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.
Stay up-to-date on what's happening
Receive the latest in local entertainment news in your inbox weekly!