Six Community Theaters Announce Awards

By John Hankins

Ventura County has a robust love affair with its six live theaters belonging to the 10-year-old Four Star Theater Alliance, attracting literally thousands of residents and tourists every year; so, before the next season begins the Alliance is giving back some love by honoring those who made it such a successful and stellar 2018 season.

Winners in multiple categories for actors and crew will be feted Sunday, Feb. 3 at the Oceanview Pavilion in Port Hueneme. The evening features an artistic collage of multiple plays on screen and live performances on stage. There are limited tickets available to the public; for details go to:

      The most “Outstanding Overall” 2018 productions from the six theaters, which survived a savvy judging system plucked from their 31 creations, are:

      ~ Camarillo Skyway Playhouse: “Sylvia,” Jolyn Johnson, producer.

      ~ Conejo Players Theater: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Jeremy Zeller, producer.

      ~ Elite Theatre Company (Oxnard): “Superior Donuts,” Paulina Logan, producer.

      ~ High Street Arts Center (Moorpark): “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” Kathee Boyer & Ken Rayzor, producers.

      ~ Ojai ACT, “Bakersfield Mist,” Aaliyah Mora-Khan, producer.

      ~ Santa Paula Theater Center: “American Buffalo,” Leslie Nichols, producer.

      At the affair, guests will be schmoozing with the stars and chatting with the constellation of off-stage talent who make the plays so entertaining and worthy.

“If you stood in front of a stage, behind a stage, or in a booth this year, if you built or lit a phony world that was real enough to touch with your mind, you are a hero …and if you were brave enough to stand in a pool of amber light and lie gloriously to a hundred strangers, or ten, or five hundred, for thirty seconds or for three hours, you are one of the divine incorrigible, and you have something better than a statue,” said actor and director Brian Robert Harris … who will get a statue.

On the Alliance’s Facebook, fans have called the 2018 season “so fantastic,” “wonderful shows,” “proud” and “teamwork, passion, dedication” for “keeping quality theater alive in Ventura County.”

It’s all being followed up by “2019’s gonna be a big year; we’ve got a season of miraculous flying nannies and fairy tales; of demon barbers; of devils in Salem and in a Chinatown apartment and at a cross-dresser colony in the Catskills; of beach ghosts, of mathematician ghosts; mobsters in Oxnard and a miser in Ojai; of big spenders and talking lizards,” according to Harris.

The Alliance’s Awards are unique. In most counties, a local newspaper hands out awards judged by their critics. 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 not the ‘best’ but the most ‘outstanding’ in various categories. It’s a subtle, but important distinction.


 + Camarillo Skyway Playhouse +

Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Todd Tickner as “Greg,” Sylvia

Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Genevieve Levin as “Sylvia,” Sylvia

Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Bill Sweeney as “Tom/Phyllis/Leslie,” Sylvia

Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Michelle Harris as “Little Red Riding Hood,” Into the Woods

Outstanding Set Design: Dean Johnson, Sylvia

Outstanding Sound Design: Allan D. Noel & Eric R. Umali, Into the Woods

Outstanding Lighting Design: Wesley Umali, Sylvia

Outstanding Costume Design: Laura Comstock, Into the Woods

Outstanding Music Direction: David Watkins, Into the Woods

Outstanding Choreography: Michael J. McGraw, Into the Woods

Outstanding Direction: Kimberly Demmary, Sylvia

Outstanding Overall Production: Sylvia – Jolyn Johnson, Producer

Judges’ Choice Award: “Performers Fit for a Fairytale” Award to The Cast of Into the Woods

Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Lillian Lippold

Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Sasha Jacobson


+ Conejo Players Theatre +

Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Michael Worden as “Randall Patrick McMurphy,” One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Danielle McFadden as “Nurse Ratched,” One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: David White as “Chief Bromden,” One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Kimberly Demmary as “Blanche,” Broadway Bound

Outstanding Set Design: Dick Johnson, Candide

Outstanding Sound Design: Julie & Seth Hackett, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Outstanding Lighting Design: Dominick Riches, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Outstanding Costume Design: Manuel Silva, West Side Story

