Don’t have tickets yet? Some seats remain for Arts For Life’s 22nd Best Performance Awards at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, which will honor excellence in community musical theater and youth productions.

It will be the first time the annual event is live and in-person since 2019. Musical numbers from eight nominated musicals “Annie,” “Cabaret,” “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “Fun Home,” “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” “Nunsense,” “Shrek,” and “Young Frankenstein” will be performed.

This year’s venue is the Clayton Ballroom at the Frontenac Hilton, 1335 S Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis 63131. Seating will be general admission theater-style seating.

Formal attire is requested. Face masks are recommended. A cash bar and light snacks will be available for purchase.

Veteran performers and BPA winners Gerry and Kay Love are the co-hosts, and Kimmie Kidd-Booker, another BPA winner and AFL board member, will join the Loves for the opening number.

This year’s BPAs include nominees from the shortened 2020 and 2021 theater seasons. Winners will be announced in 30 categories.

The Gateway Center for the Performing Arts’ youth musicals “Annie” and “Cabaret” earned 25 nominations – 14 and 11 respectively, to lead all groups.

Goshen Theatre Project in Collinsville, Ill., received the most community theater nominations, 16, with 11 for “Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast” and five for “Nunsense.”

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild in Kirkwood, Mo., earned 12 for the musical adaptation of the fairy tale “Shrek,” while St. Louis’ Take Two Productions received 10 for their regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home.”

The Hawthorne Players in Florissant, Mo., received eight nominations for the jukebox musical comedy “The Marvelous Wonderettes” while Monroe Actors Stage Company of Waterloo, Ill., garnered seven for the Mel Brooks’ musical adaptation “Young Frankenstein.”

Charlie Wehde will receive a special youth musical recognition award. He was honored for the Best Youth Musical Performance for his portrayal of Jack in “Into the Woods” at DaySpring Academy.

AFL’s annual pair of talent scholarship recipients will be announced. Honorees must pursue an arts career in higher education.

The annual event was held virtually in 2020 but cancelled in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“These events recognize the incredible talent we have in St. Louis community theater and honor the passion and dedication of those who build this amazing and unique theatrical community,” said Mary McCreight, president of Arts For Life.

Arts For Life is a local not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the underserved, and the community, with its goal of “Making a Dramatic Difference.”

AFL is dedicated to promoting public awareness of local community theatre, encouraging excellence in the arts, and acknowledging the incredible people who are a part of it in the St. Louis metropolitan and metro-east Illinois region.

Nominations were announced Jan. 22 at the annual Trivia Night, which was a virtual event held during a surge in the Omicron variant cases of COVID-19 last winter. They are listed on the website at www.artsforlife.org.

Starting in mid-March 2020, productions were postponed and canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, and safety precautions have been a priority for performers and performances because of the public health crisis. Theaters are no longer dark, and judging resumed in 2021.

“While we did about half the usual number of shows in 2021, it did not diminish Arts for Life’s vision for a community recognition program,” McCreight said.

Prior to the pandemic, 15 theater groups and 10 youth-only groups participated in the BPAs As the region’s mitigations efforts were ongoing the past two years, only four youth-only groups and nine community theater organizations produced BPA-eligible musicals 2021.

BPA tickets are $25, They are available online with a service fee of $2 added: https://arts-for-life-2.square.site/ and can be picked up at the box office on event day.

For special seating needs or COVID-19 related concerns, contact [email protected]. Handicapped seating is available

Groups participating in this year’s BPAs include Christ Memorial Productions, Dayspring Arts and Education, Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, Goshen Theatre Project, Hawthorne Players, Kirkwood Theatre Guild, KTK Productions, Looking Glass Playhouse, Monroe Actors Stage Company, O’Fallon Theatre Works, OverDue Theatre, and Spotlight Productions.

For more information, visit the website at www.artsforlife.org

Early Bird Ticket Price Good Through May 12

Two versatile professional performers well-known in community theater circles and support for the arts community, Gerry and Kay Love, have been named co-hosts of this year’s Best Performance Awards.

After a two-year absence, Arts For Life will return to a live and in-person awards ceremony June 12, and tickets are now available for the formal afternoon event at the Frontenac Hilton.

Through AFL, the BPAs have honored musical theater in community and youth productions in the St. Louis and metro-east Illinois area since 2000, after the nonprofit organization was founded a year earlier.

Kay Love has won nine BPAs, all in the acting categories, the third most overall in the organization’s history, and has been nominated 29 times, a record for actresses.

Gerry Love has been nominated 12 times and won as the Narrator in Kirkwood Theatre Guild’s production of “Into the Woods” in 2000, for best performance in a non-singing role.

Kay Love in Stray Dog Theatre’s ” Ragtime”

They both have been nominated for St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, which recognizes excellence in regional professional theater.

“We are thrilled to be the hosts of the 2022 BPA’s.  We were involved with Arts For Life at its inception and are so happy to see how it has grown over the years. After two years of sitting on our couch, we will be ecstatic to spend the afternoon with so many dear friends!” Kay Love said.

AFL President Mary McCreight praised the Loves’ fervent support of the local arts community as well as their talent.

“They are definitely in the cream of the crop in St. Louis,” McCreight said. “They have a rich history in musicals, plays, concerts, and benefits.”

Plans For This Year’s Event

The 22nd Best Performance Awards will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, at the Frontenac Hilton, Clayton Ballroom, 1335 S Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis 63131.

This year’s BPAs include nominees from the shortened 2020 and 2021 theater seasons. Songs from musicals nominated for large ensemble, small ensemble and youth productions will be performed, with Diane Hanisch returning as music director.

Kimmie Kidd-Booker

Kimmie Kidd-Booker, a past BPA winner, current AFL board member, and professional entertainer, will perform “Show People” from the musical “Curtains” as the opening number.

“So happy to see the enthusiasm among theater groups for recognizing excellence among their peers and cheering each other on. It was a tough year to get out there, rehearse, and be among crowds. But through their diligence and willpower, the magic happened. Let’s celebrate!” McCreight said.

The Theatre Mask Awards, which have honored drama and comedy plays since 2015, were held April 9 at a brunch ceremony.

Because of the coronavirus public health crisis, AFL held its BPAs and TMAs ceremonies virtually in 2020, while BPAs were not held in 2021, but TMAs were virtually, and in a smaller capacity.

Prior to the pandemic, 15 theater groups and 10 youth-only groups participated in the BPAs while 11 were involved in the TMAs. As the region’s mitigations efforts were ongoing the past two years, only four youth-only groups and nine community theater organizations produced BPA-eligible musicals while seven participated in TMAs in 2021.

BPA Nominations

Thirteen groups received nominations for 16 musical productions in 2020 and 2021.

The Gateway Center for the Performing Arts led all groups with 25 nominations in total for their youth musicals “Annie” and “Cabaret”– 14 for “Annie” and 11 for Kander-Ebb’s “Cabaret.”

Goshen Theatre Project in Collinsville, Ill., earned 16 nominations –with 11 for “Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast” and five for “Nunsense.”

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild in Kirkwood, Mo., has 12 for the musical adaptation of the animated fairy tale “Shrek,” while Take Two Productions earned 10 for their regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home.”

Hawthorne Players received eight for the jukebox musical comedy “The Marvelous Wonderettes” and Monroe Actors Stage Company has seven for the Mel Brooks’ musical adaptation “Young Frankenstein.”

