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Base theater groups honor year's top efforts

Members of the Wiesbaden Amelia Earhart Playhouse's production of "Annie" preform "It's a Hard Knock Life" at the 2017 TOPPERS awards in Wiesbaden, Germany, Saturday, April 29, 2017.

DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 30, 2017

WIESBADEN, Germany – An elegant and star-studded celebration of the year’s best technicians and performers from 10 military installations’ theater programs Saturday helped those involved forget about potential funding issues, if only for a night.

The 2017 U.S. Army Europe Tournament of Plays, or “TOPPERS” awards, held at the Wiesbaden Fitness Center, was punctuated by live musical performances from cast members of nominated plays and musicals and cameo video appearances from celebrities such as William Shatner, Daniel Radcliffe, Ben Stiller, Kristin Chenoweth and Army brat LeVar Burton, who was born in Landstuhl and spent time at the elementary school in Hanau.

“I feel like we are part of the same acting community,” Burton told the more than 500 attendees from Germany, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.

This year’s 22nd running of the awards show, the first to be held in Wiesbaden, was the first since the announcement last summer that the Army would shutter most of its theaters in a cost-cutting move beginning in October 2016. That hasn’t happened yet, although there have been some cuts, said Dane Winters, entertainment director of Installation Management Command-Europe.

“We did take a couple of hits,” he said, including the loss of Baumholder’s Hilltop Theater. “The world is changing. It’s really hard for us to do anything other than to focus on doing what we’re doing, and putting on shows so people have a place to go as long as we can provide it.”

Though he said he knows of no programs currently in serious danger of closing, Winters said the looming threat of cuts has actually lit something of a fire under many of these community theaters, as they fight to survive and justify their funding.

“The effect was – and I’ve been seeing these for 30 years – the shows this year were really incredible, I mean professional-quality stuff,” he said. “We had more people involved, more volunteer directors, another entire program enter in, Brunssum, after many years. I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the field this year, but everyone was so energized.”

Nearly 200 nominees in 50 categories were feted at the show, with host Wiesbaden’s Amelia Earhart Playhouse taking home 13 total awards, including the prestigious best musical award for its production of “Annie.”

“We were very close to losing the theater in Wiesbaden, and we really had to fight to keep it,” said Army Maj. Aaron Selph, a country desk officer at U.S Army Europe headquarters. “It really was an opportunity to prove ourselves, and you can see we did that and we brought it from death to life, really a resurrection story.”

It was a special night for Selph, who won an individual award for best actor in a musical and saw his wife Rachael take home the award for best actress.

He wasn’t the only servicemember to be recognized. Senior Airman Michael Orsillo, an intelligence analyst, was part of a group from the Kaiserslautern Military Community’s KMC Onstage program which took home a technical award for best choreography. After winning, he stressed the importance of the entertainment program for him and his family.

“It is the single most important extracurricular activity that my family and I do,” he said. “The training that we get here, the funding we get, the mentorship we have, it’s irreplaceable.”

stoutamire.dan@stripes.com
Twitter: @DKS_Stripes

Winners

BEST MAKE-UP FOR A PLAY
Mikayla Jones. The Lusty & Comical History of Tom Jones. The SHAPE Players Performing Arts Center, Belgium

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN FOR A PLAY
Mark Beighey, Arsenic & Old Lace. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST SET DESIGN FOR A PLAY
Tim Coble. Arsenic & Old Lace. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST SOUND DESIGN FOR A PLAY
Alan Buxkemper, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Stuttgart Theatre Center

BEST COSTUME DESIGN FOR A PLAY
Richard Roberts and Leandra Sutton, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Stuttgart Theatre Center

BEST STAGE PROPERTIES AND DRESSING FOR A PLAY
An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe. The Alliance Players, JFC Brunssum, Netherlands

BEST STAGE MANAGER FOR A PLAY
Katherine Wellman. One Man, Two Guvnors. The Terrace Playhouse, Ansbach

BEST TECHNICAL DIRECTOR FOR A PLAY
A Streetcar Named Desire, The Stuttgart Theatre Center

BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Richard Roberts, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Stuttgart Theatre Center

BEST MAKE-UP FOR A MUSICAL
James Pressley, Ashley Boone, Caitlyn McCullough and Sasha Nunnally. The Little Mermaid, Jr. Aviano Community Theater, Aviano Air Base, Italy

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN FOR A MUSICAL
Cindy Krewson. Legally Blonde. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern

BEST SET DESIGN FOR A MUSICAL
Kristin McGregor and Eric Danzeiser, Legally Blonde. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern

BEST SOUND DESIGN FOR A MUSICAL
Andres Daehn. Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST COSTUME DESIGN FOR A MUSICAL
Laurie LeBlanc, Shannon Douberly and Tambra Tiffany. The Little Mermaid, Jr. Aviano Community Theater, Aviano Air Base, Italy

BEST STAGE PROPERTIES AND DRESSING FOR A MUSICAL
The Lion King Kids. The Terrace Playhouse, Ansbach

BEST STAGE MANAGER FOR A MUSICAL
Brittany Jasinski. Legally Blonde. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern

BEST TECHNICAL DIRECTOR FOR A MUSICAL
Jerry Brees. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The Soldiers’ Theater, Vicenza, Italy

