Outstanding Performer – Amanda Frerichs

The Outstanding Performer Award goes to an adult participant for an outstanding performance in a main stage production.  This year’s winner is the definition of “Outstanding performer.” She’s ridiculously talented with a phenomenal voice and is overall just an awesome person.  She really puts her all into every rehearsal and every performance. The highlight of her season came during The Drowsy Chaperone. When rehearsals started, she had a very difficult time with one particular note in “Show Off”, but she worked and worked, and every night when she hit that high note, people applauded.  She really walked a wonderfully fine line between looking like she was taking herself seriously while simultaneously hamming it up for the audience. This year’s Outstanding performer award goes to Amanda Frerichs.

Hammy Award – Don LaFollette

The Hammy Award is presented to the biggest “ham” of the year.  This year, the ham came with the role. This was more than obvious from day one of The Drowsy Chaperone.  This year’s winner had his castmates laughing right from the get go. Never has a cast laughed so hard during a read through, and the laughs didn’t stop there.  One person even said “I’ve seen three different productions of this show, and he was my favorite yet!” The pictures of the show spoke for themselves. The faces he made in every picture posted to social media had everyone cracking up.    He’s always good for a laugh, and he’s always willing to step up whenever help is needed. Words cannot express the hammy-ness of his work on stage… You just had to be there. This year’s Hammy Award goes to Don LaFollette.

Rookie of the Year – Kelly Crippen

The Rookie of the Year Award is presented for outstanding contributions by a first year CSJ performer or crew member.  She really jumped in with both feet. Backstage, on stage or fundraising, she’s not afraid to do what she can to help out.  She has only been around for a few months, but her presence has been seen in various facets of CSJ. Whether helping backstage with Honk! Jr., to gracing the stage in The Drowsy Chaperone, she was always full of life, love and laughter.  She really made her presence known, stepping up and helping with the BBQ Cook-Off Fundraiser. This year’s Rookie of the Year Award goes to Kelly Crippen.

Youth Award – Sabrina Crippen

The Youth Award is presented for outstanding performances by a youth participant in a main stage production.  In a season of shows with no youth roles, we had to search some dark corners to find a worthy recipient, but the blue lights helped guide our way.  This year’s winner was a true MVP backstage. Being the youngest crew member for the entire season didn’t stop her from getting the job done. You would have never known by her hard work ethic during The Drowsy Chaperone.  She brought so much energy to the show, and has been a great addition to CSJ this year. This year’s Youth Award goes to Sabrina Crippen.

Techie Award – Eddie Burkhead

The Techie Award is presented for outstanding contributions in the technical area.  This year’s winner went above and beyond anybody’s expectations. He was tech director for more than one show this season, and managed to do one from over 7,000 miles away.  He’s always willing to do whatever is needed to make sure the technical side of any show is fully taken care of. Aside from his many skills in the technical area of things, CSJ has been very lucky to have this year’s winner also step up as our organization’s graphic designer.  Designing should be his middle name, for he does it all: sets, posters, t-shirts and any other advertisement we may need. Our season was definitely made better due to his talents and dedication. This year’s Techie Award goes to Eddie Burkhead.

President’s Award – Bob & Pam Bullock

This is the fourth opportunity that I have had the honor of selecting the recipient of this award. As President of the organization, this is something that you start thinking about the day you get elected and, since the criteria is intentionally somewhat vague, you hope that an obvious choice emerges as the year goes on. Sometimes, this is the case, sometimes not. There are a lot of worthy people associated with this organization who pour their all into every project they are involved with. Some make it look effortless and some make sure you know how much they sweated but so many go above and beyond that it makes the choice a difficult one. The recipients of this year’s award have been associated with CSJ for many years but many of you may not have ever met them for they work primarily with the Youth Theater. That’s right, there are two recipients. The thing that sets them apart is the degree that they truly care about the kids they work with. They use theater as a vehicle for creating better young people and they do it so well! Next week we will hold auditions for the ninth Youth Theater production that they have lead over the past 11 years. This year’s President’s Award goes to Bob and Pam Bullock.

