I didn't visit my mother today, though it had been my plan to do so. I woke up and checked my calendar and remembered that I had an article to turn in to the newspaper. Normally, I have articles that have a deadline written before the deadline, but it couldn't be done for this article. Every year a group known as SARTA (Sacramento Regional Theater Alliance) gives out its Elly Awards, our local Tonys.
Named for the late Eleanor McClatchy, a devoted patron of the arts and former publisher of the Sacramento Bee newspaper, the Elly Awards celebrate excellence and the outstanding achievements of community theaters and artists in the greater Sacramento area. Created 31 years ago by local community actors, the Elly Awards have grown from a local Sacramento tradition to now include theatres within a 70-miles radius. Each year the number of theaters submitting shows to be considered for awards grows. This past season 272 shows were submitted by 82 theaters (up from last year where 244 shows were submitted by 78 theaters).
It's nice being a critic because it means that a few days before the nominations are announced (at a big party in a Sacramento theater), we get an embargoed list of all the nominees which are going to be announced. We can write an article, but you can't reveal any of the names until they have been made public by SARTA.
(Aside: I was nominated for an award in 1999, as co-author of an original musical with Stephen Peithman. We won, but I always felt I cheated, since Stephen did most of the writing and I just sat there and brainstormed (a little) with him. I had to get up and give a thank you speech. It was right after Paul died and I just raised the award and said "this is for Paul." I was still angry with him because he was the one who was supposed to win a theater award and stand on stage and thank his parents for all their support.)
Anyway, when I write these articles, I always incorporate interviews with one or more people who have been nominated, so I can't actually start writing until the morning after the nomination ceremony.
With 82 theaters submitting work to be considered for awards, out here in little old Davis/Woodland, there are generally few nominations. Occasionally one or two of the schools get nominations, but that wasn't the case this year. Nominations, if any, are usually divided between the Davis Musical Theater Company and the Woodland Opera House.
Last year, DMTC beat out Woodland in number of nominations. DMTC had five for its regular theater, and four for its Young People's Theater.
Woodland received five nominations for the regular theater and one for its Young People's program.
What a contrast with this year, where Woodland received 29 nominations, spread out among productions of Peter Pan, The Drowsy Chaperone, Goodnight Moon, Pinkalicious and Stuart Little. That meant that Woodland had the second largest number of nominations out of all 82 theaters.
DMTC didn't do too shabby either, with 14 nominations spread out among Hairspray, Urinetown, Oklahoma!, Cats, and The Wizard of Oz.
So I had a lot of interviewing to do. I try to pick either key people, or people I know will have something interesting to say...or sometimes just people whose phone numbers I happen to have!
This time I interviewed six out of the 8-10 I thought I might interview. I love it that I can type fast, because it makes telephone interviews very easy for me. As I started the interviews, I also started writing the article, figuring out which direction it was going to go. It seems that for every person I interviewed I needed to go back and rewrite.
It had been my intent to do a nice interview with an actress named Emily Jo Seminoff. She was nominated for both theaters. In Woodland she had played Peter in Peter Pan and she was the "bad girl" in Hairspray at DMTC. I have been watching this young woman's progress for years. The very first time I interviewed her, she was playing Peter Pan in a DMTC children's production of the show. I was impressed with her maturity. She seemed to have been acting forever (and she was barely in her teens at the time). She has since grown up and is now an accomplished multi-award winning actress.
Unfortunately, nobody that I spoke with had her telephone number but someone did give me her e-mail address, and I dashed off an e-mail asking her to please call me.
However, in the meantime, it seemed that most of the other people I talked with gave me comments about Emily Jo and ultimately I had to send her a note asking her NOT to call me because I had submitted the article already (and if she had called me it would have seemed like the Emily Jo article because of the concentration on her!)
I finally finished the article in the early afternoon and got it submitted. There was enough time to visit my mother, but Walt had gone over there earlier in the day to have her sign some papers, and I figured that was enough. I took a nap instead. Tomorrow is the sing-along and then next day the Brain Gymnasium, so I decided to skip today.