2016 Dionysos Awards
The Dionysos Awards are named for the Greek god and patron deity of the theater.
The Dionysos Awards honor volunteers who have worked backstage, front-of-house, and in the education department.
Acting awards were added in 2010. Playhouse audiences nominate actors for acting awards throughout the season, and the winners are chosen by season ticket holders.
The Gypsy Award and the Dick Brown Superior Volunteer of the Year Award are also announced at the Dionysos celebration. 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 her or his role. The Dick Brown Superior Volunteer 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.
Des Moines Community Playhouse Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: July 24, 2016
Subject: Des Moines Community Playhouse Dionysos Award Winners
Contact: Lee Ann Bakros, Playhouse Public Relations Director, 515-974-5358
The Des Moines Community Playhouse held the 2016 Dionysos Awards on Sunday, July 24. The theatre honored 16 backstage, front-of-house, and education volunteers, and announced eight acting award winners. The evening was bookended by musical performances from the Performance Academy cast of “Disney’s Camp Rock,” with public performances Aug. 5-6, and the cast of “Rock of Ages,” on stage now through Aug. 7.
Ann Skallerup 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. Skallerup has volunteered for virtually every Mainstage show at the Playhouse, and some children’s theatre shows, since 2010.
Tony Tandeski 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. Tandeski is a team player who is always positive and encouraging.
Receiving the 2016 Volunteer of the Year Awards were Jeanella Arthur, Dennis Bates, Kathleen Baustian, Dani Boal, Kate Fitzgerald, Pat Henson, Elysa Koss, Richard Manion, Michael Meacham, Ellie Miglin, Kathy Polson, Maxwell Schaeffer, Gary Scherer, and Chae Wall. 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 Christopher Rozenboom, who played Eddie in “Sister Act.” Alexandra St. James-Gray received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical for her role as Deloris Van Cartier in “Sister Act.” Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play went to Michael Meacham for his role as Martin Vanderhof in “You Can’t Take It With You.” Farica Robertson received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play for her role as Rheba in “You Can’t Take It With You.”
Two actors received awards for Outstanding Performance in a Family Musical: Samantha Arneson for her role as Junie B. Jones in “Junie B. Jones The Musical” and Brett Spahr, who played the Childcatcher in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
In the Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play went to Brian Bopp, who played Mr. Beaver in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” and to Cael Fitch, who played Myron in “Sideways Stories From Wayside School.” Sarah Frett received Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play for her role as BeBe in “Sideways Stories From Wayside School.”
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
2016 Dionysos Award Winner Biographies
2016 Technical, Front-of-House, and Education Volunteers of the Year
Jeanella Arthur has, for years, encouraged and supported her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in their Playhouse volunteer roles as actors and backstage crew. She recently found her own volunteer niche in the costume shop. Jeanella is one of our most faithful and gracious seamstresses.
Dennis Bates is steadfast volunteer, coming to work in the scene shop virtually every weekday. Whether it is hauling the building scraps to the trash, organizing the shop after a show, or building complex scenery, Dennis can be found with a smile on his face, always willing to tackle any project.
Kathleen Baustian first arrived in the scene shop three years ago, looking for volunteer opportunities. She quickly became one of the key members of the painting crew, helping paint the sets for every show since 2013. Kathleen is always willing to try her hand at other scenic-related construction projects when the need arises; no challenge has been too daunting or too unfamiliar for her to master.
From her first Playhouse experience in “The Wiz,” Dani Boal has been an all-in volunteer. She charms audiences onstage, but spends an equal amount of volunteer time off the boards, enthusiastically and efficiently striking sets, choreographing, stage managing, and assistant directing. Most recently, Dani could be found choosing songs for Countdown to 100 (She loves spreadsheets!) and pulling the ropes to turn the revolve in “12 Angry Men” rehearsals.
In less than two years as a Playhouse volunteer, Kate Fitzgerald has found her niche or, more appropriately, niches. From operating pyro effects for “You Can’t Take it With You” to pulling the revolve for “12 Angry Men “rehearsals, Kate gets joy from every volunteer task, but her favorite was being dance captain for “Sister Act.” Kate says, “The Playhouse has become a second home to me and I cannot wait to be involved for years to come!”
The magic at the Playhouse starts as soon as Pat Henson greets you at the door. Pat is a crucial part of the patron experience. She has been a dedicated volunteer for many years, but for the past two years she has dedicated her time to the Director’s Circle table, welcoming guests and assisting donors. Pat was also a huge asset to the Countdown to 100 committee, brainstorming and executing fun ideas to help celebrate the Playhouse’s long history.
Elysa Koss has proved herself a multi-talented and valued member of the Final Act Ensemble radio group since she joining the troupe in 2012. She has acted a variety of roles, from dingbats like Gracie Allen and Jane Ace to the stern Irish cop in Dick Tracy. She also pitches in on sound effects, slamming doors, clacking cocoanut shells together, and helping create a racket when Fibber McGee opens that closet door. In 2015-16, she also put her musical talents to work by serving as the group’s vocal director, researching and choosing period songs, arranging parts, creating harmonies, and coaching singers.