Looking Glass Players garnered a total of seven – The Tony Award 2014 winner for best musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” received four and the jukebox musical comedy “Rock of Ages” has three.

A complete list of nominees is available at: https://nebula.wsimg.com/5ec987b8d5580ca0c11ed016e97ce1a6?AccessKeyId=901C1079C3BABD637603&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

Tickets $20 Through May 12 or $25 After

Formal attire is requested, and the event will be general admission theater-style seating. A cash bar will be available.

BPA tickets are either $20 as an early bird pricing before May 12, or $25 after that until June 12. They are available online with a service fee of $2 added: https://arts-for-life-2.square.site/.

Reservations can be arranged through the mail and tickets can be picked up at the venues on event day. Please make check payable to ARTS FOR LIFE and mail to PO Box 16426, St. Louis, MO 63125.

All BPA ticket orders will be held at the box office unless a self-addressed stamped envelope is included with ticket order. If ordering for a group, please attach a list of individual names for box office pick-up.

Please contact [email protected] if you have any special seating needs or COVID-19 related concerns. Handicapped seating is available

Community theater organizations who produced shows and were eligible for BPA Awards consideration during the specified time period include Christ Memorial Productions, Dayspring Arts and Education, Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, Goshen Theatre Project, Hawthorne Players, Kirkwood Theatre Guild, KTK Productions, Looking Glass Playhouse, Monroe Actors Stage Company, O’Fallon Theatre Works, Over Due Theatre, Spotlight Productions and Take Two Productions.

For more information or to see a list of nominees, visit the website at www.artsforlife.org

Kay Love

The Loves

The Loves, who live in Sunset Hills, met onstage at the Florissant Civic Center in 1994 and have been married for 25 years.

“We both have been singing all of our lives,” Kay said.

Gerry began acting in high school in Norman, Okla., in the dancing chorus of “Oklahoma” in 1969 and appeared in four more shows during those school days. After a 12-year hiatus, he returned to stages in Dallas, Texas, between 1982 and 1986. His first St. Louis production was in “42nd Street” at Hawthorne Players in 1988, and he was involved in their shows for 20 years. He also performed at other local venues, amateur and professional. Besides performing, he directed four shows, one for Alpha Players and three for Hawthorne.

Kay, a St. Louis native, has been in shows since seventh grade (“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”), graduated from Lindbergh High School, and attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Texas Christian University.

She performed on the Muny stage in 1985 and 1987, including four shows as an Equity actress – “My Fair Lady,” “Peter Pan,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” She was also in two later concert versions of “The Desert Song” and “The Merry Widow.”

Kay has created and performed three solo cabaret shows. For many years, she has sung with The Jeweltones and Caroling St. Louis.

An avid photographer since 2007, Gerry has shot photos of 50 community theater and university productions, plus dance concerts and actor headshots, and produced videos. He is currently the primary photographer for Webster University’s Department of Dance. He also served on the boards for Kirkwood Theatre Guild and Hawthorne during his time in St Louis.

The Loves have sung at Carnegie Hall and have appeared with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus during multiple seasons.  

Gerry Love in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at Stray Dog Theatre

Making a Dramatic Difference

Arts For Life is dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the underserved, and the community, with its goal of “Making a Dramatic Difference.”

AFL is dedicated to promoting public awareness of local community theatre, encouraging excellence in the arts, and acknowledging the incredible people who are a part of it.

Nominations were announced Jan. 22 at AFL’s annual Trivia Night, which was a virtual event during heightened COVID-19 cases earlier this winter. They are listed on the website, www.artsforlife.org.

Starting in mid-March 2020, productions were postponed and canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, and safety precautions have been a priority for performers and performances because of the coronavirus public health crisis. Now that vaccines and COVID-19 tests are available, stage work has returned, and theaters are no longer dark.

“While we did about half the usual number of shows in 2021, it did not diminish Arts for Life’s vision for a community recognition program,” McCreight said

“These events recognize the incredible talent we have in St. Louis community theater and honor the passion and dedication of those who build this amazing and unique theatrical community,” she said.

The local not-for-profit arts organization, Arts For Life, has announced that it will return to in-person judging of community theater productions beginning July 1.

With the goal of “Making a Dramatic Difference,” AFL is passionate about the healing power of the performing arts, and is proud to salute, support, and serve the theater groups in the St. Louis, MO-IL Metro East region.

AFL is dedicated to promoting public awareness of local community theatre, encouraging excellence in the arts, and acknowledging the incredible people who are part of it.

Since 1999, the annual Best Performance Awards has celebrated achievements in musical theater and youth productions. In 2015, the Theatre Mask Awards were started to honor outstanding work in plays – in both dramas and comedies.

About 25 community theater organizations are eligible to participate in AFL.

Additionally, the group is seeking volunteer judges to evaluate shows and performers for their annual awards recognizing excellence in the region. Volunteers are the “eyes and ears” of AFL, ambassadors in the community. The deadline for applications is Monday, June 7.

Judges are required to attend a meeting before they are assigned shows to score. You must be 18 years old or older and choose either musicals or plays. If interested, fill out the form here for the Theater Recognition Guild, either the TMAs or BPAs:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021trgjudgeapp

Mandatory judges’ training meetings will be on the Zoom teleconference platform, offered at three different dates and times: Wednesday, June 23, and Sunday, June 27, both at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, June 26, at 1 p.m. The TRG chairmen will go over AFL’s policies and procedures, giving the judges the tools to be fair and conscientious.

For not-for-profit registered theater groups who want their shows to be eligible for accolades, they must fill out the paperwork eight weeks prior to opening night. Those forms are located here:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021participationforms

“Welcome back! AFL is thrilled to see our theatre groups getting ready to start putting on shows again. We are recruiting judges, scheduling training and looking forward to getting back to enjoying theatre in the St. Louis-Metro East areas,” said AFL President Mary McCreight.

“Thank you to everyone who stayed the course and who are still excited to entertain. We are ready and hope you are too. See you soon!” McCreight said.

AFL had suspended judging activities beginning in April 2020 because of the coronavirus public health emergency in Illinois and Missouri. The board of directors adopted measures to foster the protection of those who work and play in community theater until it would be safe to return.

As the CDC and local officials have recently eased restrictions and more Americans are vaccinated, the AFL board of directors, at their May 15 meeting, agreed to move forward and resume normal operations on July 1.

In mid-March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic shutdown included closing performance venues, limiting capacity at gatherings, and protocols for social distancing and face coverings.

AFL had transitioned to virtual streamed formats for both their TMA and BPA shows honoring productions in 2019 last summer and for the recent TMAs recognizing shows produced in early 2020 and one in the fall.

The BPAs were cancelled for 2021. and the few musicals that were performed in early 2020 will be considered for the 2022 awards, along with those performed from July through December in 2021.

AFL board members have continued their focus on encouraging and promoting community theater in the region and supporting charitable programs. They will award two annual youth scholarships in June.

In recent years, AFL has initiated an Adopt-a-Student mentoring program and presented an online series on diversity and inclusion last fall.

“I am incredibly grateful to all of our constituencies – the board, judges, participating groups, audience members and donors – for their commitment to AFL and their engagement and unwavering support of our local theatre community during these uncertain times,” McCreight said.

