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Area theaters well represented at this year's state OCTAFest

by April Helms | Special products Editor Published: September 16, 2016 12:00 AM
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More than 50 theaters from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and West Virginia were represented at this year's state Ohio Community Theatre Association's conference, which took place over Labor Day weekend.

The state OCTAFest, themed "Wild Wild OCTA," was in Independence. Theaters participating included Hudson Players, which did a segment from its 2015-16 season musical "1776," Aurora Community Theatre, which staged a selection from its production of "Almost, Maine," and Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, which performed a selection from its production of "End Days." "End Days," directed by Aurora resident Theresa Benyo Marzullo, was selected as an alternate for the American Association of Community Theatre's AACTFest. Marzullo said she made her directing debut with this production.

There were 14 theaters which presented excerpts from their shows, eight of which were competing to go to the Region 3 AACTAFest. The two finalists were The Drama Workshop in Cheviot, for "Unnecessary Farce," and Center Stage Players in Cincinnati for "Acapulco."

Individual awards also were given to actors and crew of the shows. For Aurora Community Theater's "Almost, Maine," D. Keith Stiver received a Merit in Directing; Barbara Howitt received a Merit in Acting for her role as Glory; Macey Staninger received Excellence in Acting for her role as Villian; and Greg Hinkle received an Excellence in Acting for his role as Steve.

For Chagrin Valley Little Theatre's "End Days," Andrew Gordon received a Merit in Acting as Stephen Hawking/Jesus; Ren Harris received Excellence in Acting as Rachel Stein; and Travis Reilly received Excellence in Acting as Nelson Steinberg.

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For Hudson Players; "1776," director Claudia Lillibridge of Twinsburg and the cast received a Merit in Ensemble; Mark Durbin received Merit in Acting as John Adams; Mike Rogan received Merit in Acting as John Dickinson; Jim Wolf received a Merit in Musical Performance as Richard Henry Lee; and Jessica DeFrange received an Excellence in Musical Performance as Abigail Adams.

The weekend not only included the excerpts, said Gary Maher of Hudson, co-chair for this year's state OCTAFest.

"We had phenomenal attendance for the workshops," Maher said. "Several people have said that they have had a marvelous time."

Highlights included workshops led by Broadway and Tony performer Lisa Howard and D. Michael Heath, a vocal coach to numerous Broadway stars and chosen singer by Andrew Lloyd Weber, Maher said.

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