Cartersville theater community garners 10 MAT nominations
by Marie Nesmith
Jul 19, 2011 | 2562 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Travis Young, from left, Kip Henderson and Dave Lauby rehearse a scene from The Pumphouse Players’ production of “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
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With 10 nominations, the Cartersville theater community has a good shot of receiving multiple Metropolitan Atlanta Theater awards in September.

The Pumphouse Players' received numerous nods from two plays they submitted to the MAT organization for consideration. For "Glengarry Glen Ross," the nominations included Leading Actor, Travis Young; Major Supporting Actor, Dave Lauby; Minor Supporting Actor, Shane Phebus; Director's Award, Carolyn Choe; Best Overall Performance of a Play and Best Ensemble. Cartersville playwright Raymond Fast's first full-length production, "The Scrapbook: A Modern Christmas Carol," also was recognized in the Original Work category.

"It's absolutely an exciting time," said Mike Harris, marketing director and vice president of The Pumphouse Players. "Since the MAT awards [were] created, this is by far the most nominations that we have ever received. ... [Because] it is a juried-based award, it is very prestigious because the judges are totally impartial.

"They see all of the shows that have been nominated and the juries and judges are made up of people with years of theater experience and criticism, and to me that legitimizes these awards for what they are. They really are a showcase for the best theaters, the best actors, directors in the region."

The second offering of The Pumphouse Players' 35th theatrical season, "Glengarry Glen Ross" explored the "trials and tribulations" of a real estate office. Given incentive to sell undesirable properties to unaware buyers, several characters participate in a high-stakes, closeout competition where the most successful agent wins a car and two of the losers are fired.

"The Scrapbook" was one of The Pumphouse Players' two Christmas offerings last year. Dedicated to the late Don Kordecki, who was a founding member of the theater group, the play offered a fresh perspective on the holiday season. Highlighting the importance of family, the production's main character, who is struggling financially, gains insight from a scrapbook filled with memories.

"This is the first time ... we have ever even submitted an original play," Harris said. "Raymond Fast, the playwright of The Scrapbook, is a longtime Pumphouse Players' member and he has been writing plays for some time, but this is the first one that we've produced. And we were so proud of it, we submitted it and of course it got nominated so it's going to be up there for the final vote of the Metro Atlanta Theater awards.

"[We submitted 'Glengarry Glen Ross'] first off simply [because] it was well acted and well directed. That's the main criteria. However, a lot of the credit goes to David Mamet, the playwright of this, and of course he is a very acclaimed professional playwright. He writes the types of plays that actors love to do. So when you do a play that is this edgy and of this caliber, you also have very, very good actors vying for the parts in it. And because most of Mamet's plays are ensemble pieces, we had room for a lot of the best actors in the region. So it was really a showcase of both regional talent here plus David Mamet's play."

Along with The Pumphouse Players, StageWorks Inc. also received MAT award nominations. The theater group garnered three nods for its "Not About Nightingales" submission, which it performed in February -- Leading Actress, Morgan McCrary; Sound Design, Barry King; and Lighting Design, Ben Tilley.

"This is our first year participating in the MAT awards, and we got three nominations so we're very proud of that. ... 'Not About Nightingales' is] a Tennessee Williams play, and I have always wanted to direct this play," said Leslie McCrary, co-founder of StageWorks. "It's a very strong, dark play, and I thought it would give the actors the opportunity to really show what they could do in a drama. I had an excellent cast, and it just came off looking really good at The Grand, with the lighting we had and the sound design was really good [as well as] the actors' [performances.]"

The MAT awards recognize plays and individual performances in community and non-union professional theater.

According to www.matawards.com, "The Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Awards, founded by Russ Ivey, originated in October of 2004 with the intention of recognizing those hardworking individuals that put their time and effort into community and non-union professional theater. There are many aspiring actors that would like to be given recognition for their skills and dedication to the performing arts. Many of those are of the desire to build their resume so that they will be given more audition opportunities.

"Secondly, many theaters have a hard time marketing themselves so they can draw not only an audience, but a lot of the talent to their shows. This is where the MAT Awards come in. The 'MAT' is one of 31 different categories that are presented on an annual basis. Each year, an award ceremony is held to present those awards to the individuals/theaters that have put the time and effort into making their productions great."