AFL was founded in 1994 by Lucinda Guyrci dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the under-served and the community.

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected] or visit the website, www.artsforlife.org

Be sure to subscribe/like to our social media: https://www.facebook.com/artsforlifestlouis, https://twitter.com/arts_for_life and YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Clayton Community Theatre’s production of the classic romantic comedy “The Philadelphia Story” swept the 2021 Theatre Mask Awards, winning seven out of its eight nominations.

For the second year in a row, a virtual ceremony took place. On April 3, the 17-minute pre-recorded announcement honored excellence in community theater productions of comedies and dramas, as the TMAs have done since 2015.

Only for 2020, Arts For Life scaled back the format to reflect the number of eligible plays performed before the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. Awards were presented in 10 non-musical play categories instead of the usual 18.

TMA Steering Committee co-directors Melissa Boyer and Tim Naegelin announced the winners. The presentation is available on Arts For Life’s YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

Clayton Community Theatre, last year’s big winner in both comedy and drama with “Biloxi Blues” and “A Soldier’s Play,” added to their overall total of 28 awards and 113 nominations. They won for Play, Director Heather Sartin, Leading Actress Kelsey McCroskey, Supporting Actress Caitlin Souers, Costume Designer Julie Smailys, Lighting Designer Nathan Schroeder and Set Designers Andrew Cary, Zac Cary and Heather Sartin.

They staged “The Philadelphia Story” in March 2020. The 1939 play by Philip Barry deals with family dynamics and class prejudice at the affluent Lord estate, where everyone has gathered for socialite Tracy Lord’s second wedding, but romantic entanglements ensue and she must choose between three men – her fiancé, ex-husband and reporter covering the society event.

The winning actresses, McCroskey and Souers played Tracy Lord and her younger sister Dinah respectively. This is Schroeder’s third award for lighting design, winning for CCT’s “Macbeth” in 2015 and “A Soldier’s Play” last year.

Act Two Theatre’s production of the comedy “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” won two – for Best Supporting Actor Todd Micali and Best Ensemble. The St. Peters-based group had led this year’s awards with nine nominations.

They staged the 2004 farce by Michael Parker in February 2020. It is about a California billionaire who has bequeathed all of his assets to his only daughter, Constance – except the $22 million yacht he wanted Josephine to have, a $25 million art collection left to Renee, and some priceless antique automobiles willed to Marjorie. She arrives at her father’s mansion with her lawyer to find out who these women are and discovers the butler seems to hold the key.

Micali, playing the bumbling detective Davis, has won in the supporting actor category before –as Felix Ungar, in “The Odd Couple” in 2016, and a Best Performance Award for Comedic Actor in multiple roles in “Spamalot” in 2014.

Alton Little Theater won one for Leading Actor, Shea Maples, in “Inherit the Wind.” He played the character Matthew Harrison Brady, which is based on attorney William Jennings Bryan, in the drama that is a fictional account of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trail.

Arts For Life announced the TMA nominations on March 12, during the nonprofit organization’s first-ever virtual trivia night.

“The TMAs were able to do eight shows last year and so the show must go on. Several categories were combined to allow for more nominees,” said AFL President Mary McCreight.

Naegelin explained the reasoning behind 2021’s awards ceremony.

“2020 was a difficult year. Most theatre was cancelled after March, but the TMA Steering Committee and the AFL Board of Directors believed the Theatre Recognition Guild had reviewed enough shows to make a successful TMA event. With only eight shows eligible, some categories were combined so that we did not lose the integrity of our awards and nominations.  To that end, there was not a division of drama and comedy categories for this year,” Naegelin said.

During 2020, beginning in mid-March, because of the public health emergency in Illinois and Missouri. performance venues were closed, gatherings limited to a percentage of capacity and safety protocols in place, including social distancing and face coverings to lessen community spread.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, AFL adopted measures to foster the protection of those who work and play in metropolitan St. Louis-southwest Illinois community theater.

“We will continue our charitable mission of service and recognition once it is safe to do so,” McCreight said.

The Philadelphia Story

The 2020 TMA winners are:

BEST PRODUCTION
“The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR
Heather Sartin, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST LEADING ACTOR
Shea Maples, “Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theater

BEST LEADING ACTRESS
Kelsey McCroskey, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theater

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Todd Micali, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theater

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Caitlin Souers, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theater

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Julie Smailys, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Nathan Schroeder, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST SET DESIGN
Andrew Cary, Zac Cary and Heather Sartin, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST ENSEMBLE
Act Two Theatre, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?”

Winners can record an acceptance speech, no more than two minutes in length, and send it by April 9 to [email protected]

AFL will upload the recording to its YouTube channel.

Who’s in Bed with the Butler? cast

AFL Adjusts Events in 2020-2021/Mission Remains the Same

Last year, AFL transitioned to streamed formats for both their TMA and Best Performance Awards (musical theater and youth productions) shows honoring productions in 2019.

The BPAs have been cancelled in 2021, and the few musicals that were performed in early 2020 will be considered for the 2022 awards. In April 2020, the AFL president suspended all public activities of the AFL organization, and then the board extended suspension of the Theatre Recognition Guild judging activities, for the BPA branch (musicals), through July 1, 2021.

“All is well with AFL. We will survive and look forward to meeting again in July.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I thank all theater groups who are working to create a safe and pleasing future,” McCreight said.

McCreight emphasized that the AFL board will continue to base their decisions upon the best information currently available and will continue to share information promptly and transparently.

Naegelin is hopeful that more productions will be able to be mounted in 2021.

“I love the work that AFL/TMA does in supporting and promoting community theatre.  From helping provide a sense of community, to providing scholarships, and mentoring at risk students in local theatre programs, AFL/TMA provides a full range of support to the St. Louis metro area.  I’m excited that we can continue that, even in our limited way, in 2021, he said.

AFL was founded in 1994 by Lucinda Guyrci as a local non-profit organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the under-served and the community. The BPAs have honored musical theater since 1999 and the TMAs have honored plays since 2015.

To see a complete list of the nominees and awards history, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]

Be sure to subscribe/like to our social media: https://www.facebook.com/artsforlifestlouis, https://twitter.com/arts_for_life and YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

AFL’s 2021 Theatre Mask Awards, honoring excellence in community theatre
productions of plays during 2020, will be pre-recorded and premiere as a virtual
ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, on AFL’s YouTube Channel.
Act Two Theatre’s production of the farce “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” leads this
year’s Theatre Mask Awards nominations with nine. Alton Little Theater, with its two
productions of “Inherit the Wind” and “The Miracle Worker,” earned 12 nominations in
total – six for each.

Two classic comedies by Clayton Community Theatre, “The Philadelphia Story,” and
Monroe Actors Stage Company, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” both received eight
nominations apiece.

Arts For Life announced the TMA nominations on March 12, during the nonprofit
organization’s first-ever virtual trivia night.

Awards in nine non-musical play categories will be announced. The format has been
scaled back to reflect the number of eligible plays.

Normally, 11 community theater companies participate in the TMAs, with awards in 18
categories, but last year’s shutdown forced show cancellations.

“The TMAs were able to do eight shows last year and so the show must go on. Several
categories were combined to allow for more nominees,” said AFL President Mary
McCreight.

Tim Naegelin, co-chair of the TMA Steering Committee, explained the reasoning behind
2021’s awards ceremony.

