Stuttgart troupe wins 13 Toppers

The troupe of fairies who bring chaos to the human world in Stuttgart Theatre Center's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" pause for a photo during a performance.


By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 25, 2009

STUTTGART, Germany — For the cast of 29 volunteer actors, it was the first try at a Shakespeare production.

Though new to the form, the performers from the Stuttgart Theatre Center managed to impress the judges with their production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," taking home the most trophies at the annual Tournament of Plays "Topper" Awards Show.

The Stuttgart group won 13 awards in last week’s ceremony honoring community theater productions at the Patrick Henry Village ballroom in Heidelberg. In all, 88 awards were given to companies from Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey, according to a news release from Installation Management Agency-Europe, which sponsored the event.

The play was selected as best comedy, and also won awards in makeup, costumes, set design and sound. Lise Desjardins Downing, Mike Quantrell and Elise Lindenmayer won acting awards; Capt. Eric Hanson was honored for best military performance in a play and Evan Stevens was named outstanding male youth in community theater, according to the release.

"It was a lot of work for a lot of people," Richard Roberts, named best director for his work on the Shakespeare play, said of the company’s success.

He said the cast spent nearly two months in rehearsals, while the set and costume designers put in "countless hours" getting everything right.

"It takes a village," Roberts said.

Nineteen musicals, comedies and dramas were produced during the six-week judging period, with 219 nominees named for the top honors.

The winners were decided by a team of traveling reviewers, who saw each production and offered on-the-spot critiques and suggestions to help improve the shows.

Winners in other major categories were the Vicenza (Italy) Soldiers Theatre, which won best musical for its production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"; and Ansbach, Germany’s Terrace Playhouse, whose production of "Proof" was picked as best drama.

"Cabaret," produced by the SHAPE (Belgium) Performing Arts Centre, received nine Toppers and the Aviano (Italy) Community Theatre received eight for its production of "The Wizard of Oz."

About 600 people attended the ceremony, the military’s version of the Tony Awards. Entertainment was provided by the Topper Singers and Band.

For a list of winners, see www.army.mil/-news/2009/04/20/19853-imcom-europe-recognizes-theater-performances.

Eric Hanson, who played "Bottom" in Stuttgart Theatre Center's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," is surrounded by fairies — clockwise from right — Chantel Schurr, Angel Winge, Kenidy Springer and Rebecca Clare. During the Tournament of Play's annual award ceremony on April 18, Hanson won a Topper for best military performance in a play, and the production won technical awards for makeup, costumes and stage design. Stuttgart won a total of 13 awards, the most of any participating theater groups.