Saluting Dayton’s 2010-11 Theater Season

(L to R) Kristie Berger, Madeline Casto and Susanne Marley in August: Osage County (Photo by Scott J. Kimmins)

Splendid collaborations, promising new works, compelling dramas and knockout regional and local premieres impressively accented Dayton’s strong, refreshingly progressive 2010-11 theater season.

I attended nearly 70 shows over the past 12 months, and unsurprisingly, the triumphs outweighed the troubled. Among the highlights: Cedarville University’s attractive and delightful “Hello, Dolly!”; the Dayton Theatre Guild’s comical yet poignant look at “The Boys Next Door”; the Dayton Playhouse’s 20th anniversary FutureFest and hilariously first-rate delivery of “The Producers”; Encore Theater Company’s wonderfully authentic “[title of show]” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”; Epiphany Lutheran Church’s marvelously magical “Seussical”; the disbanded SEED Theatre Project’s little-seen yet powerful “The Syringa Tree”; Sinclair Community College’s whimsical “Once On This Island”; the Victoria Theatre Association’s long-awaited arrival of Disney’s “The Lion King” and overdue embrace of the terrifically naughty “Spring Awakening” and “Avenue Q”; the Human Race Theatre Company and Wright State University’s dynamically dysfunctional “August: Osage County”; and the Dayton Philharmonic and Wright State’s stunning presentation of Leonard Bernstein’s rarely attempted “MASS.” Based on the artistic strengths of the Human Race/WSU and DPO/WSU collaborations, I certainly hope the organizations consider joining forces to stage Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” in 2012-13.

Additionally, the deaths of Marsha Hanna of the Human Race Theatre, Nelson D’Aloia of the Victoria Theatre Association and Kay Wean of Epiphany Lutheran Church are equally noteworthy. After all, their amazing legacies will undoubtedly endure for years to come.

On Saturday, August 13 at Sinclair Community College’s Ponitz Center, Dayton’s theater community will gather for the eighth annual DayTony Awards, held in conjunction with the 10th annual Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame inductions celebrating theater patrons Don and Lois Bigler, Dayton Theatre Guild member Carol Finley and director Doug Lloyd primarily of Beavercreek Community Theatre. The DayTonys specifically honor outstanding designers, performers and productions across the area voted on by participating theaters. In the meanwhile, here are my choices for the season’s best.

BEST PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION OF A PLAY

August: Osage County“August: Osage County,” Human Race Theatre/Wright State University

Honorable Mentions:

“Permanent Collection,” Human Race Theatre

“The 39 Steps,” Human Race Theatre

“Twelfth Night,” Human Race Theatre

“The Wonder Bread Years,” Victoria Theatre Association

BEST PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL

"The Lion King"

Disney’s “The Lion King,” Victoria Theatre Association

Honorable Mentions:

“Avenue Q,” Victoria Theatre Association

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” Human Race Theatre/Victoria Theatre Association

“right next to me,” Human Race Theatre

“Spring Awakening,” Victoria Theatre Association

BEST COMMUNITY THEATER PRODUCTION OF A PLAY

"The Boys Next Door"

“The Boys Next Door,” Dayton Theatre Guild

Honorable Mentions:

“Fat Pig,” Dayton Theatre Guild

“Mauritius,” Dayton Theatre Guild

“The Sugar Witch,” Dayton Theatre Guild

“The Syringa Tree,” SEED Theatre Project

BEST COMMUNITY THEATER PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL

"The Producers"

“The Producers,” Dayton Playhouse

Honorable Mentions:

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” Encore Theater Company

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Beavercreek Community Theatre

“The Spitfire Grill,” Beavercreek Community Theatre

“[title of show],” Encore Theater Company

BEST COLLEGIATE PRODUCTION OF A PLAY

"August: Osage County"

“August: Osage County,” Human Race Theatre/Wright State University

Honorable Mentions:

“Art,” Miami University

“The Importance of Being Earnest,” Cedarville University

“Picnic,” Wright State University

“See How They Run,” Cedarville University

BEST COLLEGIATE PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL

"42nd Street"

“42nd Street,” Wright State University

Honorable Mentions:

