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Toppers honor military stage talents

Dan LaMorte, SHAPE's entertainment director, accepts one of the community theater's 11 awards Saturday. SHAPE was outdone only by Ankara, Turkey's Stage on the Run theater, which grabbed 13.

MATT MILLHAM / S&S

By MATT MILLHAM | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 29, 2008

The scene opens on a Turkish petroleum engineer on the government payroll who, in her spare time, colludes with Americans stationed in her home city of Ankara to make award-winning plays.

After two years of living this double life, the girl gets what she never knew she wanted: the top prize for her role in an English-language play.

The difference between this story and Broadway’s “The Producers?”

Asli Vural, the Turkish petroleum engineer, is a real person.

“I’m a terrible petroleum engineer,” she said, laughing, as her award for best actress in a musical gleamed on the table behind her amid a small collection of similar statuettes.

Vural was among the dozens of smiling winners at this year’s Tournament of Plays awards show, which highlighted the on- and off-stage talents of the military in Europe’s community theaters.

In the past couple months, a panel of three judges crisscrossed Europe and Turkey to critique 19 plays — six musicals, five dramas and eight comedies — the results of which were delivered in familiar theater fashion: It was glitzy. It was loud. The inevitable Susan Lucci reference popped in.

But most of these folks are volunteers, meaning the work they did to get here was, for the most part, pro bono.

“I would say that each show takes you between 40 and 60 hours” of volunteer time, said Gwendolyn Whitney, who walked away with two Topper awards — one for best costume design for a comedy, the other for best stage props and dressing for a musical.

This was Whitney’s third trip to the Toppers from SHAPE, Belgium, and her third time walking away double-fisting gold — and she’s never once set foot on a stage, she said.

“The awards, they kind of appease the spouses,” she said, laughing, referring back to the enormous amount of time volunteers spend to put on community plays. When you come home with a Topper, your spouse looks at you and says, “Oh — you are good at what you’re doing — OK, it’s not just because you don’t want to do dishes tonight.”

About 550 theater folk weren’t home to do the dishes Saturday as they watched snippets of performances from this year’s musicals, caroused with fellow theater types and celebrated their hard work.

“There are a lot of other shows in a lot of other communities, and you don’t get to see those shows,” Whitney said. “So you really don’t have an idea if you’ll win or if you won’t, but you don’t really do it to win, you do it because you love what you’re doing and you do it because of the support you get from everybody in the theater.”


The winners ...

TECHNICAL AWARDS

Best Makeup for a Musical:
“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Bamberg Stable Theatre

Best Hair and Wig Design:
“Rapunzel – A Fairy’s Tale,” Ramstein Razz-Ma-Tazz Family Theatre

Best Costume Design for a Drama:
"Hold Please," Hohenfels Box Seat Theatre

Best Costume Design for a Comedy (TIE):
Gwendolyn Whitney, “Fools,” SHAPE Performing Arts Center
Sue Zarutskie, Stacey Groves, “Something Wonderful Right Away,” Wiesbaden Amelia Earhart Playhouse

Best Costumes for a Musical (TIE):
Shari Cappelli, "The Baker's Wife," Aviano Community Theatre
Filiz Kapcak, "Kismet," Ankara Stable Theatre

Best Sound for a Drama:
Alan Buxkemper, "Tuesdays with Morrie," Stuttgart Theatre Center

Best Sound Design for a Comedy:
Something Wonderful Right Away, Wiesbaden Amelia Earhart Playhouse

Best Sound Design for a Musical:
Robin Cooke, "Into the Woods," SHAPE Performing Arts Center

Best Choreography:
Fahrettin Güven, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Best House Management and Lobby Treatment:
Christy Smiley, "Kismet,” Ankara Stage on the Run

Best Lighting Design for a Drama:
Holger Schroeder, "Biloxi Blues," Stuttgart Theatre Center

Best Lighting Design for a Comedy:
Eric Robinson, "Something Wonderful Right Away," Amelia Earhart Playhouse

Best Lighting Design for a Musical:
Ross Daniels, "Really Rosie," Vicenza Soldiers Theatre

Best Stage Properties or Set Dressing for a Drama:
Maddy Austin, "The Heidi Chronicles," Bamberg Stable Theatre

Best Stage Properties & Dressing for a Comedy:
"All in the Timing," Mannheim Off Main Street Theatre/Roadside

Best Stage Properties and Dressing for a Musical:
Gwendolyn Whitney, Leslie Romans, "Into the Woods," SHAPE PAC

Best Set Design for a Drama:
Joanne Love, "Hold Please," Hohenfels Box Seat Theatre

Best Set Design for a Comedy:
Dane Winters, Andrew Meredith, Brian Rausch, “5 Women Wearing the Same Dress,” Heidelberg Roadside Theater

Best Set Design for a Musical:
Master Sgt. Robert Steele, "The Baker's Wife," Aviano Community Theatre

Best Program:
Dani Martin, "Absurd Person Singular," JTF Brunssum Alliance Players

Best Poster:
Mary Horning, "Really Rosie," Vicenza Soldiers Theatre

Best Scene Painting (TIE):
“All in the Timing,” Mannheim Off Main Street Theater, Roadside
Corinne Egger, "The Baker's Wife," Aviano Community Theatre

Best Orchestra:
"Into the Woods," SHAPE Performing Arts Center

Best Keyboard Accompanist:
Ciriaco Colella, "Really Rosie," Vicenza Soldiers Theatre

Best Instrumentalist:
Claire Phillpotts, Harp, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Best Music Director (TIE):
Emanuele Lachin, "The Baker's Wife," Aviano Community Theatre
Kaan Yüksel, Margaret Ozanne, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Best Stage Manager of a Play:
John Anton, "All in the Timing," Mannheim Off Main Street Theatre/Roadside

