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Musicals split HAMIs honors
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Guys and Dolls win top honors.
By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN
Published July 11, 2007
[Times photo: Edmund D. Fountain]
Pete Clapsis and George Dwyer, both of Spring Hill, rehearse a scene of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
SPRING HILL - For the first time in years, Stage West Community Playhouse had no runaway winner Saturday at its annual HAMI Award Celebration, the theater's equivalent to Broadway's Tony Awards.
Each of the five shows in the 2006-07 season won at least two awards, and the top winner, the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, edged out the season's other musical, Guys and Dolls, by only one category.
It would have been a dead heat at five HAMIs apiece for Funny/Forum and Guys/Dolls, had not Toni Berlinger won a tie vote with herself for choreographing both shows.
The top winner in the non-musical category was the Neil Simon comedy 45 Seconds from Broadway, which picked up three HAMIs, including one to director Saul Leibner, his record-setting sixth HAMI for directing at Stage West.
The classic Charley's Aunt won two awards, as did the zany farce It Runs in the Family.
The Founders' Award went to longtime Stage West set designer and builder Sig Stock, who himself has won two HAMIs, one for 2005's You Can't Take It With You and the other for 2004's Funny Girl. The award was announced by Connie Keyes, the only surviving member of the six-member group that launched Stage West in the early 1980s.
New board president Harvey Lasky opened the show by announcing that a special "star memorial" will be placed in the theater lobby in remembrance of actor George Koprowski, who had a fatal heart attack during his scene as Big Jule on the opening night of Guys and Dolls.
Several fellow performers lauded Koprowski throughout the evening, making the show's finale, the song We Are Family, poignant and entertaining.
Lasky also gave credit to two shows presented in Stage West's small venue, The Forum, which weren't eligible for HAMIs: The comedy-drama Same Time, Next Year and the powerful drama Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The Forum's musical was Nunsensations.
The only individual actor receiving more than one HAMI was David Stenger, who picked up one for his portrayal of the lecherous old geezer, Stephen Spettigue in Charley's Aunt and another for his rough-and-tumble characterization of the street gambler Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls.
"I wanted to (play) Nicely-Nicely Johnson (in Guys and Dolls), but I took this part, and I loved it," Stenger said. He credited director Peter Clapsis for envisioning him in the Southstreet slot, rather than as Nicely-Nicely.
Singer Sara Coit was the only nominee for Lead Actress in a Musical, for her role as Sister Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls. And dancer Toni Berlinger did the choreography for both the season's musicals.
Director Saul Leibner expressed "total shock" when he won for the small, offbeat Neil Simon script, 45 Seconds. "This is totally unexpected but greatly appreciated," Leibner said.
Favorite Show: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Best Director: Saul Leibner, 45 Seconds from Broadway
Lead Actor, Musical: Peter Clapsis, as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Lead Actress, Musical: Sara Coit, as Sister Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls
Lead Actor, Play: Gary McCarragher, Dr. Bonney in It Runs in the Family
Lead Actress, Play: Sharon Farnsworth, Rayleen in 45 Seconds from Broadway
Supporting Actor, Musical: George Dwyer, Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Supporting Actress, Musical: Leslee Starz, Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls
Supporting Actor, Play: W. Paul Wade, Charley Wykeham in Charley's Aunt
Supporting Actress, Play: Lillian Falcone, Matron in It Runs in the Family
Featured Actor, Musical: David Stenger, Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls
Featured Actress, Musical: Cheryl Roberts, General Cartwright in Guys and Dolls
Featured Actor, Play: David Stenger as Stephen Spettigue in Charley's Aunt
Featured Actress, Play: Molly Lutz, Zelda in 45 Seconds from Broadway
Choreography: Toni Berlinger (tie) for both Guys and Dolls and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Costumes: Madeline Child for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Set Design: Todd Everest for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Rising Star, Boy: Dakota Ruiz as Genie Understudy in Aladdin Jr.
Rising Star, Girl: Amanda Alverez as Genie in Aladdin Jr.