The annual Indiana Community Theatre League competition is again a memory, with entries from Elkhart Civic Theatre and South Bend Civic Theatre going home with lots of awards from the event last weekend in Terre Haute.
At the top of the heap was the SBCT production of "The Gin Game," a two-character study of very different senior citizens dealing with life ... and what's left of it ... in a retirement home. The cutting was named best show with the cast, Civic executive director Jim Coppens and Mary Ann Moran, taking best actor/actress honors and citations for sound design and set decorations.
Elkhart Civic Theatre's recent production of "Ruthless: The Musical," was named runner-up for best show, with ECT artistic director John Jay Shoup and Tom Meyers sharing the best director award. Shoup also earned the award for best set design and, with Dawn Blessing, Karen Payton and Martha Mybeyer, best costumes.
Seven amateur groups from around the state entered excerpts (one-hour cuttings of full-length plays), down from the usual nine. "The Gin Game" was the closest thing to a comedy, with no distinction in judging between straight plays and musicals.
"The Gin Game" advances to the American Association of Community Theatre regional finals April 27-29 in Schaumburg, Ill., to compete with state winners from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin for the opportunity to represent the Great Lakes Region at the national contest in June in Charlotte, N.C.
Break a leg!
SOAP FANS alerted us to the fact that one of the newer (and more off-beat) characters on ABC's "All My Children" revealed his hometown as Elkhart, IN. Originally known as Zarf, a rock star, he is now in transition to becoming Zoe and is played by a talented Juilliard graduate, Jeffrey Carlson. The writers now have supplied Zoe with a mom who will make her debut as a recurring character today.
The actress playing Marge Luper (Zoe's mom) may be familiar to longtime patrons of The Barn Theatre in Augusta, Mich.
Becky Ann Baker spent several summers at the theater in the 1970s using her maiden name, Becky Gelke. Since then, she has appeared on Broadway, on many TV shows and in films. Husband Dylan Baker (hence the name change) is a working-constantly actor, especially on the big screen, and they are the parents of a teen-age daughter, Willow.
WAS GLAD TO see a decent turnout (about 500) for the Elkhart County Symphony Orchestra concert Sunday in the Central High School auditorium.
There was some amazing work by harpist Suzann Young-Davids and a lovely interpretation of Johann Strauss' "Blue Danube Waltzes" by dancers Anya Hershberger and Oleg Kozyrev, both of Notre Dame and That's Dancing studio. The addition of the Goshen High School Symphonic Orchestra for two numbers really filled the large auditorium to overflowing with solid sound and concertmistress Benita Barber and the ECSO delivered a wonderfully chilling "Danse Macabre."
The concert was conducted by John Graulty, orchestra director and chairman of the Goshen College music department, definitely one of the hardest working and chattiest guest leaders to date.
THE VIEW FROM the Morris Performing Arts Center orchestra pit (covered over, of course) was definitely a new angle for me but, since being up close has never been a problem, it was most certainly a great way to see "Chicago."
Judging from the reaction of the nearly sold-out house, the tour stop at the Morris had to be one of the most popular offerings on the Broadway Theatre League's 2006-07 season.
For those who haven't seen the show, the band is center stage throughout, seated in a giant angled frame which includes a central entrance and exit for major characters. This frees up the pit that usually holds the musicians and it becomes front-front rows of orchestra seating.
It doesn't happen with too many shows but more and more are opting for audience stage seating. At least two currently on Broadway allow viewers to watch the action up very close and personal. But that's a topic for another week.
FOOTNOTE: Former Elco Theatre general manager Ed Higy now is GM at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids, Mich., an arena-type venue much like Notre Dame's ACC.
Contact Marcia Fulmer at email@example.com