CARROLLWOOD — On Saturday, Oct. 17, it appeared as if Doc Brown had parked his DeLorean in front of Carrollwood Players Theatre, 4333 Gunn Highway, and 68 guests of the 2015 Nancy Awards had been transported to the colorful 1980s.
Working into the wee hours of the morning, board members Denise Deneen, Anne Lehman and several dedicated volunteers transformed the theater space into a vintage ’80s prom theme to honor Tampa’s oldest continually running nonprofit community theater’s 1981 inception.
Men decked out in suits circa Miami Vice and woman broke out the big dresses and even bigger hair, only to have “prom photos” taken under a canopy of pink and teal balloons. “Mickey” blared from the DJ’s sound system and the room was a glow of black, hot pink and teal. A mirrored disco ball sparkled above the dance floor.
Emceed by actor, playwright and director Marc S. Sanders, it was a night to honor and recognize the theater’s past season of nine shows, volunteers’ hard work and dedication.
In addition to award announcements, the audience was treated to vocal entertainment from Erica Garraffa and Nancy Fueyo, poetry to reflect the past season by Eric Misener, and short glimpse of an earlier Black Box performance of “Love Letters” read by Eric and Amy Ragg.
Nancy Stearns, one of the theater’s founders, took to the podium to tell how Carrollwood Players came to be. By the end of her story, Nancy was overcome by emotion and the audience gave her a standing ovation. “I want to tell you how deeply touched I am. It’s been a pleasure to have been involved with Carrollwood Players,” she said. “I’m just so proud of you all.”
One of the evening’s highlights was “the best of the ’80s” captured by the outlandish costumes of emcee Sanders. Whether pretending to be Michael Jackson, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s” Spicoli, the Material Girl herself Madonna, Indiana Jones, ZZ Top, emulating the boxer shorts dance scene in “Risky Business,” or even donning a dress as Andy in “Pretty in Pink,” Sanders helped make the evening spectacular.
Sanders, who is known for consistently bringing in crowds to every production he touches, took home the award for Favorite Director for “5 Women Wearing the Same Dress.”
Nine and Numb improv founder and actor, Kelly Clow, won Favorite Featured Actor for his role as the singing plant Audrey in Matt Bravo’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Jim Moss won “Favorite Supporting Actor” for Michael Cote’s production of “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily.”
Yet it was a drama that ran the shortest of the season because of its controversial nature that completely swept the 2015 Nancy Awards.
“Doubt,” a provocative tale that questioned whether a priest was inappropriate with a student, won not only “Favorite Production” out of 10 heavy-hitters, but garnered each actor a Nancy for their role.
“I was completely surprised. I knew I was nominated, but I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance. The other women in the category were so talented. I saw every one of those shows,” said Kym Welch, winner of “Favorite Featured Actress” for “Doubt.” “There’s no way I would have picked me, but apparently other people had a different opinion and I thank them for it.”
Jim Russell, production director , was quick to recognize everyone who made “Doubt” so successful.
“From top to bottom, everyone involved with the production of “Doubt” — from the costume designer to the set builder, lighting, sound, set decorator and set designer — was just top notch. This was definitely a team effort.”
The winners were
♦ Favorite Actor - Jeffrey Rousch, “Doubt”
♦ Favorite Actress – Amy Ragg, “Doubt”
♦ Favorite Supporting Actor – Jim Moss, “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily”
♦ Favorite Supporting Actress – Jen Martin, “Doubt”
♦ Favorite Featured Actor – Kelly Clow, “Little Shop of Horrors”
♦ Favorite Featured Actress – Kym Welch, “Doubt”
♦ Favorite Costumes – Chris Dietz and James Cass, “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily”
♦ Favorite Set Design – Frank Stinehour and James Cass, “On Golden Pond”
♦ Favorite Technical Achievement – JC Martin, “Doubt”
♦ Favorite Director – Marc S. Sanders – “5 Women Wearing the Same Dress”
♦ Favorite Production – “Doubt”
♦ Favorite One Act – “Princess Ashley and the Battle of Goblin Creek” – written by Jared Mallard and directed by Venessa Baez
Carrollwood Players 2015-16 season opened on Friday with Nancy Fueyo’s production of Neil Simon’s “California Suite.” General admission tickets are $20 adult, $17 senior, student, and military. Tickets are available at Box Office tab on www.carrollwoodplayers.org or via carrollwood-play ers-theatre.ticketleap.com