“2020 was a difficult year. Most theatre was cancelled after March, but the TMA
Steering Committee and the AFL Board of Directors believed the Theatre Recognition
Guild had reviewed enough shows to make a successful TMA event. With only eight
shows eligible, some categories have been combined so that we do not lose the
integrity of our awards and nominations. To that end, there will not be a division of
drama and comedy categories for this year,” Naegelin said.

During 2020, beginning in mid-March, a shutdown because of the global COVID-19
pandemic happened. Because of the public health emergency in Illinois and Missouri.
performance venues were closed, gatherings limited to a percentage of capacity and
safety protocols in place, including social distancing and face coverings to lessen
community spread.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, AFL adopted measures to foster the protection of
those who work and play in metropolitan St. Louis-southwest Illinois community theater.
“We will continue our charitable mission of service and recognition once it is safe to do
so,” McCreight said.

TMA Eligible Shows
For this year’s TMA awards, Act Two Theater in St. Peters garnered nine nominations –
for production, actress, supporting actor and actress, director, costume design and
lighting design, and as the only nominee for Best Ensemble, has won that award
already.

They staged the 2004 farce by Michael Parker in February 2020. It is about a California
billionaire who has bequeathed all of his assets to his only daughter, Constance –
except the $22 million yacht he wanted Josephine to have, a $25 million art collection
left to Renee, and some priceless antique automobiles willed to Marjorie. She arrives at
her father’s mansion with her lawyer to find out who these women are and discovers the
butler seems to hold the key.

Act Two, with 43 nominations since 2016, swept the 2017 TMAs, with “Drop Dead”
winning Best Comedy and “The Boys Next Door” winning Best Drama.

Over the years, Clayton Community Theatre has received 113 nominations, sweeping
last year’s TMAs with “A Soldier’s Play” and “Biloxi Blues” as winners in drama and
comedy.

They staged “The Philadelphia Story” in March 2020, the classic romantic comedy by
Philip Barry about privileged Tracy Lord, who is divorced from CK Dexter Haven, and
engaged to a successful young snob. A society paper sends a reporter to cover the
wedding arrangements, and she finds herself interested. Romantic entanglements
ensue. It has eight nominations – for production, director, actress, supporting actress
(2), lighting, costume and set designs.

“The Solid Gold Cadillac,” the 1954 play by George S. Kaufman and Howard
Teichmann, has a little old lady beat wicked corporate shareholders at their own game.
MASC staged it in February 2020 and has received eight nominations – for director,
actor, actress, supporting actor and actress, costume, set and lighting designs.

The Alton Little Theater has a total of 12 nominations, with six for “Inherit the Wind” –
production, director, actor, supporting actor and set design, which they staged last
January and February, and six for “The Miracle Worker” – production, director, actress
(2), costumes and set design, which they produced last October. Kevin Frakes is a
three-time nominee for both his set designs and directing “The Miracle Worker.”
“Inherit the Wind” is the fictional account of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial by Jerome
Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson tells the story of

Helen Keller, blind and deaf after childhood fever, and her governess and teacher,
Annie Sullivan.

Looking Glass Playhouse received four nominations – for production, actor, supporting
actor and set design for “It’s Only a Play,” a comedy by Terence McNally about an
opening night after-party where a producer, playwright, director, actors and their friends
eagerly wait for the reviews. They presented it in March 2020.

Since 2015, Monroe Actors Stage Company in Waterloo, Ill., has received 83
nominations over the years, Alton Little Theatre over 80 nominations, and Looking
Glass Players in Lebanon, Ill., 43 nominations.

The 2020 TMA nominations include:

BEST PRODUCTION
“Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theater
“It’s Only a Play,” Looking Glass Theatre
“The Miracle Worker,” Alton Little Theater
“The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre
“Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR
Lee Cox, “Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theater
Kevin Frakes, “The Miracle Worker,” Alton Little Theater
Paul James, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theatre
Heather Sartin, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre
Rebecca Zimmermann, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

BEST ACTOR
Howard S Bell, “Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theater
Shea Maples, “Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theater
Steve Shininger, “It’s Only a Play,” Looking Glass Playhouse
David Zimmerman, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

BEST ACTRESS
Kelsey McCroskey, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theater
Marisa Puller, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theatre
Emily Schneider, “The Miracle Worker,” Alton Little Theater
Maria Wilken, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” Monroe Actors Stage Company
Kya Wonders, “The Miracle Worker,” Alton Little Theater

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Matt Dossett, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” Monroe Actors Stage Company
Brad Kinzel, “It’s Only a Play,” Looking Glass Playhouse
Brant McCance, “Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theater
Todd Micali, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theater

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Linda Daly, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theatre
Jenifer Elias, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” Monroe Actors Stage Company
Monica Lee, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theater
Trish Nelke, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?”, Act Two Theatre
Caitlin Souers, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theater

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Lee Cox, “Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theatre
Jean Heckmann, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theatre
Julie Smailys, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre
Rebecca Zimmerman, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Nathan Schroeder, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre
Todd Wilken, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

BEST SET DESIGN
Andrew Cary, Zac Cary and Heather Sartin, “The Philadelphia Story, Clayton
Community Theatre
Kevin Frakes, “The Miracle Worker,” Alton Little Theater
Kevin Frakes, “Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theater
Chris Resimius, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theatre
Brad Sanker, “It’s Only a Play,” Looking Glass Playhouse
Todd Wilken, “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

BEST ENSEMBLE
Act Two Theatre, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?”

AFL Adjusts Events in 2020-2021/Mission Remains the Same

Last year, AFL transitioned to streamed formats for both their TMA and Best
Performance Awards (musical theater and youth productions) shows honoring
productions in 2019.

The BPAs have been cancelled in 2021, and the few musicals that were performed in
early 2020 will be considered for the 2022 awards. In April 2020, the AFL president
suspended all public activities of the AFL organization, and then the board extended
suspension of the Theatre Recognition Guild judging activities, for the BPA branch
(musicals), through July 1, 2021.

“Arts for Life is plugging along with theater-starved actors for a new day! On Friday,
AFL proceeded to produce our first ever Virtual Trivia Night to announce the Theatre

Mask Awards (TMAs) nominations. It was well-attended and a lot of fun,” McCreight
said.

“With the Best Performance Awards cancelled this year due to not being able to have
shows in 2020, heads were down. But old habits don't die. The Trivia Night’s audio and
visual musical categories brought us back to life,” she said.

“All is well with AFL. We will survive and look forward to meeting again in July. Where
there’s a will, there’s a way, and I thank all theater groups who are working to create a
safe and pleasing future,” McCreight said.

McCreight emphasized that the AFL board will continue to base their decisions upon the
best information currently available and will continue to share information promptly and
transparently.

Naegelin is hopeful that more productions will be able to be mounted in 2021.

“I love the work that AFL/TMA does in supporting and promoting community theatre.
From helping provide a sense of community, to providing scholarships, and mentoring
at risk students in local theatre programs, AFL/TMA provides a full range of support to
the St. Louis metro area. I'm excited that we can continue that, even in our limited way,
in 2021, he said.

Co-chair Melissa Boyer was optimistic as well.

“I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the TMAs. I’m excited to co-chair this
committee and look forward to finding ways to grow the TMAs and find opportunities for
people to be involved with this wonderful, dedicated group. We are all looking forward to
theatres being able to safely open again and welcoming new members to the TMA
Theatre Recognition Guild,” Boyer said.

