Randy Hall would be proud.
CAST community theater’s annual awards are named “Randy Awards” in memory of Hall’s dedication to community theater. This year’s awards event, held Thursday evening, showcased the many volunteers who work toward sustaining the kind of theater Hall wanted for this area, one that would encourage people to come together, work hard, have fun and deliver quality theater for a variety of tastes.
Organizing a viable theater, one that would grow and develop from the work of many hands and minds, was what Hall had in mind, say the people who gathered for multiple meetings in the late 1990s to support his vision for a new community theater.
Community theater has been an asset in Anniston since 1926, when Anniston Little Theater was founded by Edel Y. Ayers. But performances came to a halt during the Depression in the 1930s.
ALT was revived in the early 1970s, with Hall as one of its enthusiastic workers. Musicals in the theater’s home – the old Anniston High School – were big and spectacular, with many participants.
In the following years, the theater’s name was changed to Anniston Community Theater. Productions with smaller casts were given in a two renovated stores at different times on Noble Street.
After ACT went out of business in 1996, there was a void felt by people like Hall who loved and needed live theater in Anniston. Hall was determined that the community tradition should continue, and the first official organizational meeting of Community Actors’ Studio Theatre was in 1999. The theater’s initial stage was The Donoho School Cafetorium.
On Thursday night, 90 CAST patrons gathered at Classic on Noble for the ninth annual Randy Awards. Hall would think it quite important that CAST is now a part of so many people’s lives.
Surprises and delights among winners
After welcomes from Board President Howard Johnson and Mistress and Master of Ceremonies Jean Ann Oglesby and Vice Mayor Seyram Selase, the presentation began. The receiving of awards was exciting enough, but CAST Kidz and singers Steve Campbell and Lisa Wade kept the evening lively with song.
Trophies, designed with the comedy and tragedy masks, for supporting roles in a play went to Debby Mathews, Ramsey Whitney and Matt Burleigh. For supporting roles in a musical, award winners were Keith Owens, Ray Couther and Scott Whitney.
Theater cannot exist without technicians. Winners for the Golden Nuts & Bolts Award were Matt Burleigh, Glenn Davenport, Cammy Johnson, Jacquie Tessen.
The President’s Award was presented to Sherry French, an individual who assists artistic director Kim Dobbs with CAST Kidz and is always on the job to help out in other ways, Johnson said.
The Randy for Best Actress in a Play went to Hayley Long, who met the challenge of playing three roles in “The 39 Steps.” Best Actor in a Play went to David Rice. Best Actress in a Musical went to Maggie Beam, and Mike Tyson was given the Randy for Best Actor in a Musical.
The IBC Award, in honor of set builder David Montgomery, went to Steve Campbell. The Director’s Award went to Brooke Hunter.
Each year, a silver bowl engraved with the recipient’s name is award to the volunteer exhibiting the highest degree of dedication throughout several years’ time. The Edel Y. Ayers Award went to Mike Stedham, who was one of CAST’s founding members. His qualities of motivation and drive for community theater’s progress are similar to those of Mrs. Ayers, it was said Thursday night, with regard to fundraising, directing mystery plays in partnership with CAST, set construction, serving as board president for five years and coming up with new ideas for selling season tickets.
Recognition for Dobbs was given with special fanfare when Campbell sang his reworked version of “My Way,” popularized by Frank Sinatra. The song title Thursday evening was “Kim’s Way,” and it was met with loud applause and a big thank-you from Dobbs, who now moves on to begin her 10th season of directing at CAST.