The Mississippi Theatre Association festival/competition was this weekend. Starkville Community Theatre took Smoke on the Mountain. This is the show we did last season. It was a smash: 14 sold out performances. The play selection committe decided to resurrect the show for competition, so I got to dust off the overalls and play Dennis again. I was really excited about the prospect of getting the Sanders family back together.
We had to recast one part due to the previous actor moving to another state. Anyway, let me just get to the results and I’ll give my thoughts afterwards.
All Star Cast Member, Marcus Vowell
Best Supporting Actor, Bruce Lesley
Best Actor, Kary Rogers
Best Actress, Madeline Golden
Best Director, Pattye Archer
Overall Technical Excellence
Warren McDaniel Award for the Best Production. As the recipient of the Best Production award, SCT will represent the State of Mississippi at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) in March 2007 in Atlanta.
Like I said, we cleaned up. This is the first time in 20 years that SCT has won. For my first go at competitive theatre at MTA, I’d say it went pretty well.
We knew we had a good show but we had no idea that we’d walk away with so many honors. We’re all terribly excited. Excited doesn’t even really begin to describe it.
First: the show. We had 30 minutes on the stage for rehearsal. We spent almost 20 minutes of that trying to figure out why the keyboard wasn’t working. We mocked up a keyboard to look like an old piano since that would be easier than transporting a real piano. It ended up being a bad patch cable but it was a very scary 20 minutes. We had time to spike the set and sing one song.
Now this theatre is literally 13.5 times larger than ours and we really didn’t have time to do a proper sound check. So we left the rehearsal without feeling very confident about how it would all come together in this cavernous new space.
After waiting forever for the speaker for the evening to finish, we took the stage. We had 10 minutes to set the stage, 60 minutes to perform and 10 minutes to strike. During setup the guitars fell and had to be retuned. We decided the demons of Ole Miss were after us so we had to cast them out (in the name of Jesus, amen).
The show went great. We all felt good about it. Comments from the adjudicators ranged from “great chemistry within the emsemble” to “I saw Sweeney Todd where the actors have to sing and play their own instruments. This was better.”
Now I had no expectations to be singled out, I stepped on the stage for the first time less than two years ago. I felt that my peformance was solid and if I was recognized at all, I might land an All Star Cast. Well, I didn’t. Another performer from another group said he loved my performace and that he’d cry if I didn’t win best supporting actor. I was flattered but dismissed it.
When I wasn’t announced as All Star Cast, I was honestly like “oh well, but not unexpected.” Then I recalled what the other guy had said to me and thought that my role was a supporting role, so technically I’d qualify for Supporting Actor, but Best? Nah. I left the idea run through my mind for an instant but was not surprised or disappointed when my name wasn’t called. Bruce Lesley’s name was called and I could not have been happier. He deserved it.
I leaned over to M during the applause and excitment for Bruce to joke how that guy must be crying since I didn’t win. Then I heard my name. I literally had no idea why they called it. I looked at M and said “Why’d they call my name?” Did I leave my lights on in the parking lot or something? She said “Best Actor!” Wha?!
Later I had many people tell me the look on my face was priceless. My winning Best Actor had not entered the realm of possibility in my head. Winning the biggest acting award at the biggest state festival made my mouth hang open. This is nice validation considering how I felt on opening night back in May and my last experience on stage knowing there were judges in the audience.
So now we get some time off and then refocus to go represent Mississippi at SETC in Atlanta. Go Sanders family!