each were truly special, truly worthy of special recognition – but I learned a lot from discussing ALL of the contenders. One of the judges, for example, had noticed how one show’s team successfully handled a particularly tricky and fast scene change through a combination of good lighting design and by having an actor simply turn and face the wall in the dark rather than exit and re-enter. It worked so well that I hadn’t even noticed it during the show!

I would like to judge again for Encore some day, if they’ll have me. But mostly I would just like to be a fly on the wall at each year’s Judges Special meeting.

In any event, I want to say again that I very much appreciate the opportunity to have seen so many all-volunteer Encore shows in one year.

For the official list of winners, please go to this page of IndianaAuditions.com.  Below are my tweets from Encore Awards Night. (I typed #2009indyencores into each one.  A “hashtag” like this is supposed to make all tweets about one topic easier to find on Twitter.com.)


IndyTheatre Going to try tweeting the winners as they are announced at the community theatre Encore Awards tonight. Wish me luck! #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre Made it! Lots of gorgeously dressed theatre people finding their seats at www.beefandboards.com for #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre 11 community theatres participate in the all-volunteer Encore Association. #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre It was my privilege & pleasure to serve as an Encore judge last season. #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre However, not even the judges know yet who the winners will be. It’s very exciting! #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre Yay! The #2009indyencores programs this year have all the nominees in them so you can just check off the winners.

IndyTheatre Okay, I’m going to go mingle a little. Back later… #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores   Talking with singer extraordinaire and Encore nominee Mark Tumey from the Belfry Theatre. He’s producing a show next!

IndyTheatre Sitting with judge and director Nancy Kotarski from Hendricks Civic Theatre. #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre Costume Runway! I love this! Three from each show. Strike a pose! #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre Encore president Larry Molinar thanking people. #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre Too dark to tweet during the show without being rude & now Twitter is having problems. Grr. #2009indyencores   

IndyTheatre Home, in sweats, sparkly dress neatly hung up, shiny shoes put away, too, but let’s pretend we’re back at the beginning of#2009indyencores   .

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best costume design in a play: Patricia Dorwin – “The Mystery of Irma Vep” – Carmel Community Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best costume design in a musical: Jeff Farley – “High Society” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    (Jeff Farley was nominated for THREE different shows’ costume designs!)

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges Special #1 Pre-show/intermission interaction – cast w/ audience in Buck Creek Players’ “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    So far, everyone has said some form of “I don’t know what to say!” A nomination means you should plan something! Ah, well.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best set design drama – Bryan Wagner – “Picnic” – The Belfry. Great tree!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best set design musical – Aaron B. Bailey – “Grey Gardens” – Buck Creek Players. That set motivated me to clean my house!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    (It was also, for part of the play anyway, a beautiful set – Grey Gardens.)

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best Set design comedy – Niles Clark – “The Mystery of Irma Vep” – Carmel Community Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best set decoration drama – Karla Ries – “It’s a Wonderful Life: a Radio Play” – the Belfry

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best set decoration comedy – Jan Jamison – “The Mystery of Irma Vep” – Carmel Community Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best set decoration musical – Jeff Farley – “High Society” – Footlite Musicals

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Excerpt from “Irma Vep” WITH the fast & furious costume changes in view instead of hidden. Hilarious! And skillful!

 IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best sound design play – Michael Ries – “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play” – The Belfry

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Michael says he does one play a year and it’s whatever his wife, Karla, wants to direct, because he loves her. (Aww…)

IndyTheatre#2009indyencores    Best sound design musical – Don Drennen? Not sure, sorry. I think presenter said judges’ unanimous decision.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    I did love Don Drennen’s sound design for “Tick, Tick..Boom!” at Wayne Township Community Theatre.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best light design – play – Don Drennen – “Dancing at Lughnasa” – Buck Creek Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best light design – musical – Don Drennen – “Tick, Tick..BOOM!” – Wayne Township Community Theatre.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Too bad Don Drennen is not here tonight!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges Special #2 – fast, clever set changes by the “household staff” in “High Society” at Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Rising Star Awards – I don’t have the 8 winners’ names, but the young people are all adorable.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    The youngest Rising Star winner is wearing sparkly red shoes and a beautiful, sparkly red party dress.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best performer 18 & under, play: Molly Grooms – “Picnic” – The Belfry.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Molly Grooms said, “Holy cow!” when her name was announced.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best performer 18 & under, musical: Lauren Butz – “Seussical the Musical” – Wayne Township Community Theatre.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Laura Cones talking about her mother, Jean Cones, and the Jean Cones Memorial Scholarship Awards.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Encore VP Jeremy Cales says each Jones Scholarship winner gets $1000 this year.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Cones winners (sp?): Kristin Kellimeyer, Zachary Decker, Devin Smith, Rebecca Willitour, Claire Cassidy, Kelly Crowder.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges' Special #3 Natural age progression of Miss Daisy in “Driving Miss Daisy” – Jim LaMonte at Spotlight Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best choreographer: Linda Reese – “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best Dancer: Nathalie Cruz – “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Nathalie says, “I just came here to have fun with my cast mates and have drinks.” 🙂 She is happy for her award.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Nathalie also says, “Miss Linda Reese (choreographer) this award is really for you…but I’m keeping it.” (laughing)

