At Theatre Arts Guild Awards, 'August: Osage County' cleans up honors -
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Susan Baer Collins (being held), as Violet Weston, and Rachel Kirwan, as Johnna Monevata, in "August: Osage County."(COURTESY PHOTO)

At Theatre Arts Guild Awards, 'August: Osage County' cleans up honors
By Bob Fischbach / World-Herald staff writer

“August: Osage County,” a Pulitzer-winning drama about family dysfunction and addiction, was the most honored show Sunday night at the annual Theatre Arts Guild awards.

The Omaha Community Playhouse production won best drama and awards for comedy-drama director (Amy Lane), actress (Susan Baer Collins as family matriarch Violet), supporting actor (Randy Vest as brother-in-law Charlie) and featured actor (Bill Hutson as patriarch Beverly).

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Honors for musical theater were almost evenly divided among three shows.

SNAP Productions' “Next to Normal,” about the impact of mental illness on a family, won best musical, actress (Echelle Childers) and musical director (Keith Hart). The Playhouse's “Legally Blonde: the Musical” won for choreography (Melanie Walters), supporting actress (Theresa Sindelar as beautician Paulette), featured actor (Matthew Pyle as a parcel deliveryman) and featured actress (Angela Jenson Frye as a murder defendant).

“The Wizard of Oz,” also at the Playhouse, won for youth actress (Charlotte Hedican, Dorothy, a tie), costumes (Georgiann Regan) and sound design (Tim Burkhart). SNAP's “Avenue Q,” a mix of puppetry and live action, won for direction (Daena Schweiger) and supporting actor (Homero Vila, Trekkie Monster/Nicky). Honors for lead actor in a musical went to Brian Zealand as Ash in the Playhouse's blood-drenched “Evil Dead: the Musical.”

The top comedy was SNAP's race-relations riff “Clybourne Park,” which also won awards for best comedy-drama actor (Noah Diaz as Karl and Steve) and scenic design (Bill Van Deest).

“Recommended Reading for Girls,” a world-premiere comedy at the Playhouse, won best new script (Ellen Struve), youth actress (Mika Caplan as Heidi, a tie) and comedy-drama supporting actress (Laura Leininger as Jackie). The Blue Barn comedy “The 39 Steps,” based on an Alfred Hitchcock movie, won the ensemble award and for lighting design (Carol Wisner).

The awards cover shows that opened from late June 2012 to mid-June 2013. TAG members chose the winners, and ballots were weighted by how many nominated shows each voter attended.

The guild also gave a lifetime achievement award to the late Anne Shaughnessy, a tireless theater promoter and volunteer; board recognition to Mary Kelly and Sherry Josand Fletcher for help with events; and backstage awards to Om Prasada Rana for technical work and Sarah Schnitzer, Playhouse wardrobe supervisor.

Stan Orton, who has worked for 45 years promoting the Southwest Iowa Theatre Group in Shenandoah, Iowa, won the theater educator award.

TAG scholarships went to Kate Johnson of Marian High School, Bradley Hildebrandt of Elkhorn High School and Geran Ramet of Burke High School.

Below is the full list of Theatre Arts Guild award winners:


• Comedy: “Clybourne Park,” SNAP Productions
• Drama: “August: Osage County,” Omaha Community Playhouse
• Musical: “Next to Normal,” SNAP
• One-act: “Sloppy Seconds,” “From Shelterbelt With Love,” Shelterbelt Theatre
• Special event: “Enron,” 21 & Over, Omaha Community Playhouse


• Director, comedy or drama: Amy Lane, “August: Osage County,” Playhouse
• Stage director, musical: Daena Schweiger, “Avenue Q,” SNAP
• Music director, musical: Keith Hart, “Next to Normal,” SNAP
• Choreographer: Melanie Walters, “Legally Blonde,” Playhouse


• Noah Diaz, Karl/Steve, “Clybourne Park,” SNAP
• Lead actress: Susan Baer Collins, Violet Westin, “August: Osage County,” Playhouse
• Supporting actor: Randy Vest, Charlie, “August: Osage County,” Playhouse
• Supporting actress: Laura Leininger, Jackie, “Recommended Reading for Girls,” Playhouse
• Featured actor: Bill Hutson, Beverly Westin, “August: Osage County,” Playhouse
• Featured actress: Sherry Josand Fletcher, multiple roles, “Leaving Iowa,” Bellevue Little Theatre


• Lead actress: Echelle Childers, Diana, “Next to Normal,” SNAP
• Lead actor: Brian Zealand, Ash, “Evil Dead: the Musical,” Playhouse
• Supporting actress: Theresa Sindelar, Paulette, “Legally Blonde: the Musical,” Playhouse
• Supporting actor: Homero Vela, Trekkie Monster/Nicky, “Avenue Q,” SNAP
• Featured actress: Angela Jenson Frye, Brooke, “Legally Blonde: the Musical,” Playhouse
• Featured actor: Matthew Pyle, Kyle/Dewey, “Legally Blonde: the Musical,” Playhouse


• Ensemble: Train scene, cast of “The 39 Steps,” Blue Barn Theatre
• Youth actress (tie): Mika Caplan, Heidi, “Recommended Reading for Girls,” Playhouse, and Charlotte Hedican, Dorothy, “The Wizard of Oz,” Playhouse
• Youth actor: Max Hauze, Benjamin, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Rose Theater


• New script: Ellen Struve, “Recommended Reading for Girls,” Playhouse
• Scenic design: Bill Van Deest, “Clybourne Park,” SNAP
• Costume design: Georgiann Regan, “The Wizard of Oz,” Playhouse
• Lighting design: Carol Wisner, “The 39 Steps,” Blue Barn
• Props design: Amy Reiner, “Red,” Blue Barn
• Sound design: Tim Burkhart, “The Wizard of Oz,” Playhouse


• Anne Shaughnessy, former TAG board member, theater volunteer and tireless promoter of local theater.


• Om Prasad Rana, work with lights, sound, video and more for the Omaha Community Playhouse, University of Nebraska at Omaha Theatre and the Great Plains Theatre Conference.
• Sara Schnitzer, wardrobe supervisor, Omaha Community Playhouse.


• Mary Kelly and Sherry Josand Fletcher, volunteer hours on TAG nights out, the Theatre Expo and award night.


• Stan Orton, Southwest Iowa Theatre Group in Shenandoah, Iowa, for 45 years of educating participants and audiences in his community about the art of theater.


• Kate Johnson, Marian High School
• Bradley Hildebrandt, Elkhorn High School
• Geran Ramet, Burke High School

Contact the writer: Bob Fischbach    |   402-444-1269

Bob reviews movies and local theater productions and writes stories about those topics, as well.

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