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.
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