Communities celebrate theater winners with watch parties | Article
SEMBACH, Germany – Community theater groups from across Installation Management Command Europe gathered May 7 for the 2022 TOPPERs Awards Watch Parties. Otherwise known as the Tournament of Plays, the 61st annual awards rewards the best theatrical performances and productions in the region.
“We are doing this for three reasons,” Dane Winters said in a live interview on AFN Europe acknowledging the event and the evening’s winners. The awards aim to “capture and honor great theater that takes place in the field”.
The professional judges, who judged 13 shows in nine communities this year, also provided feedback to cast and crew to help them further their careers. And the final reason, Winters said, “we do this is to thank the thousands of soldiers, family members and civilians who dedicate hundreds of thousands of hours each year to performing live theater in their communities. It makes their communities better places to live.
Tommy Mize, Director of IMCOM-Europe and host of TOPPER, thanked the Army Europe Entertainment staff as well as the community volunteers.
“Army Entertainment’s programming gives a sense of community and a touch of home while we’re away from home,” Mize said. “Plus, the shows, along with the workshops and classes offered each year, boost morale while teaching valuable skills. They provide models of teamwork; they hone their leadership skills; and they promote general well-being – which increases the resilience of our communities and also contributes to the readiness of our fighting force.
Among the big winners of the evening was “Dear Anne from Nina,” a youth production from the Amelia Earhart Playhouse at US Army Garrison Wiesbaden. Young people chose the show, produced it, directed it and performed it, Winters said. Their efforts earned them a special award for Outstanding All-Youth Production.
Outstanding Play went to USAG Benelux’s SHAPE Players Performing Arts Center’s ‘Art’ production, while Outstanding Musical went to USAG Rhienland-Pfalz’s KMC Onstage’s ‘Into the Woods’.
The USAG Ansbach Terrace Playhouse received a special award for its all-soldier production of “Ten-Hut. A Show for All Soldiers. The unique one-act plays were produced from “Blue Print Specials,” a book of World War II era containing scripts and instructions for soldiers to put on shows with the resources available to them in war zones.
Vikki Hanrahan, the entertainment manager of Ansbach’s Terrace Playhouse who unearthed the Blue Print Special in the theater’s basement, joined Winters to host the TOPPERs event live April 30 at KMC Onstage. Hanrahan didn’t know it, she was presenting from an alternate scenario.
Hanrahan invited Mize on stage to introduce and present the 2022 IMCOM Norman H. Marcus Award for his unparalleled contributions to family and morale, recreation and welfare programs in Europe. She turned around in shock as Winters named her the recipient.
“During a career spanning approximately 41 years in and around USAG Ansbach,” Winters read, “Ms. Hanrahan brought her vision, passion and leadership and ensured success across the board. MWR services and activities.
Celebrity presenters for the evening included actor, singer-songwriter, playwright and filmmaker Lin Manuel Miranda who announced Grant Coleman of “Xanadu, Jr.” from Stuttgart. and Captain Phoun “Leone” Quach of “Ten-Hut!” from Ansbach. An All Soldier Show” as the tie recipients for Outstanding Debut Performance. Actor Harvey Fierstein also paid tribute to two performers of KMC Onstage’s “Into the Woods” for Outstanding Female Lead in a Musical – Rachel Gardner as “The Baker’s Wife” and Christine Lumpkin as “The Witch”.
Actor Chris Pine has recognized Anna Moritz as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ from KMC Onstage’s ‘Into the Woods’ as Outstanding Childhood Female Lead in a Musical. And, actor David Hyde Pierce announced that Spc. Ethan Hamblin as ‘Laurie’ from the Amelia Earhart production of ‘Little Women’ as the winner of the award for Outstanding Military Performance in a Musical.
“Sixty-one years of TOPPER awards. I just have to say, ‘Why?’ Doesn’t the army have something else to do? Hyde Pierce joked. “Well yes, they do. But here’s why TOPPERs have been around for 61 years – because they matter. Arts and theater do the same for you in service as they do for us civilians. It gives us a a chance to be creative, a chance to relax, a chance to laugh, to think about our lives, and whatever service we have devoted ourselves to, we have a chance to return refreshed from our time in the theater. So listen, one of the most important freedoms that you’ve dedicated your life to defending is freedom of speech. That’s why Army Entertainment matters and that’s why TOPPERS matter and they’re going to exist for a long time to come. 61 years old.
Whether in front of the lights or backstage, learn more about getting involved in your local theater community: https://www.armymwr.com/ArmyEuropeEntertainment/get-involved
For a full list of winners, visit https://www.army.mil/article/256315/
See more photos from the event at:
Watch the show: https://youtu.be/mhDNQWoW08g