Kentwood Players announces the winners of its 2019-2020 Marcom Masque Awards

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The cast and crew of the Kentwood Players award-winning production of ‘Pippin.’ The group won 14 Marcom Masque awards for their efforts. (Gloria Plunkett)

Kentwood Players, the community theater group based at the Westchester Playhouse, was founded in December 1949 by Jan and Arky Marcom, for whom the group’s Marcom Masque Awards are named.  The annual awards, determined by secret ballot voting in several artistic categories, are announced after the end of each six-production season at a dinner ceremony with musical entertainment, followed by an After Party with dancing.

Following current social distancing guidelines, this year’s annual Marcom Masque Awards ceremony was held on Zoom on Saturday, Aug. 15, honoring the shortened 2019-2020 season of five productions: Pippin, Blithe Spirit, Dial M for Murder, Little Women, and The Giver. The event was chaired by Kathy Dershimer, Vice President of Membership, with opening and closing remarks and award winner announcements made by President Jenny Boone after Board members Susan Weisbarth, Alison Boole, Michele Selin, Tom Brophey, Harold Dershimer, Kathy Dershimer, and Catherine Rahm each read the nominees in several categories. 

The evening, which included the Awards presentation and After Party, was hosted by the always fashionable Mama Lou Soul (Jon Sparks) and Ima Hotmess (Samantha Barrios), with the evening’s musical entertainment spoofing all five productions written and directed by Catherine Rahm, with all musical numbers staged in front of the Westchester Playhouse following social distancing guidelines, pre-recorded by West Maatita and edited by Sam Gianfala for broadcasting during the online ceremony. Featured musical entertainers included Samantha Barrios, Alison Boole, Marty Feldman, Sam Gianfala, Fiona Okida, Roy Okida, Lyndsay Palmer, Kim Peterson, Catherine Rahm, Jon Sparks, and Elizabeth Summerer. Also presented was a short comedy sketch titled Dial Z for Zoom presented by Dial M for Murder cast members Phillip Bartolf, Courtney Shaffer, Justin Heller, and Jeremy Palmer, written and directed by Stanley Brown with video editing by Sam Gianfala. 

The After Party was hosted by Mama Lou Soul and Ima Hotmess at the Governor’s Ball, with Melodie Rivers at the Vanity Fair party and Sam Gianfala at the Elton John party. From those three virtual locations, complete with appropriate backdrops, award winners from the evening were interviewed via Zoom to be given the chance to share their excitement at winning a Marcom Masque Award this year. All interviews were held following social distancing guidelines in place with none of the interviewers or winners ever in the same room.

It was a wonderful evening of entertainment, filled with the community theater spirit which has fueled Kentwood Players during its 70 years of presenting quality live theatre in Westchester. Here are the winners of the Kentwood Players 2019-2020 Marcom Masque Awards, listed by production:

PIPPIN (14 awards) Production of a Musical; Director of a Musical – Alison Boole; Musical Director – Catherine Rahm;  Choreographer of a Musical – Alison Boole; Producer – Jeremy Palmer and Lyndsay Palmer; Stage Manager – Kirk Larson; Lead Actor – Musical – Kyle Ray as Pippin; Lead Actress – Musical – Samantha Barrios as Leading Player; Supporting Actor – Musical – Jon Sparks as Charlemagne; Supporting Actress – Musical – Joanna Churgin as Berthe; Featured Actor – Musical – Shawn Elliott Plunkett as Theo; Featured Actress – Musical – Fiona Okida as Ensemble; Original Graphic Design – West Maatita; Costume Design – Jon Sparks and Elizabeth Summerer 

THE GIVER (8 awards): Production of a Play; Director of a Play – Harold Dershimer; Lead Actor – Play – Elliott Plunkett as Jonas; Featured Actor – Play – Elliott Plunkett as Asher; Sound Design – Bruce Starrett; Lighting Design – Bruce Starrett; Set Design – Harold Dershimer and Bruce Starrett; Set Decoration Design – Harold Dershimer and Kathy Dershimer 

BLITHE SPIRIT (4 awards): Subscriber Favorite Production; Lead Actress – Play – Megan Blakeley as Ruth Condomine; Supporting Actress – Play – Joanna Churgin as Madame Arcati; Featured Actress – Play – Kelsey Weinstein as Edith

DIAL M FOR MURDER (1 award): Supporting Actor – Play – Phillip Bartolf as Inspector Hubbard  

Please visit www.kentwoodplayers.org for more information about Kentwood Players including their upcoming Virtual Theater Series of new original play readings online beginning in September, with submissions being accepted at plays@kentwoodplayers.org. You can also find Kentwood Players information on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube. Membership meetings are now held on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom until the Westchester Playhouse can re-open.