“Anything Goes,” Wright State University

“Hello, Dolly!,” Cedarville University

“Jekyll & Hyde,” Wright State University

“Once On This Island,” Sinclair Community College

BEST NEW WORK

"right next to me"

“right next to me,” Human Race Theatre

Honorable Mentions:

“Hot Mess in Manhattan,” Encore Theater Company

“How It Works,” Dayton Playhouse FutureFest

“Next Thing You Know,” Encore Theater Company

“Refuge,” Dayton Playhouse FutureFest

BEST SPECIAL THEATRICAL EVENT

Leonard Bernstein's MASS: a Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers - Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra & Wright State University Music, Theatre & Dance Departments, 2011

Leonard Bernstein's MASS

“MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers,” Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra/Wright State University

Honorable Mentions:

“Forbidden Broadway Dances With the Stars!,” Victoria Theatre Association

“Into the Woods,” Muse Machine

“Seth’s Big Fat Broadway,” Springfield Arts Council

“Seussical,” Epiphany Lutheran Church

BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY

Alan Bomar Jones as Sterling North, “Permanent Collection”

Alan Bomar Jones - “Permanent Collection”

Honorable Mentions:

Geoff Burkman as Jim, “Refuge”

Richard Marlatt as Richard Hannay, “The 39 Steps”

Scott McGowan as Paul Barrow, “Permanent Collection”

Greg Smith as Fleeta Mae Bryte, “Precious Heart” (Dayton Theatre Guild)

BEST LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Susanne Marley as Violet Weston, “August: Osage County”

Susanne Marley

Honorable Mentions:

Kristie Berger as Barbara Fordham, “August: Osage County”

Amy Brooks as Jackie, “Mauritius”

Claire Kennedy as Viola, “Twelfth Night”

Robin Smith as Elizabeth Grace and others, “The Syringa Tree”

BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Blaine Boyd as Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde, “Jekyll & Hyde”

Blaine Boyd - “Jekyll & Hyde”

Honorable Mentions:

Saul Caplan as Max Bialystock, “The Producers”

Wally Dunn as Man In Chair, “The Drowsy Chaperone”

JJ Parkey as Hedwig, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

David Sherman as Leo Bloom, “The Producers”

BEST LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Mary Kate O’Neill as The Baker’s Wife, “Into the Woods”

Honorable Mentions:

Cait Doyle as The Mess, “Hot Mess in Manhattan”

Jessica Diane Hickling as Dolly Levi, “Hello, Dolly!”

Alyssa Hostetler as Peggy Sawyer, “42nd Street”

Pam McGinnis as Hannah Ferguson, “The Spitfire Grill”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY

Franklin Johnson as Lucien P. Smith, “The Boys Next Door”

Honorable Mentions:

Bruce Cromer as Clown #1, “The 39 Steps”

Jake Lockwood as Clown #2, “The 39 Steps”

Dave Nickel as Granddaddy Meeks, “The Sugar Witch”

Scott Stoney as Beverly Weston, “August: Osage County”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Madeline Casto as Mattie Fae Aiken, “August: Osage County”

Honorable Mentions:

Stephanie Anderson as Lady Bracknell, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Sarah Caplan as Sisser Bean, “The Sugar Witch”

Keely Heyl as Miss Skillon, “See How They Run”

Melissa Joyner as Kanika Weaver, “Permanent Collection”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Charles Larkowski as Roger De Bris, “The Producers”

Honorable Mentions:

Jonathan Berry as Carmen Ghia, “The Producers”

Gabriel Pyle as Cornelius Hackl, “Hello, Dolly!”

Kevin Rankin as Franz Liebkind, “The Producers”

Dean Swann as Mr. William Cartwright and Mayor Thomas Sapsea, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Danika Haffenden as Ulla, “The Producers”

Honorable Mentions:

Abigail Nessen Bengson as Yitzhak, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

Christina Bianco as Kristin Chenoweth, Sarah Brightman, Bernadette Peters and others, “Forbidden Broadway Dances With the Stars”

Nora Coyle as Heidi, “[title of show]”

Angele’ Price as Susan, “[title of show]”

BREAKTHROUGH MALE PERFORMANCE

Jason David Collins as Charlie Aiken, “August: Osage County”

Honorable Mentions:

Riley Able as Hal Carter, “Picnic”

Nicolas Bauer as Carter, “Fat Pig”

Josiah Hutchings as Barnaby Tucker, “Hello, Dolly!”

