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DM Playhouse Reveals 2015 Dionysos Award Winners!

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The Des Moines Community Playhouse held the 2015 Dionysos Awards on Sunday, July 26. The theatre honored 18 backstage, front-of-house, and education volunteers, and announced six acting award winners.

Darlene and Mark Pullen 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. The Pullens have volunteered in nearly every backstage position at the Playhouse since 1999.

Kate Dorrell 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 a role on stage. Dorrell is an excellent role model, especially for the younger cast members.

Receiving the 2015 Volunteer of the Year Awards were Ivan Arriaga, Katie Brooks, Jenny Bryant, Steve Claussen, Joshua Haldeman, Ashley Howland, Mike Johnson, Elaine Lindgren, Allyson Louzek, Barbara McClintock, Rebecca Masucci, Morgan Pech, Steve Pisarik, Mary Whisenand, and Eva Williams. 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 Edward Corpus, who played Emile de Becque in "South Pacific." Amber Duimstra received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical for her role as Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific." Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play went to Jason Rainwater for his role as Passepartout in "Around the World in 80 Days." Kellie Kramer received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play for her role as Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

In the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play went to Douglas Cochrane, who played Templeton in "Charlotte's Web." Elizabeth Miglin received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play for her role in "The Miracle Worker."

The more than 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.

Des Moines Community Playhouse

2015 Dionysos Award Winner Biographies

2015 Technical, Front-of-House, and Education Volunteers of the Year

Ivan Arriaga, new to Des Moines, wanted to get involved in the community and share his videography talents. He came to the Playhouse. Ivan created videos to be posted on social media and played in the theatre lobbies. His videos introduced potential audiences to the actors in "Mary Poppins" and "A Streetcar Named Desire." He documented the performance of "The Miracle Worker" in which audio description was broadcast to the entire audience. Ivan then learned the soundboard and became a stage manager. He also introduced his sister to the Playhouse, and she now volunteers backstage.

Katie Brooks is a member of Final Act Ensemble, the Playhouse's senior radio players performance group. She has played a number of roles, specializing in mischievous young boys, but it's in sound effects where Katie has made her mark. She does everything from clanking chains for Marley's ghost in "A Christmas Carol" to slamming doors, ringing telephone bells, dropping dead bodies, clomping horses' hooves, sliding secret panels in haunted houses, and burning down buildings in radio plays featuring Dick Tracy, Fibber McGee and Molly, and The Frumples. And you couldn't find a sunnier disposition. Katie contributes positive energy and esprit de corps for the entire group.

Jenny Bryant is involved both backstage with shows and in the education department as a PIP (pre-intern program). She was the co-properties designer for "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," followspot operator for "Mary Poppins," and soundboard operator for "The Miracle Worker." She also jumped in and helped with pre-show set-up and the large cleanup and reset during intermission of "The Miracle Worker." In the classroom, PIPs are expected to model good behavior for younger students. They couldn't have a better role model than Jenny.

Steve Claussen continually proves himself to be an outstanding volunteer. Serving as the Playhouse's resident engineer, he applies his expertise and problem-solving skills to all manner of challenges that arise in the course of mounting a show at the Playhouse. Whether the problem is working out the mechanics of the massive rotating set for "A Streetcar Named Desire" or making water flow from a pump in the middle of the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre's concrete floor for "The Miracle Worker," Steve tackles each one head-on and with a can-do attitude.

Joshua Haldeman is a versatile Playhouse volunteer. From his start as an actor with numerous credits, he has branched out to become an integral backstage volunteer. Josh skillfully ran the soundboard for "Charlotte's Web" in the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre, and took on the challenge of assistant stage manager for "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Backstage at "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," he did everything from handing actors their props to moving set pieces. With his perpetual smile and winning personality, Josh brightens every show.

Ashley Howland serves as a PIP (pre-intern program) in the Playhouse's education department. She was a teacher's assistant in multiple classes, served as stage manager for the Performance Academy production of "The Music Man Kids" and assistant stage manager for the Performance Academy production of "Spamalot: Young at Part," and even helped build a 12-foot pyramid out of cardboard for Egypt week in our summer education program. Ashley distinguishes herself with her positive attitude, enthusiasm for her work, and her willingness to pitch in. When Ashley is on the team, students and casts are in good hands.

Mike Johnson is able to tackle any task the Playhouse scene shop throws at him. He learned how to install 60 feet of stair railings for the set of "The Addams Family." He spent what must have seemed like 80 days installing all of the ornate trim that covered the set for "Around The World In 80 Days," and built special furniture pieces for "Mary Poppins." Mike is glad to soar to any height in our lift to work on even the tallest pieces of scenery. And on every production, he is working up until the last minute to ensure that the show is finished to perfection.

Elaine Lindgren lives to paint, and audiences have benefited from her dedication. For "The Miracle Worker," she helped create the intimate setting of Helen Keller's early life. When painting on the "Mary Poppins" set was completed, Elaine was not content to call it quits. She wandered down to the costume shop to see how she could help. It is a rare week that goes by without seeing Elaine bent over some creative project in the theater. Having her at the Playhouse makes the day go faster and the completed projects all the sweeter.

Allyson Louzek, a self-proclaimed theater geek, has made the Playhouse her second home. She started the season constructing costumes for "South Pacific," and she has been behind a sewing machine in the costume shop ever since. Venturing backstage, she located period cigarettes and beer for "A Streetcar Named Desire," helped change five actors more than 50 times a night for "Around the World in 80 Days," and chased down rats and candelabras for "The Addams Family." One more indication of Allyson's dedication: in her spare time, she has been planning her wedding and making her first house into a home with her fiancé, Eric.

Barbara McClintock has gone from novice properties designer to expert in just a few short seasons. Her work on two shows is proof. For "Girls' Weekend," Barb kept the laughs rolling by concocting spaghetti sauce that stuck just so to actress Nancy Zubrod's face and by learning the fine art of rolling a joint. For "Charlotte's Web," she created more family-friendly fare including the pig Wilbur's trough of scraps, a disgustingly realistic rotten egg, and the perfect spider egg sac. Barb's delight at creating wonderful props, whether charming or crazy, is evident to audiences.

When Rebecca Masucci stepped up to help organize the complex rotation of the set for "A Streetcar Named Desire," we knew we had a winner. She brought these same skills to the stage management team for "The Addams Family" and was indispensible in making the complex integration of lights, sound, set, and special effects move like clockwork. Rebecca is a keeper.

Morgan Pech is a go-to volunteer. She was been an integral part of the shift crew for "Shrek the Musical," "Mary Poppins," and "The Addams Family." When a shadow flits across the stage as a piece of scenery glides into place, it could be Morgan. When a door magically opens, it could be Morgan. When furniture appears where furniture never was, it could be Morgan. She is one of the unsung backstage heroes. Playhouse actors know that while they are on stage, Morgan is backstage and she's got their backs.

Steve Pisarik is one of our most dependable scene shop volunteers. He can be found at the theatre every Tuesday and Thursday, working on whatever project needs to be completed that day. In his three years as a volunteer, Steve has installed countless doors, built dozens of platforms, and assembled too many wall flats to count. His carpenter experience, his broad smile, and his friendly demeanor have made him indispensable.

Mary Whisenand's smile is the friendly face greeting guests to Mainstage shows, directing newcomers to the ticket office, and welcoming motorcoach groups to the Playhouse. This past season, she also volunteered as a home host for Sip, Savor, Switch, a signature fundraising event featuring beautiful homes, buzzed-about chefs, and expertly curated wines. Once again, Mary's was the smile that acknowledged guests' arrivals.

Eva Williams volunteers more than 175 hours each season. She works virtually every front-of-house position available - house manager, ticket taker, usher - and even added to her résumé by conquering the positions of concessionaire and Director's Circle ambassador and greeter. Volunteerism is a way of life for Eva. She has been giving her time to the Playhouse, as well as countless other community organizations, for nearly 50 years.

2015 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 a role on stage.

Katie Dorrell is a teacher by profession and nature. As Sheep in the "Charlotte's Web" cast, she was an excellent role model, especially for the younger performers. She helped make sure the younger actors' lines and blocking were correct. She helped many castmates with their hair and make-up. She provided ideas for warm-up exercises, and willingly accepted other backstage duties. Katie has a positive attitude that rubs off on everyone around her.

2015 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.

Darlene and Mark Pullen have volunteered in nearly every backstage position at the Playhouse since 1999. Both work extensively on the construction of scenery; Mark adeptly handles screwguns, saws, hammers, and other tools while Darlene is skilled with paint brush and roller and creates most of the draperies, pillows, and other fabric needs for the set. They volunteer on the running crews for numerous shows. Mark is usually shifting scenery while Darlene runs a followspot. They have made themselves available for any number of projects, including the repainting of the theatre lobbies. And as if that weren't enough, they have both appeared onstage and Mark is a very active member of Final Act Ensemble, the Playhouse's senior radio players performance group.

