2008 Normy Awards

The Normy nominating committee saw 20 community and student shows on 12 different stages in 2008. Competition was keen, but once again every selection was unanimous.

The Martians Are Coming! The Martians Are Coming!

            H. G. Wells wrote “War of the Worlds” in 1898. In 1938, Orson Welles scared the hell out of the radio-listening public with a realistic-sounding account of the book’s Martian “invasion”. In 2008, Brookdale students re-created the radio broadcast. They didn’t scare anyone (these days, reality is scary enough), but director John Bukovec’s production did qualify for the Living History Normy. (Norman Ansorge, for whom the Normy is named, was an ardent history buff. This one is particularly in his memory.)

 The No-brainer Normy

The 2008 Outstanding Choreography Normy goes to Stacy Coppola for Seussical the Musical at The Barn in Thompson Park. Once again, Stacy turned non-pros into real dancers. Amazing! And her performance as Mayzie la Bird? Double amazing!

 If You Can’t Move the Set, Move the Audience

How can you do Noises Off with a fixed set? Rotate the audience, that’s how. Holmdel Theatre Company plopped the set in the middle of their theater space and seated the audience on alternate sides for each act. The madcap farce, directed by Gary Shaffer, was delightful, and Paul and Lori Renick’s set design provided theatergoers with a unique backstage experience. Normys all ‘round.

 The Title of the Year Award

            When Shrewsbury Players chose A Bad Year for Tomatoes, they couldn’t have known that 2008 would be a bad year for just about everything. The Players didn’t need a government bailout; their show lightened the burdens of everyone who saw it.

 They’re Not Afraid of a Coward

            That’s Coward as in Noel. Monmouth Players tackled the British raconteur’s Blithe Spirit, about a deceased wife’s ghostly reappearance. This oldest continuous Monmouth County Community Theatre has no fear. Whether playing safe with Neil Simon or facing down Sir Noel, Monmouth’s varied fare is always challenging.

 Comedy in the Title – and on the Stage

            At the Eatontown Playhouse, Debbie and Michael Schwartz’s Performance with Passion Players had their way with Durang Comedies. Six vignettes by the quirky Christopher Durang varied from mildly amusing to out-and-out hootworthy, which was plenty good enough for a Normy – and for anyone who gives a hoot about community theater.

 A Mighty Lady Among Gents

             The Mighty Gents is a play about guys (duh). Good guys, bad guys and mixed-up guys. At Dunbar Repertory Company, the one female was played by the mighty Chantal A. Lentz, who more than held her own among the seven men in the play. The Woman Power Normy goes to Chantal.

 Hair Today, Normy Tomorrow

            Boldly going where no one had gone for years – into Asbury Park’s Boardwalk Carousel building – the visionary ReVision Theatre didn’t let its Hair down. Even under a leaky roof on opening night, the 60’s anti-Vietnam war musical still resonated.

 The Belle of the Basie

            Any beast would transform himself for a smooch from Stacy Smith, who was Belle in Phoenix Productions’ Beauty and the Beast. Pretty as a picture and singing like a lark, Stacy won over the kids who saw the show – and earned a Normy to boot!

 While We’re on the Subject…

             Danielle Zywan promoted the Phoenix show by prowling the Red Bank Street Fair in a Belle costume. This isn’t Zeewee’s first Award – and likely not her last.

 He’s Jester Man in Tights…

             Student Steven Krzyzanowski was an agile Jester in Red Bank Catholic’s Once Upon a Mattress. He did have two legs up (can’t resist an occasional pun) on his way to his first Normy Award: Stacy Coppola’s choreography and that spiffy costume!

 While We’re on the Subject II

             RBC graduate Jessica Gartner, who appeared in the school’s Normy-winning The Little Foxes in 2003, is Chairperson of the Penn Players at the University of Pennsylvania, where she’s now a senior. (This writer was very much involved in the same organization some years ago. We’re proud of you, Jessica.)

  Once a Nerd, Twice a Nerd

            Need a pocket protector? Call Keith Sampino – or at least the characters he played in The Nerd and Play It Again, Sam at First Avenue Playhouse. An actor this good at playing a goof isn’t one, you can best.

 20 Years and counting…

            First Avenue Playhouse gets the Double Decade Normy! With 200 shows under their belt, Joe Bagnole and Donna Jeanne’s cozy Atlantic Highlands dessert theater keeps on truckin’. Their celebratory Musical Memories revue was a winner. Here’s to 20 more.

 The ‘Say it Ain’t So’ Normy

            This will be the last Normy Award for a supremely dedicated theatrical impresario. Angela Flynn Knox has retired as Producer-Director of the Monmouth County Park System’s summer theater.

The very first Normys, in 1997, honored her direction of South Pacific as well as her performance as Bloody Mary. Following citations included The Music Man, Annie Get Your Gun, Carousel and Funny Girl among others.

The 2000 Normy citation for Anything Goes concluded that Angela and her shows “are Monmouth County treasures”. Anyone who saw even one of her productions between 1982’s Broadway Revue and this summer’s joyful Seussical would agree. Thank you, Angela, for years of Award-winning entertainment and for instilling a reverence for the American Musical Theatre in so many of our area’s young people. That’s a legacy.



Community, Normy Awards, Regional