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best musical director: Deb Farmer – “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best vocal director: Brenna Campbell & Amy Reynolds – “Miss Saigon – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    One “Miss Saigon” directors says to cast, “I made you practice it so many times simply because I loved to hear you sing.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    A serious excerpt from “Dancing at Lughnasa” – Buck Creek Players. Lovely, rich accents

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges' Special #4: the helicoptor sequence – “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best Male Singer – LOTS of competition in this category!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best male singer: Michael Davis – “tick, tick…BOOM!” – Wayne Township Community Theatre. His acceptance speech moves me.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best female singer…this is my cue to go backstage to be ready to present Judges’ Special #5.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Back stage at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre! How fun! NOT a lot of space back here. I have new appreciation.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Can’t hear backstage…who won Best Female Singer? Hmm…

IndyTheatre#2009indyencores   . Ah. Best female singer: Angela Manlove – “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Claire Wilcher in a sparkly beret & handsome Doug Powers present the next award, but I can’t see them ‘cause I’m backstage.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best musical number: “The American Dream” from “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    I ask stage manager Beth Knight-Crum if I have any peanut skins in my teeth. She says no and offers me a trophy girl.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Sarah Hoffman is “my” trophy girl. She is wearing the first of THREE gorgeous dresses for the evening.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Sarah thanks me for going to see “Ug! the Musical” at Theatre on the Square. It was a fun show and she sang beautifully!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    I make sure my boobs are scooped into proper position (sometimes they wander) then walk on stage as Jeff Angel announces me.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Jeff says he is my new Facebook friend. I say I like getting new Facebook friends. It’s fun to joke around on stage.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    But I am here to give the 5th Judges Special: to the cakes in “Cake Walk” at Center Stage Community Theatre in Lebanon.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Bev Kersey comes up to accept the J.S. award & describes how they made the cakes from styrofoam. They looked so real!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you two other awards that happened while I was waiting back stage…

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best Ensemble in a play: Full cast – “12 Angry Men” – Spotlight Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best Ensemble, musical: the House Staff in “High Society” at Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Act One ends with a moving, high energy musical excerpt from “Miss Saigon.” Everyone but the leads wear matching t-shirts.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    At intermission, I stand in line at the ladies’ & talk with Julie Dutcher. She is rehearsing “Open House” in Anderson.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    “Open House” is an original script about a struggling theatre that converts a condo and rents it out between performances.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    It sounds funny! I wonder who the media person is at the Anderson theatre? I’ll have to dig around later on the Internet.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    In the ladies’ room I try to tweet on the toilet but Twitter fails me. Ah, well.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Jeff calls “Places, please…hey! why isn’t anyone answering ‘thank you, places?’”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Everyone laughs and calls back, “Thank you, places!” Jeff says, “You’ve got to respect your stage manager!”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Act 2 begins with a potent excerpt from Spotlight Players’ “Twelve Angry Men.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best minor supporting actor, drama: Tie! Doug Robinson in “The Pen Is Deadlier” at Epilogue and…

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    …Jim Thorp in “Dancing at Lughnasa” at Buck Creek Players. People continue to struggle over how to say “Lughnasa.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best minor supporting actor, comedy: Rann DeStefano – “The Odd Couple (Female Version)” – Epilogue Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best minor supp.actor, musical: Duane Leatherman – “Little Women the Musical” – Carmel Community Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    My seatmate and sister judge, Nancy Kotarski, presents the next Judges’ Special for…

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges Special #6: the bleeding portrait in “The Mystery of Irma Vep” – Carmel Community Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    I love that Nancy says people told us judges have to see some not great shows, but we did not. It’s true! No duds this year.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best minor supp. actress, drama: Peg Arbuckle – “The Pen Is Deadlier” – Epilogue Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best minor supp. actress, comedy: Julie Dutcher – “The Boys Next Door” – Spotlight Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best minor supp. actress, musical: Nathalie Cruz – “MIss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    This time Nathalie thanks everyone in Filipino as well as English & says she is glad she wore this sparkly dress. I agree!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    E. Edward Green Awards go to Bill Hale and Susan Townsend. Lots of service at several theatres over a long time.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Now a funny excerpt from Carmel Community Players’ “Blithe Spirit.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best major supp. actor, drama: Jeremy Tuterow – “Driving Miss Daisy” – Spotlight Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best major supp. actor, comedy: Brent Wooldridge – “The Boys Next Door” – Spotlight Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Presenter Tobin Strader says,”As my reign as Best Major Supporting Actor in a musical comes to an end…” What a hoot!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best major supp. actor: Darrin Gowan – “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges Special #7: The waiters’ gallop in “Hello, Dolly” at Wayne Township Community Theatre. Laura Breece & Jeff Van Paris

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges Special #8: The dressers of “The Mystery of Irma Vep” at Carmel Community Players. (See earlier excerpt!)

