Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theater Foundation Holds Silver Soiree Awards Gala, Honors Regional Actors

Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theater Foundation Holds Silver Soiree Awards Gala, Honors Regional Actors
By: Contributor Last Updated: October 22, 2017

Northwest Indiana, “The Region”- a moniker borne on the backs of hard-working blue-collar individuals that have helped shape the strength of this very area of the Hoosier State. Along with its history of heavy industry, The Region also has a rich theatre culture. Amongst the people that inhabit this tiny corner of Indiana, perhaps no group epitomizes what it means to work hard in the arts more than the Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation (or NIETF), and the individuals that comprise this organization. On Saturday night, NIETF held their 25th Annual Silver Soiree Awards Gala and the celebration was nothing short of spectacular. They literally rolled out the red carpet to get the evening started as guests arrived in style, photo-ready and full of eagerness for the events of the evening.

After the initial buzz of arrival had passed, guests were allowed time to mix and mingle, anxiously anticipating the results of the coming ceremony while conversing and sipping cocktails. Whilst doing so, attendees spared no expense showcasing their savant style and eclectic personalities as they shared smiles amongst one another that filled the room with an aura of fun and excitement.

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The chatter continued as several guests shared their motivation for attending and general expectations for the evening.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down, enjoying a good meal, and giving accolades to those who win—I’m happy for them,” said Rob Hunt, who was in charge of the décor for the event and has been affiliated with NIETF for 2 and a half years.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the nominees and enjoying the night,” said Micah Finfrock, a 1st year member of the Crown Point Community Theatre. “It doesn’t matter who wins or loses…we’re here for theater family and I’m just glad to be a part of the Crown Point community theater. This is my first [NIETF] event so it makes me feel happy and warm inside to be with my community theater…talking with them and bringing back all the wonderful memories.”

The awards contained numerous categories, featuring members spread across the 15 different theater groups of NIETF. Perhaps even upstaging the awards themselves were the brilliant performances done by several theater groups that were interspersed between the ceremony.

During intermission, Becky Jascoviak, current president of the NIETF board serving her 5th year on the position, spoke about what makes the 25th annual NIETF celebration so special: “We often talk about how theater is a family…what I love here is that this is the only night of the year where everybody gets to come together and be a family, be a theater, love on each other, and we have 25 years of being able to do that.”

From 1st year participants to individuals who have been involved with area theater for over 50 years, the awards ceremony epitomized passion and people celebrating an art they love. Claudia Craig, one of the many attendees, was on hand to support her 11-year daughter, who was nominated for featured actress. A perfect example of how friends, colleagues, and even families gathered to show their support.

As the night came to a close, Victoria Luster-Bartz, of 4th Street Theater in Chesterton, eloquently summarized the evening perfectly: “It was a wonderful event that showcased all the work that people in this community put into their theater, all the love they have for the craft, and how much love we have for each other…theaters coming together to celebrate each other’s victories and not just their own.”

Congratulations to all the following award recipients at The Silver Soiree- NIETF's 25th Anniversary Gala!

PLAY AWARDS:

Principal Actor in Play:
Robert Hill as Franco Wicks, Superior Doughnuts, Hammond Community Theatre

Principal Actress in a Play:
Lindsey McDermott as Susy Hendrix, Wait Until Dark, Beatniks on Conkey

Featured Actor in a Play (TIE!):
Rodney Thornton as Honza Kosek, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, 4th Street Theater AND John Wotkun as Luther Flynn, Superior Doughnuts, Hammond Community Theatre

Featured Actress in a Play:
Sandy Stotts as Lady Boyle, Superior Doughnuts, Hammond Community Theatre

Cameo Role in a Play:
Denise Woodside Murray as The Strega, The Rose Tattoo, Chicago Street Theatre

Direction of a Play:
Sandra Assarian, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, 4th Street Theater

Scenic Design of a Play:
Andy Leahy, Superior Doughnuts, Hammond Community Theatre

Lighting Design of a Play:
Angela Heid, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, 4th Street Theater

Sound Design of a Play:
Matt Valuckis and Shea Street, Christmas Carol Radio Show, Crown Point Community Theatre

Costume Design of a Play:
Stephanie Naumoff, As You Like It, Gary Shakespeare Company

Viewer’s Choice - Technical in a Play:
Sound Effects/Foley Artistry, Christmas Carol Radio Show, Crown Point Community Theatre

Viewer’s Choice - Personnel in a Play:
Merry Folk/Troubadours, As You Like It, Gary Shakespeare Company

Best Play (TIE!):
I Never Saw Another Butterfly, 4th Street Theater AND Wait Until Dark, Beatniks on Conkey

MUSICAL NOMINEES:

Principal Actor in a Musical:
Justin Treasure as Seymour Krelborn, Little Shop of Horrors, Crown Point Community Theatre

Principal Actress in a Musical (TIE!):
Stephanie Stalbaum as Audrey, Little Shop of Horrors, Crown Point Community Theatre AND Michele Gustin as Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard, 4th Street Theater

Featured Actor in a Musical:
Matthew B. Byerly as Audrey II, Little Shop of Horrors, Crown Point Community Theatre

Featured Actress in a Musical:
Rhonda Janowski as the Witch, Into the Woods, 4th Street Theater

Cameo Role in a Musical:
Amy Johnson-Sobek as Aunt Sheila, It Shoulda Been You, L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group

Direction of a Musical:
Aaron & Julie Breford, Little Shop of Horrors, Crown Point Community Theatre

Musical Direction:
Jeff Otto, Last Five Years, Crown Point Community Theatre

Vocal Direction:
Andrew Flasch, Little Shop of Horrors, Crown Point Community Theatre

Choreography:
Julie Henry, A Year with Frog and Toad, Chicago Street Theatre

Scenic Design of a Musical:
Dutch “Spade” Williams & Jim Henry, Great American Trailer Park Christmas, Chicago Street Theatre

Lighting Design of a Musical:
Angie Heid, Little Shop of Horrors, Crown Point Cimmunity theatre

Costume Design of a Musical:
Stanlee Hodsden, Sunset Boulevard, 4th Street Theater

Viewer’s Choice - Technical in a Musical:
Set Decoration/Neon, Great American Trailer Park Christmas, Chicago Street Theatre

Viewer’s Choice - Personnel in a Musical:
Girls Trio Ensemble, Little Shop of Horrors, Crown Point Community

Best Musical:
Little Shop of Horrors, Crown Point Community Theatre

ADDITIONAL AWARDS

Project CAST: Genesius Guild

Presidential Award for Excellence: Dunes Arts Foundation

Outstanding Achievement: Ken and Cathy Mertens

Volunteers of the Year: Jude Tanter, 4th Street Theater; Anji Britten, Beatniks on Conkey; Auriel Lark Felsecker, Chicago Street Theatre; Patrick OHaver, Crown Point Community Theatre; Dan Schaaf, Dunes Arts Foundation; Christina Biancardi, Gary Shakespeare Company; Lisa Sowa-Downs, Genesius Guild; Rip Johnson, Hammond Community Theatre; Jill Waterson, Highland Parks Performing Arts Group; Karla Bozek, Larc en Ciel Theatre Group; Reagan Smedley, Memorial Opera House; Mike Porter, Valparaiso Theatrical Company

St. Christopher Society Inductees: Vickie Cash; Grant Fitch; Zachary Eugene Gipson; Allen Horner; Anne Nicholls; Amy O'Brien; Rea Robinson; Steve Rohe; KeriAnne Valuckis; Sherry VerWey Sweeney; Christine Weigand-Long

For more info on NIETF, Please visit http://nietf.org/