Overture, curtain, lights; This is it, you’ll hit the heights; And oh what heights you’ll hit, On with the show this is it.”
Mobile Theatre Guild’s annual Zoghby Awards were held June 24. Honors were given to names both familiar and new to this space.
Best Show was “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Best Actress (Non-Musical) was Ravyn Otis while Best Actress (Musical) was Ebony Le’She Jarmon. Best New Actress was Gayle Andrews.
Best Actor (Non-Musical) was Gene Murrell and Best Actor (Musical) was Aron Meadows. Best New Actor was Robert Young.
The Leslie Leslie Award went to Joann Oliveria. The Nibbles Award winner was Yvonne Matthews and Her Band. The Jerry Carre Award was handed to Kyle Myers. Susan Vinson won the Danny Conway Award.
Director awards for individual shows went to:
• Aron Meadows for “Ain’t Misbehavin’”
• Cory Olson for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
• Chris Hill for “Archie and Mehitabel”
• Lesley Roberts for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”
• Kyle Meyers and Chris Hill for “Sordid Lives”
Barney March received a special award for his dedication to Mobile Theatre Guild.
Joe Jefferson Players will host its 2016-2017 Joey Awards on July 15 at the troupe’s playhouse (11 S. Carlen St., Mobile). It’s open to the public and is the finale of JJP’s 69th season of community theater.
The triumvirate of Timothy Guy, Cory Olson and Lesley Roberts will host. Local media personality Gene Murrell will livestream the shindig.
The event is potluck and BYOB. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 7 p.m.
I sometimes litter this space with fanciful ideas. My hope is someone of influence might wander across them while searching for the sections they actually like and just maybe spark a bigger change for Mobile.
There was the time I proposed a Mobile Music Hall of Fame, something to honor locals whose gifts to the world didn’t involve yard lines or home runs. I was unsurprised when the 2006 proposition fell flat, or when its 2015 revisitation did the same.
In 2013, I verbally conjured a Walk of Fame in the sidewalk of the Saenger Theatre’s downtown block. A salute to Mobilians who made worldly marks in all the performing arts, it would have been highly visible and accessible.
Its early success shocked me. A committee manifested that included membership from city government, business and arts realms. An architect made a preliminary plan, plaque designs were circled, city engineers found equipment and costs were tallied.
It all moved along nicely until changes happened in both Saenger management and city administration. Unceremoniously, the Walk of Fame ambled away.
I’m at it again with another notion. The aforementioned awards are an annual cornerstone of our community theater scene. The earnest efforts of volunteers deserve heartfelt recognition, as our individual playhouses understand.
But what if we elevated the prestige level? What if someone established an awards event that stretched across all the Mobile-area community theaters, where all performances were weighed regardless of venue?
Our troupes hand out their honors in the summer — the traditional ebb on our cultural calendar — as a closer to their particular seasons. So, what if they held their respective fetes by July’s end and August featured even bigger area-wide awards?
It could certainly make for splashier public relations, more coverage in various media. That in turn could raise public awareness of the upcoming season.
How would it be managed? Wouldn’t those voting on awards need to see all the performances to decide?
Sure, that’s why the Tony Awards tap a 40-person nominating committee of rotating members who spend the years seeing every new Broadway production. After that, more than 800 eligible voters do their part.
Obviously that would have to be streamlined for local purposes. It’s still possible, provided the will is there.
In passing, I mentioned my crazy thoughts to JJP’s energetic new executive director, Jason McKenzie. He was enthused.
If this column can spread similar zeal, then great. Who cares where the credit lies as long as it gets done. It’s fine to “strut and fret an hour upon the stage and be heard no more” if the result lifts enough lives.
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