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AFL honors work in community theater musicals

AFL honors work in community theater musicals

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Arts for Life Awards

In June 2014, Stephanie Merritt, who played Kate Monster in "Avenue Q" at Take Two Productions, accepts the Arts for Life award for best actress in a leading role with a little help from a fuzzy friend. The non-fuzzy friend beside her is Vincent Henthorn. Photo by Jim Wolfe.

Take Two Productions was the big winner when the Arts for Life Awards were presented Sunday. It won two awards for its production of “Les Miserables” and five – including the award for best small-ensemble musical production – for “Avenue Q.”

A different production of “Les Miserables,” from Alpha Players of Florissant, was named best large-ensemble musical production. It won four other awards as well.

Presented at the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade, the awards recognize outstanding achievement in community theater productions of musicals. There were 146 nominees from shows staged throughout the St. Louis area.

Ryan Cooper, a past winner of three Arts for Life awards, was master of ceremonies for the awards celebration, and Diane Hanisch was music director.

The two awards for outstanding production are the top honors. Other winners at the 15th-annual ceremony were:

Director: Sharon Contner, “Les Miserables,” Alpha Players

Choreographer: Glenn Guillermo, “Fiddler on the Roof,” Christ Memorial Productions

Music director: Michael Blackwood and Becky Thorn, "Les Miserables," Alpha Players

Set designer: Diana Enloe, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Alton Little Theatre

Costume designer: Jean Heckmann, “The Secret Garden,” Hawthorne Players

Actor in a leading role: Mike Huelsmann, “Les Miserables,” Take Two Productions

Actress in a leading role: Stephanie Merritt, “Avenue Q,” Take Two 

Actor in a featured role: Evan Fornachon, “Avenue Q,” Take Two

Actress in a featured role: Amanda Kocher, “Les Miserables,” Take Two

Actor in a supporting role: Jeremy Hyatt, “Les Miserables,” Alpha Players

Actress in a supporting role: Courtney LaBelle Jackson, “The Secret Garden,” Hawthorne

Actor in a comedic role: Bob Efken, “Avenue Q,” Take Two

Actress in a comedic role: Melissa Guffey, “Avenue Q,” Take Two

Actor in a non-singing role: Pat Klick, “Annie Get Your Gun,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best actress in a non-singing role: B. Quen Tibbs, “9 to 5,” Act Two Theatre

Actor in a cameo role: Evan Fifer, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Summerstage Inc.

Actress in a cameo role: Nicky Collett, “Fidder on the Roof,” Christ Memorial Productions

Duo or group performance: Eddie Hitchcock and Jeff Pruett, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Alton Little Theatre

Juvenile performer: Evey Ohs, “White Christmas,” Magdalen Players

Best musical performance: Keith Poppitz, “Fiddler on the Roof,” Christ Memorial Productions

Arts for Life awards are also given for youth productions. Those winners are:

Musical production: “Willy Wonka,” Shooting Star Productions

Lead actor: Sean T. Gunderson, “Willy Wonka,” Shooting Star

Lead actress: Yvette Lu, “In the Heights,” COCA Theatre Company

Supporting actor: Rhys Prosser, “Willy Wonka,” Shooting Star

Supporting actress: Madison Lay, “Willy Wonka,” Shooting Star

Special recognition for performance: Zach Erhardt, “In the Heights,” COCA Theatre

Best featured dancer: Lindsey Peters, “Aladdin Jr.,” O'Fallon TheatreWorks

In addition, Keith Boyer received the Founders' Recognition of Excellence Award for his performance in Alpha's “Les Miserables,” and Tony and Dottie Bertolino received the AFL Lifetime Achievement Award. They have been active in community theatre, both onstage and backstage, for more than 30 years. Kaitlyn Smith and John Roberts received AFL scholarships to pursue their studies in the arts.

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Judith Newmark is the theater critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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