Davis Sullivan as Jack, “Into the Woods”

BREAKTHROUGH FEMALE PERFORMANCE

Carly Snyder as Little Red Ridinghood, “Into the Woods”

Honorable Mentions:

Amy Askins as Jeannie, “Fat Pig”

Hannah Berry as Olive Ostrovsky, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” (Dayton Playhouse)

Chelsea Cavender as Jean Fordham, “August: Osage County”

Bethany Locklear as Rosa Bud, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY

Marsha Hanna and Scott Stoney, “August: Osage County” Honorable Mentions:

Joe Deer, “The 39 Steps”

Adam J. Leigh, “The Syringa Tree”

Natasha Randall, “The Boys Next Door”

Aaron Vega, “Twelfth Night”

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Kay Francis Wean, “Seussical”

Honorable Mentions:

David Brush, “Once On This Island”

Robert and Ruth Clements, “Hello, Dolly!”

Chris Harmon, “The Producers”

W. Stuart McDowell, “Jekyll & Hyde”

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

Rick Conant, “42nd Street”

Honorable Mentions:

Greg Hellems and Amber Preston, “Anything Goes”

Katy Russell and Alexandra Turner, “Hello, Dolly!”

Rodney Veal, “Once On This Island”

Megan Wean, “Seussical”

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY

Blake Senseman, “The Sugar Witch”

Honorable Mentions:

Dick Block, “Twelfth Night”

Tamara L. Honesty, “Permanent Collection”

Donald N.C. Jones, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Pam Knauert Lavarnway, “August: Osage County”

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Paul Wonsek, “Into the Woods”

Honorable Mentions:

Bruce Brown, “Seussical”

Robert Clements, “Hello, Dolly!”

Tamara L. Honesty, “42nd Street”

Terry Stump, “Once On This Island”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY

Lowell A. Mathwich, “Twelfth Night”

Honorable Mentions:

D. Bartlett Blair, “Picnic”

David M. Covach, “August: Osage County”

Donald N.C. Jones, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Janet Powell, “The 39 Steps”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Ruth Clements, “Hello, Dolly!”

Honorable Mentions:

D. Bartlett Blair, “42nd Street”

Josh Hollister, “The Producers”

Kathleen Hotmer, “Once On This Island”

Maria Kleuber and Lori Watamaniuk, “Seussical”

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY

Nicholas Crumbley, “The Syringa Tree”

Honorable Mentions:

Robert Clements and Carolyn Ruck, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Nicholas Crumbley, “Picnic”

John Rensel, “August: Osage County”

John Rensel, “Twelfth Night”

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Gina Neuerer, “Once On This Island”

Honorable Mentions:

Tim Guth, “Seussical”

Becky Haines, “Evita” (Wilmington College-Community Summer Theatre)

John Rensel, “Into the Woods”

Carolyn Ruck, “Hello, Dolly!”

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY

Nathan D. Dean, “The Syringa Tree”

Honorable Mentions:

Rich Dionne, “Twelfth Night”

James Dunlap, “August: Osage County”

Jason Nickoson, “Picnic”

K.L. Storer, “The Sugar Witch”

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

David Sherman, “Into the Woods”

Honorable Mentions:

Nathan D. Dean, “Once On This Island”

James Dunlap, “Jekyll & Hyde”

Dick Lane, “Seussical”

Brian Ronan, “Spring Awakening”

BEST PROPERTIES

Adrienne Niess and Ann Meyer, “Seussical”

Honorable Mentions:

John Lavarnway and Heather Powell, “August: Osage County”

Wendi Michael and others, “Precious Heart”

Blake Senseman and others, “The Boys Next Door”

Terry Stump, “Once On This Island”

BEST VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN

J. Wynn Alexander, “Evita” (Wilmington College-Community Summer Theatre)

Honorable Mentions:

David A. Centers, “right next to me”

Jackson Gallagher, “Next Thing You Know”

Benjamin Pearcy, “9 to 5: The Musical”

Rodney Veal, “Altar Boyz” (Encore Theater Company)

