Little Theatre honors top performers from year

Published 12:19 am Sunday, July 15, 2012

Julie Emerick says some words of gratitude after being awarded with the best cameo actress in a play award Saturday evening during the ninth annual Standing Ovation Awards at the Natchez Little Theatre.

NATCHEZ — Natchez Little Theatre honored Bo Allen, Debbie Boyken and Emily Ham as the best leading characters for its 2012 season during NLT’s annual Standing Ovation awards Saturday night.

The awards ceremony celebrated the volunteers and productions of NLT’s 64th season. The nominees were selected from those who participated in the theater’s productions, and the awards were determined by NLT’s eligible members and sponsors who attended all seven shows, which were “Hairspray,” “Mississippi Medicine Show,” “Othello,” “A Natchez Christmas Carol,” “Sordid Lives,” “Southern Exposure” and “The Rivals.” Don Vesterse, who won best director in a play for “Sordid Lives,” directed three of the season’s productions, and he said it has been a tremendous year.

“‘Sordid Lives’ was fun because it was something that could happen in real life,” Vesterse said.

Patricia Ware, 10, right, belts out during her performance with singers Diamond Nicholson, left, and Thea Shelton, center.

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“And I have always been afraid of Shakespeare because I don’t like Shakespeare, and this year I conquered some of my fears with directing ‘Othello.’”

Allen, who was also honored as best actor in a musical for his role as Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray,” took home the best acting nod for playing Mrs. Malaprop in “The Rivals.”

Boyken went home with the award for best actress in a play for her turn as Sissy Hickey in “Sordid Lives.”

The best actress in a musical award Ham earned was for the role of Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray.” She was also given the award for best debut by an actress.

The theatre also honored Rusty Jenkins with a lifetime achievement award for his work with NLT. Jenkins said his mind was blown by the honor.

“This place has been my haven for every trouble time in my life,” he said. “The NLT has been the thing that has kept me sane.”

Other awards given include:

•Best play: “Sordid Lives”

•Best musical: “Hairspray”

•Best director in a musical: Layne Taylor for “Hairspray”

•Best supporting actor in a play: Wade Heatherly as Wardell “Bubba” Owens in “Sordid Lives”

•Best supporting actress in a play: Morgan Mizell as Noleta Nethercott in “Sordid Lives”

•Best supporting actor in a musical: Benta’ Thomas as Seaweed J. Stubbs in “Hairspray”

•Best supporting actress in a musical: Arden McMillin as Amber Von Tussle in “Hairspray” and Lou Ellen Stout as Velma Von Tussle in “Hairspray”

•Best cameo actor in a play: Rusty Jenkins as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in “Sordid Lives”

•Best cameo actress in a play: Julie Emerick as Juanita in “Sordid Lives”

•Best cameo actor in a musical: Wade Heatherly as Harriman F. Spitzer and Principal in “Hairspray”

•Best cameo actress in a musical: Thea Shelton as The Dynamites in “Hairspray”

•Best debut by an actor: Bryan Carroll as Othello in “Othello”

•Best youth actor: Caleb Curtis as Tiny Tim in “A Natchez Christmas Carol” and Colby Passman as Huck Finn in “Mississippi Medicine Show”

•Best youth actress: Arden McMillin as Amber Von Tussle in “Hairspray”