Ted Wood Award – Jackson’s First Presbyterian Church

The Ted Wood Award is to one who has worked tirelessly to keep community theater alive in
Jackson, Michigan. “Community theater in the Jackson area might never have endured without
the dedicated efforts of Ted Wood, and he showed no partiality to any one players’ group. He was a tireless worker. His happy, friendly manner gave patrons a warm feeling of welcome.”
If you have been in a show before, you are probably aware of how much work goes on behind the scenes to make a show a success. A typical musical has over a dozen people who are never seen on stage but put in many hours, usually on a tight schedule to put up the best show that they can.
Likewise, if you have served on the Board of Directors of Center Stage, you know that there is
more to be done than just selecting the shows and directors. We have to be concerned about
fun things like liability insurance, finances, defining policy, making sure the commitments in contracts are met, right down to the size of the typeface for the author’s name on the cover of the program. Making sure that press releases go out, the web site is accurate, the credit card
scanning system is compatible with the ticketing system and on and on. There are a lot of
details to keep track of and if you find someone who can be depended on to be there consistently you should be greatly appreciative.
For quite a few years, we have almost taken for granted the services provided by this year’s Ted
Wood Award winner, knowing that these services, of considerable value, are available to us at a cost that is an occasional donation.
The winner of the 2018 Ted Wood Award is our de facto home, Jackson’s First Presbyterian
Church.

Shining Star Awards

Brynn Arnall:  Brynn went above and beyond to make sure that everything ran smoothly.

Bill Baer w/ Daniel Dye:  These two were a comedic unit on stage.  They had a great chemistry between the two of them, and their comedic timing was on point.

Sarah Baldwin: Sarah was the musical director for Honk! Jr and did a fine job of having the kids prepared to sing a relatively difficult score.  Additional kudos for doing it all with a newborn!

Bob & Pam Bullock:  Bob & Pam directed the Youth Theater fall production of “A Dickens Christmas Carol.”  They really care about the kids and putting on a real good show.

Anne Connors:  What a joy!  We are SO lucky that Anne decided to join CSJ.  She is an absolutely amazing woman and one of the most charming parts of My Fair Lady.  Not only did she perform in My Fair Lady, but also assisted in painting on move-in day. When not in a show, she was in the audience, showing her support to all of CSJ.  She’s a great new member!

Sandy DiCesare:  Without the broad talent, flexibility, and willingness to do whatever had to be done that came from Sandy, Drowsy wouldn’t have come to fruition.

Daniel Dye:  Because of Dan’s hard work and creativity, we are going to be able to fly this next season.  Dan single handedly came up with and organized the monthly Culver’s Night fundraiser to raise the monies needed for the fly system for the upcoming production of Peter Pan.

Susanna Ellis:  When it comes to all things backstage, Susanna is your girl.  She does an amazing job and can organize things very well.

Jake Ellis w/ Susanna:  Once a team, always a team.  Jake and Susanna were co-tech directors for Honk! Jr. and did a great job with the space at Middle School at Parkside, which can be a very difficult venue.  They made the show look fabulous!

Anne Fleming:  Anne did a wonderful job as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  She made us laugh and broke our hearts all at the same time. Her voice, mannerisms, accents, everything was spot on.  A truly hard working actor.

Karen Gerring:  For being the company “mom” and making sure to take care of all of us.

David Gilman:  David has really done a wonderful job of jumping into and embracing the world of community theater, both on and off stage.  His phenomenal voice shined as Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady.

Mandee Howard:  Mandee is always committed and successful in everything she does, on and off stage.

Nathan Johnson:  Nathan is one of the nicest people in the world.  He puts his all into everything he does for CSJ. Very positive and always helpful.  He’s a great friend and a wonderful performer.

Sally Johnson:  Even though her daughter was unable to participate in Youth Theater, Sally still volunteered to assemble the program for Honk! Jr and did an outstanding job.

Lynne Judd:  Lynne is an instrumental part of costuming during many main stage productions.  We thank her for her continued assistance with costuming and for helping keep thing together during performances.

Brian Ketner:  Brian did an amazing job as Man in the Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone.  His performance was incredible.

Amanda Kloak-Gregurich:  Amanda has been involved with CSJ for many years and works very hard.  She can really work some magic with the lights, which she has done for a lot of show.  Her love of theater is inspirational.

