Annual fundraiser sets stage for coming year

Published 12:04 am Sunday, July 15, 2007

NATCHEZ — After 60 years of service to the community, Natchez Little Theatre is braced for its diamond jubilee season.

Saturday evening, patrons of the Natchez Little Theatre gathered to celebrate the success of the 59th season.

“The main purpose of the Stan Dean Ovation Awards is to celebrate all of the volunteers; it is a party to thank everyone for the hard work they put into these productions,” Executive and Artistic Director Layne Taylor said.

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The Natchez Little Theatre put on 10 productions in 12 months this season. More than 18,000 people walked through the doors of the Little Theatre from July 1, 2006 to July 2007, and there are over 400 season members.

Taylor expected the night’s events to raise $5,000 to $10,000. The money raised will be used to install air conditioning for the upstairs of the building.

The Little Theatre has over 100 children that take part in productions.

“We have had a strong foundation for 40 years, right now we have many people that are the third generation with the theatre,” Taylor said.

The winner of the best youth actor, Rudy Timm, is proof. All of Timm’s older siblings, with the exception of one, have starred in at least one Little Theatre play.

“Everyone here is very welcoming,” Timm said.

The Little Theatre is also giving opportunities to its high school members. A scholarship award was presented to Landon Henry.

Two other actors have been offered scholarships at the Mississippi School of the Arts, and is sponsoring a program at Robert Lewis Middle School.

In addition to young actors, the Little Theatre boasts many veterans. Rusty Jenkins, master of ceremonies, has been active in the Little Theatre for seven or eight years.

“The Little Theater is a real opportunity for people to make friends they wouldn’t get to meet otherwise,” Jenkins said.

He also realizes the importance of youth in the program.

“The telling thing is to look at the number of youth involved this year,” Jenkins said.

The main focus of this year’s award ceremony was the focus of celebration over fund raising.

“The success of the theatre doesn’t so much involve money as it does ideas,” Taylor said.

Complete list of winners:

Awards were presented at the fourth annual ceremony Saturday night. A committee of Little Theatre patrons who attended all 2007 shows chose the winners. For full story and photos see page 3A.

Best Play — The Bad Seed

Best Musical — Chicago

Best Director of a Play — Layne Taylor for the Bad Seed

Best Director of a Musical — Tommy Jackson for Chicago

Best Sets — Lynn Mann for Deathtrap

Best Actor in a Play — Three way tie, Stacey Carden for Deathtrap, Layne Taylor for Deathtrap, Landon Henry for Southern Exposure

Best Actress in a Play — Melinda Ballard for The Bad Seed

Best Actor in a Musical — Layne Taylor for Chicago

Best Actress in a Musical — Melinda Ballard for Chicago

Best Supporting Actor in a Play — Rusty Jenkins for Southern Exposure

Best Supporting Actress in a Play — Chanda Douglas for Southern Exposure

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical — Casey Gilbert for Chicago

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical — Gina Buckley for Chicago

Best Cameo/Actor in a Play — Bill Furlow for Southern Exposure

Best Cameo/Actress in a Play — Elaine Harter for The Bad Seed

Best Cameo/Actor in a Musical — Casey Gilbert for Big River

Vest Cameo/Actress in a Musical — Darlene McCune for Chicago

Best Debut/Actor — Bill Furlow for Southern Exposure

Best Debut/ Actress — Elaine Harter – The Bad Seed

Best Youth Actor — Rudy Timm – The Hobbitt

Best Youth Actress — Saxon Ballard – The Bad Seed

Student Volunteer of the Year — Landon Henry

Volunteer of the Year — Darlene McCune

Life Time Achievement — Bennie Boone