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The EMAV Valley Theatre Awards Thundered

I can’t say anyone danced in the aisles, but there were plenty of standing cheers, hoots, hollers, and whistles, along with tons of thunderous clapping.

It all happened at The Space, a long, narrow house with a fairly small (raised) stage at the far end. It was hell to find – for me anyway. A trip which should’ve taken me 15 at most ended after 45 minutes of driving around through the back streets immediately west of the Strip. To call my mood foul, by the time I parked and gimped 1/8th of a mile, may be a bit of an understatement.

But, a smile took over the minute Sandy Kastel and Ralph Stalter greeted me as I walked in the front doors. Then Poor Richard’s Players turned the smiles into out-and-out laughter as they opened the evening with a rendition of “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Ben Loewy, Max Lardent, and Anthony Barnaby brought the house down with lyrics spoofing every aspect of production. That alone was worth the price of admission.

If you didn’t go because you didn’t want to sit through long gushings as winners thanked everyone they’ve ever met in life, you cheated yourself. The first acceptance consisted of holding up the plaque and uttering a simple “Thank you,” and precedent was set for the remainder of the evening.

Handed out between musical numbers which represented productions from the past and upcoming season, the awards’ recipients ran the gamut this year from Majestic Repertory’s Best Play for “Hand to God” to A Public Fit’s Best Ensemble (Play) with “When the Rain Stops Falling”; P.S. Productions’ Best Musical “Memphis the Musical” at Super Summer Theater to LVLT’s Best Lighting (Ginny Adams), Best Scenic (Ron Lindblom) and Best Sound (Sandy Stein) Designs for various productions.

Though all the entertainment was good, kudos go to Xavier Donte Brown who soared with “Beauty and the Beast”’s “If I Can’t Love Her,” and Jamar Thompson and Kyara Isis Williams did a terrific job on “Benny’s Dispatch” from “In the Heights.”

Jim Sohre once again made the job of emcee look easy; he kept the entirety moving along. The presentation lasted a bit less than 90 minutes.

Thankyous go out to all those who helped make this celebration of the performing arts a success. Special appreciation should go out to the presenters, whose sole duty was to walk to the stage and read off the winning name, hand off the award, and exit. Granted, the event is all about “local” talent, but still...I found myself thinking, “If only Sandy Kastel and Paige O’Hara could’ve been hornswaggled into doing a number. They’re locals, aren’t they?”

For the complete list of winners, and photo gallery, click here.

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