Rick Manion has been our go-to guy for all things audio since the 2014 production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Rick brings with him a wealth of professional knowledge that has proved to be priceless to our musical production teams. For many shows, he is mixing the orchestra with fine-tuned precision and a smile. Even when he’s not on the board, Rick makes himself available for questions. His intuitive questions and dedication to our productions have greatly improved our production quality and helped to introduce even more volunteers to the world of theatrical sound design.
In 1996, Michael Meacham was encouraged by Richard Choate and Mike Cornelison to get involved at the Playhouse. He has designed sound for many shows, including “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” “The Who’s Tommy,” “State Fair,” “Damn Yankees,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Woman in Black,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “You Can’t Take it With You,” and “Rock of Ages.” Mike’s favorite volunteer task was assisting on sound for “Les Misérables” – that is, until he got to play Grandpa Vanderhof in “You Can’t Take it With You.” Mike is delighted to be involved at the Playhouse, and says “I’m so proud of the theatre and the city. We really have something special going on here.”
Ellie Miglin has been a Playhouse kid since her family arrived in Des Moines just a few short years ago. In 2014, Ellie enrolled in our education department classes, and won a Dionysos acting award for her stunning portrayal of young Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker.” For the last year, Ellie’s offstage volunteering has been with kids 5 to 12-years-old as a PIP (member of the Playhouse pre-intern program). Her favorite PIP activity is creating props for the performance-based classes.
Kathy Polson started volunteering as an usher when her daughter started volunteering as an actor. Since then she has mastered every front-of-house position, including ticket taker, concessionaire, and House Manager. She even helped with cast lunches. Kathy is an exceptional volunteer who contacts us to say, “Where do you need me today?”
Maxwell Schaeffer found the Playhouse in 1990, when he appeared in “Woman in Mind.” His volunteer service has included multiple roles onstage as well as sound design. In addition to cleverly producing multiple versions of the “Turn your cell phones off” pre-show announcements as the voice of the Playhouse, Max has composed music for “Girls’ Weekend,” “Still Life,” “Completeness,” “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Sideways Stories from Wayside School,” “Ramona Quimby,” and others.
Since his first volunteer experience, helping to build the set for “Anne of Green Gables,” Gary Scherer has become an indispensable part of the production team, serving as stage manager or on the backstage crew for “Becky’s New Car,” “Red,” “Legally Blonde,” “Pinkalicious,” “Shrek The Musical,” “The Miracle Worker,” and “The Monster Under the Bed.” Gary’s involvement includes acting in shows like “12 Angry Men,” “Sister Act,” and “South Pacific,” where he got to appear with daughter Alana, and serving as a member of the executive committee on the Playhouse board.
When Chae Wall moved to Des Moines, she wanted to spend her spare time doing what she loved best: hanging out at a community theater. She has volunteered on 12 shows, doing whatever was needed: costumes, puppets, properties, make-up, backstage crew, in the lighting booth, and as a dresser for the actors. She is a remarkable addition to our community.
2016 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.
Tony Tandeski jumped right into the Playhouse family this season with roles in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang;” “Sarah, Plain and Tall;” and “Sister Act.” In every cast, Tony has been positive and encouraging, leading by example with his supportive attitude. Chances are if you don’t see Tony at the Playhouse, you’ll see him at another theatre in town as he makes a point to patronize his cast mates when they appear in other productions in the community. Tony is a true team player and exemplifies what community theatre is all about.
2016 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.
Ann Skallerup has made the Playhouse her second home since 2010. We can count on her to volunteer with every show each season. She is happiest in the lighting booth, but has also worked on backstage crew and even as stage manager. She also volunteers with the Veterans Administration, and has brought female vets to the theatre. As a valued member of the Playhouse family, Ann exemplifies how involvement in the theatre can create great satisfaction for all involved.
2016 Acting Awards
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical, Mainstage
Kent Fieldsend as King Arthur in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” [nominee]
Mark Maddy as Sir Lancelot in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” [nominee]
Charlie Reese as Sir Galahad in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” [nominee]
Christopher Rozenboom as Eddie in “Sister Act” [winner]
Brett Spahr as Patsy in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” [nominee]
Christopher Rozenboom made his Playhouse debut in “Disney’s High School Musical.” His favorite role to date was as Shane Mungitt in “Take Me Out” at Eclectic Theatre in Chicago. Chris received his music/ vocal performance degree from Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI).
