Big guy Calvin Close, Jr. squeezed his bulk into a dress and fishnet stockings to impersonate a woman in Van Zandt/Milmore’s Love, Sex, and the IRS at First Avenue Playhouse. It was in January 2003, but the memory lingers. Close won that year’s Normy for Biggest Guy in Fishnet Stockings (not awarded again since ’03).
Classiest Play Selection: Holmdel Theatre Company is always in the running for this Normy. Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest isn’t your usual Community fare, but director Ken Wiesinger kept the pace as light as a summer breeze, and the laughs were plenty and unforced. This play also yields the Normy for Best American Foursome With Brit Accents: Michael Gabiano, Clifford Sofield, Angela DeMatteo and Lea Eckert share this one. They captured not only the humor, but also Wilde’s late 19th century tone of upper crust London society.
Best Intermission Ice Cream Cone: Presenting a concert version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Day’s Ice Cream Parlor side porch was inspired. Starving Artist Summer Theater staged Joseph the way it was originally intended – finally.
Best Depiction of Ages 10-18 by a Twenty-something Actress: In Phoenix’s Sniper, Dannyelle Zywan was eerily effective as the young friend of a teen killer. With minimal shifts of posture or inflection, she went from ten to eighteen and back again believably.
Most Fetching Scantily Clad Actresses: Co-winners here are Collen Magovern and Rob Williams, who played the seductresses in Spring Lake Theatre’s Lend Me a Tenor. Under Alan Foster’s deft direction, the well-worn farce was given new life. (And no one who saw it had any doubt that Rob is female.)
Ubiquitous Actor Award: Will anyone ever challenge Sal Giacchi for this Normy? We saw him in three plays in ’03. In Phoenix’s Sniper and West Side Story he was his customary gruff self, but in Carousel at the Barn in Thompson Park he widened his repertoire as the gentle Starkeeper.
Best Bimbos: Both Erica Fineman Bertoli’s Pot Luck at Eatontown Playhouse and Joe Simonelli’s Men Are Dogs at First Avenue featured ditzy sexpots, and Amie Wasnak and Felicity Pittet in those roles share this award. It takes brains, not just what meets the eye, to play empty-headedness, and these gals did it smartly.
Outstanding Pair of Heathers: Julie Jordan and Carrie Pipperidge are friends in Carousel. Heather Rose Adelman and Heather Brown acted and sang them wonderfully in the Monmouth County Park System production. Everything about the show was outstanding, a tribute to Producer-director Angela Flynn Knox.
Best Musical Seen on both Valentine’s Day and Halloween: We saw Premier’s West Side Story on February 14 and Phoenix’s on October 31. Major kudos to Premier’s Mark Fleming for filling Asbury’s Paramount Theatre with Jets and Sharks. And the Phoenix West Side at the Basie was a treat, not a trick.
Longest Time Between Plays: NENAproductions spanned 110 years between Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, set in 1879, and Kiss of the Spider Woman from 1990. Nick Montesano’s company isn’t bound by time or commercial considerations.
Other than Community Theatre Awards: Red Bank Catholic High School tackled Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, and under the astute direction of teacher Nicole Johnson, the student cast captured the atmosphere of Southern decadence. Shadow Lawn Summer Theater staged a Gemini that made us do a 180 on the play. Propelled by Michele Tauber’s delicious performance as Bunny, they put new life in a play we had given up for dead. Shadow Lawn employs some professionals, but producer Jack Burke involves Monmouth students in every production. Normys to them all at RBC and Shadow Lawn.