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Awards in California Community Theatre

This month, we checked out awards in California community theatre.

We wanted to know if your theatre hosts or gives out annual awards, or participates in local area awards events.

Enjoy learning more about what your friends around the state are doing.


Survey Responses

(answers are anonymous)

Does your theatre or area/local group or association participate in or host annual awards for community theatre?

We provide a volunteer of the year award. There is a local paper that has a "best of" picked by a local reviewer, but it is not an award per se.

We are a member of the Desert Theater League, made up of about 30 Theater Producing Organizations in the Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley (Palm Springs Region).

YES - We participate in the National Youth Arts In Theater awards.

We are involved with a group called the Inland Theatre League. They send out judges to all the theaters in the Inland Empire throughout the year to judge the shows and then have an awards ceremony usually in April.

If your theatre or area/local group or association does participate in annual awards for community theatre, do you have any general thoughts or feelings on how those awards are given/chosen?

The local reviewer who prints a "best of" column every year has rather odd taste; but we "win" in several categories each year, so I encourage her.

Teams of judges use a scale of 1-10 in various stage categories to determine awards. It is a fair and equal system.

The National Youth Arts are judged fairly and based on a lengthy form the judges fill out and rater. They then at the end of the year rank all the shows they have judged.

My own thoughts on this is that they are not handled very well. There is a lot of favoritism towards individuals (I joke there are a few actors who would get awards if they just stood up and read a phone book) and the organization itself is a bit biased...

Do you have any general thoughts or feelings on awards for community theatre: performances, ensembles, achievement, etc?

I think they are largely unhelpful.

I would never want to have awards just within my organization. Being part of a bigger coalition with numerous categories and Organizations gives the awards far more value.

I love how the NYA's celebrate the performers and performances. Judges can request performances to be done at the ceremonies. Each production is asked to send photos of each winner/winning production for slideshow during the awards - it's very well thought out.

Like most, the most popular usually wins. Not necessarily the best…

I think awards are good and important. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for their work and talent. However, I feel the best judges are the audience of the theater. One of the best awards I've seen is an organization that has secret judges made up of some of their season passholders. At the end of their season, the group holds an awards banquet where they give out awards of excellence to those who were voted for by their guests. There is no higher praise than your audience appreciating your work. I know about this because for one season, I was one of those secret judges.


A Listing of Awards Programs in California

(from online search and survey responses)

The Desert Theatre League hosts an annual Desert Stars Awards gala to honor theatrical performers in the Coachella Valley and High Desert communities:

The National Youth Arts Awards is a membership-based awards program:

Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance: The annual Elly Awards honor outstanding achievements of community theaters and artists in the Sacramento area:

Inland Theatre League Awards, recognizing excellence in community theatre in the Inland Empire since 1975:

Stockton Civic Theatre's Willie Awards:

Silicon Valley Small Theatre Awards recognizes standout productions from small (under 300 seat performance venues) theatre organizations in the Silicon Valley:

Abbey Awards: presented by and for Westminster Community Theatre:

The Shellie Awards were founded in 1979 in order to recognize outstanding achievement in the performing arts in the Central Contra Costa/Diablo Valley region:


California Community Theatre Members in the Spotlight:

Recent Awards Participation Articles

Ferndale Repertory Theatre Volunteer of the Year 2015

Below is Dillon Savage, FRT's volunteer of the year for 2015, speaking about the importance of supporting the work of the theatre and its staff just before Leira V. Satlof, Artistic Producing Director presented him with flowers and steaks! Leira is looking on in the background.


An Article from Theatre 29's Award Ceremony Last Year


By Z107.7 News, on October 13th, 2015

A Twentynine Palms woman was honored with an “unsung heroes” award Sunday for her volunteer work with Theatre 29. Kerry Jimenez was awarded the Bill Kuhlman Award by the Desert Theatre League during its Desert Star Awards ceremony in Palm Desert. The award recognizes her contributions to the theater that may not be seen in the glow of the footlights. Jimenez accepted the award on behalf of her family, saying, “They say it takes a village to raise a child; it takes an army to raise a curtain.”

Seven other local Desert Star awards were split by Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms and Groves Cabin Theatre in Morongo Valley. For productions at Theatre 29, Kathryn Ferguson received Outstanding Costume Design for “An Ideal Husband;” Ben Bees was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for “The 39 Steps;” Mandi Pushkar was named Outstanding Choreographer for “Mel Brooks’ ‘Young Frankenstein;’” and Pamela Crane was awarded the Desert Star Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical/Opera for “Mel Brooks’ ‘Young Frankenstein.”

Winning awards for their work at Groves Cabin Theatre were Joy Groves, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama for “Door to Door;” Analisa Pilecki, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for “Suddenly Last Summer;” and Outstanding Lead Actor went to Kurt Schauppner for “The Weir.” Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.


Sierra Stages Elly Award Nomination Success

Sierra Stages Receives 53 Elly Award Nominations in Our First 7 Seasons!

The annual Elly Awards are presented by the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance (SARTA) and honor outstanding achievements of community theatres and artists in the Sacramento area. The Elly "season" runs annually from July 1 through June 30. The Elly Awards are named for the late Eleanor McClatchy, who was a devoted patron of the local arts. Sierra Stages has received 53 Elly Award nominations in our first seven seasons. In 2014-2015, Peter Pan received 2 nominations in the Comedy Category. In 2013-2014, Avenue Q received 12 nominations in the Musical Category (with Isaias Acosta receiving the Elly Award for Supporting Actor in a Musical and Erin Beatie receiving the Elly Award for Lighting in a Musical) and Closer Than Ever received 1 nomination in the Musical Category. In 2012-2013, The Music Man received 8 nominations in the Musical Category and A Midsummer Night's Dream received 5 nominations in the Comedy Category (with Erin Beatie receiving the Elly Award for Lighting in a Comedy) . In 2011-2012, Death of a Salesman received 8 nominations in the Drama Category and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum received 4 nominations in the Musical Category (with Robert Rossman receiving the Elly Award for Leading Actor in a Musical). In 2010-2011, Lend Me a Tenor received 6 nominations in the Comedy category (with Sierra Stages receiving the Elly Award for Overall Production-Comedy and Robert Rossman receiving the Elly Award for Leading Actor in a Comedy) and Old Explorers received 4 nominations in the Comedy category. In 2009-2010, Into the Woods received 3 nominations in the Musical category (with Erin Beatie receiving the Elly Award for Lighting in a Musical). Congratulations to everyone who was nominated and received an Elly Award.


It's Award Season in Some Parts of the State:

See Who Has Reason to Celebrate!

Congratulations on 54 Desert Theatre League Award nominations for the Hi-Desert Cultural Center's actors, directors, musicians, tech crews, stage crews, costumers, make-up artists, house crews, youth theater parents, donors, supporters, and all who made our 2015-2016 season such a phenomenal success! All our nominations here.

CONGRATULATIONS Theatre29 on your 27 Desert Star Awards Nominations! Tickets on sale now for the awards ceremony on Oct 9th!


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