Elly nods roll in for local theatrical groups

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Regional theatrical groups made a big splash last season, garnering multiple Elly nominations. El Dorado Musical Theatre (EDMT) received 46 nominations, Sutter Street Theatre received 26 and T.H.E. Actor’s Workshop received seven. Leading the pack, EDMT co-founder Debbie Wilson received eight nods, evenly split between direction and choreography. They also were nominated for “best overall production of a young person’s musical” four times for the shows “Crazy for You,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Hairspray” and “Anything Goes.” In all, “A Christmas Carol” received 15 nods while “Anything Goes” garnered 12, “Hairspray” had 10, “Crazy for You” had seven and “Cinderella” had two. EDMT performers Katherine Sorgea and Christopher Meissner were nominated for their roles in two shows each. Both impressed the nominating committee for their work in “Anything Goes” and “Crazy for You.” The Telegraph’s April 20 review of “Anything Goes” gave it five out of five stars. At the time, the review claimed, “The breakout performance of the show is by far the one delivered by Katherine Sorgea as brash Reno Sweeney. The 20-year-old Folsom Lake College student infuses the role with energy and excitement.” The review also touted Meissner’s vocal and dancing skills. Wade Sherman, executive producer for EDMT, said it’s always a highly anticipated time when nominations are announced. “We were very excited to receive the nominations. Anytime an outside organization recognizes the work you do is very exciting,” Sherman said. “It is a very competitive field so to be recognized like this is very rewarding.” What’s next for EDMT? “We’ve announced our 2011-12 season and proud it will be performed at Three Stages in Folsom,” Sherman said. “We think we have a very strong season. We recently cast ‘Beauty and The Beast’ and some of those who were nominated are cast in this production. We have two casts performing the show.” Tickets for the new season are available at Allen Schmeltz, with Sutter Street Theatre, said they were thrilled to hear the news. “I think it’s great. We’ve managed for the last three years to be in the top three (locally),” he said. “Two years ago, we were the highest in the whole area for nominations. We are just delighted to be able to get that recognition from SARTA and the Elly group.” The theater’s show “Dorothy Meets Alice or The Wizard of Wonderland” took the most nominations at 11. The Telegraph reviewed the play in the May 25 edition, giving it four-and-a-half out of five stars. “We got quite a few awards for ‘Dorothy Meets Alice,’” Schmeltz said. “What’s gratifying about that is there are quite a few young people and it’s nice to see them get the recognition for the shows.” Mike Jimena had the highest number of nominations. He received six in a variety of areas from acting to direction to lighting and design. Chris Celestin received two supporting actor nominations. “Practically the entire cast of ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ were nominated,” he said. Sutter Street Theatre also received nods for music. “One thing we were pleased with is it’s real hard for us to compete in the musical category because we’re on a small stage,” Schmeltz said. “Christine Alvarez was nominated for lead actress in ‘The Quiltmaker’s Gift.’ Michael Coleman was nominated for supporting actor in ‘The Golden Harp.’” He said the theater has two new shows, “Cabaret,” and “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” “We’re looking forward to two good shows for the next month-and-a-half,” Schmeltz said. Tickets for Sutter Street Theatre are available by calling (916) 353-1001. T.H.E. Actor’s Workshop and Integral Theatre Company received nods for costume design (Alicia McNeill and Colin Coate), and direction and set design (Deanne “Dee Dee” Eldridge) for “Victoria at 18.” Taelen Robertson (leading actress) and Emma Eldridge (supporting actress) were also nominated for the same production. Andrew Beck was nominated for best leading actor along with D.L. Shields for supporting actor in “The True Adventures of Pinocchio.” “I have (insight) because I used to be a judge for the Ellys,” Deanne Eldridge said. “If you’re not involved in the theater community, (a lot of people) don’t know what (the awards) are. A lot of theaters don’t submit anymore because it costs money to submit your work.” She said while the general public may not know what the awards mean, being nominated or winning generates interest. “It gives you publicity and advertising value to say you’ve been nominated or have won an award,” she said. “As a theater teacher, it’s important to me. Since I’ve been submitting shows, every one I’ve submitted with my students in it, they’ve been nominated.” She said recognition is always welcome for those in the performing arts. “People in the theater and arts have fragile egos and anytime we can get recognition, it makes us feel like, ‘OK, we’re doing pretty well,’” she said. “For my students, I want them to know to be grateful and not let it go to their heads. I am thankful for the fact that someone thinks we do quality work.” What’s next for the theatrical group? Opening Oct. 6 is “Emma,” an original adaptation from the novel. “They’ve made three movies, but nobody’s written a stage play,” Eldridge said, who penned the stage adaptation. For more on T.H.E. Actor’s Workshop and Integral Theatre Company, visit Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills also received a nomination for set design in their production of “Rumors.” The 29th annual Elly Award Ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. For tickets and more information, visit