BEST ORCHESTRA

“42nd Street,” Musical Director: Rick Church

Honorable Mentions:

“Into the Woods,” Musical Director: David Dusing

“The Lion King,” Musical Director: Rick Snyder

“The Producers,” Musical Director: Ron Kindell

“Seussical,” Musical Director: John Benjamin

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Kevin Adams’ Tony Award-winning lighting design for “Spring Awakening”

Gregg Barnes’ Tony Award-winning costumes for “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Gregg Coffin’s orchestrations for “right next to me”

The collaborative artistic team of “MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers”: Producers W. Stuart McDowell and Paul Helfrich; music director/conductor Neal Gittleman; stage director Greg Hellems; choreographer Gina Gardner-Walther; designer Pamela Knauert Lavarnway; choir director Hank Dahlman; children’s choir director Natalie DeHorn; assistant choir directors James Tipps and Drew Collins; lighting designer Matthew Benjamin; sound designer Keith Thomas; and costumer Joy Galbraith

Kevin Crewell’s recreation of Casey Nicholaw’s Tony Award-nominated choreography for “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Christian Duhamel’s original music for “Twelfth Night” and regional premiere of “Here With Me” (Human Race Theatre/Neon Movies)

The “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” band led by musical director John Faas

Joann M. Hunter’s recreation of Bill T. Jones’ Tony Award-winning choreography for “Spring Awakening”

Allison Janney as The Giant, “Into the Woods”

Melonie June Johns’ light and sound effects for “Seussical”

Rick Lyons’ puppet conception and design for “Avenue Q”

Matthew Michael Moore’s fight choreography for “See How They Run”

Music director Vince Peterson and cellist Dan Delaney’s accompaniment for “Hot Mess in Manhattan”

Lucy Skilbeck’s recreation of Michael Mayer’s Tony Award-winning direction for “Spring Awakening”

Music director Julie Spangler’s accompaniment for the Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Scholarship Competition (Human Race Theatre)

Music director Catherine Stornetta’s accompaniment for “Forbidden Broadway Dances With the Stars”

The principal cast and collaborative artistic team of “Porgy and Bess” (Dayton Opera): Thomas Ray Beard, Jr. as Porgy, Kearstin Piper Brown as Bess, Philip Boykin as Crown, Adrienne Danrich as Serena, NaGuanda Nobles as Clara, Roderick George as Sportin’ Life, Judith Skinner as Maria and Eric McKeever as Jake; music director/conductor Neal Gittleman; director Gary Briggle; choreographer Debbie Blunden-Diggs and the dancers of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company; and the singers of the Dayton Opera Chorus, Central State University and Wilberforce University

The Street Chorus of “MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers”

Julie Taymor’s Tony winning direction and costume design, Julie Taymor and Michael Curry’s mask and puppet design, Garth Fagan’s Tony winning choreography, Donald Holder’s Tony winning lighting design and Richard Hudson’s Tony winning scenic design for “The Lion King”

The uncredited costumes for “Into the Woods”

Erin Winslow’s costumes for the role of Angela Arden-Sussman in “Die, Mommie, Die!” (Dayton Playhouse)

John Wesley Wright as the Celebrant, “MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers”

The 2011 DayTonys/Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame gala, a black-tie optional event, will be held Saturday, August 13 at the Ponitz Center, Building 12, of Sinclair Community College, 444 W. Third St. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. and feature cocktails, dinner, dessert, dancing, a cash bar and free parking. The “early bird” cost is $35 per person prior to Monday, August 1. After August 1, the cost is $50 per person. Reservations must be received by Monday, August 8. Reservations can be made by calling Fran Pesch at (937) 654-0400. Make check payable to: Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame/DayTonys, P.O. Box 2706, Dayton, OH 45401-2706.

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avatar About Russell Florence, Jr.

Russell Florence, Jr. is a member of The American Theatre Critics Association and The Drama League. In addition to his role as arts and culture editor of Dayton City Paper and theater critic for Dayton City Paper and Impact Weekly, he served as a Dayton Daily News freelance writer and editorial page contributor. He has also written features for such theater publications as Spotlight Ohio and The Sondheim Review. He attended over 30 Broadway/Off-Broadway productions during the 2013-14 season.


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