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Civic Theatre Picks Year's Best

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Winners And Their Awards

Holding the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre awards they won are (left to right) Nancy Heusel, best actress; Bradley Bloom, director best musical; Beverley Pooley, best supporting actor; Judy Manos, best supporting actress; James Posante, best cameo role; and Burnette Staebler, director of best drama.


Civic Theatre Picks Year’s Best

By Norm Gibson
(New* Drama Critic)

Nancy Heusel’s portrayal of a 1930’s teacher with progressive ideas won for her this year’s Ann Arbor Civic Theatre award for best actress, although in a sense she was competing against herself.

Winning the award for her portrayal of the lead character in Jay Presson Allen’s “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,’’ Mrs. Heusel also was nominated for her acting of the leading role of Ann Stanley in Allen’s “Forty Carats,” which AACT presented last October.

Four other leading ladies also were nominated for the award.

Judy Manos was nominated for the best supporting actress award for the two AACT musical’s she appeared in during the season just ended. In competition with other actresses in supporting roles, she received the award for her portrayal of C l e o in Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella,” although she also was nominated for her singing and acting in the role of Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.”

Ralph Herbert, operatic baritone who made one of his infrequent appearances with AACT, won the award for best actor for his singing and acting of the lead role of Tony in “The Most Happy Fella."

The U-M School of Music professor and opera director was in Colorado, where he is directing the Central City Opera Company this summer and unable to attend the awards ceremony.

However, “Anything Goes” got the most votes for the award of best musical, being directed and choreographed by M a k r a m Joubran with musical direction by Bradley Bloom. Lourbran is a student at the U-M, where he is working toward a master’s degree in theatre and a PhD in modern Arabic literature. He teaches jazz and tap dancing for the Ann Arbor Recreation Department.

This is the first year in the history of the awards ceremonies that a separate award has been given for musicals and another award for straight dramatic plays.

“The Lion in Winter,” which was directed by retiring Civic Theatre President Burnette Staebler, was voted to receive the award for best play of the season.

Nevertheless, “Anything Goes” got more awards than any of the other productions. Steve Gilliam got the award for best set for designing the shipboard backgrounds which filled the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre stage for the musical and Diane Daverman got the best costumes award for the designs she provided for the production. --

Beverley Pooley’s portrayal of the very British Sir Evelyn Oakley in “Anything Goes" garnered for him the award for best supporting actor.

Jim Posante, who played the mute, clarinet playing musician in Jean Anouilh’s “Thieves’ Carnival,” received the John Rae Cameo Award for his acting.

Alisand Staples was given the President’s Award by Mrs. Staebler for special work she did for the group. Special merit awards were given to Harriett Kirk, Earl J. Bell, Roy Swartz, Michael Alexander, Edgar Lesher, Steve Kirk, Mildred Lit, Lois and William Lintner, Margaret and David Gilbert, Phyllis Kehoe, Suzanne Morris, Liz Jelinic and Glen Sargent.

It was reported that a benefit performance of “The Most Happy Fella” raised $5,500 toward the $20,000 John Reid Klein musical theatre scholarship to be established at the U-M in honor of the young professional actor, director and singer who died March 28.