“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose” – and on Sunday evening, August 20 it was a time to celebrate Dunwoody’s Stage Door Players 2016-2017 season with the annual Woodie Awards presentation. And what a wonderful season it was, filled with so many fine performances that voting for the best was truly a difficult task for the more than 100 judges who cast ballots this year.

In addition to the awards presentation, there were other achievements to be celebrated at the close of the season. Stage Door has grown by 750 percent since 2004! More shows in a season, more actors and designers participating in products, more season ticket holders and sponsors. If you haven’t seen a production at Stage Door recently, you are truly missing out on one of the best theatrical experiences available anywhere in Atlanta, and the number of productions represented at the Suzi Bass Awards each year attests to the talent right in our backyard.

So, let us take time to celebrate and acknowledge the crème de la crème for this past season: 

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Play – Rial Ellsworth (Harry Pepper) in Barefoot in the Park

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Play – Denise Whelan (Berthe) in Boeing-Boeing

Artistic Director Robert Egizio presented appreciation awards to this year’s sponsors, whose contributions to Stage Door make each performance possible. Additionally, Egizio thanked Carabba’s Italian Grill and Alon’s Bakery for providing the food for the Woodie Award’s Reception this year.

Best Costume Design – Jim Alford for Annie Get Your Gun

Best Lighting Design – J. D. Williams for The Cemetery Club

Best Set Design – Chuck Welcome for The Cemetery Club

Best Sound Design – Rial Ellsworth for Annie Get Your Gun

Best Props Design – Kathy Ellsworth for Boeing-Boeing

Best Direction – Robert Egizio for Boeing-Boeing

Additional technical awards were presented to the following individuals:

Excellence in Wig Design – George Deavours

Excellence in Musical Direction – Nick Silvestri

Excellence in Choreography – Jen MacQueen 

The winner of the Shayne Kohout Newcomer Award was Benny Higgins for his performance in the ensemble of Annie Get Your Gun. This award, in memory of the actress for whom it is named, seeks to honor someone who made his/her debut at Stage Door during the past season and exhibits the type of spirit and attitude that epitomized Ms. Kohout and the gifts she brought to theatre and to life.

“We look for someone who embodies the soul and spirit of Shayne, who has a passion and respect for their craft, has a joy for theatre and life, and who gives 150 percent on stage and off,” explained Egizio.

The life and contributions of Michael Magursky were also remembered at this year’s award ceremony. Magursky, who died suddenly in April of this year, had previously served on Stage Door Players’ Board of Directors and had also served as lighting director for shows in previous seasons.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical – Bryant Smith (Frank Butler) in Annie Get Your Gun

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical – Paige Mattox (Annie Oakley) in Annie Get Your Gun

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play – John Markowski (Robert) in Boeing-Boeing

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play – Hannah Lowther (Doris) in The Cemetery Club

Best Ensemble Cast –Shelli Delgado, John Markowski, Bekah Medford, Denise Whelan, Jacob York, and Suzanne Zoller for Boeing-Boeing

Best Show of the Season – Annie Get Your Gun

The winner of the Artistic Director’s Award this year was Meredy Shortal. “This award is given to publicly acknowledge the special impact that the recipient has had at Stage Door in the past year. Typically, it is given to someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, many times behind the scenes, providing great service to the theatre,” said Egizio. Past winners of the Artistic Director’s Award include Beverly Powell, Chuck Welcome, Courtney Loner, Jim Redovian, R. Todd Fleeman, Linda Uzelac, Marcie Millard, Hampton Whatley and J.D. Williams.

Paige Mattox shared a challenge with the audience during her acceptance speech for Best Featured Actress/Musical. She praised Stage Door Players for being a place where actors and technicians work together with respect for each other and where “everyone has your back. We come here and form a wonderful network of care and support for each other. I challenge each of you to take the network you have here into the world with you. The type of care and support we have received here must be taken outside these walls into the world that needs it so desperately.” Truly, theater at its best is when it influences and transforms our lives for the better.

Stage Door Players’ 2017-2018 season opens with the Frederick Knott mystery Dial M for Murder on Sept. 22. To purchase individual or season tickets, please visit them on the Web at stagedoorplayers.net or call (770) 396-1726.

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