Awards were plentiful at the Opera House Theatre Players Ynot Award dinner and annual meeting on Thursday night at the Stillwater Inn in Jefferson.
Highlight of the evening was the Lucille M. Terry Cultural and Performingi Arts Award that went to ex-Jeffersonian Jim Gamble, a successful peppeteer who risdes in California. Gamble, the son of a JISD school teacher mother and businessman father, wss taught along with his brother and sister, how to make and entertain with puppets during his early to late childhood. According to Gamble, he worked his way through college doing puppet shows and continued with the project even after college. He served for several years as an United States Air Force pilot and later became a pilot for an airline. While doing so, he travelled to many places of the world always bringing his puppets, new and old, to "work" with him as he travelled. Soon be became one of the most sought after puppeteers of the world and has performed in Russian, Turkey, Japan, much of the Middle East and Europe as well as the United States and is still one of the most sought-after entertainers in the industry. His national recognition has included the "Presidents Award" for outstanding contributions to the art of puppetry from The Puppeteers of America" organization. He has brought two of his puppet shows to Jefferson in the past under sponsorship of the Opera House Theatre Players and the JISD. Since he could not be in attendance due to travel, his award, a cut crystal bowl on a removable wood base with brass plaque, will be shipped to him according to OHTP Vice President and director Marcia Thomas, a childhood friend of Mr. Gamble. He will be featured in the groups new brochure due out in September.
Other recognition included Kathy Jackson as the Directors Assistant; Dorothy Jackson for her twenty-plus years of putting together the publicity scrapbook; Caroline Scott for her assistance in costuming; and Ellen and Preston Taylor for their "overall" efforts to help keep the theatre running. A special award was presented to long-time theatre supporter Carol Hall for her years of attending and encouraging the thespian group and for being what was deemed "The Theatre Fairy" who sprinkles stardust on each production to make sure it "gels" before opening night.
Master of Ceremonies, Bill Beddingfield, an actor with the group and a current resident of Gilmer presnted acting awards to John Meyers as Best Lead Actor; Alyssa Chipman as Best Female Actress; DougElder as Best Supporting Actor; Sharon Lundgren as Best Supporting Female Actress; Lillian Aldredge as Rising Star Jr.; Haley Hanks as Rising Star Teen; and a tie award that went to Lou Castleman and Dian Beaird as Best Variety Artists. The Best Production of the 2010-2011 season went to "The Sound of Music," a musical directed by Marcia Thomas.
A special award was created this year and was presented to Betty Parish, a Gilmer resident who has acted with the Players. It is called the Leading Lady Award for outstanding contributions to the art of theatre.
Special guests for the evening included Amber Cullen, new editor of the Jefferson Jimplecute; Chief of Police Hollis Shadden (who also acts); Bill Mauthe of Marshall who, with his wife, Geraldine (Conventions and Tourist Office), have been long-time upporters of OHTP.
President of the group, 99-yr-old Dorothy Craver, thanked those attending for their unlimited support and help over the past twenty-two seasons and urged all to continue to help in any way that they can to see that the group makes the upcoming 25-year mark a reality. She also announced that the first show of the 23rd season will be "Always.......Patsy Cline" which is scheuled for one performance only on Saturday, September 3, at Jeffersons Transportation Visitor Center and that memberships in the group are renewable now. Tickets for all shows are for sale at Blessings Gift Shop.