Theatre came alive in NWI on Sunday night, and it happened all in one room. Northwest Indiana Theatre in Excellence Foundation celebrated their 24th annual NIETF Awards Gala, which highlighted another fantastic year in theatre within our three county region. The awards showcased talent on stage, and behind the stage by playing a big part in both dramas and musicals.
Becky Jascoviak, President of the Northwest Indiana Theatre in Excellence Foundation, stated that this year was a celebration of “being excellent together”, while also continuing to highlight the hard working people who make up the large family within Northwest Indiana theater.
“Nobody does theatre here professionally, so the work we do is hours on top of our regular life - so these awards showcase that we are all ‘excellent together’. This is not a competition, it’s about how we’ve cultivated this fantastic community,” Jascoviak stated. “Though, along with the traditional awards during the ceremony, we also added new awards to the list - which includes the St. Christopher Society Introductions and the Presidential Award for Excellence that are given out during dinner. This gives us the chance to award more people for the dedication that the give every day towards continually making theatre better for us.”
The awards each year are determined by a set few of “viewers” - the people who watch over a dozen plays and musicals a year to nominate a select few in each category. With so many different shows to pick from, it can be a hard, but an enjoyable feat. Aaron Breford, who is a viewer for NIETF and also wrote the original opening musical number for the ceremony, said that the awards are a great opportunity to get the theatre community together and honor their talent.
“There’s only a select few who attended both the musicals and the plays throughout the years and those are the ‘nutjobs’,” Breford stated. “For me I judge the musicals and it’s such a great opportunity to see what other theatres are doing each season. There’s so many chances for people to get involved with or experience theatre here in the region, and we’re lucky to have that. These awards really reinforce that notion.”
The awards consisted of over twenty categories and tens of nominees that are selected from various plays and musicals over the past year. Each play and musical that was nominated for Best Musical and Best Play also was given the opportunity to perform on stage to give the audience a taste of why each work was recognized. Throughout the ceremony awards were handed out to very worthy winners with a thunderous applause from their peers, veterans, and newcomers alike. Zachary Eugene Gipson, who accepted four awards on behalf of Young Frankenstein which included Best Musical, said that although it’s flattering to be acknowledged for the musical, it’s success was due to the ones who helped in front and behind the scenes.
“To be honored tonight is fantastic, but all of it was not won alone” Gibson stated. “The story of Young Frankenstein is about people coming together to create something and when something goes wrong they still stick together and that was the incredible cast and crew I had for this production. Again, with the play being nominated 17 times it’s unbelievable. But there’s also so many companies and theatres around our region that are not recognized by NIETF as well. The smaller groups that exist are producing fantastic work. I hope to be within their company as well in the future, along with the already incredible theatres that are represented tonight.”
In the end over 20 people walked away as winners on Sunday night, but it’s not to say the least that everyone at the gala was honored to come together and celebrate each other. Next year NIETF will have another hard job of selecting winners and nominees from the new year of productions, but there’s no doubt that theatre in Northwest Indiana will continue to reach new heights due to it’s passionate artists that make up one of the strongest communities in our region.
2016 AWARD WINNERS:
St. Christopher Society inductees: Steven Becker Chuckles Brady Matthew Byerly Bob Cooley Linda Didelot Trisha Hales Sarah Lewis David Long Stephanie Naumoff Michael Doc Kuhn Kali Rasala Kathie Rosdil Donna Rowland Don Taylor Jason Utesch Sheree Wheeler-Gudeman
Volunteers of the Year: 4th Street Theater: Kathy Markwart Beatniks on Conkey: David Johnson Chicago Street Theatre: Nancy Haller Crown Point Community Theatre: Angie Heid Dunes Arts Foundation: Tyler Marshall Gary Shakespeare Company: Jennifer Mead Genesius Guild: Elizabeth Roman Hammond Community Theatre: Anji Britten Highland Park’s Performing Arts Group: Don Wisler L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group: John Gianotti Memorial Opera House: Michael Glorioso Valparaiso Theatrical Company: Vickie Cash
Outstanding Achievement Award: Jonni Pera
Presidential Award for Excellence: Gary Shakespeare Company
Project CAST: Crown Point Community Theatre
Best Play: Sylvia, L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group
Best Director: Play Angie Lowe, Sylvia, L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group
Best Sets/Set Design: Play Eric Brant , Wash Dry & Fold, Chicago Street Theatre
Best Lights/Lighting Design: Play Bob Cooley Lieutenant of Inishmore Chicago Street Theatre
Best Sound/Sound Design: Play John Wotkun I’ll Be Back Before Midnight Beatniks on Conkey
Best Costumes/Costume Design: Play Stanlee K. Hodsden, Kat Lutze Charley’s Aunt 4th Street Theater
Best Principal Actress: Play Lydia DeVille as Sylvia Sylvia L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group
Best Cameo in a Play: Kali Rasala as Mrs. Dilber – Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge Hammond Community Theatre
Best Featured Actress: Play Donna Rowland as Mrs. Shandig Runner Stumbles Genesius Guild
Best Principal Actor: Play Hal Kilgore as Randle McMurphy One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Crown Point Community Theatre
Best Featured Actor: Play Matt Stinnett as Stephen Spettigue Charley’s Aunt 4th Street Theater
Best Musical: Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Best Director: Musical Matt Domasica Assassins Crown Point Community Theatre
Best Musical/Orchestral Director: Luke Nelson Cabaret Dunes Summer Theatre
Best Vocal Director: Jeff Otto [title of show] Crown Point Community Theatre
Best Choreography: Zachary Eugene Gipson Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Best Sets/Set Design: Musical Zachary Eugene Gipson Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Best Lights/Lighting Design: Musical Bob Cooley Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Best Sound/Sound Design: Musical Mary A. Bird Matern Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Best Costumes/Costume Design: Musical Sally Kwaiser The Addams Family Memorial Opera House
Best Principal Actress: Musical Rachel Livingston as Inga Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Best Featured Actress: Musical Mary Kay Steele as Frau Blucher Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Best Principal Actor: Musical Chris Gierymski as Baladeer/Oswald Assassins Crown Point Community Theatre
Best Featured Actor: Musical Craig Golbesky as Igor Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Best Cameo: Musical Bob Penney as Blind Hermit Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre
Viewers’ Choice: Musical Use of Projections Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre