Des Moines Community Playhouse Announces 2017 Dionysos Awards Honorees

Des Moines Community Playhouse Announces 2017 Dionysos Awards Honorees

The Des Moines Community Playhouse held the 2017 Dionysos Awards on Sunday, July 23. The theatre honored 21 backstage, front-of-house, and education volunteers, and announced 10 acting award winners. The evening was bookended by musical performances from the Performance Academy cast of "Meredith Willson's The Music Man Jr.," with public performances July 28-29, and the cast of "Meredith Willson's The Music Man," on stage now through Aug. 6.

Elaine Lindgren received the Dick Brown Superior Volunteer Award. The award is named for longtime Playhouse volunteer, Dick Brown, who embodied the theatre's vision for its volunteer program and was nationally recognized for his community theatre volunteer service. Lindgren volunteers in both the scene shop and costume shop, and has worked on virtually every show in the past two years.

Gabriel Tejeda-Benitez 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. Tejeda-Benitez immersed himself in "F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby," his first show at the Playhouse, shifting and flying scenery, and assisting cast-mates with quick costume changes backstage in addition to acting role.

Receiving the 2017 Volunteer of the Year Awards were Marilyn Amadeo, Paige Berry, Marcia Bradley, Madelyn Bryan, Kaci Kohlhepp Conetzkey, Peter Dean, Riley Dean, Toni Farris, Tyler Hackman, Harold Hinkhouse, Louis Jordan, Kyle Lindman, Kevin McCarthy, Susie McCauley, Janet and Duff McFadden, Mark Morrison, Ken Reams, Barbara Slinker, and Lloyd Von Hagen. 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, welcoming motorcoach groups, planning special events, and archiving Playhouse photographs.

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 Brett Spahr, who played Igor in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein." Mary Bricker received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical for her role as Frau Blucher in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein." Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play went to Benjamin Sheridan for his role as Nick Carraway in "F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby." Gina Gedler received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play for her role as Ouiser in "Steel Magnolias."

Three adult actors received awards for Outstanding Performance in a Kate Goldman Children's Theatre or Family Musical: Maddie Ripperger for her role as Nancy in "Fancy Nancy The Musical," Andrew Overton for his role as Lionel in "Fancy Nancy The Musical" and Brad D. Church, who played Willy Wonka in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka." Receiving awards for Outstanding Performance by a Youth in a Kate Goldman Children's Theatre or Family Musical were Ellie Miglin, who played Charlie Bucket in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka," and Jack Gabby, an Oompa Loompa, in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka."

In the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play went to Michael Cunningham, who played Stanley Yelnats in "Holes." Tatum Lowell received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play for her role as Ramona Quimby in "Ramona Quimby."

The 400 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
2017 Dionysos Award Winner Biographies

2017 Technical, Front-of-House, Education, and Administrative
Volunteers of the Year

Paige Berry became a part of the Playhouse's Pre-Intern Program (PIP) four years ago, having attended theatre classes throughout her elementary school years. As a PIP working alongside teachers in the theatre's classrooms, she has consistently demonstrated an outstanding work ethic and willingness to go the extra mile. Berry is a kind, thoughtful volunteer who serves as a great role model for younger students. Whether it's creating props, pulling costumes, stage managing, or directing, the Playhouse knows that with Berry involved, our students are in good hands!

Marcia Bradley is a talented costume shop artist, working in many mediums from crazy quilting to encaustic painting, all with wicked sewing skills. For the past three years, she has come in to save the day every time she was asked. Bradley keeps costume shop volunteers and staff entertained with her take on current events and social media.

Madelyn Bryan began her Playhouse volunteer career building properties for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Since then, she has spent most of her Wednesday afternoons in the costume shop, creating white stags, fox faces, lizard feet, and baby Jesus Christmas ornaments, to name just a few of her creations. Bryan is a busy teen, and the Playhouse is fortunate to have her helpful attitude and out-of-the-box ideas on our productions.

Peter Dean has entertained audiences for years, but this past season has found him working behind-the-scenes to ensure the Playhouse is truly connecting with its biggest asset, its volunteers. As an advocate for the Playhouse, Dean wanted to do more. He initiated a new volunteer group, the Playhouse Partner Program, to improve communication between the theatre and its volunteers. Dean's knack for bringing people together and his ability to understand what news volunteers would like to know make him the perfect person to launch this program.

Riley Dean has been an enthusiastic member of many Playhouse musical production teams. In the 2016-17 season, she was on the backstage crew for "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" and took on the responsibilities of assistant stage manager for "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein." Dean is always a pleasure to have on a show team. Dedicated and dependable, she is the thoughtful force behind the multitude of complex scenery shifts that are required in Playhouse musicals.

Harold Hinkhouse is a quiet giant among the front-of-house volunteers. He volunteers at least twice for each production. Often he is asked to work in a position other than the one for which he volunteered. Hinkhouse is always eager to work on anything, from training to ticket taking to ushering, and he does it all with a welcoming smile for our guests.

Kyle Lindman is the type of backstage crew member that stage managers brag about. He's an excellent problem-solver and is always willing to jump in and assist wherever needed, making him a favorite with casts as well. Frequently, Lindman can be found helping other crew and cast members with their pre-show tasks once his own are completed. With his positive, can-do attitude, Lindman is an excellent role model for younger crew members

Kevin Thomas McCarthy jumped right into his role on the Playhouse board of directors, serving on the planning committee for the Countdown to 100 fundraiser and the Act Two capital campaign cabinet. McCarthy spends countless hours fundraising and advocating for the Playhouse, and attends every single fundraising event and show. Whether it's analyzing the Playhouse's next strategic move or bringing friends to a show, McCarthy always has the Playhouse's best interests in mind.

Susie McCauley is a longtime member of the Final Act Ensemble (FAE), the troupe performing radio plays throughout the community. She helps select music for each show, works with the vocal director to create vocal harmonies, and plays her own keyboard to accompany the singers. In the 2016-17 season, she wrote two original scripts for the group. Her fellow FAE actors call her the SFQ, Sound Effects Queen. McCauley works independently and with the director to create sound effects, theme music, and incidental music for each radio show segment.

Janet and Duff McFadden are a husband-and-wife team that is able to adapt to whatever job is needed. Duff McFadden saw there was a need for house managers, so he asked to be trained for this position. Janet McFadden did the same with concessions. They volunteer more than once for each show, and have become familiar, friendly faces greeting our guests.

Marilyn Amadeo, Toni Farris, Louis Jordan, Mark Morrison, Ken Reams, Barbara Slinker, and Lloyd Von Hagen are the Playhouse's archive team. These individuals spend hours scanning the thousands of photos, dating back to 1925, stored in the theatre's files. They also page through scrapbooks, looking for newspaper articles highlighting the Playhouse's 99 years of history and reviews of some of our more famous alumni. The archive team's work will be shared during our 100th anniversary celebrations.

Kaci Kohlhepp Conetzkey and Tyler Hackman are dedicated to sharing their passion for the Playhouse with others under the age of 35. Together they introduced the Playhouse program, The Curtain Crowd, which hosts a night of socializing, meet-the-actors, and behind-the-scenes tours for young adults at each show. In the past year, Conetzkey, Hackman, and their committee have introduced 100+ individuals, most of whom are new to theatre, to the Playhouse, helping to create future audiences for our programs.


2017 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.

Gabriel Tejeda-Benitez made his Playhouse acting debut in "F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby." He immersed himself in the entire experience, participating wherever possible during rehearsals, solving problems and motivating others. Once the show was on stage, Tejeda-Benitez concentrated his offstage efforts on shifting and flying scenery, and assisting cast-mates with quick costume changes backstage.


2017 Dick Brown Superior Volunteer of the Year
The award is named for longtime Playhouse volunteer, Dick Brown, who embodied the theatre's vision for our volunteer program and was nationally recognized for his community theatre volunteer service.

Elaine Lindgren has been volunteering at the Playhouse since 2015 when she painted the set for "The Miracle Worker." She loves that, in her retirement, her education continues with her volunteer work. Since joining the Playhouse's volunteer force, Lindgren has learned many new techniques from the theatre's scenic painters. Thanks to her time in the costume shop, she now knows how to sew on every possible kind of fastener although ripping out seams is her favorite costume activity. Lindgren says volunteering doesn't just give her someplace to go every day; she really enjoys the people with whom she works and seeing the finished productions.


2017 Acting Awards

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre
Alexander Baker as Benny in "The Boxcar Children" [nominee]
Michael Cunningham as Stanley Yelnats in "Holes" [winner]
Cael Fitch as Howie Kemp in "Ramona Quimby" [nominee]
Isaac Helton as Henry in "The Boxcar Children" [nominee]
Jarhon Hill as Zero in "Holes" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre
Meridan Boyd as Beezus Quimby in "Ramona Quimby" [nominee]
Katie Dorrell as Aunt Bea in "Ramona Quimby" [nominee]
Paige Fahrenkrug as Jessie in "The Boxcar Children" [nominee]
Caroline Holmes as Violet in "The Boxcar Children" [nominee]
Tatum Lowell as Ramona Quimby in "Ramona Quimby" [winner]

Outstanding Performance by a Youth Actor in a Musical, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre & Family Holiday Classic
Carson Doss as Augustus Gloop in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [nominee]
Jack Gabby as Oompa Loompa in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [winner]
Kyle Kloppe as Mike Teavee in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [nominee]
Torien Reynolds as Oompa Loompa in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by a Youth Actress in a Musical, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre & Family Holiday Classic
Natalie Grote as Veruca Salt in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [nominee]
Paige Fahrenkrug as Rhonda in "Fancy Nancy The Musical" [nominee]
Ellie Miglin as Charlie Bucket in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [winner]
Julia Polson as Wanda in "Fancy Nancy The Musical" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Adult Actor in a Musical, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre & Family Holiday Classic
Lonnie C. Appleby as Candy Man in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [nominee]
Brad D. Church as Willy Wonka in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [winner]
Darren Grote as Grandpa Joe in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [nominee]
Andrew Overton as Lionel in "Fancy Nancy The Musical" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Adult Actress in a Musical, Kate Goldman Children's Theatre & Family Holiday Classic
Alexis Ananda Cole as Bree in "Fancy Nancy The Musical" [nominee]
Melody DeRogatis as Mrs. Gloop in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" [nominee]
Sarah Hinzman as Mom in "Fancy Nancy The Musical" [nominee]
Maddie Ripperger as Nancy in "Fancy Nancy The Musical" [winner]

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Mainstage
Greg Blumhagen as George Wilson in "F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby" [nominee]
Benjamin Sheridan as Nick Carraway in "F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby" [winner]
Matthew Phillip Smith as Jay Gatsby in "F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Mainstage
Debra Garner as Clairee in "Steel Magnolias" [nominee]
Gina Gedler as Ouiser in "Steel Magnolias" [winner]
Shelby Jensen as JorDan Baker in "F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby" [nominee]
Sherryl Viars as Truvy in "Steel Magnolias" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical, Mainstage
Rocco Contini as Tony in "West Side Story" [nominee]
Demarius Fisher as Franz Klinemann in "Rock of Ages" [nominee]
Charlie Reese as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" [nominee]
Andrew Rubenbauer as Drew in "Rock of Ages" [nominee]
Brett Spahr as Igor in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" [winner]
Adam Yankowy as The Monster in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical, Mainstage
PaTricia Arvanis as Inga in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" [nominee]
Mary Bricker as Frau Blucher in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" [winner]
Kirsten Brown as Maria in "West Side Story" [nominee]
Tiffany Flory as Anita in "West Side Story" [nominee]
Jackie Schmillen as Elizabeth Benning in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" [nominee]
Hannah Stibbe as Sherrie in "Rock of Ages" [nominee]


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