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best major supp.actress, drama: Christy Walker – “Dancing at Lughnasa” – Buck Creek Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Christy takes a moment to teach us how to say “Lughnasa” correctly. Accent is on the first syllable. LOO-nuh-suh.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Christy tearfully thanks her husband, Ian, for doing shows with her, and sort of promises to play golf with him in return.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best Major Supp. Actress, Comedy: Julie Dutcher – “Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will?” – Spotlight Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Julie says she had to kiss Josh Ramsey. A woman in the audience calls out, “Oh, you poor thing!”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    (We secretly ALL would like the hardship of having to kiss Josh Ramsey in a show!)

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    “But,” Julie continues, “No matter how many men I have to kiss, I thank my husband, Roger, for being my ONLY sugar-booger.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best major supp.actress, musical: Susan Page Freeman – “Grey Gardens” – Buck Creek Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Susan says she got the part because she was the only actress willing to admit she was old enough to play it. NOT true!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Next comes an excerpt from Spotlight Players’ “Driving Miss Daisy.” Marty Essig & Lorenzo Penn, Jr. are excellent!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best actor, drama: Ken Ganza – “Inherit the Wind” – Epilogue Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Ken says this role was “one of my bucket roles, & as the bucket gets closer, I’m very glad I got the chance to play this.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best actor, comedy – Jonathan Horton – “The Mystery of Irma Vep” – Carmel Community Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    – Jonathan says he won’t accept the award without Corey Rudell, other actor in this two-hander.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    I think I’m allowed to tell you now that some of the judges wanted to nominate Jonathan & Corey for best ensemble…

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    …but the Encore rules say an ensemble has to have three or more people.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best actor, musical: lots strong competition in this category, too (in many of the categories!)

IndyTheatre#2009indyencores    Best actor, musical: Clint Pridgen – “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    The speeches keep getting better and better. Clint’s is moving, funny, eloquent.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Four Standing Ovation Awards this year, for people who gave a lot to community theatre and passed on this year.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Standing Ovation Awards: Jane Campbell, Adam Crabtree, Mary Potts, and Ed Radkovits.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges’ Special #9: Karla Ries for her original paintings in “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Belfry.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    I forgot to say that Karla and Michael Ries were serving as red carpet papparazzi outside before the show started.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best actress, drama: Lisa Kaake – “Lost in Yonkers” – The Belfry.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best actress, comedy: Marty Essig – “Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will?” – Spotlight Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best actress, musical: Angela Manlove – “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Final excerpt, this time from Wayne Township Community Theatre’s “tick, tick…BOOM!” I do love to hear Dane Rogers sing.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    We’re winding down. Time for me to go back stage again.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    This time I put my ear to the think curtain separating the back stage area from the public stage area.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    That should have been “thick” curtain. It’s very thick, heavy, and black, overlapping to keep the sound from escaping.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    The final awards presenters back stage are practicing the pronunciation of “Lughnasa.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores   Best director, drama: Molly Bellner – “12 Angry Men” – Spotlight Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best director, comedy: Jan Jamison – “The Mystery of Irma Vep” – Carmel Community Players

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best director, musical – R. Brian Noffke – “Miss Saigon.” He is very, very, very happy. 🙂

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Judges’ Special #10 – That’s me. I tell the audience that I have two new Facebook friends since I last talked to them.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    One is a director who offered me media passes to his next play, but I don’t know what he looks like.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    “What’s his name?” someone shouts.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    “He is directing a Sam Shepard play at the Indy Fringe building,” I say. “His name is Greg Howard.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Someone waves and shouts from the first tier of seats, “Hi, Hope!”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    “Hi, Greg,” I say. “Put me down to see your show on Sunday, November 22, okay? I will email you to confirm.”

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    “I love my life!” I tell the audience. Then I remember that this show is not about ME, so I had better get back to work.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    The 10th Judges’ Special is for the beautiful, romantic, BELIEVABLE appearance of a swimming pool in the orchestra pit.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    The show was “High Society” at Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    And then it is time for the three best production awards.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores    Best production, drama: Producer Molly Bellner – “12 Angry Men” – Spotlight Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores   Best production, comedy: Producers Emily Crickmore & Lori Raffel, “The Mystery of Irma Vep” – Carmel Community Players.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores   Best production, musical: Producer Debbie Noffke, “Miss Saigon” – Footlite Musicals.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores  WHAT a fun night this has been!

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores  I decide not to go to the after party after all, because I wanted to tweet & because I have an 8am meeting.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores  Congratulations to everyone who was nominated, to all the winners, & to all who made this evening such a success.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores  Thank you, my fellow judges, especially chairs Doug Davis & Peter Marbach. It was a pleasure serving with you.

IndyTheatre #2009indyencores  Oh, my goodness, I am sleepy now. Good night!

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

Email: amarylliswriter at gmail dot com

Twitter: @IndyTheatre

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