First there were the Oscars, then there were the Emmy Awards — and later came the Opies, which annually honor community theater achievements in Mount Airy.
Opie stands for Outstanding Performances in Entertainment and its 2012 batch of awards was handed out Saturday night during a presentation ceremony on the lower level of the Andy Griffith Museum. About 40 members of the Surry Arts Players and Good Times Drama Club attended.
The awards are given on the basis of audience balloting during each show, with the results weighted to account for the varying attendance at each.
Many will agree that the past year has been a good one for local productions overall. But those involved with “Legally Blonde” stood out from the rest in taking home the most awards Saturday night for the musical staged in July at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
“It was awesome,” Surry Arts Council Director Tanya Jones said of the recent play season. “And we continue to raise the bar” with shows such as “Legally Blonde,” she said, which played to sold-out audiences during its summer run.
In addition to taking home best-show honors, “Legally Blonde” tallied six other awards recognizing the work of its cast and crew.
These included the award for best director, which went to Bobby Bodford.
Also, Savannah Mumford received the best-actress Opie for her role as Elle in “Legally Blonde,” with co-star Will Bryant named best actor for his portrayal of Emmett Forrest in that production.
“It means so much to me to be able to get an award for a show I wanted to do my entire life,” said Mumford, who attends North Carolina School of the Arts, where she is studying drama. The chance to work on that production and the people involved “made my summer amazing,” she added while clutching her gold Opie figurine.
Jones said the interesting thing about Mumford’s achievement is that based on the audience balloting, she also would have been the winner of a No. 2 best-actress award had one been given, for her role as Adelaide in “Wedding of the Siamese Twins.”
“And she was in rehearsal at the same time,” Jones said.
Those with supporting roles in “Legally Blonde” also had some hardware to carry away from Saturday night’s event, including Farron Barneycastle being honored as a co-winner for best supporting actress and Andrew Billings named a co-winner for best supporting actor.
Rounding out the accolades for “Legally Blonde” was Isabella Gillespie, who was presented with the Newcomer Award for her work in that show.
Co-winners for best supporting acting honors were those appearing in other local theater productions, including Bob Keck, who is sharing that award with Billings, for his role as Dr. Callaway in “Wedding of the Siamese Twins.”
“This is the icing on the cake,” said Keck of receiving his Opie from an experience that also includes the enjoyment of working with a cast and crew to bring a story such as “Wedding of the Siamese Twins” to life. “It’s fun getting out there and being someone else,” the longtime community theater participant added.
In addition to Barneycastle, Michelle Lawson was named a best supporting actress winner Saturday night along with Elizabeth Martin. Lawson portrayed the character of Buttons in the local production of “Lying in State,” while Martin was awarded for her role as Nancy Yates in “Wedding of the Siamese Twins.”
“I’m stunned — I didn’t expect this,” Martin said onstage after receiving her Opie. “It’s so much fun to be in these productions.”
Additional Opie honors included the Student Award going to Kaitlin Sias for the role of Horton in “Seussical,” and Carroll Vick winning the 2012 Ovation Award.
Vinny Strausser is the winner of the 2012 Spirit Award.
Theater Strong Here
Jones, the Arts Council official, said community theater is operating at a high level in Mount Airy, judging by the quality of this year’s plays that involved veteran performers as well as newcomers.
“We’ve been really fortunate to have good directors and great talent in the community, both returning folks and new folks,” she said.
“I would say it is at a great place right now,” Jones added of the state of local theater.
Next season’s play schedule will include “Welcome to Mitford,” “Cinderella” “Nine to Five” and “Grease,” in addition to the annual production of “Wedding of the Siamese Twins.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or tjoyce @heartlandpublications.com.