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N.H. Theatre Awards recognize best of 2017

  • The Community Players of Concord earned 12 nominations with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The cast will perform a song from the musical at the N.H. Theatre Awards on Saturday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

  • Joel Iwaskiewicz, as Captain Phoebus De Martin, rehearses a scene from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," presented by The Community Players of Concord, at Concord City Auditorium in Concord on Nov. 9, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • Jakob Stone, as Dom Claude Frollo, acts out a scene during rehearsal of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," presented by The Community Players of Concord, at Concord City Auditorium in Concord on Nov. 9, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • The cast and choir go through a seen during a recent rehearsal for the Community Players of Concord's performance of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Courtesy

  • Jacob Stone portrays Archdeacon Claude Frollo, Paris's most powerful cleric, Quasimodo's uncle and reluctant caretaker during a recent dress rehearsal for the Community Players of Concord's performance of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Courtesy

  • We took in the opening night of 'Barnum' and it was worth the price of admission. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff

  • “Barnum,” which was staged at the Hatbox Theatre, earned 11 nominations for this year’s N.H. Theatre Awards. TIM GOODWIN / Insider file

  • We took in the opening night of 'Barnum' and it was worth the price of admission. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff

  • We took in the opening night of 'Barnum' and it was worth the price of admission. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff

  • We took in the opening night of 'Barnum' and it was worth the price of admission. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff

  • We took in the opening night of 'Barnum' and it was worth the price of admission. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff

  • We took in the opening night of 'Barnum' and it was worth the price of admission. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff

  • Ray Dudley, as the ghost of Jacob Marley, rehearses a scene from "A Christmas Carol: The Musical Ghost Story" last week, Nov. 14, 2017, before the cast moved into The Concord City Auditorium where performances will take place November 24-26. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • John Conlon (bottom), as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Ray Dudley, as Jacob Marley, rehearse a scene from “A Christmas Carol: The Musical Ghost Story.” Conlon earned a nomination for best actor for his role. Dudley earned nominations for best actor as Tom in “Sylvie” and supporting actor as Mr. Robinson in “The Graduate.” Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

  • John D. Conlon (left), as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Ray Dudley, as the ghost of Jacob Marley, rehearse a scene from "A Christmas Carol: The Musical Ghost Story" last week, Nov. 14, 2017, before the cast moved into The Concord City Auditorium where performances will take place November 24-26. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • It’s 12:45 p.m. before the first show and the cast and crew of ‘All Shook Up’ are still painting costumes and sets outside the New London Barn Playhouse. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Nadina Hassan (center) performs as part of the ensemble cast in the production of ‘All Shook Up’ at the New London Barn Playhouse. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Former Concord High actress Eliza Richards is up for best supporting actress for her role as Heather Chandler in “Heathers: The Musical,” with the Peacock Players. Courtesy

  • Meghan O’Neill as the dragon and Simone Labell as Marta in “A Dragon’s Tail.” —Courtesy of Joel Mercier

  • Brenna O'Connor, as Annie, stands behind a group of other orphans during a rehearsal of "Annie, Jr.," at the Capitol Center of the Arts in Concord on Thursday, June 29, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Courtesy of Elizabeth Frantz

  • The Community Players of Concord’s “Other Desert Cities” earned nominations for best supporting actress and design. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file



For the Monitor
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Attention, theater lovers – it’s time to dig out your fanciest clothes and head to a music-filled evening celebrating New Hampshire theater.

The 16th annual New Hampshire Theatre Awards will be held at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Saturday at 7 p.m. The evening also features an after-party complete with music, dancing, refreshments and a cash bar. The after party requires a separate ticket.

Bryan Halperin, a local actor, director and the outgoing executive director of the New Hampshire Theatre Awards, will direct the program again this year, and Joel Mercier will again serve as music director.

The event aims to raise awareness of the many professional, community and youth theater companies in every region of the state.

“One of the goals of the theater awards night,” Halperin said, “is not just delivering awards, but getting the whole New Hampshire theater community together to celebrate. It’s a chance to dress up and have a fun night out.”

The most important thing is for everyone – the audience, the performers, and the nominees, whether they win or not – to have a good time, he said.

There’s entertainment, too.

The awards will be interspersed with performances by the NHTA Performance Ensemble, and also by companies whose productions have been nominated for awards, including Majestic Theater’s High Fidelity; The Community Players of Concord’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Actorsingers’s Jesus Christ, Superstar; theatre KAPOW’s Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical; Windham Actors Guild’s Chess, the musical; and The Riverbend Youth Company’s Guys and Dolls.