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical, Mainstage
Tricia Arvanis as Sister Mary Robert in “Sister Act” [nominee]
Gina Gedler as The Witch in “Into the Woods” [nominee]
Kate Glenney as Little Red Ridinghood in “Into the Woods” [nominee]
Jennifer Phelps as Mother Superior in “Sister Act” [nominee]
Jackie Schmillen as The Lady of the Lake in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” [nominee]
Alexandra St. James-Gray as Deloris Van Cartier in “Sister Act” [winner]
Alexandra St. James-Gray returned to the stage in “Sister Act” after a long hiatus from theatre. Numerous nightclub appearances have kept her talent current. Lexi studied opera and musical theater performance at Luther College and Columbia College (Chicago). “Sister Act” was her Playhouse debut.
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Mainstage
Jim Kimball as Juror No. Nine in “12 Angry Men” [nominee]
Michael Meacham as Martin Vanderhof in “You Can’t Take It With You” [winner]
Jason Rainwater as Juror No. Three in “12 Angry Men” [nominee]
Lorenzo Sandoval as Juror No. Seven in “12 Angry Men” [nominee]
Maxwell Schaeffer as Juror No. Eight in “12 Angry Men” [nominee]
Michael Meacham is a voice actor and sound designer at Radio Garage Productions. He has designed sound for many Playhouse shows including his favorites, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Who’s Tommy.” On stage at the Playhouse, he played Mr. Van Daan in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Dr. Spivey in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and Tony Nunzio Sr. in “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” for five seasons, among others.
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Mainstage
Holli Andresen as Essie in “You Can’t Take It With You” [nominee]
Emily Davis as Alice in “You Can’t Take It With You” [nominee]
Arlene McAtee as Penelope Sycamore in “You Can’t Take It With You” [nominee]
Farica Robertson as Rheba in “You Can’t Take It With You” [winner]
Farica L. Robertson made her Playhouse debut in the ensemble of “Sister Act.” She is the CEO/writer of Say Somethin’ Productions. She is also the minister of music at Elim Christian Fellowship.
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical, Family Audience
Michael Bundy II as Sheldon in “Junie B. Jones The Musical” [nominee]
Douglas Cochrane as Mr. Scary/Mrs. Gutzman in “Junie B. Jones The Musical” [nominee]
Peter Dean as Baron/Lord Scrumptious in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” [nominee]
Brett Spahr as The Childcatcher in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” [winner]
Brett Spahr counts among his Playhouse roles Patsy in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” for which he received a Cloris Award nomination. He says there are too many Playhouse roles – Tommy in “The Who’s Tommy,” Rooster in three productions of “Annie,” Captain Lennox in “The Secret Garden,” Tateh in “Ragtime” – to choose a favorite. Brett teaches for Waukee Schools and also in the Playhouse’s education department.
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical, Family Audience
Samantha Arneson as Junie B. Jones in “Junie B. Jones The Musical” [winner]
Dani Boal as Truly Scrumptious in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” [nominee]
Sarah Frett as Lucille in “Junie B. Jones The Musical” [nominee]
Natalie Grote and Allison Koch as Jemima Potts in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” [nominee]
Samantha Arneson has a BFA in musical theatre from Drake University. She was last seen on the Playhouse stage in “Shrek The Musical” (Dragon) but has been performing at the Playhouse since 2001 when she was Juanita in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Her favorite Playhouse roles include Peter Pan in “Peter Pan” and Rumpleteazer in “Cats.” Samantha works for Wells Fargo.
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre
Brian Bopp as Mr. Beaver in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” [winner]
Cael Fitch as Myron in “Sideways Stories From Wayside School” [winner]
Jack M. Gabby as Caleb Witting in “Sarah, Plain and Tall” [nominee]
Thomas Gill as Fenris Ulf in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” [nominee]
Brian Bopp made his Playhouse debut as Mr. Beaver in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” returning later in the season to play Louise/Mr. Pickle in “Sideways Stories From Wayside School.” His numerous stage credits go back to high school, college Scrooge, Otto Frank, Tevye), and 25 years with his own traveling drama company, B. Bopp Productions. Brian is the director of children/families at Aldersgate U.M.C.
Cael Fitch is a seventh grader at Merrill Middle School. His Playhouse credits include “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (juvenile ensemble) and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” (Charlie). In the Playhouse’s Performance Academy, he played Conductor in “The Music Man Kids” and James in “Willy Wonka Kids.” His favorite role was as the Centipede in “James and the Giant Peach” at the Youth Actors Academy of Lincoln (NE).
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre
Alice Anderson as Lucy in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” [nominee]
Caitlyn Dean as Anna Witting in “Sarah, Plain and Tall” [nominee]
Sarah Frett as BeBe in “Sideways Stories From Wayside School” [winner]
Maddie Ripperger as Mrs. Beaver in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” [nominee]
Stephanie Schneider as The White Witch in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” [nominee]
Sarah Frett counts among her Playhouse credits “Junie B. Jones The Musical” (Lucille), “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” (Beth) and Performance Academy productions of “Spamalot: Young at Part” (Knight of Ni) and “Shrek Jr.” (Young Fiona). She volunteers at the theatre as an usher, followspot operator, and PIP (pre-intern program). Sarah is an eighth grader at Dallas Center-Grimes Meadows.
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