Outstanding Music Direction: David Watkins, Candide

Outstanding Choreography: Miriam Durrie-Kirsch, West Side Story

Outstanding Direction: Deidre Parmenter, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Outstanding Overall Production: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Jeremy Zeller, Producer

Judges’ Choice Award: “Exceptional Visual Projections” Award to John Eslick for Candide

Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Jake Fagundes

Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Mateo Gonzalez


+ Elite Theatre Company +

Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Emmanuel Odaibo as “Franco Wicks,” Superior Donuts

Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Jen Ridgway as “Doris,” Same Time, Next Year

Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Bill Walthall as “Harry M. Daugherty,” Fifteen Men in a Smoke-Filled Room

Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Shayde Bridges as “Elma Duckworth,” Bus Stop

Outstanding Set Design: Steve Mitchell, Superior Donuts

Outstanding Sound Design: Allan D. Noel, Fifteen Men in a Smoke-Filled Room

Outstanding Lighting Design: Claire Cleary, Superior Donuts

Outstanding Costume Design: L.J. Stevens, Same Time, Next Year

Outstanding Direction: Larry Swerdlove, Superior Donuts

Outstanding Overall Production: Superior Donuts – Paulina Logan, Producer

Judges’ Choice Award: “Prop Mistress” Award to Christina Colombo for True West

Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Genesis Perez


+ High Street Arts Center Moorpark +

Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Michael Rosenblum as “Freddy Benson,” Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Megan Rayzor as “Christine Colgate,” Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Phil Nemy as “Doc,” Mister Roberts

Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Joanna Bert as “Lina Lamont,” Singin’ in the Rain

Outstanding Set Design: Scott Armstrong & John Tedrick, Mister Roberts

Outstanding Sound Design: Ken Rayzor, Singin’ in the Rain

Outstanding Lighting Design: Patrick Duffy, Mister Roberts

Outstanding Costume Design: Barbara Mazeika, Singin’ in the Rain

Outstanding Music Direction: Nick Newkirk, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Outstanding Choreography: Tami Keaton & Amy Woolweber, Singin’ in the Rain

Outstanding Direction: John Tedrick, Mister Roberts

Outstanding Overall Production: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Kathee Boyer & Ken Rayzor, Producers

Judges’ Choice Award: “Outstanding Stage Presence” Award to Whitney Grubb

Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Sierra Armstrong for Set Design, Aladdin, Jr.


+ Ojai Art Center Theater +

Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Paul Sulzman as “Lionel,” Bakersfield Mist

Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Lee Ann Manley as “Maude,” Bakersfield Mist

Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: John Medeiros as “Charlie Martin,” On Golden Pond

Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Lynn Van Emmerik as “Gertie,” 33 Variations

Outstanding Set Design: Steve Mitchell, On Golden Pond

Outstanding Sound Design: Cari Grace Frantz, 33 Variations

Outstanding Lighting Design: Claire Cleary, On Golden Pond

Outstanding Costume Design: Mary Crane, Tracey Williams Sutton, & Haley Weed, 33 Variations

Outstanding Direction: Susan Kelejian, Bakersfield Mist

Outstanding Overall Production: Bakersfield Mist – Aaliyah Mora-Khan, Producer

Judges’ Choice Award: “Master of the Ivories” Award to Aaron Embry for 33 Variations

Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Amber Hodge

Outstanding Youth in Theatre: Coree Kotula


+ Santa Paula Theater Center +

Outstanding Lead Performance, Male: Brian Robert Harris as “Don Dubrow,” American Buffalo

Outstanding Lead Performance, Female: Peggy Steketee as “Lady Angkatell,” The Hollow

Outstanding Featured Performance, Male: Eric Mello as “Bob,” American Buffalo

Outstanding Featured Performance, Female: Aileen-Marie Scott as “Claire,” This Random World

Outstanding Set Design: Taylor Kasch, The Hollow

Outstanding Sound Design: Kevin Kahm & Allan D. Noel, Constellations

Outstanding Lighting Design: Gary Richardson, Constellations

Outstanding Costume Design: Barbara Pedziwiatr, The Hollow

Outstanding Direction: Jessi May Stevenson, True West

Outstanding Overall Production: American Buffalo – Leslie Nichols, Producer

Judges’ Choice Award: “Outstanding Prop Design” Award to Gail Heck

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