DCMTA 2019 Staff Favorites: Outstanding Design Elements in Community Theater Productions

Here are the design elements that made an indelible impression on our writers this year. Did we overlook a favorite of yours? Let us know in a comment!

As the year draws to a close, we asked DCMTA writers to think back on the shows that left an indelible impression on them in 2019. In this category, outstanding community theater design, we recognize:

  • Design elements including set, sound, lighting, and costume
  • Directors and Choreographers
  • Playwrights and Composers

Here are the community theater designers that left the biggest impression on our writers in 2019. Recipients are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Kristina Friedgan, Direction
The Producers, The Little Theatre of Alexandria
Director Kristina Friedgen has directed a show that’s fun from start to finish. The show came off as a perfected whole without spot or wrinkle. – William Powell
William Powell’s Review

Michael C. Stepowany, Playwrighting and Direction
The Honey Trap at Greenbelt Arts Center
Director and playwright Michael C. Stepowany has produced an Atomic Scare-era show that will have you sipping your martinis and being shaken and a lot more than stirred by its stylized acting and frenetic 100-word-a-minute dialog. – William Powell
William Powell’s Review

MK (Joy Liu), Beatrice (Joy Gerst), Flo (Tawny Rucker), and Mort (Brian Stepowany) watch the bomb blast in Greenbelt Arts Center's production of 'The Honey Trap.' Photo by Kimberly Curren.
MK (Joy Liu), Beatrice (Joy Gerst), Flo (Tawny Rucker), and Mort (Brian Stepowany) watch the bomb blast in Greenbelt Arts Center’s production of ‘The Honey Trap.’ Photo by Kimberly Curren.

Michael George Hartley, Michael C. Stepowany, and Aurenna Komisar, Scenic Design
The Honey Trap at Greenbelt Arts Center
The Honey Trap, a World Premiere at Greenbelt Arts Center, has the best set I’ve seen in years: a mixture of ’50s kitsch, photos of ’50s-era entertainers, a record player console, plush-period furniture and a touch of the Rat Pack. Michael George Hartley, who did so well with his set design assistance of Bad Jews, surpassed himself with the cozy, ready-to-move-in set. Stepowany and Aurenna Komisar’s set dressing was superbly detailed, featuring pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Pearl Bailey, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra. – William Powell
William Powell’s Review

James Huchla, Music Direction
Amélie at 2nd Star Productions
Excellent musicianship in the musical performance of Daniel Massé’s Broadway score was the strongest and the most enjoyable aspect of this production. Wonderful sounds came from an orchestra pit neatly hidden under the proscenium with Maestro Huchla on piano, Mari Hill, reeds, Anuraag Sharma, violin/viola, Chris Mercado on guitar, Linda Christensen, harp, Kristie Snively on trombone and Arielle Miller, percussion. – Ramona Harper
Ramona Harper’s Review

Kerry McGee, Direction, Visual Design, Cocktails, Devising, and ScriptTreasure Island by We Happy Few Productions
The production team of Treasure Island creates a performance in which the script, action, and imagination allow the audience to board a vessel. (Keith Hock, Dramaturgy; Sam Reilly, Stage Management and Design; Jenna Murphy, Devising and Design; Jon Reynolds, Devising; Wyckham Avery, Devising; Paige O’Malley, Devising and Costumes; Alex Turner, Devising; Tosin Olufolabi, Devising; and Kiernan McGowan, Script.) – Andy Arnold
Andy Arnold’s Review

David Dieudonne and Maura Claire Harford in 'Appropriate' at Silver Spring Stage. Photo by Harvey Levine.
David Dieudonne and Maura Claire Harford in ‘Appropriate’ at Silver Spring Stage. Photo by Harvey Levine.

Jeff Mikoni, Direction
Appropriate at Silver Spring Stage
Director Jeff Mikoni gives his actors full rein to explore every facet of their characters, from dark humor to deceit, drunkenness, despair, and physical violence. He keeps the action and interaction moving at a fast clip that belies the heat in the daytime, and at a more mysterious, dreamy pace in darkness. – Jennifer Georgia
Jennifer Georgia’s Review

Stevie Miller, Music Direction
Little Red’s Most Unusual Day at the Victorian Lyric Opera Company
Stevie Miller’s music direction resulted in a fast-paced production that clipped through some of classical music’s most memorable melodies (Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!) trimmed to match a child’s attention span and layered onto the familiar story of Little Red Riding Hood. Miller led pianist Sue McElroy through the musical numbers and the two musicians occasionally became part of the action when the actors interacted with them. – Nicole Hertvik
Nicole Hertvik’s Review

John Nunemaker, Direction
Oliver! at Kensington Arts Theatre
This production is chock full of adorable urchins, nasty villains, buxom wenches and lovable rogues. KAT’s Steampunk-themed production turns Oliver! into a fantasy, free of time and place, while leaving the most beloved elements – particularly the music – intact. It is effective and entertaining. Mr. Nunemaker’s direction keeps all the gears of the production engaged and turning at a good clip. – Jennifer Georgia
Jennifer Georgia’s Review

John H. Purnell, Lighting Design
Mamma Mia! at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre
Lighting Designer John H. Purnell’s lighting work on Mamma Mia! was just spectacular, helping to reflect the show’s mood, and highlighting the performers’ singing and acting. The lighting almost became a character itself. – Charles Green
Charles Green’s Review
Charles Green’s conversation with lighting designer John H. Purnell

Steve Cairns (center) as Max Bialystock, with the Ensemble in The Little Theatre of Alexandria's production of 'The Producers.' Photo by Matthew Randall.
Steve Cairns (center) as Max Bialystock, with the Ensemble in The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of ‘The Producers.’ Photo by Matthew Randall.

Stefan Sittig, Choreography
The Producers, The Little Theatre of Alexandria
Sittig, who has worked on over 90 shows, made the dance numbers in The Producers pop. The number “The King of Broadway,” featured a Horah-style (a Jewish dance that involves two concentric circles of dancers) dance and Cairns’ excellent solo. The choreography in “Springtime for Hitler,” performed by the ensemble, was top-notch. – William Powell
William Powell’s Review

Suzanne Smith, Costumes
The Drowsy Chaperone at Goddard Music and Drama Club 
Suzanne Smith deserves recognition for what she did with era-costumes and hairstyles. Feldzieg’s suit is incredible. – Andy Arnold
Andy Arnold’s Review

Melissa Jo York-Tilley, Direction
Annie at Prince William Little Theatre
From toe-tapping numbers to adorable orphans, there are few things as purely wonderful for the soul as a production of Annie, and Prince William Little Theatre delivers a production like no other. Director Melissa Jo York-Tilley takes a much-beloved story and makes it feel fresh. York-Tilley injects humor and energy into every scene through her comedic blocking and direction. When Bert Healy and The Boylan Sisters (Kacie Brady, Becca Harney, and Hayley Katarina) sing “Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile,” the chaos onstage is hilarious and perfectly timed. York-Tilley also provides hair and makeup design for the show. – Leandra Lynn
Leandra Lynn’s Review

Outstanding Community Theater Productions 2019
Outstanding Performances in Community Theater Productions 2019



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