AFL was founded in 1994 by Lucinda Guyrci as a local non-profit organization dedicated
to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the under-served and the
community. The BPAs have honored musical theater since 1999 and the TMAs have
honored plays since 2015.

“We hope that you and your loved ones have stayed safe during this difficult time,”
McCreight said. “Because of your commitment to our community and belief in our
mission, my optimism is not diminished about AFL being able to move forward once this
unprecedented time passes.”

Besides co-chairs Boyer and Naegelin, the TMA Steering Committee officers are Laurie
Blanner, recorder; Linda Daly, marketing facilitator; and Keaton Treece, Theatre
Recognition Guild director.

To see a complete list of the nominees and awards history, visit the website:
www.artsforlife.org

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]
 The YouTube Channel link:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

The awards be available afterwards for later viewing. Please subscribe to the Arts For Life
STL channel so you can get a reminder of the event.
Be sure to subscribe/like to our social media:
https://www.facebook.com/artsforlifestlouishttps://twitter.com/arts_for_life

There’s no business like show business! Arts For Life is devoted to supporting community theater in these pandemic times and will host its annual Trivia Night – only with a few twists.

The event is set for Friday, March 12, with rounds beginning at 7 p.m. but ‘doors’ open at 6:30 p.m. Teams can have up to 8 players and the cost is $10 per person/$80 a team. Mulligans and 50-50 tickets are available separately.

During the evening, nominations for the sixth annual Theatre Mask Awards will be announced. A scaled-back format is planned for a virtual awards ceremony on April 3. The TMAs honor plays – both comedy and drama – produced by community theater companies in the St. Louis metropolitan area, including the metro-east and St Charles County.

The Best Performance Awards, which recognizes excellence in community musical theatre, have been cancelled for this year.

“We hope groups will come together from their homes to share in the camaraderie of the arts community and have a fun evening celebrating theater,” said AFL President Mary McCreight. “AFL plans to return to its regular activities once it is safe to do so during this public health crisis.”

Using the teleconferencing platform Zoom, the AFL Board of Directors is producing an evening of eight rounds of 10 all-theater questions.

Colin Dowd, who is on the AFL Board of Directors and has been a BPA winner and TMA nominee, will be the host.

Registration will close on March 10. When registering, the team needs to designate a team captain. Information updates will be sent to the team captain to pass along to their teammates.

Players are encouraged to wear cast T-shirts that evening. (Pajama pants optional!).

To register or for more information, visit the website, www.artsforlife.org

Any questions may be directed to AFL Secretary Kim Klick — email [email protected]

By Lynn Venhaus

Clayton Community Theatre was the big winner at this year’s Arts For Life’s fifth annual Theatre Mask Awards, taking the top prizes for both Outstanding Production of a Comedy  – “Biloxi Blues” – and Outstanding Production of a Drama – “A Soldier’s Play.” Combined, the two plays won eight awards.

The 2020 Theatre Mask Awards, honoring excellence in community theatre productions of dramas and comedies during 2019, included winners in 18 non-musical play categories. Nine community theater companies throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan region, including three counties in the metro-east, participate in the TMAs.

This year’s event was a pre-recorded virtual presentation online on Saturday, July 18, instead of the usual brunch because of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally scheduled for April 4, the TMAs were moved to mid-July, then ultimately cancelled because of the public health emergency and the gathering restrictions in St. Louis County.

Melissa Boyer and Tim Naegelin, members of the TMA Steering Committee and the Arts For Life board of directors, were the co-hosts. Brant McCance was the tech and video coordinator.

“We were able to still provide an opportunity for our local arts community to come together online and celebrate the many outstanding achievements of the previous year,” said AFL President Mary McCreight.

Clayton Community Theatre, formed in 1998, also was honored for Outstanding Large Ensemble for “Biloxi Blues,” and Director Sam Hack. It was back-to-back wins for their Eugene Trilogy by Neil Simon. In 2018, they won comedy production and direction for “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” The second play in Simon’s semi-autobiographical series won five awards overall.

Two “Biloxi Blues” actors were recognized – Michael Bouchard for Lead Actor and Sam Guillemette for Supporting Actor in a Comedy.

“A Soldier’s Play” won three, including Nada Vaughn for Director of a Drama and Nathan Schroeder for Lighting Design of a Play. Schroeder was a previous winner for “Macbeth” in 2015.

Clayton Community Theatre had notched 24 nominations — “Biloxi Blues” (13), “A Soldier’s Play” (10) and “Eurydice” (1). CCT also broke a record for having the most acting nominations from a single show – 8 for “Biloxi Blues.”

Other multiple award winners included Act Two Theatre, two for “Plaza Suite” – Amanda McMichael for Lead Actress in a Comedy and Jean Heckmann for Costume Design of a Play; Monroe Actors Stage Company for “It’s a Wonderful Life” – Sarah Polizzi for Supporting Actress and Randy Manning for Supporting Actor in a Drama; and Theatre Guild of Webster Groves won two – Matthew Linhardt for Lead Actor in Drama as McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Anna Drake as Outstanding Juvenile Performer for ‘The Bad Seed.”

O’Fallon TheatreWorks won two for “The Miracle Worker” – Kaylee Ryan for Lead Actress in a Drama as Helen Keller and Chris and Ellie Lanham for Outstanding Set Design of a Play, which they have won two previous times – in 2016 for “The Diary of Anne Frank” and in 2018 for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Awards went to Alton Little Theater for Outstanding Small Ensemble in a Play – “A Twisted Christmas Carol” and Looking Glass Playhouse for Supporting Actress in a Comedy – Pam Boker in “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves had led all area community theaters with 27 nominations.

Special Achievement Awards went to Alton Little Theater for “Vintage Voices” and Hawthorne Players for “Voices of Valhalla: Hayrides through History,” both unique applications of theater that take place in the fall around Halloween. Each theater troupe presents stories of the people buried in local cemeteries.

The 40-minute awards video is available on the AFL You Tube channel: https://youtu.be/5Peni8T5UA8

AFL had previously announced the switch to virtual for the Best Performance Awards, which honors musical theater and youth productions. That ceremony was streamed Sunday, June 14, at 2 p.m. on the AFL YouTube channel.

TMA winners have an opportunity to send an acceptance speech to AFL, and it will be posted on social media.

For the groups who have not picked up their trophies, please contact Mary McCreight at [email protected]

To see a complete list of the nominees and winners for both TMAs and BPAs, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

“As our world, our nation and our region face a major health threat, it falls upon us as a community to adopt measures that will both foster the protection of those who work and ‘play’ in Metro St. Louis community theatre and ultimately allow AFL to continue our charitable mission of service and recognition once the threat passes,” McCreight added.

McCreight said AFL appreciates the support shown during these difficult times.

“I am incredibly grateful to all of our constituencies – the board, judges, participating groups, audience members and donors – for their commitment to AFL and their engagement and unwavering support of our local theatre community during these uncertain times,” McCreight said.

AFL was founded in 1994 by Lucinda Gyurci as a local non-profit organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the under-served and the community. The BPAs have honored musical theater since 1999 and the TMAs have honored plays since 2015.

