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 Misérables.” 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 Misérables” and to young actresses Rachel Forney and Jillian Michelle Gabby, who shared the role of Young Cosette in “Les Misérables.”
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.