NIETF Celebrates Their 24th Awards Gala By Recognizing and Honoring Members of the Theatre Community

NIETF Celebrates Their 24th Awards Gala By Recognizing and Honoring Members of the Theatre Community
By: Anna Hanson Last Updated: October 24, 2016

Theatre came alive in NWI on Sunday night, and it happened all in one room. Northwest Indiana Theatre in Excellence Foundation celebrated their 24th annual NIETF Awards Gala, which highlighted another fantastic year in theatre within our three county region. The awards showcased talent on stage, and behind the stage by playing a big part in both dramas and musicals.

Becky Jascoviak, President of the Northwest Indiana Theatre in Excellence Foundation, stated that this year was a celebration of “being excellent together”, while also continuing to highlight the hard working people who make up the large family within Northwest Indiana theater.

“Nobody does theatre here professionally, so the work we do is hours on top of our regular life - so these awards showcase that we are all ‘excellent together’. This is not a competition, it’s about how we’ve cultivated this fantastic community,” Jascoviak stated. “Though, along with the traditional awards during the ceremony, we also added new awards to the list - which includes the St. Christopher Society Introductions and the Presidential Award for Excellence that are given out during dinner. This gives us the chance to award more people for the dedication that the give every day towards continually making theatre better for us.”

The awards each year are determined by a set few of “viewers” - the people who watch over a dozen plays and musicals a year to nominate a select few in each category. With so many different shows to pick from, it can be a hard, but an enjoyable feat. Aaron Breford, who is a viewer for NIETF and also wrote the original opening musical number for the ceremony, said that the awards are a great opportunity to get the theatre community together and honor their talent.

“There’s only a select few who attended both the musicals and the plays throughout the years and those are the ‘nutjobs’,” Breford stated. “For me I judge the musicals and it’s such a great opportunity to see what other theatres are doing each season. There’s so many chances for people to get involved with or experience theatre here in the region, and we’re lucky to have that. These awards really reinforce that notion.”

The awards consisted of over twenty categories and tens of nominees that are selected from various plays and musicals over the past year. Each play and musical that was nominated for Best Musical and Best Play also was given the opportunity to perform on stage to give the audience a taste of why each work was recognized. Throughout the ceremony  awards were handed out to very worthy winners with a thunderous applause from their peers, veterans, and newcomers alike. Zachary Eugene Gipson, who accepted four awards on behalf of Young Frankenstein which included Best Musical, said that although it’s flattering to be acknowledged for the musical, it’s success was due to the ones who helped in front and behind the scenes.

“To be honored tonight is fantastic, but all of it was not won alone” Gibson stated. “The story of Young Frankenstein is about people coming together to create something and when something goes wrong they still stick together and that was the incredible cast and crew I had for this production. Again, with the play being nominated 17 times it’s unbelievable. But there’s also so many companies and theatres around our region that are not recognized by NIETF as well. The smaller groups that exist are producing fantastic work. I hope to be within their company as well in the future, along with the already incredible theatres that are represented tonight.”

In the end over 20 people walked away as winners on Sunday night, but it’s not to say the least that everyone at the gala was honored to come together and celebrate each other. Next year NIETF will have another hard job of selecting winners and nominees from the new year of productions, but there’s no doubt that theatre in Northwest Indiana will continue to reach new heights due to it’s passionate artists that make up one of the strongest communities in our region.

2016 AWARD WINNERS:

St. Christopher Society inductees: Steven Becker Chuckles Brady Matthew Byerly Bob Cooley Linda Didelot Trisha Hales Sarah Lewis David Long Stephanie Naumoff Michael Doc Kuhn Kali Rasala Kathie Rosdil Donna Rowland Don Taylor Jason Utesch Sheree Wheeler-Gudeman

Volunteers of the Year: 4th Street Theater: Kathy Markwart Beatniks on Conkey: David Johnson Chicago Street Theatre: Nancy Haller Crown Point Community Theatre: Angie Heid Dunes Arts Foundation: Tyler Marshall Gary Shakespeare Company: Jennifer Mead Genesius Guild: Elizabeth Roman Hammond Community Theatre: Anji Britten Highland Park’s Performing Arts Group: Don Wisler L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group: John Gianotti Memorial Opera House: Michael Glorioso Valparaiso Theatrical Company: Vickie Cash

Outstanding Achievement Award: Jonni Pera

Presidential Award for Excellence: Gary Shakespeare Company

Project CAST: Crown Point Community Theatre

Best Play: Sylvia, L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group

Best Director: Play Angie Lowe, Sylvia, L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group

Best Sets/Set Design: Play Eric Brant , Wash Dry & Fold, Chicago Street Theatre

Best Lights/Lighting Design: Play Bob Cooley Lieutenant of Inishmore Chicago Street Theatre

Best Sound/Sound Design: Play John Wotkun I’ll Be Back Before Midnight Beatniks on Conkey

Best Costumes/Costume Design: Play Stanlee K. Hodsden, Kat Lutze Charley’s Aunt 4th Street Theater

Best Principal Actress: Play Lydia DeVille as Sylvia Sylvia L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group

Best Cameo in a Play: Kali Rasala as Mrs. Dilber – Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge Hammond Community Theatre

Best Featured Actress: Play Donna Rowland as Mrs. Shandig Runner Stumbles Genesius Guild

Best Principal Actor: Play Hal Kilgore as Randle McMurphy One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Crown Point Community Theatre

Best Featured Actor: Play Matt Stinnett as Stephen Spettigue Charley’s Aunt 4th Street Theater

Best Musical: Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Best Director: Musical Matt Domasica Assassins Crown Point Community Theatre

Best Musical/Orchestral Director: Luke Nelson Cabaret Dunes Summer Theatre

Best Vocal Director: Jeff Otto [title of show] Crown Point Community Theatre

Best Choreography: Zachary Eugene Gipson Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Best Sets/Set Design: Musical Zachary Eugene Gipson Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Best Lights/Lighting Design: Musical Bob Cooley Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Best Sound/Sound Design: Musical Mary A. Bird Matern Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Best Costumes/Costume Design: Musical Sally Kwaiser The Addams Family Memorial Opera House

Best Principal Actress: Musical Rachel Livingston as Inga Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Best Featured Actress: Musical Mary Kay Steele as Frau Blucher Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Best Principal Actor: Musical Chris Gierymski as Baladeer/Oswald Assassins Crown Point Community Theatre

Best Featured Actor: Musical Craig Golbesky as Igor Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Best Cameo: Musical Bob Penney as Blind Hermit Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

Viewers’ Choice: Musical Use of Projections Young Frankenstein Chicago Street Theatre

For more photos click here to view our gallery from the event!