“We hope that you and your loved ones stay safe during this difficult time,” McCreight said. “Because of your commitment to our community and belief in our mission, my optimism is not diminished about AFL being able to move forward once this unprecedented time passes.” 

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]

Be sure to subscribe/like to our social media: https://www.facebook.com/artsforlifestlouis, https://twitter.com/arts_for_life and YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

By Lynn Venhaus
Christ Memorial Productions’ presentation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!” won eight Best Performance Awards for choreography, music direction, lighting, costumes, acting and Best Featured Dancer while Kirkwood Theatre Guild’s production of the George and Ira Gershwin 1920s musical-screwball comedy “Nice Work If You Can Get It” won seven, including Best Large Ensemble Musical Production, Best Director and five acting awards, from Arts For Life Sunday.

It was KTG’s sixth win for musical production since 2000. Both shows had been nominated for 17 awards apiece. “A New Brain,” which was a local community theater premiere for Hawthorne Players, won Best Small Ensemble Production.

Arts For Life is a nonprofit organization that encompasses 140 communities and 8,460 square miles in St. Louis city, county and St. Charles County in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois.

Founded in 1994 by Lucinda Gyurci as a group dedicated to the healing power of the arts, AFL has honored community theater musicals for performances and achievements since 1999 (BPAs), plays since 2015 (Theatre Mask Awards) and expanded awards in youth musical theater in 2013.

Best Small Ensemble Musical “A New Brain”

But this is the first time AFL did not host a live gala. Because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the ceremony was re-imagined as a pre-recorded virtual celebration. The 21st annual BPAs took place June 14, which was the original date, but transitioned to a streaming format broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.

AFL President Mary McCreight said the coronavirus safety measures in place and restrictions on gatherings in St. Louis County were factors in the decision to cancel the live show but still have some sort of event.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for our local arts community to come together online and celebrate the many outstanding achievements of the previous year,” McCreight said.

Performances from nominees for large ensemble musicals, two small ensemble musicals and five youth productions premiered on AFL’s YouTube channel for 10 days leading up to the awards, and are now available there, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

There were 15 community theaters and 10 youth-only groups who participated last year. More than 60 judges in the Theatre Recognition Guild scored 46 shows — 19 large ensembles, 3 small and 24 youth, featuring 939 roles. For 2019, there were 154 individual nominations from 22 groups, with 36 percent first-time nominees and 65 percent first-time winners.

Goshen Theatre Project, which led all groups with 18 nominations, won five youth awards overall for “Les Miserables School Edition,” including Best Youth Musical Production, Supporting Actress Natalie Cochran as Eponine, costume design (Terry Pattison), lighting design (Halli Pattison and Blake Churchill) and Bennett English as Best Youth Musical Performance as Jean Valjean.

Other multiple winners in the youth categories were Riverbend Theatre, which won three for “The Drowsy Chaperone” — director (Kristi Doering), music direction (Michael Frazier/Alison Neace) and lead actor (Jayson Heil as the Man in Chair), and Young People’s Theatre, which won two for “Newsies” – best supporting actor (Will Dery as Les) and set design (Brisby Andrews and Gary Rackers).

Norbert Leo Butz

Thirty-three awards honoring excellence during 2019 were announced by past winners and members of the AFL board of directors, with two special guest presenters — Norbert Leo Butz, two-time Tony Award winner who grew up in St. Louis, and Hana S. Sharif, the Augustin Family Artistic Director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Butz, who also announced the youth musical production winner, told the audience to believe in themselves, even when it’s hard, and follow their dreams, noting he had supportive parents and “great” teachers.

“Believe in yourself and keep on being grateful. Stick to it,” he said from his home in New Jersey. “(Performing arts) feeds our soul, our minds, our hearts.”

AFL donated to Butz’s charity, The Angel Band Project, which uses music therapy to help victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence and advocates for rights of survivors. For more information, visit www.angelbandproject.org

Jennifer Kerner

Four special honors were given out to Jennifer Kerner for her inclusion efforts, Bennett English for Best Youth Musical Performance as Jean Valjean in Goshen Theatre Project’s “Les Miserables: School Edition,” Kayla Dressman for Best Featured Dancer as Dream Laurie in  CMP’s “Oklahoma!” and Diane Hanisch, the BPA musical director/conductor for the past 20 years, who won a national Spotlight Award from the American Association of Community Theatres, presented by Quiana Clark-Roland. A Lifetime Achievement Award was not designated this year.

Kerner’s recognition was for her advocacy on inclusion and helping to make the live theater experience accessible to all individuals. Kerner, a local singer and actress, works to help place people with developmental disabilities in jobs. She has guided local theater companies in providing sensory-friendly performances and has worked to create comfortable environments for those on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing disorders.

McCreight was thrilled about Hanisch’s national award.

Diane Hanisch

“This award is designed to help pay tribute to an individual for long or special service. It recognizes outstanding dedication, service and contribution to your organization. It is for someone who has made a significant impact on the quality of your organization. Diane has done just that with per professionalism and charm. She is a gem! Not only can she calm the nerves of a 12-year-old singing a solo, but others who are singing in front of 700 people for the first time. She arranges and writes the music, gathers her professional band, and conducts the show with aplomb. Diane cares as much about our legacy as anyone involved on the Arts for Life Board. No one is more deserving,” she said.

The annual Youth Scholarships, which are awarded to two students pursuing a degree in the arts, were announced, with Alaina Bozarth, a graduate of Metro East Lutheran High School, and Josiah Haan, a graduate of Fort Zumwalt High School, each given $500. Bozarth plans to major in musical theatre at Belmont University in Louisville, Ky., and Haan plans to major in technical theatre and design at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.

Other ensemble nominees include “Hello, Dolly!” from Wentzville Christian Church, “Oklahoma!” from Monroe Actors Stage Company and “The Bridges of Madison County” from Alpha Players of Florissant for Best Large Ensemble and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” from O’Fallon TheatreWorks for Best Small Ensemble.

For Best Youth Production, in addition to “Les Miserables,” nominees include “The Drowsy Chaperone” from Riverbend Theatre, “Matilda” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, “Newsies” from Young People’s Theatre and “Spring Awakening” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts.

CMP’s Oklahoma!

For the record books, Kimberly Klick won her sixth BPA for choreography for CMP’s “Oklahoma!”. She had previously won for CMP’s “Mary Poppins” and “The King and I,” plus “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Big the Musical” and “Fiddler on the Roof” for other companies. It was her 10th overall, including wins for Best Featured Dancer in “Brigadoon” in 2000, Lead Actress for Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” 2006 and Jo in “Little Women” in 2008, and Cameo Actress in “Titanic” 2003.

It was three in a row for Jonathan Hartley, who won for lighting design of “Oklahoma!” and had won last year for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at DaySpring Center for the Arts; he won for set design for DSA’s “Little Shop of Horrors” in 2017. Stephanie Fox won her third in four years for choreography in Gateway Center for the Performing Arts shows – “Spring Awakening” 2019, “Carrie the Musical” 2017 and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” 2016. Terry Pattison also won her third for costume design since 2017: “Peter Pan,” “The Lion King Jr.” and “Les Miz,” all for Goshen Theatre Project, and won set design for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in 2018.

Joe Paule Sr. won his third for musical direction, for CMP’s “Oklahoma!”, following CMP’s “The King and I” in 2014 and Hawthorne Players’ “The Producers” in 2010. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award last year. It was the second award for Michael Frazier and Alison Neace for musical direction, this year for Riverbend Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” and for Alton Little Theatre’s “The Spitfire Grill” in 2011.

