DM Playhouse Announces Dionysos Award Winners

‚Äč
DM Playhouse Announces Dionysos Award Winners

The Des Moines Community Playhouse held the 2014 Dionysos Awards on Sunday, July 27. The theatre honored 18 backstage, front-of-house, and education volunteers, and announced 10 acting award winners.

Karen Schaeffer received the Dick Brown Superior Volunteer Award. The award is named for longtime Playhouse volunteer, Dick Brown, who embodied the theatre's volunteer program and was nationally recognized for his community theatre volunteer service. Schaeffer is a multi-talented force. In addition to acting roles, she has volunteered as sound board operator, followspot operator, dresser, and stage manager. Her original play "Girls' Weekend," was a hit in the theatre's play reading series and will be fully staged as part of the 2014-15 Mainstage season.

Philip Sandager received the Gypsy Award. The Gypsy Award, nominated by the season's stage managers, is given to an actor, typically not a lead, who has shown dedication to the show, assisting in ways above and beyond their role. Sandager is a dream cast member, enthusiastic and passionate from the first rehearsal. He helps others, is a leader, and brings a "can do" attitude.

Receiving the 2014 Volunteer of the Year Awards were Dennis Bates, Kathleen Baustian, Susan Eisenhour, Stacey Frett, Kevin Higdon, Joy Kripal, Sam Lee, Melinda Leseney, Norma Lyle, Richard Manion, Barbara Mydland, Megan Schettler Schug, Becky Scholtec, Bill Slicker, Lois Taylor, and Lisa Wiggins. This group of volunteers gives their time to building sets and props, sewing costumes, shifting scenery, running lights and sound, acting, organizing auditions, visiting classrooms, corresponding with students about shows, touring the state with radio shows, assisting with theatre classes, tearing tickets, and welcoming motorcoach groups.

Actor Awards were given in both the Mainstage and Kate Goldman Children's Theatre. Actors were nominated by audiences, with winners chosen by season ticket holders.

In the Mainstage Theatre, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical went to Steve Berry, who played Jean Valjean in "LES MISERABLES." Preshia Paulding received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical for her role as Golde in "Fiddler on the Roof." Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play went to Tim Wisgerhof for his role as Randle P. McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Susan Irish received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play for her role as Berthe in "Boeing Boeing." Awards were also given to young actors Peter Erickson and Jacob Nelson Forney for their shared role as Gavroche in "LES MISERABLES" and to young actresses Rachel Forney and Jillian Michelle Gabby, who shared the role of Young Cosette in "LES MISERABLES."

In the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical went to Douglas Cochrane, who played Caterpillar in "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." Rachel Forney received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical for her title role in "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." Jackson Gabby received Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play for his role as Fudge Hatcher in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing." Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play went to Aviana Gedler, who played Madeline Reeves in "The Hundred Dresses."

Katherine Crowley, the 2014 Liska Miller Scholarship winner, was also recognized. The scholarship is given to a high school senior who has volunteered time either backstage or assisted in the education department. The scholarship was established in honor of Liska Miller who was a frequent volunteer with the teen summer acting class. Crowley, a Johnston High School graduate, will be a freshman at Creighton University, where she will study nursing. She has volunteered backstage and in the education department at the Playhouse.

The nearly 300 volunteers and Playhouse subscribers at Sunday's awards paid tribute to the more than 1,700 active volunteers who give more than 77,000 hours to the theatre. The Dionysos Awards are named for the Greek god and patron deity of the theater.

The Playhouse volunteer program is open to ages 14 and up for backstage and front-of-house opportunities, and ages 8 and up for acting opportunities. Training is provided. For more information on volunteer opportunities with the Playhouse, call 515-277-6261.

Dennis Bates is at the Playhouse nearly every weekday, helping with whatever needs to be done, even cleaning. He builds scenery in both the Mainstage and Kate Goldman Children's Theatre. Whenever there is a piece that needs to be cut out with the jigsaw, the scene shop looks to Dennis and his skills. He can cut out big pieces of scenery, or delicate pieces like the skyline in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing."

Kathleen Baustian comes to the theatre every weekday afternoon. She can be found, paintbrush in hand, in either the Mainstage or Kate Goldman Children's Theatre. For "LES MISERABLES," she not only painted the sewer units but also hot glued all the skulls on the sewer set pieces. Kathleen always has a positive attitude, no matter what task is at hand.

Susan Eisenhour, Norma Lyle, and Barbara Mydland have sewn costumes for nearly every show for the past two years. Barbara's fine hand sewing, Susan's craft skills, and Norma's versatility have helped create pirates, Munchkins, French prisoners, green ogres, and nearly 100 dresses. In addition to their well-respected skills with needles, they bring much laughter to the costume shop. Susan, Norma, and Barbara share their sewing techniques, recipes, and stories, both fascinating and hysterical.

Stacey Frett is the volunteer who stage managers call when in a pinch and needing help backstage. He is well-versed in shifting and flying scenery, and can learn the show's cues quickly. Stacey also takes time from his busy schedule to build scenery, often volunteering beside one or more of his daughters.

