10th NH Theatre Awards event recognizes top performances

he stretch SUV that pulled up to the curb set the tone perfectly for the 10th annual New Hampshire Theatre Awards on Feb. 3 at the Palace Theatre.

Nominees and other attendees were dressed to rival a Hollywood awards show, turning the audience into a sea of formal gowns, top coats, furs and sequins. Here and there, a tuxedo or white dinner jacket could be glimpsed.

New Hampshire’s theater community wanted to look its best, as no one knew until the winning name was called just who would be walking across the stage to receive one of those coveted glass awards shaped like the state of New Hampshire.

The nervousness and excitement in the air only enhanced the attendees’ wit and sense of timing.

During the opening remarks, New Hampshire Theatre Association Executive Director Joe Vago and board President David Preece revealed that this year, seals would be presented to the top three finalists, including the winner, in each category. Without missing a beat, the audience responded with a symphony of seal sounds.

It was an evening full of surprises. Brothers Daniel and Nathan Schwartzberg, of Bedford, won in their categories, with Daniel winning Best Supporting Actor in a Musical (Community Theater) for his portrayal of Mike Costa in StageCoach Productions’ “A Chorus Line,” and Nathan winning Best Supporting Actor (Youth Theater) for his role as the Mayor of Whoville in the Peacock Players’ “Seussical.”

The wins were announced back to back, to the great enthusiasm of the audience.

Although Nathan was too overwhelmed to speak at first, he managed to express his gratitude.

“Youth theater in New Hampshire is so amazing,” he said. “I just want to thank everyone who supported that.”

Daniel recovered from the shock a bit more quickly, thanking their parents for supporting him and letting him do what he loved.

The value of youth theater seems to have been apparent to this year’s adjudicators, who lavished honor upon honor on the Peacock Players, including Best Production (Youth Theater) and Best Director – Musical (Community Theater) for “The Dinosaur Musical.”

While accepting his Best Director award, the Peacock Players’ Keith Weirich took the opportunity to acknowledge a person who spends little time in the spotlight.

“Everyone in Peacock Players knows how I feel about them,” he said, and expressed his gratitude to “Heather, my beautiful, long-suffering wife.”

Weirich thanked her for enduring the challenges of being married to a director and reminded her of the benefits.

“At least I gave you a cute son,” he joked.

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the special awards.

Mary Selvoski, of Bedford, was honored with the Francis Grover Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award. The owner of Mary’s Closet in Manchester, she has been costuming statewide and beyond since 1963.

Looking every inch a kindly fairy godmother, Selvoski was praised by presenters as someone who “won’t let you out of the house until you look good and you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing.”

“It’s such a humbling feeling, I can’t explain it,” Selvoski said of receiving the award. “Thank you for letting me be part of your dreams. I will continue to costume until I can’t thread the needle anymore.”

A variety of performances interspersed throughout the awards, including “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” by the cast of the Actorsingers’ “Guys and Dolls,” rounded out the event nicely, underscoring the fact that this evening is all about the theater, those who live for it and those who love it.

Teresa Santoski can be reached at 594-6466 or tsantoski@nashuatelegraph.com.

10th NH Theatre Awards event recognizes top performances

MANCHESTER – The stretch SUV that pulled up to the curb set the tone perfectly for the 10th annual New Hampshire Theatre Awards on Feb. 3 at the Palace Theatre.

Nominees and other attendees were dressed to rival a Hollywood awards show, turning the audience into a sea of formal gowns, top coats, furs and sequins. Here and there, a tuxedo or white dinner jacket could be glimpsed.

New Hampshire’s theater community wanted to look its best, as no one knew until the winning name was called just who would be walking across the stage to receive one of those coveted glass awards shaped like the state of New Hampshire.

The nervousness and excitement in the air only enhanced the attendees’ wit and sense of timing.

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the special awards.

Toby Tarnow, artistic director of the Riverbend School of Theatre Arts in Milford, received the Children’s and Youth Theatre Award.

“It’s an amazing honor for the work that we’ve been doing,” Tarnow said, her poise and elegance reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn.

She described her passion for the creative process that takes place in the theater and how it encouraged her to establish the Riverbend School of Theater Arts.

“If I could share that with children, I’d be doing something I love,” she said.

“I share this award with everyone whose energy and love brought me to this place,” Tarnow concluded, asserting that she will be in the theater “until I drop.”

Vick Bennison, of the Milford Area Players, who tied for Best Director – Drama/Comedy (Community Theater) for “August: Osage County,” also tried to express his gratitude to his significant other.

“I want to thank my wife, Lily. Is she awake?” he asked, referring to the lateness of the hour.

The value of youth theater seems to have been apparent to this year’s adjudicators, who lavished honor upon honor on the Peacock Players, including Best Production (Youth Theater) and Best Director – Musical (Community Theater) for “The Dinosaur Musical.”

While accepting his Best Director award, the Peacock Players’ Keith Weirich took the opportunity to acknowledge a person who spends little time in the spotlight.

“Everyone in Peacock Players knows how I feel about them,” he said, and expressed his gratitude to “Heather, my beautiful, long-suffering wife.”

Weirich thanked her for enduring the challenges of being married to a director and reminded her of the benefits.

“At least I gave you a cute son,” he joked.

“August: Osage County” was an unanticipated favorite for this year’s awards, with winners acknowledging the black comedy’s mature language as they accepted their awards.

“I learned so many new words,” joked Barbara Webb, this year’s Best Actress – Comedy/Drama (Community Theater) about her role as Violet Weston.

A variety of performances interspersed throughout the awards, including “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” by the cast of the Actorsingers’ “Guys and Dolls,” rounded out the event nicely, underscoring the fact that this evening is all about the theater, those who live for it and those who love it.

Teresa Santoski can be reached at 594-6466 or tsantoski@nashuatelegraph.com.