Theatre Palisades Honors Actors, Shows

By Sue Pascoe
Editor

Sometimes the unexpected happens. At the Theatre Palisades awards show on Aug. 7, Ross Chitwood (who played the sheriff in The Spitfire Grill) sang “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks.

Much to everybody’s delight, Chitwood—the music director at the Palisades Methodist Church and a graduate of the Juilliard School—has a sublime voice, and the song was magical. An encore or two would have been a great pleasure. It was a preview of a show planned for next season.

Recipients of awards were (left to right) Dorothy Dillingham Blue, Nona Hale, Jenna Tovey, Manfred Hofer, Matthew Godfrey, Andi Wagner, Gene Franklin Smith, DL Corrigan, Sherman Wayne. Alexandra Banks (floor), Miss Theatre Palisades, presented the awards.

Recipients of awards were (left to right) Dorothy Dillingham Blue, Nona Hale, Jenna Tovey, Manfred Hofer, Matthew Godfrey, Andi Wagner, Gene Franklin Smith, DL Corrigan, Sherman Wayne. Alexandra Banks (floor), Miss Theatre Palisades, presented the awards.

Another highlight came when the Theatre Palisades Actors Troupe acted out scenes from other shows being considered for the 2016-17 season: Clybourne Park, In-Laws, Outlaws, and Other People (That Should Be Shot) and Bell, Book and Candle.

The awards show, produced by Sherman Wayne, Martha Hunter and Sherry Coon, wove these scenes in between the various awards, which was highly entertaining.

Each year, TP members vote on categories from the season’s five shows, which this year included The World Goes ‘Round, Broadway Bound, The Game’s Afoot, Hay Fever and Mrs. Warren’s Profession.

The runaway winner was The Game’s Afoot; or Holmes for the Holidays, which garnered 10 of the 15 awards.

Nona Hale and Pat Perkins won for best production. Hale accepted the award, saying “This was wonderful fun for me. Thank you.”

Receiving the director’s award for the same play was Gene Franklin Smith. “It was a tough time in my life, but you were all wonderful and amazing,” Smith said about the production. “We laughed every single day of this rehearsal. Thank you Theatre Palisades for keeping theater so vibrant.”

Game’s Afoot also won for best costume design (June Lissandrello), graphics (Manfred Hofer), lighting design (Sherman Wayne) and sound design (Susan Stangl).

Sherman Wayne rounded out the technical awards by winning best set design for Broadway Bound.

The featured actor and actress awards went to Steve Brogan (The World Goes ‘Round) and Maria Pavone (Game’s Afoot).

After the list of supporting actresses was read, the wrong envelope was on the podium, so the presenter went looking for the correct one. At that point, Alexandra Banks, serving as Miss Theatre Palisades, held up the trophy with the name on it and Andi Wagner (Game’s Afoot) learned that she had won.

“The last time I won an award like this was when I was in high school,” Wagner said.

The list still had not been found, so the supporting actor name was read off the trophy: Matthew Godfrey (Game’s Afoot). He quipped, “It’s quite nice to learn you’ve won, when you haven’t been nominated against anyone.”

Then, both lists and envelopes were found. A complete list of nominees were read and both winners confirmed.

Winning for cameo actress was Caroline Westheimer in Broadway Bound.

Taking the lead actor award was DL Corrigan, who played Eugene in Broadway Bound. “Thank you, Sherry [Coon, the play’s director], for taking the chance to let a 45-year-old play 23,” Corrigan said.

A newcomer to Theatre Palisades was the lead actress winner Jenna Tovey, who played Vivie Warren in Mrs. Warren’s Profession.

“This was my first role after college,” Tovey said in her thank-you speech.

The most emotional part of the evening was the presentation of the Christofer Cariello Award. The award was created by the TP board to honor of the spirit of the man who directed shows from the 1980s through the 1990s.

The award is given to a person who goes above and beyond in every aspect of the theater, and is only given when a recipient is deemed worthy. This year’s recipient was Dorothy Dillingham Blue, who directed the first Theatre Palisades Youth production of The Wizard of Oz at the theater in 2007. She continued to mount two productions a year with TPY through early 2016. With her increased opportunities as a working actress, Blue has now turned the youth productions over to Lara Ganz.

“I was lost when I came to Theatre Palisades,” Blue admitted. “I found myself here. I danced here when I was pregnant. My son learned to crawl in the lobby. This place and the people gave my passion back to me.”

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