The Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS) had not staged a comedy in the company’s 18 years in Nevada County until their production this spring of “Teahouse of the August Moon.” It appears it was worth the wait — as the local nonprofit arts organization just received four Elly Awards for the production, out of seven nominations.
In fact, CATS was the top winner during the 30th annual Elly Awards Sunday night, taking home more than any other of the 49 companies from the region.
Even a day after the ceremony, CATS Executive Director Jeannie Wood was still taking in the theater’s good fortune.
“We were hopeful. We’re always hopeful,” Wood said of going into Sunday night. “But... There’s a lot of competition and great productions out there.”
Wood was surprised to learn that the company came out with the most awards — the most it’s ever won. CATS’ 2010 production of “Snow Falling on Cedars” received three Ellys, including Overall Production of a Drama.
Named for Eleanor McClatchy, a devoted patron of the arts and former publisher of The Sacramento Bee, the Elly Awards celebrate excellence in Sacramento’s local and regional community theater. A total of 31 Elly Awards were given to individuals and theaters from across a 10-county region in the Adult Division, according to the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance (SARTA), which hosts the event.
“Teahouse of the August Moon” tied for Overall Production of a Comedy with Bob and Ro Productions’ “Sylvia.” Pam Hodges received an Elly for her set design on “Teahouse,” Kaity York one for her lighting design and Sovahn LeBlanc earned one for her costume design.
Three local actors were also honored. Robert Rossman won for Leading Actor in a Musical for his role in the Sierra Stages production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Rodger Hoopman earned an Elly for Leading Actor in a Comedy for his performance in LeGacy Presents’ “I Hate Hamlet.” A third local, Lyra Dominguez, who starred as the geisha in “Teahouse of the August Moon,” received an Elly for Leading Actress in a Musical for her work on Placer Community Theatre’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
The Elly Awards program serves community theaters within a 70-mile radius from downtown Sacramento and 21 judges volunteered to select the Elly winners, according to SARTA. The categories include Comedy, Drama, and Musical. Awards within each category are given for: Leading Actor and Actress; Supporting Actor and Actress; Direction; Costume Design; Lighting Design; Set Design; Musical Direction, if applicable; Choreography, if applicable; and Overall Production. There is a separate division for Original Works, which included Original Script and Original Adaptation. Awards are given to the playwright and the theatre producing the work.
Due in part to the great success of “Teahouse,” CATS has selected a comedy for its 2013 season — “Journey to the West.”
Wood said the play is a Chinese classic about a monk who travels from China to India seeking enlightenment, and has been called “whimsical, wonderful, divine and monstrous” by its director, Diane Fetterly.
As for the company’s recent success, a modest Wood turned its success back to the audience.
“We really appreciate the community support. They give us feedback on what we do, they tell us what they like. We’re honored to serve the community with this level of work,” she said.
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