Sembach, Germany – Installation Management Command Europe will recognize its outstanding volunteer theater performers and production staff April 30 at the 61st annual Tournament of Plays, or TOPPERs, award ceremony. The event will be held in two formats – a live, invitation-only event April 30 at KMC Onstage in Kaiserslautern, and a recorded viewing streamed May 7 for local, theater-hosted watch parties.
For this year’s event, U.S. Army IMCOM Europe Entertainment adjudicators reviewed 13 shows in nine IMCOM-Europe communities. The night of the event more than 200 nominations and 50 awards will be presented for outstanding achievements including "Best Military Performance," "Best Youth Performance," "Best Show" and many others.
TOPPERs is produced annually to recognize outstanding theatrical achievements by volunteer Soldiers, family members and civilians at Army Entertainment programs throughout Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. Theater groups at Aviano Air Base, Italy, and Ramstein AB, Germany, also participate.
Prior to the award event, a team of professional adjudicators attends participating performances and meets with directors, cast and crew to offer insights into productions, note successes and suggest improvements for future performances.
The judges also conduct free workshops in each community for acting, directing, auditioning, improvisation, youth theater and play production.
The workshops are "a great way to learn and hone theater and life skills," said Dane Winters, IMCOM-Europe entertainment program manager and TOPPERs producer.
"Part of the Army Entertainment mission is education," he said, explaining that the workshops "give our volunteers a chance to work with professionals.
"Another important goal of TOPPERs," Winters said "is to thank everyone who is part of the Army Entertainment program. Each year, thousands of volunteers give hundreds of thousands of hours putting on live theater and music events in their communities, improving the quality of life for those who live there."
The live event will include musical numbers, surprise guests and celebrity announcers.
“In past years, over 600 people attended TOPPERs, making it the largest official MWR event in the world,” Winters said. “However, due to the pandemic, we couldn’t host that many. We are producing the show for a smaller audience to be filmed. That video will then be streamed on May 7 so each community can hold their own gala watch party.”
Participating theaters and entries:
The Amelia Earhart Playhouse. USAG Wiesbaden, Germany.
- "Dear Ann, from Nina" by Claudia Haas. Directed by Madeline McGill.
- "Little Women - the Musical" by Allan Knee, Mindi Dickstein and Jason Howland. Directed by Brian Witcher.
- "Annie" by Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Directed by Brett Harwood.
- "Art" by Yasmina Reza and Christopher Hampton. Directed by Matt Hahn.
- "Into the Woods" by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Directed by Brittany Atkins.
- "Medea" by Euripides. Directed by Christine Lumpkin.
- Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" an adaptation by Dr. Carolyn Harper. Directed by R.J. Garrison.
The Stuttgart Theater Center. USAG Stuttgart, Germany.
- "Xanadu, Jr." by Douglas Carter Beane, Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. Directed by Sgt. John R. Stack and Autumn Mann.
- "Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie, adapted by Ken Ludwig. Directed by Richard Roberts.
The Ansbach Terrace Playhouse . USAG Ansbach, Germany.
- "Ten-Hut! An All Soldier Show" by U.S. Army Special Services and Army Entertainment. Directed by Vikki Hanrahan and Margi Ritscher.
The Ansbach Youth Theater. USAG Ansbach, Germany.
- "Madagascar, Jr." Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture. Book by Kevin Del Aguila. Music and lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan. Directed by Vikki Hanrahan.
The Soldiers' Theatre. USAG Italy.
- "Clue" by Sandy Rustin. Directed by Jerry Brees.
The Razz Ma Tazz Players. Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
- "Love Letters" by A. R. Gurney. Directed by Cindy Krewson.