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    Four-Star theater awards for 2019 season

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    By John Hankins

    The annual gala celebration of the live and lively theater scene in Ventura County is happening on Feb. 9 honoring the most outstanding productions, directors, actors, producers, music and tech people of the 2019 season.

    As Momma Rose sang, “Curtain up! Light the lights!” it’s the Four-Star Theater Alliance hitting the heights, and you could be in attendance as a limited amount of public tickets are available.

    “The Alliance gala has become the yearly highlight,” said Eric Umali who chairs the Alliance.

    The alliance includes five Ventura County theaters committed to promoting a spirit of camaraderie and cooperation, playing to literally thousands of patrons every year in Ventura County.

    Between them, they’ve produced over two dozen main stage productions ranging from a locally written drama (“Bless Your Heart”) to Broadway blockbusters (“Sweet Charity”) along with a plethora of comedies, dramas and dramadies.

    There are 14 ‘outstanding’ categories for each theater and a judge’s choice. Of the 5-6 productions for each theater, judges chose the “Outstanding Overall Production,” which are:

              ~ Camarillo Skyway Playhouse, “Peter and the Starcatcher,” David Hatfield and Samantha Netzen- Bingham, Producers.

              ~ Conejo Players Theatre, “Sweeney Todd,” Patricia Losey, Producer.

              ~ Elite Theatre Company, “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday,” L.J. Noel, Producer.

              ~ Ojai Art Center Theater (Ojai ACT), “Mamma Mia!” Herb Hemming and Tracey Williams Sutton, Producers.

              ~ Santa Paula Theater Center, “The Humans,” Leslie Nichols, Producer.

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    For a listing of all awards and to keep apprised of productions coming up in 2020, befriend the Four-Star Theater Alliance on Facebook at:

    The evening will be filled with celebration as well as live performance scenes of the 2019 season and the ever-popular fast-moving montage of photos that depict the actors. A reception follows with food, drink, a raffle and silent auction.

    This year’s event honoring the 2019 season is at 7pm Feb. 9 at the Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Rd. in Thousand Oaks. For tickets visit the Facebook site.

    “Ventura County has always been home to some of the finest productions and talent that community theatre has to offer, and for more than ten years, the Four Star Theater Alliance has served to promote cooperation and camaraderie and to celebrate the achievements that its member theatres produce every year,” Umali said.

    The Alliance has raised the bar in quality and variety of live theater here since it started, culminating in a uniquely judged award ceremony. In most locales, a local newspaper hands out awards. Not here. Five representatives from each theater volunteer to go to all the plays at another theater not their own. They take notes and in December decide the most ‘outstanding’ in various categories.

    A peek at the 2020 season includes: “You Can’t Take it With You,” “Wit,” “Peter Pan,”  “Shirley Valentine,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Bye, Bye Birdie,” “Wait Until Dark,” “9 to 5,” and “Camelot.”


    Award Recipients for the 2019 Season

    Camarillo Skyway Playhouse

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Ezra Eells as “Black Stache”, Peter and the Starcatcher

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Ryanna Dunn as “Rosalind”, As You Like It

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Shawn Adams-Lanz as “Mrs. Bumbrake”, Peter and the Starcatcher

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Nora Kay as “Mrs. Ethel Banks”, Barefoot in the Park

    Outstanding Set Design: David Hatfield, Peter and the Starcatcher

    Outstanding Sound Design: Allan Noel, Peter and the Starcatcher

    Outstanding Lighting Design: Jim Diderrich, Peter and the Starcatcher

    Outstanding Costume Design: Laura Comstock & Genvieve Levin, Peter and the Starcatcher

    Outstanding Music Direction: Erin Fagundes, Peter and the Starcatcher Outstanding Choreography: Julie Hackett, Peter and the Starcatcher Outstanding Direction: R. Shane Bingham, Peter and the Starcatcher

    Outstanding Overall Production: Peter and the Starcatcher – David Hatfield & Samantha Netzen- Bingham, Producers

    Judges’ Choice Award: “Creative Ensemble Set Changing” Award to Patrick T. Rogers & Lauren Rachel, Barefoot in the Park

