By Karin J. Martinez, USAG Italy Public Affairs OfficeMay 4, 2019
VICENZA, Italy (May 4, 2019) -- The Soldiers' Theatre production of "DISASTER, the Musical" received 23 nominations and garnered six awards in this year's Tournament of Plays ceremony, which took place April 27 at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden in Germany.
For more than 50 years, U.S. Army Europe Entertainment has produced a Tournament of Plays -- known as the TOPPERs -- in U.S. Army and Air Force theater programs across Europe, and the ceremony is considered one of the premier Army Family, Morale and Welfare region events of the year.
The 2019 TOPPER awards presented to Soldiers' Theatre, located on Caserma Ederle, are as follows:
• Best Musical: "DISASTER, the Musical"
• Best Sound and Sound Design for a Musical: Barry Robinson, Ciriaco Colella, Spec. Preston Israel
• Best Stage Properties for a Musical: Flavio Tagua and Sgt. 1st Class Dan Galvin
• Best Male Youth Performance in a Musical: Joshua Tagua (who played Ben/Lisa)
• Best Female Youth Performance in a Musical: Lucy Reardon (Sister Mary)
• Best Supporting Actress in a Musical: Misty Reardon (Shirley)
At the awards event, Installation Management Command Europe Director Michael Formica said that theater/entertainment programs provide a sense of community and "home away from home."
"The shows, as well as the workshops and classes offered each year, greatly enhance morale while teaching valuable solo skills," Formica added. "They serve as models of teamwork, honing leadership abilities and promoting overall well-being."
Over a six- to eight-week period, professional theater adjudicators attend live performances at military community theater programs in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. Following each performance, adjudicators meet with casts and crews to offer their objective comments on production successes as well as suggestions for improvements in future endeavors.
At the end of the adjudication period, the judges nominate individuals and shows for more than 45 "Best" awards. These awards recognize outstanding achievements in acting, singing, musicianship, directing, youth performance, Soldier performance, production and many others.
This year, awards for best shows were split between three garrisons: in addition to the USAG Italy win, USAG Benelux's SHAPE Performing Arts Centre won Best Play for "The Good Person of Szechwan," and USAG Stuttgart's Stuttgart Theatre Center took the award for Best Family Show, with their performance of "Madagascar Jr."
Another honor bestowed upon the Soldiers' Theatre troupe, according to Jerry Brees, entertainment director for the theater here, was that they were invited to perform for the TOPPER awards show with an opening medley of songs from "DISASTER."
Brees was thrilled that the theater and cast were recognized for their hard work.
"This is extremely exciting for all the nominees and winners, as well as for the program and the command," he said. "Soldiers' Theatre would especially like to thank the community for supporting this production and the entertainment program. We cannot continue our program without you. Enthusiastic audiences and dedicated volunteers are the reason for our success."
The 23 nominations for Italy personnel included:
Best Make Up Design for a Musical: Tatiana Rosado Dunbar
Best Costume Design for a Musical: Tatiana Rosado Dunbar & Heather Rockel
Best Choreography for a Musical: SGT Martin Sinlao
Best Lighting Design for a Musical: Jerry Brees
Best Set Design for a Musical: Jerry Brees
Best Musical Director for a Musical: Ciriaco Colella and Sgt. 1st Class Direck Whorley
Best Stage Manager for a Musical: Sgt. 1st Class Joe Stone
Best Technical Director for a Musical: Jerry Brees
Best Ensemble for a Musical: The Cast of DISASTER
Best Male Military Performance in a Musical: Sgt. 1st Class Dan Galvin (Tony)
Best Chorus Member in a Musical: Joey Michelson
Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Tatiana Rosado Dunbar (Levora)
Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Josh Galvin (Scott)
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical: Alphonso Ortiz (Maury)
Best Actress in a Musical: Ashley Whorley (Jackie)
Best Actor in a Musical: Jeremy Cates (Chad) and Jeremy Vargas (Ted)
A full list of winners and nominees, and video from the show, can be found at https://global.armymwr.com/ArmyEuropeEntertainment/2019-toppers.