Kevin Higdon was looking for volunteer opportunities in fall 2013 and came across the Playhouse. He helped shift scenery for "Fiddler on the Roof," and his volunteer career took off. He then helped actors with costume changes as a dresser for "Red." Kevin came back for "Peter Pan," and was half of the team who flew Peter each night. Kevin next volunteered as assistant stage manager for "LES MISERABLES." He helped build that show's scenery so he understood how it worked. The result was Kevin made all the complicated shifts in "LES MISERABLES" look easy and work seamlessly.

Joy Kripal is the original Props Goddess. In 31 years of volunteering at the Playhouse, she has set the gold standard for the props department, becoming a repeat Volunteer of the Year along the way. Joy has begged, borrowed, and created thousands of spot-on properties for hundreds of Playhouse productions, including "The King and I," "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Little Shop of Horrors," "Ragtime," and "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse." In the 2013-14 season, she again lived up to her reputation with her outstanding props work for "Fiddler on the Roof," "Peter Pan," "LES MISERABLES," and "Boeing Boeing."

Sam Lee, as a PIP (Pre-Intern Program), must be ready to pull costumes, build props, make photocopies, and polish scenes all while serving as a positive role model for younger students. For Spring Break Performance Academy's production of "Aladdin Jr.," Sam made the pivotal prop, the magic lamp. He made the lamp out of a stuffed bird -- the wings were glued to the side, the beak became the spout, and the tail curled to form the handle. He added filigree with hot glue and spray painted it gold. Sam's magic lamp has been given a place of honor in the "education lair" as an example of PIP-ingenuity.

Melinda Leseney volunteers as stage manager, actor, and musical director for the Final Act Ensemble radio troupe (FAE). Once FAE reached 25 active members, it became necessary to have organizational assistance. Having volunteered as a stage manager for many years at the Playhouse, Melinda stepped up to the plate. With a calm head, firm voice, eye on the clock, and wicked sense of humor, Melinda skillfully guides rehearsals and performances. If an actor is absent, she can take over any role. FAE director, Jerry Eisenhour, says, "Her work makes for a more professional-sounding product."

Richard Manion took on the job of mixing sound for "Fiddler on the Roof," "Peter Pan," and "LES MISERABLES." The sound board operator job can be stressful and complicated. It requires having a good ear for the show as well as the orchestra and the audience sizes each night. Richard has that talent, and made each show sound spectacular.

Megan Schettler Schug has been onstage and volunteered backstage. In the 2013-14 season, she took on a new role: marketing committee member. Megan was a major player in the group's first project, which was holding conversations about the Playhouse with focus groups. Megan recruited young professionals and moms to the focus groups, provided food for the seven groups, and took notes on the conversations. She is now working with the committee to put many of the ideas shared into action.

Becky Scholtec has been a Playhouse Ambassador, welcoming motorcoach tours to the theatre, since the program started more than 10 years ago. This season, she used her talents to assist visually impaired veterans at performances. Iowa Radio Reading Information Service for the Blind (IRIS) provided audio description, and Becky moved between guests in the auditorium and IRIS volunteers in the light booth, assuring that the system was working perfectly and that our guests were enjoying the shows.

Bill Slicker wears many hats for Final Act Ensemble radio troupe (FAE), but it is his unfailing dedication to setting up and tearing down sound equipment that makes him a 2014 Volunteer of the Year. Six microphones, two speakers, two soundboards, and all of the attending cords take at least an hour to set up. There is a crew to help, but Bill always arrives an hour early and stays an hour late, whether the performance is in the corner of a dining hall or up on a huge stage. Bill can also be counted on as a volunteer house manager for both the Mainstage and Kate Goldman Children's Theatre.

Lois Taylor has volunteered for all of the front-of-house positions -- house manager, ticket taker, usher, and concessionaire -- and even assisted the bartender on occasion. She has become an invaluable member of the Mainstage opening night reception crew. In the 2013-14 season, Lois mastered the concessions sales tablets. During the sold-out run of "LES MISERABLES," she would come in on nights she wasn't scheduled so she could help with concessions during intermission.

Lisa Wiggins worked on five shows in the 2013-14 season in multiple capacities. Whether the job involved a quick costume change or disguising iced tea as whiskey, she eagerly joined in. Lisa says, "I have met wonderful people, learned new skills, shared lots of laughs, and felt a sense of pride in what we accomplished together. I am looking forward to another great season. Who knows? I may even try something new this year!"

2014 Gypsy of the Year

The Gypsy Award, nominated by the season's stage managers, is given to an actor, typically not a lead, who has shown dedication to a show, assisting in ways above and beyond their stage role.

Philip Sandager is a dream cast member, enthusiastic and passionate from the first rehearsal. He arrives early. He sets up chairs before rehearsal and puts them away at the end. He is one of the first to have his lines, songs, and choreography down. He helps others, is a leader, and brings a "can do" attitude every single day. Philip has never-ending energy. During "Fiddler on the Roof," Philip lead vocal warm-ups, adding physical warm-ups in later weeks that the entire cast struggled and laughed all the way through. "Fiddler" stage manager Karen Schaeffer said, "I credit Philip with creating that real sense of family we experienced."

