News Column

Stockton Civic's 'Sweeney Todd' wins big at Ellys

September 23, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 23--Stockton Civic Theatre's production of "Sweeney Todd" walked away the big winner Sunday night at the 2013 Adult Elly Awards presentation held for the first time at Red Lion Inn -- Woodlake.

The production of composer Stephen Sondheim's 1979 musical thriller took home eight Ellys, including overall production of a musical with Jim Coleman winning individually for both his direction and musical direction.

In all, 34 Elly Awards for excellence in community theater and two lifetime achievement awards were presented to individuals and theaters representing a 10-county region within a 70-mile radius of downtown Sacramento.

Following "Sweeney Todd," Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra's production "Journey to the West" won five Ellys and Big Idea Theatre's "New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation; Amsterdam, July 27, 1656" won four awards, including best director for Shannon Mahoney while Brian Harrower won as leading actor in a drama for the same production.

Other individual winners included Diane Fetterly for her direction of "Journey To The West," Wayne Cook for leading actor-comedy in "Learning Spanish" at California Stage, Scarlet O'Connor for leading actress-comedy in EMH Productions' "Moving Mountains," Grace Fae for leading actress-drama in Synthetic Unlimited's "Kingdom of Earth," and Stuart Eldridge leading actor-musical for the Woodland Opera House production of "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Susanne Sommer and Leo Mcelroy shared the original script Elly for their "Echoes in the Heart" and John Lee won for his original adaptation "Sinbad & Aladdin: The Arabian Knights" for his Fairytale Town Troupers.

This year's lifetime achievement awards went to Connie Mockenhaupt of Sutter Street Theatre and Rodger Hoopman of Chautauqua Playhouse.

Mockenhaupt is artistic director at Sutter Street Theatre in Folsom and has directed, choreographed and musically directed more than 350 shows in a career of theater production and theater education, where she has been recognized as the national outstanding dance educator of the year.

Hoopman is the founder/producer/artistic director for Chautauqua Playhouse. Established in 1976, Chautauqua is the oldest Sacramento-area community theater. Hoopman is also known for co-creating and performing "Scrooge (The Musical)" for more than 30 years.

The awards are sponsored by the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance, and named after the late Eleanor McClatchy, a former president of McClatchy Newspapers, now The McClatchy Co., which publishes The Sacramento Bee. McClatchy was a generous supporter of theater and the performing arts in Sacramento.

Theaters nominate their own productions, which are then judged by the volunteer Elly judges. The judges must see every production in the category they adjudicate. The categories are comedy, drama and musical, and separate divisions for original script and original adaptation. Professional companies, such as Capital Stage, California Musical Theatre (producer of the Music Circus and Broadway Sacramento), the B Street Theatre and the Sacramento Theatre Company, do not compete. Some eligible regional theaters choose not to participate.

The complete list of winners can be found at http://www.sarta.com/.

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(c)2013 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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