Other multiple winners included two for Alpha Players of Florissant’s “The Bridges of Madison County” for Lead Actor (Cole Guttmann) and Cameo Actress (Chelsie Johnston) and Take a Bow Showcase for “Annie” – juvenile performer (Leontine Rickert) and duo/group (Matthew Joost and Carole Ann Miller).

Winners Will Shaw and Kimmie Kidd-Booker in “Nice Work If You Can Get It”

In the acting categories, Mike Huelsmann’s award for Best Featured Actor as Jud Fry was his third, after Lead Actor as Javert in Take Two Productions’ “Les Miz” (2013) and as part of Best Duo/Group in Looking Glass Playhouse’s “Young Frankenstein” 2015. Kimmie Kidd-Booker’s award for Best Featured Actress as Estonia Dulworth in “Nice Work If You Can Get It” was her second win, after Best Featured Actress in “The Wiz” in 2014. George Doerr IV won his second, as Igor in Alfresco’s “Young Frankenstein,” after winning Best Actor in 2017 for Alfresco’s “The Rocky Horror Show.”

The virtual program included the following production team: directors Mary McCreight and David Wicks Jr., video supervisor Kim Klick, visual designers Colin Dowd and Bethany Hamilton, voice-over announcer Ken Clark and host Karen Fulks.

A list of winners is included here, below.

AFL’s Theatre Mask Awards was originally set for April 4, then moved to July 18, but now will also be a virtual celebration. The 2020 TMAs will honor excellence in community theater productions of dramas and comedies during 2019 in a live interactive viewing event at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 18, on the AFL Facebook page and YouTube Channel. The awards show will be recorded beforehand and the content will remain on social media.

On March 16, McCreight suspended all public activities of the AFL organization because of the public health crisis. The extension has been extended until further notice. Both TRG and TMA branch judges and participating groups will receive announcements on future developments. As the region re-opens, social distancing and wearing face coverings continues. At this time, all AFL performance venues remain closed.

“I am incredibly grateful to all of our constituencies – the board, judges, participating groups, audience members and donors – for their commitment to AFL and their engagement and unwavering support of our local theatre community during these uncertain times,” McCreight said.

Any company that won can have a representative pick up their trophies on July 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Clayton Community Theatre, which is located at the Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117.

Riverbend Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone

A souvenir program is available to download online: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YlomcYjVNqDNqmPTCrYGSjnAtDwkn9QT/view

A limited number of copies will be available for purchase as well.

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]

To see a list of the 2019 nominees and winners, as well as the awards history 1999-2019, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

Follow AFL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2020 Best Performance Award Winners:

Best Musical Production Large Ensemble: “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Musical Production Small Ensemble: “A New Brain,” Hawthorne Players

Best Youth Musical Production: “Les Miserables: School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Director: Dani Mann, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Project

Best Musical Direction: Kathy Eichelberger and Joseph Paule Jr., “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Choreography: Kimberly Klick, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Lead Actor: Cole Guttmann, “The Bridges of Madison County, “Alpha Players of Florissant

Best Lead Actress: Jaclyn Amber, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Featured Actor: Mike Huelsmann, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Featured Actress: Kimmie Kidd-Booker, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Supporting Actor: Caleb Long, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Supporting Actress: Dianne M. Mueller, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Actor in a Comedic Role: George Doerr IV, “Young Frankenstein,” Alfresco Productions

Best Actress in a Comedic Role: Margery Handy, “The Wizard of Oz,” Alton Little Theater

Best Cameo Actor: Jacob Streuter, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Looking Glass Playhouse

Best Cameo Actress: Chelsie Johnston, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Alpha Players of Florissant

Best Actor in a Non-Singing Role: Will Shaw, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Actress in a Non-Singing Role: Maria Wilken, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Duo/Group: Matthew Joost and Carole Ann Miller, “Annie,” Take A Bow Showcase

Best Set Design: Matt Dossett, “The Little Shop of Horrors,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

Best Lighting Design: Jonathan Hartley, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Costume Design: Krysta Wenski, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Juvenile Performer: Leontine Rickert, “Annie,” Take a Bow Showcase

Best Youth Director: Kristi Doering, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Music Direction: Michael Frazier and Alison Neace, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Choreography: Stephanie Fox, “Spring Awakening,” Gateway Center for the Performing Arts

Best Youth Lead Actor: Jayson Heil, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Lead Actress: Alli McDonald, “Once Upon a Mattress,” St. John’s UCC Performing Arts Camp

Best Youth Supporting Actor: Will Dery, “Newsies,” Young People’s Theatre

Best Youth Supporting Actress: Natalie Cochran, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Youth Costume Design: Terry Pattison, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Youth Set Design: Brisby Andrews and Greg Rackers, “Newsies,” Young People’s Theatre

Best Youth Lighting Design: Halli Pattison and Blake Churchill, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project



Arts For Life’s fifth annual Theatre Mask Awards will now take place in cyberspace on Saturday, July 18, rather than during a brunch at The Atrium banquet center at Christian Hospital.

This year’s event has been cancelled and reimagined because of the current coronavirus public health situation and gathering restrictions in St. Louis County.

The 2020 Theatre Mask Awards, honoring excellence in community theatre productions of dramas and comedies during 2019, will premiere at 11 a.m. as a live interactive viewing event on the AFL Facebook page, but the awards show will have been pre-recorded.

In addition to the TMA Facebook Watch Party, the video will be on the AFL YouTube channel as a live event and then will remain for later viewings. Please subscribe so you can get a reminder of the event.

TMA will announce winners in 18 non-musical play categories. Eleven community theater companies participate in the TMAs.

Since mid-March, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire St. Louis Metropolitan region. With the need to maintain social distancing and to wear face coverings to lessen community spread, as well as the fact that all AFL performance venues remain closed at this time, the TMA Steering Committee made the difficult decision to cancel the annual TMA gathering and transition to a streamed format .

AFL had previously announced the switch to virtual for the Best Performance Awards, which honors musical theater and youth productions. That ceremony will be streamed Sunday, June 14, at 2 p.m. on the AFL YouTube channel. The TMAs, originally set for April 4, had been moved earlier to July 18.

Uncertainty about when large groups can safely gather in St. Louis County is another factor.

AFL President Mary McCreight emphasizes that the AFL board will continue to base their decisions upon the best information currently available in this rapidly evolving situation and will continue to share information promptly and transparently, mindful of the need for our community to receive timely updates.

“While we are disappointed that we cannot produce the regular in-person ceremony that so many people look forward to attending, we hope that moving to a stream-based format will still provide an opportunity for our local arts community to come together online and celebrate the many outstanding achievements of the previous year,” McCreight said.

The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves led all St. Louis- southwest Illinois metropolitan area community theaters with 27 nominations.

The TGWG produces five plays a season and received nominations for five of its shows during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (10), “The Bad Seed” (5), “Over the Tavern” (5), “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” (4) and “Dial ‘M’ for Murder” (3).

Clayton Community Theatre notched 24 nominations — “Biloxi Blues” (13), “A Soldier’s Play” (10) and “Eurydice” (1). CCT also broke a record for having the most acting nominations from a single show – 8 for “Biloxi Blues.”