Also, five award nominees will reprise their roles: best actor nominee Mike Perry as Max from Lend Me a Tenor (Majestic Theatre); best actor nominee John-Michael Breen as Benjamin from The Graduate (The Winnipesaukee Playhouse); best actress nominee Amy Agostino as Diana from California Suite (Nashua Theatre Guild); best youth actor nominee Jess Putney as Melissa/George from Melissa, So Far (Andy’s Summer Playhouse), and best youth actress nominee Elsa Keefe as Molly Aster from Peter and the Starcatcher (Peacock Players).

In addition to the nominee awards, two special awards will be given.

“It’s a chance to recognize people who have dedicated themselves to something that everybody in the room loves,” said Rick Broussard, co-founder of the awards and editor of New Hampshire Magazine. “Unlike at the Emmys or the Tonys, these are not household names.”

The 2018 Francis Grover Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award will be given posthumously to Tom DeMille. His wife, Wynne, will accept the award on his behalf.

DeMille is being honored for his more than 40 years of involvement with the New London Barn Playhouse, which is the longest operating summer theater in the state.

According to the awards website, “As its first board president (a position he held until his death), Tom ... shepherded the barn through its gradual transformation into one of the most respected and successful summer theaters in the state. ... The New London Barn Playhouse stands today as one of Tom DeMille’s most enduring legacies, and a testament to the incalculable impact of a life well and generously lived in the arts.”

The Kevin Riley Theatre Hero Award will be given to Kathleen Palmer, a journalist who has long supported New Hampshire theater.

The awards website notes that Palmer “covered the theater beat for southern New Hampshire and Lowell, Massachusetts. She helped to at last shine a spotlight on theatre companies in southern New Hampshire, and has provided advocacy for live theatre in the region. New Hampshire Theatre Awards are pleased to shine on Kath the spotlight she shone on so many, and to recognize the impact she has had on the regional and state theatre scene.”

The Theatre Hero Award provides an opportunity for participating companies to honor someone that they consider to be their most valuable player, usually a person behind the scenes such as a board member, a stage manager, or someone who did props.

“Once in a blue moon the New Hampshire Theatre Awards board will name their own hero,” Broussard said. “We did that this year and we picked Kath, a wonderful friend to local theater. She befriended the theater awards and made sure that in our early years we were given the exposure we needed.”

Professional, community and youth theater companies across the state can choose to participate in the awards by selecting someone to be a trained adjudicator, who then reviews six performances by other companies. The company is then eligible to have its own performance reviewed by six adjudicators, who rate various aspects of the production and submit their ballots to the NHTA.

There is no cost involved, but there is a real benefit. A company’s adjudicator sees theater being produced by companies with various levels of means, takes notes, gets an idea of what the overall theater community is, and brings that information back.

“That’s why this thing works – everybody is participating in it,” Broussard said. “There’s a lot of casual networking that’s gone on.”

As a result, he said, communities become much more self-aware and much more able to draw upon the talents of their neighboring communities to find actors, directors, and other people that a production needs.

“Also, there’s crossover between community theater and professional theater in this respect,” he said, “Because many of these actors and directors in community theaters are union people who also do professional work. It’s really given people a chance to network and improve what they do.”

Broussard said that the theater community in New Hampshire is dedicated and ambitious, sharpening its game to make a place for theater in the state – or to make the state a place for theater.

“There’s a lot of theater in the DNA of New Hampshire,” he said. “There’s a history, a legacy of theater. We have three of the oldest professional theater companies – Peterborough Players, New London Barn Playhouse, Barnstormers – as well as an old vaudeville tradition.”

The goal of the theater awards, he said, is to raise the bar and visibility for theater and to make people aware that right next door there’s another little town with its own theater. And it’s worth it to drive to another area of the state to see a performance.

“Whenever I do that, I’m always glad I did,” he said.

This is the third year that the awards, previously held at the Palace Theater and the Stockbridge Theater at Pinkerton Academy, have been held in Concord.

“We love being in Concord,” Broussard said. “We’ve always thought that Concord was the right place. It’s central, it has the significance of being the capital, and the Capitol Center for the Arts is a wonderful venue for us.

“And the fact that we’ve been here for three years and we’re embedding ourselves into the Concord community – that’s the dream come true for the original plan, that it would be here in the capital city in one of the best places, in a beautifully renovated downtown.”