photos by Barry Wisdom
El Dorado Musical Theatre was the big winner Sunday evening at the 29th annual Elly Awards ceremony, taking home eight plaques, followed by Runaway Stage Productions and The Acting Company with seven Ellys each.
Also receiving multiple nods were Big Idea Theatre and Woodland Opera House with six and five awards respectively.
Named for Eleanor McClatchy, former publisher of The Sacramento Bee and a dedicated patron of the arts, the Elly Awards celebrates excellence in Sacramento regional community theater. Sponsored by the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance, a total of 81 Elly Awards were given to individuals and theaters from across a 10-county region.
Lifetime achievement awards were given to Ron Cisneros and Boots Martin by the SARTA board of directors. Cisneros has been a choreographer and dance teacher for many years at numerous facilities, including his own studio, Cisneros Studio of Dance. Additionally, Cisneros has been a key member of Galena Street East and, more recently, resident choreographer at River City Theatre Company. Cisneros currently teaches at Natomas Charter School. A choreographer for local and regional companies, he has won three Elly awards.
Boots Martin, a three-time Elly winner, has been acting since the age of 3. She has appeared at such Sacramento theaters as Stage Door Comedy Playhouse, American River College, Actor’s Theatre of Sacramento, and Chautauqua Playhouse. Martin also has been a director and instructor in between her stage performances.
“Mama, I ‘m a Big Girl Now” from “Hairspray,” performed by Runaway Stage Productions, opened the ceremony. It was followed by “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” from the show of the same name performed by the four-member cast from The Acting Company. Closing the Youth Awards section was “Seasons of Love” from “Rent,” featuring the cast members from Runaway Stage Productions.
The 24 Youth Awards encompassed more than half of the awards given out. The Youth Productions receiving the most Elly Awards were El Dorado Musical Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”; St. Francis High School’s “A Piece of My Heart”; Placer High School’s “Into the Woods”; Woodland Opera House’s “Les Misérables”; and The Acting Company’s “Wolf Side Story.” They each received four Elly Awards.
Elly Awards for Overall Production in individual categories in the Youth Division went to:
Education – Musical: “Chicago” (El Dorado High School)
Education – Play: “Piece of My Heart” (St. Francis High School)
Young People’s – Musical: “A Christmas Carol” (El Dorado Musical Theatre)
Young People’s – Play: (tie) “Wolf Side Story” (Acting Company) and “The Elves and the Schumachers” (Roseville Theatre Arts Academy and BG Productions)
The Adult Awards opened with “Toledo Surprise” from “The Drowsy Chaperone” performed by Civic Theatre West. “I Know Him So Well” from “Chess,” courtesy of Davis Musical Theatre Company, provided the segue into the show’s in memoriam section of the show, remembering Guy Beck and Micail Buse, who passed away last year. The musical finale was “It’s a Privilege to Pee” from “Urinetown” performed by Runaway Stage Productions. Musical numbers performed throughout the evening were nominated for Overall Production in the Musical category.
The Adult Productions receiving the most Elly Awards were “Compleat Female Stage Beauty” by Big Idea Theatre (four); “Shirley Valentine” by Bob and Ro Productions (three); “The Drowsy Chaperone” by Civic Theatre West (three) and “Urinetown” by Runaway Stage Productions (three).
Elly Awards for Overall Production in individual categories in the Adult Division went to:
Comedy: “Lend Me a Tenor” (Sierra Stages)
Drama: “Compleat Female Stage Beauty” (Big Idea Theatre)
Musical: “The Drowsy Chaperone” (Civic Theatre West)
Original Script – Original Works: “Thirds” (Jacob M. Appel, Thistle Dew Theatre)
Adapted Script – Original Works: “The Secret of Sleepy Hollow” (John Trent, The Acting Company)
The 411 Elly nominations represented 128 productions from 57 different theatres. The final 81 Elly Awards recognized 47 productions and 31 theaters. There were four ties, including a tie for Overall Production in a Young People’s Play: The Acting Company’s “Wolf Side Story” shared the stage with Roseville Theatre Arts Academy and BG Productions’ “The Elves and the Schumachers.”
Debbie Wilson of El Dorado Musical Theatre and David Patrick of Imagination Theatre each received two Ellys Sunday evening.
The Elly Awards program serves theatres within a 70-mile radius from downtown Sacramento. This year more than 80 theatres and production companies participated, submitting over 260 productions for Elly judging. Thirty-five judges volunteered over 3,000 hours attending every show submitted in the category they are judging. The categories are Comedy, Drama, Musical, Original Works, Education and Young People’s.
Education and Young People’s categories are further divided into Musical and Plays. Awards within each category are given for: Leading Actor and Actress; Supporting Actor and Actress; Direction; Costume Design; Lighting Design; Set Design; Musical Direction (if applicable); Choreography, if applicable; Original Script for Original Work; and Overall Production.
For a complete list of Elly Award winners, see www.sarta.com.