2014 Dick Brown Superior Volunteer of the Year

The award is named for longtime Playhouse volunteer, Dick Brown, who embodied the theatre's volunteer program and was nationally recognized for his community theatre volunteer service.

Karen Schaeffer is a multi-talented force. She may be most recognizable from her many onstage appearances, including "The Hundred Dresses" in the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre 2013-14 season and "Don't Dress for Dinner," which earned her the 2012 Dionysos Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Mainstage Play. Karen's talents extend offstage as well. Over the past 26 years she has run the sound board, operated a followspot, volunteered as a dresser, and kept actors and directors in line as stage manager. In the 2013-14 season, she was involved with two big musicals: she stage managed "Fiddler on the Roof" and helped actors with fast costume changes during "LES MISERABLES." As a playwright, she penned scripts for the Playhouse's Friday Funday theatre series for children ages 4-6. Her original play "Girls' Weekend" was a hit in the theatre's 2013 play reading series, and will be fully staged as part of the 2014-15 Mainstage season.

2014 Acting Award Winners

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical, Mainstage
Steve Berry as Jean Valjean in "LES MISERABLES" [winner]
Charlie Reese as Emmett in "Legally Blonde The Musical" [nominee]
Maxwell Schaeffer as Javert in "LES MISERABLES" [nominee]
Maxwell Schaeffer as Mr. Darling/Capt. Hook in "Peter Pan" [nominee]
Tim Wisgerhof as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical, Mainstage
Samantha Arneson as Peter Pan in "Peter Pan" [nominee]
Dani Boal as Eponine in "LES MISERABLES" [nominee]
Katy Merriman as Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde The Musical" [nominee]
Preshia Paulding as Golde in "Fiddler on the Roof" [winner]
Jill S. Ziegler as Paulette in "Legally Blonde The Musical" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by a Young Actor in a Musical, Mainstage
Peter Erickson and Jacob Nelson Forney as Gavroche (shared role) in "LES MISERABLES" [winner]
Noah Hackbart as Michael Darling in "Peter Pan" [nominee]
Jones Pfeifer as John Darling in "Peter Pan" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by a Young Actress in a Musical, Mainstage
Rachel Forney and Jillian Michelle Gabby as Young Cosette (shared role) in "LES MISERABLES" [winner]
Jessica Martens as Hodel in "Fiddler on the Roof" [nominee]
Jada Smith as Chava in "Fiddler on the Roof" [nominee]
Meredith Toebben as Wendy Darling in "Peter Pan" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Mainstage
Micheal Davenport as Bernard in "Boeing Boeing" [nominee]
Micheal Davenport as Mark Rothko in "Red" [nominee]
Gabe Thompson as Robert in "Boeing Boeing" [nominee]
Josh Visnapuu as Chief Bromden in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" [nominee]
Tim Wisgerhof as Randle P. McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" [winner]

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Mainstage
Susan Irish as Berthe in "Boeing Boeing" [winner]
Kellie Kramer as Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" [nominee]
Andréa Markowski as Gretchen in "Boeing Boeing" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre
Connor Bredbeck as Peter Pinkerton in "Pinkalicious" [nominee]
Douglas Cochrane as Caterpillar in "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." [winner]
Jay Jacobson as Cheshire in "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." [nominee]
James Kolnik as White Rabbit in "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." [nominee]
Lance Noe as Mr. Pinkerton in "Pinkalicious" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre
Halen Becker as Pinkalicious in "Pinkalicious" [nominee]
Rachel Forney as Alice in "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." [winner]
Deb Paul as Queen in "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." [nominee]
Megan Schettler Schug as Dr. Wink in "Pinkalicious" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre
Crey Abbas as Peter Hatcher in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" [nominee]
Jackson Gabby as Fudge Hatcher in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" [winner]
Mark Pullen as Mr. Svenson in "The Hundred Dresses" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre
Aviana Gedler as Madeline Reeves in "The Hundred Dresses" [winner]
Maggie Matternas as Wanda Petronski in "The Hundred Dresses" [nominee]
Rebecca Masucci as Mrs. Hatcher in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" [nominee]

More Des Moines! More...


Comment & Share


About Author

Subscribe to Author Alerts
 
🔀DES MOINES SHOWS
The Sound of Music in Des MoinesThe Sound of Music
(Runs 11/6 - 11/8)
Oklahoma! in Des MoinesOklahoma!
(Runs 11/8 - 11/9)
Jesus Christ Superstar in Des MoinesJesus Christ Superstar
(Runs 11/13 - 11/16)
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Des MoinesJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
(Runs 11/18 - 11/23)
Kinky Boots in Des MoinesKinky Boots
(Runs 1/27 - 2/1)
Pippin in Des MoinesPippin
(Runs 2/24 - 3/1)
Million Dollar Quartet in Des MoinesMillion Dollar Quartet
(Runs 4/7 - 4/7)

View All | Add Show | Auditions