To see a complete list of the nominees, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

McCreight had previously suspended all public activities of the AFL organization, effective March 16 until at least May 1, and then the board extended suspension of the Theatre Recognition Guild judging activities, for the BPA branch (musicals), through July 31.

However, some TMA-eligible productions may open earlier if conditions permit. TMA branch judges and participating groups should be alert for announcements regarding future developments.

“As our world, our nation and our region face a major health threat, it falls upon us as a community to adopt measures that will both foster the protection of those who work and ‘play’ in Metro St. Louis community theatre and ultimately allow AFL to continue our charitable mission of service and recognition once the threat passes,” the president added.

For those who have purchased TMA tickets, AFL will contact you about refund options and how your money can be returned. Instead of receiving a refund you might also consider treating the purchase amount as a tax-deductible donation to AFL.

Any company that wins can pick up their trophies on July 19 at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Clayton Community Theatre.

“We’d like them to send one representative to collect everything and then disperse to the winners,” said TMA/AFL board member Melissa Boyer.

McCreight said AFL appreciates the support shown during these difficult times.

“I am incredibly grateful to all of our constituencies – the board, judges, participating groups, audience members and donors – for their commitment to AFL and their engagement and unwavering support of our local theatre community during these uncertain times,” McCreight said.

AFL was founded in 1994 by Lucinda Guyrci as a local non-profit organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the under-served and the community. The BPAs have honored musical theater since 1999 and the TMAs have honored plays since 2015.

“We hope that you and your loved ones stay safe during this difficult time,” McCreight said. “Because of your commitment to our community and belief in our mission, my optimism is not diminished about AFL being able to move forward once this unprecedented time passes.” 

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]

Be sure to subscribe/like to our social media: https://www.facebook.com/artsforlifestlouis, https://twitter.com/arts_for_life and YouTube channel.

By Lynn Venhaus
Arts For Life’s 21st annual Best Performance Awards will now take place in cyberspace on Sunday, June 14, rather than at the Skip Viragh Center for the Performing Arts at Chaminade College Preparatory School. This year’s gala gathering has been cancelled and reimagined because of the current public health situation.

The 2020 Best Performance Awards, honoring excellence in community and youth musical theater productions presented during 2019, will premiere at 2 p.m. as a live interactive viewing event on the AFL Facebook page, but the awards show will have been pre-recorded. In addition to the BPA Facebook Watch Party, the video will be on the AFL YouTube channel as a live event and then will remain for later viewings. Please subscribe so you can get a reminder of the event.

Arts For Life will announce winners in 33 categories and will reveal the annual youth scholarship awardees. There will also be several special presentations. The Lifetime Achievement Award will not be presented this year.

Jennifer Kerner

Arts For Life will honor Jennifer Kerner with a Special Achievement Award for her advocacy on inclusion and helping to make the live theater experience accessible to all individuals. Kerner, a local singer and actress, works to help place people with developmental disabilities in jobs. She has guided local theater companies in providing sensory-friendly performances and has worked to create comfortable environments for those on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing disorders.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire St. Louis Metropolitan region. Mandatory stay-at-home orders remain in effect for all 8,460 square miles that the Arts For Life family calls home: St. Louis city and county, St. Charles County and the Metro-East.

With the need to maintain social distancing and to wear face coverings to lessen community spread, as well as the fact that all AFL performance venues remain closed at this time and that there is considerable uncertainty as to when large group events will be allowed to resume, the AFL board made the difficult decision to cancel the annual BPA gathering and transition to a streamed format .

AFL President Mary McCreight emphasizes that the AFL board will continue to base their decisions upon the best information currently available in this rapidly evolving situation and will continue to share information promptly and transparently, mindful of the need for our community to receive timely updates.

“While we are disappointed that we cannot produce the regular in-person ceremony that so many people look forward to attending, we hope that moving to a stream-based format will still provide an opportunity for our local arts community to come together online and celebrate the many outstanding achievements of the previous year,” McCreight said.

In an emergency notification on March 16, McCreight had previously suspended all public activities of the AFL organization, effective until at least May 1. At the most recent regularly scheduled meeting, held via teleconference on April 18, the board voted to extend the suspension through July 31 with the following two exceptions:

The Board has not yet taken a final decision regarding the fifth annual Theater Mask Awards ceremony set to honor achievements in non-musical plays. The brunch ceremony had already been rescheduled from April 4 to July 18 at the Atrium Banquet Center on the Christian Hospital campus in North St. Louis County. Stay tuned for announcements regarding any potential changes that might further affect the timing and/or location of this upcoming event.

Because of the suspension of public activities, the Theatre Recognition Guild (TRG) judging activities for the BPA branch (musicals) are suspended through July 31. However, activities for the TMA branch (non-musical plays) may resume slightly earlier if conditions permit. TMA branch judges and participating groups should be alert for any announcements regarding future developments.

“As our world, our nation and our region face a major health threat, it falls upon us as a community to adopt measures that will both foster the protection of those who work and ‘play’ in Metro St. Louis community theatre and ultimately allow AFL to continue our charitable mission of service and recognition once the threat passes,” the president added.

For those who have purchased BPA tickets, AFL will contact you about refund options and how your money can be returned. Instead of receiving a refund you might also consider treating the purchase amount as a tax-deductible donation to AFL.

“We appreciate your support. I am incredibly grateful to all of our constituencies – the board, judges, participating groups, audience members and donors – for their commitment to AFL and their engagement and unwavering support of our local theatre community during these uncertain times,” McCreight said.

To see a list of the nominees, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

For this year’s honors, the Gershwin 1920s musical-screwball comedy “Nice Work If You Can Get It” from Kirkwood Theatre Guild and the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!” from Christ Memorial Productions each garnered 17 nominations apiece, including Best Large Ensemble.

Kayla Dressman

CMP’s “Dream Laurie,” Kayla Dressman, will receive a special award for Best Featured Dancer.

Among youth groups, the Goshen Theatre Project scored 18 nominations – 13 for “Les Miserables School Edition” and 5 for “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.” Bennett English, who played Jean Valjean, will receive a special award for Best Youth Musical Performance.

Other ensemble nominees include “Hello, Dolly!” from Wentzville Christian Church, “Oklahoma!” from Monroe Actors Stage Company and “The Bridges of Madison County” from Alpha Players of Florissant for Best Large Ensemble and “A New Brain” from Hawthorne Players and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” from O’Fallon TheatreWorks for Best Small Ensemble.

For Best Youth Production, besides “Les Miserables,” nominees include “The Drowsy Chaperone” from Riverbend Theatre, “Matilda” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, “Newsies” from Young People’s Theatre and “Spring Awakening” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts.

Fifteen theater groups and 10 youth-only groups participate in the BPAs, which has honored musical theater since 1999. AFL was founded in 1994 by Lucinda Guyrci as a local non-profit organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the under-served and the community.

This year, judges scored 46 shows — 19 large ensembles, 3 small ensembles and 24 youth productions — from 27 participating groups, featuring 939 roles. For 2019, there are 154 individual nominations from 22 groups, and 36 percent are first-time nominees.

“We hope that you and your loved ones stay safe during this difficult time,” McCreight said. “Because of your commitment to our community and belief in our mission, my optimism is not diminished about AFL being able to move forward once this unprecedented time passes.” 

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]

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