Wendy Lake:  In a very short amount of time, Wendy organized and delegated an entirely new and complex event: The BBQ Cook-Off, which was quite the success.  It was an utter joy to see Wendy find her niche and run full force with it.

Sarah Lehman:  Sarah was the only actor to perform in all 3 main stage productions this year, and she was great in each and every one of them.  She had characters that pushed her out of her comfort zone, yet she excelled every time. From a flower girl in My Fair Lady, to Flo in The Odd Couple: Female Version to Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone, she always gave it her all.

Veronica Long:  Veronica was hilarious and fun to watch as the ditzy Vera in The Odd Couple: Female Version.  She showed that she has wide range capable of playing any role she is given, including behind the scenes.  Veronica oversaw the creation of the workshops that CSJ was able to offer this past season.

Matt McDonald:  Matt always does an excellent job with whatever role he fills.  He was very funny as George – and an excellent tapper!

Melissa McElhone:  Melissa put on another great show as director of Honk! Jr.  She loves what she does and it shows.

Katie Meyers:  Our shows wouldn’t stay together quite like they do without Katie.  She is committed to seeing CSJ not only grow, but flourish. She always completes tasks above and beyond what is expected of her.

Joshua Monsoon: Joshua performed as part of our first dinner theater cabaret.  He is a very talented singer, and works very hard. He is very passionate about his singing and performing.  

Alexander Olney:  Alexander did a great job as Scrooge.  He’s an all-around great youth. He’s polite and respectful, and always brought a positive energy and sense of joy.

Melissa Paschall:  Melissa’s performance as Mickey in The Odd Couple: Female Version was hysterical.  She brought so much energy and would find ways to insert some new quirky characteristics at every rehearsal.  She’s hysterical in general, but adding in Mickey’s sassiness only added to the hysterics.

Caleb Raymond:  Caleb was a star in My Fair Lady.  Wherever he was needed, he was there.  One night, the fire wasn’t lit, but Caleb made sure to light it up before the show started, but completely did it in character.  If you ever needed something, he’d make sure it was done. He was so positive during the process and really brought so much joy to the show.

Christalena Richardson VanAken:  Christalena’s assistance during The Drowsy Chaperone was invaluable.  

Alaina Sharp:  Alaina was an excellent performer in the Cabaret this year.  Amazing comedic timing and performance chops without ever having performed on stage before.  Just so impressive.

Dominic Sirbaugh:  Dominic brings so much joy and silliness to any room he enters.

Aimie Smith:  From signing on to be choreographer to jumping in as Trix and part of the ensemble, Aimie went above and beyond the call of duty for The Drowsy Chaperone.  She always kept a positive attitude and a beautiful smile along the way.

Larry Sumner:  Despite his young age, Larry is one of the best Musical Directors to work with in Jackson.  He is so full of talent (it’d be nice if he would share some. haha). He did a fabulous job as music director for The Drowsy Chaperone.  You rock buddy!

Hanna Tritten:  Hanna is truly a peacekeeper and positive force to have both on and off stage.  

Derek Turson:  Derek really shined during My Fair Lady.  Watching him dance in Get Me to the Church was a highlight.  He had so much energy. But Derek’s really shining star moment came on preview night, when Derek stood in for the role of Freddy, and he was PHENOMENAL!!!  

Jaxon Whitmore:  Whether he’s Tiny Tim or a frog soloist, Jaxon always steals the show with so much character.  He’s a great friend to others and we are excited to see what Jaxon can do in future roles.

Ellen Yoakam:  Ellen costumed every main stage and Youth Theater production this season and did a remarkable job.  CSJ cannot thank her enough for her years of service to the organization.

The entire tap dancing ensemble of The Drowsy Chaperone with Aimie Smith as Choreographer:  Words can’t express how much the tapping ensemble in “Cold Feets” blew us away.  These ladies sold their tap with dripping confidence, and many had less than a year of tap experience.  Hopefully we have this right: Lydia Cotner, Theresa Dark, Catie Johns, Hanna Tritten, Linda Weber and Brynn Arnall, with choreography by Aimie Smith.