2015 Acting Award Winners

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical, Mainstage

Edward Corpus as Emile de Becque in "South Pacific" [winner]

Eric Deutz as Bert in "Mary Poppins" [nominee]

Mark Maddy as Lord Farquaad in "Shrek the Musical" [nominee]

Ken-Matt Martin as Donkey in "Shrek the Musical" [nominee]

Edward Corpus holds music degrees from Illinois State University and UNLV, with doctoral studies at the University of Iowa. He has served on the voice faculty at Drake University since 2007. Edward has performed roles with Cedar Rapids Opera, Opera Quad Cities, and Opera Illinois, as well as numerous orchestral performances in the Midwest. This season, Playhouse audiences saw him as Emile de Becque in "South Pacific" and Gomez Addams in "The Addams Family." Ed lives in Des Moines with his wife, Rachel, and their three children.

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical, Mainstage

Dani Boal as Mary Poppins in "Mary Poppins" [nominee]

Amber Duimstra as Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific" [winner]

Rachel Forney and Eliza Tutty as Jane Banks in "Mary Poppins" [nominees]

Patricia Uy-Westlund as Bloody Mary in "South Pacific" [nominee]

Jill S. Ziegler as Fiona in "Shrek the Musical" [nominee]

Amber Duimstra has appeared on the Playhouse stage as Maria in "The Sound of Music" and Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific." Her favorite performances include Katherine in "Proof"at the Marshalltown Community Theatre and Yitzhak in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"at StageWest. Amber is a substitute teacher and vocalist for Holland America Lines.

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Mainstage

Jamaal Gabriel Allan as Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" [nominee]

Peter Dean as Sheriff Tom Lane in "Girls' Weekend" [nominee]

Jason Rainwater as Passepartout in "Around the World in 80 Days" [winner]

Cody Schug as Stephen in "Girls' Weekend" [nominee]

Jason Rainwater is familiar to Playhouse audiences from "Around the World in 80 Days," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (Martini), "Becky's New Car" (Steve), "Leading Ladies" (Butch), and "The Hobbit" (his favorite role, Thorin Oakenshield). Jason is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He works at Lincoln Savings Bank. Jason enjoys reading, writing, and watching baseball, and spending time with his wife, Rebekah Boyd, and daughter, Rebecca.

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Mainstage

Kellie Kramer as Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire" [winner]

Rebecca Scholtec as Meg in "Girls' Weekend" [nominee]

Vicky Stafford as Stella Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" [nominee]

Nancy Zubrod as Dot in "Girls' Weekend" [nominee]

Kellie Kramer received a Playhouse Dionysos Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress for her roles in "The 39 Steps." Other area stage credits include "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Blanche DuBois) and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (Nurse Ratched) at the Playhouse and her favorite, Diana in "Next to Normal" at StageWest. Kellie is the host of the Emmy-nominated "Iowa Outdoors" on IPTV and a traffic manager for Meredith Xcelerated Marketing.

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre

Douglas Cochrane as Templeton in "Charlotte's Web" [winner]

Douglas Cochrane as Prince John in "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood" [nominee]

Will Donaghy as Wilbur in "Charlotte's Web" [nominee]

Phil McLean as Little John in "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood" [nominee]

Cody Schug as Robin Hood in "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood" [nominee]

Douglas Cochrane has numerous Playhouse credits including "Charlotte's Web" (Templeton), "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood" (Prince John), "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." (Caterpillar, 2014 Dionysos Award winner), "Seussical the Musical TYA "(Horton the Elephant, 2013 Dionysos Award winner), "Sunset Boulevard" (Max Von Mayerling), and "Hairspray" (Edna Turnblad, 2012 Dionysos Award winner). His favorite role, however, was El Gallo in "The Fantasticks" at the 46th St. Theatre in NYC. Douglas is a surgical lab tech and is studying actuarial science at Drake University.

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre

Paige Fahrenkrug as Imogene Herdman in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" [nominee]

Sarah Hinzman as Annie Sullivan in "The Miracle Worker" [nominee]

Annie Mielke as Charlotte in "Charlotte's Web" [nominee]

Elizabeth Miglin as Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" [winner]

Lily Spahr as Gladys Herdman in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" [nominee]

Elizabeth Miglin is an eighth grader at Merrill Middle School. She has attended the Playhouse's summer Performance Academy, playing Baby Bear in "Shrek Jr." and Laker Girl/French Taunter in "Monty Python's Spamalot: Young at Part." Other stage experience includes "Romeo and Juliet"at Creek View Elementary. When not at school or the theatre, Ellie enjoys shopping and reading.


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