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Kristin McGregor, Hilaree Glenn and SrA Anthony Orsillo. Legally Blonde. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern

BEST INSTRUMENTALIST
Lynn Daniels, Drums. The Lion King Kids. The Terrace Playhouse, Ansbach

BEST ORCHESTRA OR MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT
Godspell. Aviano Community Theater, Aviano Air Base, Italy

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION
Elizabeth Evans, MAJ Aaron Selph and Rachael Selph. Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Brian Buckley. Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST HAIR AND WIG DESIGN
Perlita Simmons. The Lusty & Comical History of Tom Jones. The SHAPE Players Performing Arts Center, Belgium

BEST ENSEMBLE FOR A PLAY
Lie of Omission. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern Studio Theater

BEST MILITARY ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Wg Cdr Lydia Scroggs (Goody Brown, etc.) The Lusty & Comical History of Tom Jones. The SHAPE Players Performing Arts Center, Belgium

BEST MILITARY ACTOR IN A PLAY
Chief Petty Officer Christopher Whyte (Burke) An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe. The Alliance Players, JFC Brunssum, Netherlands

BEST YOUTH PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY
Christopher Craven (Ned). Lie of Omission. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern Studio Theater

BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
Cassandra Ferguson. (The Plant). One Man, Two Guvnors. The Terrace Playhouse, Ansbach

BEST ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
David Mark (Rev. Dr. Harper). Arsenic & Old Lace. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Sunny Boone (Aunt Di, etc.), The Lusty & Comical History of Tom Jones. The SHAPE Players Performing Arts Center, Belgium

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Edward Gaietto (Mitch), A Streetcar Named Desire, The Stuttgart Theatre Center

BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Tracy Coffey (Blanche), A Streetcar Named Desire, The Stuttgart Theatre Center

BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
JD Dill (Francis) One Man, Two Guvnors. The Terrace Playhouse, Ansbach

BEST CHORUS MEMBER IN A MUSICAL
SrA Dalton Watson, Legally Blonde. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern

BEST ENSEMBLE FOR A MUSICAL
Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST MILITARY PERFOMANCE IN A MUSICAL
SFC Joe Stone (Senex). A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Vicenza Soldiers’ Theatre, Italy

BEST FEMALE YOUTH PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL
Kya Stein (Annie). Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST MALE YOUTH PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL
Zane Hills (Gaston). Beauty and the Beast, Jr. Ramstein’s Razz Ma Tazz Family Theater

BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Karen Lopez (Maria). 9 to 5, The Musical. Grafenwöhr Performing Arts Center

BEST ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL
A1C Jordan Lange (Grand Master Chad, Sundeep, Carlos) Legally Blonde, KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL (Tie)
Melanie Boulay (Paulette), Legally Blonde. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern
Rachael Selph (Grace). Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Lorenzo Felisatti (Hysterium). A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Vicenza Soldiers’ Theatre, Italy

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Margaret Jacquay (Elle), Legally Blonde. KMC Onstage, Kaiserslautern

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
MAJ Aaron Selph (Oliver Warbucks) Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST DEBUT IN A PLAY
Jacquelyn Drivas (Annelle). Steel Magnolias. The Stuttgart Theatre Center

BEST DEBUT IN A MUSICAL
Rebekah Young (Lilly). Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

SPECIAL PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (TOPPERs Judges’ Choice)
1.      An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe for “Creative use of the Performance Space”. The Alliance Players, JFC Brunssum, Netherlands
2.      Dörte Jensen, for “Outstanding Fight Choreography”. A Streetcar Named Desire. The Stuttgart Theatre Center
3.      SGT Edward Martin for “Original music for The Lusty & Comical History of Tom Jones”. The SHAPE Players Performing Arts Center, Belgium
4.      Arsenic & Old Lace for “Creative Casting of Command Staff”. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST PLAY
A Streetcar Named Desire, The Stuttgart Theatre Center

BEST MUSICAL
Annie. Amelia Earhart Playhouse, Wiesbaden

BEST FAMILY SHOW
The Lion King Kids. The Terrace Playhouse, Ansbach

2017 American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) Region X BEST ONE ACT PLAY
Counting the Ways. The SHAPE Players Performing Arts Center, Belgium

The JAMES T. MARTIN AWARD
Aaron Talley & Linda Dahlstrom

The Margaret (Skippy) Lynn Entertainment Awards for Exceptional Volunteer Commitment
Jeanne Ragonese. The Stuttgart Theater Center

The Norman H. Marcus MWR Award
Greg Holzinger, USAG Wiesbaden, DFMWR

American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) Awards
AACT Spotlight Award. Shannon Egbert. The SHAPE Players Performing Arts Center, Belgium
AACT Special Recognition Award. Nate Records. USAG Rheinland Pfalz/Kaiserslautern
AACT Distinguished Merit Award. Alan Buxkemper. The Stuttgart Theater Center
AACT Special Recognition Award. Installation Management Command Europe.

Cast and crew of the Wiesbaden Amelia Earhart Playhouse accept their best musical award for "Annie" at the 2017 TOPPERS awards in Wiesbaden, Germany, Saturday, April 29, 2017.
DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES

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