Best Stage Manager for a Musical:
Jan Jensen, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Best Technical Director of a Play:
Kari Sharpe, “To Kill a Mockingbird," Kaiserslautern KMC OnStage

Best Technical Director for a Musical:
Steve Smiley, Jan Jensen, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

PERFORMANCE AWARDS

Best Military Performance in a Play:
Sgt Simon Lash, Snetsky, “Fools,” SHAPE Performing Arts Center

Best Military Performance in Musical:
Sgt Dan Galipeau, Jack, "Into the Woods," SHAPE Performing Arts Center

Outstanding Female Youth in a Musical:
Bizzy Buffington, Johnny, "Really Rosie," Vicenza Soldiers Theatre

Outstanding Male Youth in a Play:
Jake Dailing, Dill, "To Kill a Mockingbird," Kaiserslautern KMC OnStage

Best Debut Performance in a Play:
Erica Aklan, Frances, "5Women Wearing the Same Dress," Ansbach Terrace Plhse

Best Debut Performance in a Musical:
Kenneth Miller, Ching Ho, "Thoroughly Modern Millie," Bamberg Stable Theatre

Best Debut Director:
Verndell Gildhouse, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Best Chorus Member:
J.C. Smith, Kenneth/other roles),"Thoroughly Modern Millie," Bamberg Stable Theatre

Best Ensemble for a Musical:
"Really Rosie," Vicenza Soldiers Theatre

Best Ensemble for a Play (tie):
“All in the Timing," Mannheim Off Main Street Theatre/Roadside
“Absurd Person Singular,” JTF Brunssum Alliance Players

Best Actor in a Minor Role in a Drama:
Don Jackson, Boo Radley, "To Kill a Mockingbird," Kaiserslautern KMC OnStage

Best Actress in a Minor Role in a Drama:
Kristen Glogowski, Daisy, "Biloxi Blues," Stuttgart Theatre Center

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama:
Tyler Boswell, Epstein, "Biloxi Blues," Stuttgart Theatre Center

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama:
Holly Matesick, Susan, "The Heidi Chronicles," Bamberg Stable Theatre

Best Actor in a Drama:
SPC Patrick Gleason, Peter, Bamberg Stable Theatre

Best Actress in a Drama:
Shannon Fahy, Scout, "To Kill a Mockingbird," Kaiserslautern KMC OnStage

Best Actor in a Minor Role in a Comedy:
Kregg Kappenman, Mishkin, "Fools," SHAPE Performing Arts Center

Best Actress in a Minor Role in a Comedy:
Mare Adams, Yencha, "Fools," SHAPE Performing Arts Center

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy:
Colin Jackson, Multiple Roles, "Something Wonderful Right Away," Wbn

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy:
MSG Vetta Lynn Stanley, Lenya, "Fools," SHAPE PAC

Best Actor in a Comedy:
David Burmedi, Multiple Roles, "All in the Timing," Off Main Street Theatre

Best Actress in a Comedy:
Annia Wyndham, Eva, "Absurd Person Singular,” JTF Brunssum Alliance Players

Best Actress in a Minor Role in a Musical:
SFC Sandra Myers, Jack's Mother, "Into the Woods," SHAPE Performing Arts Ctr

Best Actor in a Minor Role in a Musical:
Kivanç Tos, Jawan, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical:
Sarah Adams, Lalume, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical:
Christopher Cotton, Multiple Roles, "Thoroughly Modern Millie," Stable Theatre

Best Actress in a Musical:
Asli Vural, Marsinah, "Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Best Actor in a Musical:
Frank Lewandowski, Amiable, "The Baker's Wife," Aviano Community Theatre

Best Director of a Drama:
Richard Roberts, "To Kill a Mockingbird," Kaiserslautern KMC OnStage

Best Director of a Comedy:
Charlie Fontana, "Something Wonderful Right Away," Wiesbaden Amelia Earhart

Best Director of a Musical:
Bonnie Daniels, "Really Rosie," Vicenza Soldiers Theatre

Best Drama:
"To Kill a Mockingbird," Kaiserslautern KMC OnStage

Best Comedy:
"Something Wonderful Right Away," Wiesbaden Amelia Earhart Playhouse

Best Family Production:
“Really Rosie,” Vicenza Soldiers Theatre

Best Musical:
"Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

SPECIAL AWARDS

Norman H. Marcus Award for Excellence in Morale, Welfare and Recreation
Daniel A. Gasparino

James T. Martin Award for Individual Excellence in Army Entertainment
Alan Buxkemper

Outstanding Original Musical Score
Bruce Malone, "To Kill a Mockingbird," Kaiserslautern KMC OnStage

Outstanding Technical Support
Sharon Merrill, The Curtain Puller
"Kismet," Ankara Stage On the Run

Outstanding “Show Must Go On” Achievement
Michiel De Vito, Sandy Sapatka, Elfie Carberry, Anne Clark, Emergency Dressmakers, “5 Women Wearing the Same Dress,” Heidelberg Roadside Theater

Consistently Outstanding Performances & Devoted Community Entertainment Service
Jim Heffernan

Outstanding Special Technical Achievement
Annie Descamp, The Cowmaker
"Fools," SHAPE Performing Arts Center

Outstanding Four-Legged Performance
Husker the Cat, "The Baker's Wife" Aviano Community Theatre


Some six dozen "Topper" awards wait to be bestowed upon winners of this year's Tournament of Plays competition.
MATT MILLHAM / S&S