Elden Street Players Rake in Local Theater Awards

By Michael J. Toscano
Special to the Washington Post
Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Elden Street Players were the big winners at the Washington Area Community Theatre Honors on Sunday, taking seven awards for two of their productions and almost sweeping the top categories.

The Herndon group won six of eight possible top honors at the area theater organization's seventh annual awards gala at Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria.

The troupe's production of the rarely performed musical "Blood Brothers," a dark and emotionally compelling tale of twin brothers separated at birth and fatefully reunited, won four awards, including for outstanding musical. Andy Izquierdo, portraying Mickey, beat out co-star Josh Doyle, who was also nominated for outstanding lead actor in a musical for playing Mickey's twin. Anita Miller was named outstanding lead actress in a musical for the role of the twins' conflicted mother, Mrs. Johnstone, and the award for outstanding direction of a musical went to Gloria DuGan.

The Herndon theater company's production of Edward Albee's drama "Three Tall Women," an unsentimental character study of a woman's life, received three top awards. The outstanding lead actress in a play nod went to Carla Scopeletis, who played the character known only as A. Rosemary Hartman won for outstanding direction of a play, and Karen Havener Handley, who played the character B, received the award for outstanding featured (supporting) actress in a play. Handley noted the challenging nature of the play and its unusual dramatic structure, offering "thanks to the Elden Street Players for having the guts to do this kind of a play." The group had 19 nominations for three of its 2006 productions, including several for the drama "Invention of Love," which did not take any awards.

In the running were 25 musicals and 71 plays produced by 26 community-based theater companies in Virginia, Maryland and the District that belonged to WATCH in 2006. Five nominees were selected in 28 categories, based on the average scores of at least eight judges. The Elden Street Players were outpaced in terms of winning raw numbers by the Port Tobacco Players of La Plata, which won eight awards. However, those wins were in secondary technical categories.

The winners were announced before a sold-out crowd of 500 at a three-hour program that featured performance highlights from the nominated musicals. The lively ceremony was sandwiched between a pre-show dinner and after-show parties.

Six months after it closed, the poignant "Blood Brothers" apparently still has a hold on its cast and crew. Izquierdo was the first to choke up while discussing the show, as he received his award and thanked Doyle. By chance, Izquierdo was the presenter of the outstanding actress award to Miller, who also fought back tears as she recalled the emotion-packed show. "Josh and Andy broke my heart every night," she said.

DuGan also reflected the sentiment as she referred to getting the cast together again to perform a song from the show at the gala. "This was really a labor of love. You know, we rehearsed this yesterday, and I went in there saying 'I'm not gonna cry . . .' " she said before her voice trailed off.

Falls Church's Providence Players had five nominations but received no awards, and the Reston Community Players won for the lighting on their production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Vienna Theatre Company's Rose DeClerq took outstanding cameo in a play for her portrayal of Costanza in "Enchanted April."

WATCH continues to expand, with 114 productions this year from 29 community-based theater companies being judged for the 2008 awards. For a complete list of the winners in all categories, visit http://www.washingtontheater.org.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company