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Arriana Rodriguez

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Hannah Garcia

    Conejo Players Theatre

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: John David Wallis as “Sweeney Todd”, Sweeney Todd

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Dana Kolb as “Mrs. Lovett”, Sweeney Todd

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Gabriel Gentile as “The Beadle”, Sweeney Todd

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Olivia Heulitt as “Suzette”, Don’t Dress For Dinner

    Outstanding Set Design: Rick Steinberg, Sweet Charity

    Outstanding Sound Design: Larry Lindsay, Sweeney Todd

    Outstanding Lighting Design: Jack Allaway, Pippin

    Outstanding Costume Design: Manuel Silva, Teri O’Connor, and Laurel Marion, Sweeney Todd

    Outstanding Music Direction: Jim Holmes, Shelley Ross Saxer, David Fraley, and Diann Alexander, Sweeney Todd

    Outstanding Choreography: Miriam Durrie-Kirsch, Sweet Charity

    Outstanding Direction: Miriam Durrie-Kirsch, Sweet Charity

    Outstanding Overall Production: Sweeney Todd – Patricia Losey, Producer

    Judges’ Choice Award: “Outstanding Mechanical, Technical, and Special Effects” Award to Alex Choate, John Holroyd, and Lee Marks, Sweeney Todd

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Peter Umipig

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Ainsley Shapiro

    Elite Theatre Company

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Bill Walthall as “David”, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Jen Ridgway as “Esther”, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Patrick T. Rogers as “Barnette Lloyd”, Crimes of the Heart

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Catie Sayeg as “Joanne”, Vanities

    Outstanding Set Design: Rolland Petrello, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

    Outstanding Sound Design: Rolland Petrello, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

    Outstanding Lighting Design: Kylie Anne, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

    Outstanding Costume Design: Lorna Bowen, Breaking Legs

    Outstanding Direction: Rolland Petrello, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

    Outstanding Overall Production: To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday – L.J. Noel, Producer

    Judges’ Choice Award: “The Little Theatre That Could” Award to The Board of Directors of The Elite Theatre Company

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Hannah Garcia

    Ojai Art Center Theater

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: David Nelson Taylor as “Thomas”, Bless Your Heart

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Susan Kelejian as “Martha”, Bless Your Heart

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Daniel Mitchell as “Cléante”, The Miser

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Marisa Miculian as “Gertrude McFuzz”, Seussical

    Outstanding Set Design: Steve Pronovost & Kenny Dahle, Mamma Mia!

    Outstanding Sound Design: James Antunez, Mamma Mia!

    Outstanding Lighting Design: Steve Grumette, Night Must Fall

    Outstanding Costume Design: Sheryl Jo Bedal & Debbie Ayers, Seussical

    Outstanding Music Direction: Andrew Street & Smitty West, Mamma Mia!

    Outstanding Choreography: Anna Kotula, Mamma Mia!

    Outstanding Direction: Paul Sulzman, The Miser

    Outstanding Overall Production: Mamma Mia! – Herb Hemming & Tracey Williams Sutton, Producers

    Judges’ Choice Award: “Heartwarming Wordsmith” Award to Richard Camp for Bless Your Heart

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Arshan Barati

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Kyra Maal-King

    Santa Paula Theater Center

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Michael Perlmutter as “Erik Blake”, The Humans ‘

    Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Jill Dolan as “Elizabeth”, Complications From a Fall

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Ron Feltner as “Louie”, Lost in Yonkers

    Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Jessi May Stevenson as “Sarah”, Seascape

    Outstanding Set Design: Michael Carnahan, Casa Valentina

    Outstanding Sound Design: Jessi May Stevenson & Allan Noel, The Humans

    Outstanding Lighting Design: Gary Richardson, Complications From a Fall

    Outstanding Costume Design: Barbara Pedziwiatr, Casa Valentina

    Outstanding Direction: Jessi May Stevenson, The Humans

    Outstanding Overall Production: The Humans – Leslie Nichols, Producer

    Judges’ Choice Award: “Outstanding Season Selections” Award to David Ralphe & Fred Helsel

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Ryan Garces

    Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Wesley Umali

    Elite Gillian

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    Four-Star theater awards for 2019 season – Ojai Art Center Theater
    2 years ago

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