KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany-USAG-Vicenza's Soldiers' Theatre took center stage with 28 nominations and 10 awards at the annual IMCOM-Europe Tournament of the Festival of Plays competition held in Kaiserslautern, Germany, April 20. The Soldiers' Theatre production of the musical "The WIZ" swept the musical awards, including the coveted Best Musical award, during the event, known as the Topper awards.

In addition to Best Musical, "The WIZ" received awards in the Best Orchestra, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Alicia Bryant-James), Best Supporting Actor in a Musical (Larry Kreider), Best Stage Manager for a Musical (Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Jordan), Best Musical Directors (Ciriaco Colella and Aaron Talley), Best Technical Director for a Musical (Jerry Brees), Best Sound Design of a Musical (Barry Robinson) and Best Director (Jerry Brees) categories.

Brees, USAG Vicenza entertainment program director was also honored with the prestigious James T. Martin award for outstanding lifetime service in entertainment from the U.S. Army Entertainment Program. The Martin is the capstone award for service to Soldiers, families and civilians of the worldwide American military community.

Altogether, the efforts of Vicenza thespians and technicians in the technical, musical, acting, artistic and directing fields were honored with the presentation of a record number of golden "Topper" statues and nomination certificates.

"Congratulations to the cast and crew and everyone involved," said Brees. "This is extremely exciting for all the nominees and winners as well as for the program and the command. Soldiers' Theatre would like to thank the community for supporting this production and the entertainment program. Enthusiastic audiences and dedicated volunteers are the reason for our success."

The competition consisted of 17 musicals, comedies and dramas produced during a six-week adjudication period in Army, Air Force and International community theaters across Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey. It is a testament to the quality of the Vicenza community performances that each of its competing productions not only received nominations for excellence, but came home with a Topper to show for it.

The IMCOM-Europe Region sponsors the annual event, and the Topper show has become an important milestone of each community theater's season; some are already planning their entries for next year.

In addition to the incentive of awards and recognition, the Topper competition provides training and mentoring by the adjudicators, who provide participants with their post-show critiques. The team of roving judges offers verbal insights and on-the-spot suggestions after each performance they attend.

For the 500 in attendance at Kaiserslautern's Armstrong Club, Saturday night was not only a chance to cheer the nominees and winners, but to enjoy a professional-quality Topper Singers and Band show modeled on Broadway's Tony Awards. It was also a golden opportunity to network with fellow theater enthusiasts and volunteers -- Soldiers, family members, civilians, host nation, and international participants -- and to celebrate their passion for creating a little bit of Broadway in their home communities.

Soldiers' Theatre was awarded 10 TOPPER's for:
Best Sound Design for a Musical - Barry Robinson
Best Orchestra - The Wiz, Soldiers' Theatre
Best Musical Director - Ciriaco Colella & Aaron Talley
Best Stage Manager for a Musical - SFC Tracy Jordan
Best Technical Director for a Musical - Jerry Brees
Best Featured Actress in a Minor Role in a Musical - Alicia Bryant-James (Evillene)
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical - Larry Kreider (Tin Man)
Best Director for a Musical - Jerry Brees
Best Musical - The Wiz, Solders Theatre

Soldiers' Theatre was honored with 28 nominations including:
Best Make-up for a Musical - Angela and Makenzie Everson
Best Hair Design for a Musical - The Wiz, Soldiers' Theatre Vicenza
Best Costume Design for a Musical - Linda Dahlstrom
Best Choreography - Linda Dahlstrom
Best Lighting Design for a Musical - Jerry Brees and SGT Danny Woodruff
Best Set Design for a Musical -- Jerry Brees
Best Instrumentalist - Giacomo Furiassi - Percussion & Michelle Willis - Flute
Best Keyboard Player - Ciriaco Colella and Bill Rupy
Best Debut Performance in a Musical - Tynisa Young (Addaperle)
Best Ensemble for a Musical - Yellow Brick Road: Alessandra Cavuto, Sonia Elia, Leda Kreider and Maggie Wallis
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical - John Seward (Scarecrow
Best Actor in a Musical - Aaron Talley (Lion)
Best Actress in a Musical - Erika Green (Dorothy)

JAMES T. MARTIN AWARD - Jerry Brees - USAG Vicenza - for life time service in Army entertainment to Soldiers, Families and Civilians of the worldwide Military Community