'Spamalot' chosen as alternate at state OCTAFest

by April Helms Special Products Editor Published:

Hudson Players' production of "Spamalot" was picked as an alternate for the Region III American Association of Community Theatre's competition, which is scheduled for April 2015.

The cast of "Spamalot," which Hudson Players staged this past spring, performed a segment of its show during the Ohio Community Theatre Association's state conference in Perrysburg, which took place Aug. 29 through Sept. 1. Fourteen experts were performed that weekend.

Region III of the American Association of Community Theater includes Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.

As well as being selected as the alternate, the "Spamalot" cast and crew received several awards:

Merit in Choreography, Alex Marzullo, choreographer

Excellence in Musical Direction, Roger Clary, music director

Excellence in Ensemble for the Knight's Quartet, Eric Oswald, Ron Davis, Jay Hill, and Adam Alderson

Excellence in Acting as King Arthur, Don Bernardo

Excellence in Acting as Patsy, Brian Diehl

Diehl, who lives in Hudson, said he felt the "entire cast was in prime form."

"We all fed off the energy of the audience," he said. "What helped was that we performed at 9:30 in the evening and the full house had been in the pub earlier in the evening!"

The theme for this year's conference, which also included workshops, was "The Wizard of Oz." Diehl said the hotel they stayed in "embraced the theme."

"They let OCTA decorate their main lobby with all kinds of Oz set pieces, props and decorations," he said. "Even the employees at the front desk were either dressed like Oz characters or had changed their name tags to read things like, 'Auntie Em' -- that's who checked us in."

Diehl said this was the second time he participated in the State OCTAFest. He was at the state OCTAFest in 2007 with an excerpt of "Messiah on the Frigidaire."

Bernardo said a busy Labor Day schedule prevented him from participating in the OCTAFest as much as he would have liked, but added that he enjoyed the experience.

"I wish my schedule had allowed me to stay for the entire conference, attend some of the workshops and actually see some of the other show excerpts being performed," Bernardo said. "Unfortunately I wasn't able to do that -- I drove in literally ten minutes before we did our preparatory stage walk, we had to perform three hours later, then I had to be back on the road for home immediately after breakfast. I wasn't even able to stay and attend the awards ceremony on Monday, because I had to be back in Chagrin to 'dry-tech' (set the light and sound cues) for the show I'm directing at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, their annual 'Murder by the Falls' murder-mystery fundraiser."

Bernardo, who lives in Chagrin Falls, said he was able to follow the awards through social media.

"Some of my "Spamalot" cast mates were 'live-posting"' the awards for me on our show's private Facebook group page, and when my name was listed I almost fell out of my chair," he said. "I received 'Excellence in Musical Performance' at the Northeast Regional competition, but none of the State responder judges mentioned me during their comments, so I figured that I wasn't going to come away with any awards from State. I was pretty confident that our 'Patsy,' my close friend Brian Diehl, would get an award (he also received "Excellence in Acting") because all of the responders commented on his fantastic performance. But Brian and I were both recognized, and that was very rewarding.

"I think everyone in our cast should have received an award. We worked really hard on the original production, and also on preparing our Regional and State excerpts, and it really paid off."

Director Stebbins, who lives in Stow, said that the cast and crew "had a great time."

"We did a great excerpt and the cast should be very proud," Stebbins said. "It surprised me how many people were in the audience and how fun they were ! To perform in an unfamiliar space with no rehearsal there, no sound check, no space in the wings was a real challenge. We pulled it off well -- kudos to our actors and stage crew and musicians. We represented Hudson players very well!"

In addition to the state OCTA recognition, three individuals who are members of Hudson Players also were named the new OCTA officers. Dawna Kornick was named president, Michelle Dolciato was named First Vice President; and Gary Maher was named Third Vice President.

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