Saturday, August 10, 2019

WINNERS: stage directors—The Charles Nelson Reilly Prize, 2018-19

Charles Nelson Reilly
The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts, David (Volosin) Katz, chief judge, is honored to announce the winners, runners-up, and honorable mention recipient of The American Prize in Directing—The Charles Nelson Reilly Prize, 2018-19. Congratulations!

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog. Please use the chronological tool in the right-hand column to find specific results.

QUICKNOTES: Although The American Prize does not usually provide written evaluations to semi-finalists, some semi-finalist composers will receive in their certificate packets short comments, suggestions or overall impressions made during the judging. We hope they will prove valuable. All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Charles Nelson Reilly was a Tony Award-winning actor and Broadway stage director, and an acclaimed opera director and teacher. Far more than the zany television personality by which he was most often identified, Reilly nurtured the creation of a whole series of unique one-person stage plays. Most famously, he directed Julie Harris in her Tony Award-winning star turn in "The Belle of Amherst", on the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson. Among Reilly's many Broadway directing credits were Ira Levinʼs "Break a Leg", Larry Shueʼs "The Nerd", and the revival of "The Gin Game", starring Julie Harris and Charles Durning, for which Mr. Reilly was the sole American director to be nominated for a Tony in 1997. Mr. Reillyʼs career as an opera director included productions for Chicago Opera Theater, Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Toledo Opera, Milwaukee Opera and Opera Pacific. Charles Nelson Reilly and The American Prize chief judge David Katz were friends for three decades, first meeting through their mutual Hartford voice teacher, Mrs. Friedrich Schorr. Mr. Reilly served as honorary chairperson of the Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice from the competition's founding in 1990, until his death. To read more about the career of Charles Nelson Reilly, .

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The American Prize in Directing—The Charles Nelson Reilly Prize, opera division, 2018-19

The American Prize winner:
Dugg McDonough 
The Turner-Fischer 
Center for Opera at LSU
Baton Rouge LA  
David T. Little: Dog Days

Dugg McDonough
Veteran director Dugg McDonough has staged operas, operettas, and musicals, from Monteverdi to contemporary American works for companies ranging from the New York City Opera to the Taipei International Arts Festival.  Recent professional successes have included Little Women, La cenerentola, The Medium, La tragédie de Carmen, Sweeney Todd, and Out of Darkness for Pensacola Opera; Susannah, Dialogues of the Carmelites, La rondine, Elektra, and The Tragedy of Carmen for Des Moines Metro Opera; Madama Butterfly and Amahl and the Night Visitors for Opéra Louisiane.  International credits include Le nozze di Figaro for Operafestival di Roma and Tristan und Isolde in Sofia, Bulgaria.  For 20 years, McDonough served as Co-Director of Des Moines Metro Opera’s Apprentice Artist Program.  He joined the faculty of Louisiana State University in 2002 as Artistic Director of the Turner-Fischer Center for Opera at LSU, where his 50+ productions have included the University Premieres of Floyd’s Willie Stark and Little’s Dog Days.

2nd Place:
David Lefkowich
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
Bloomington IN 
Don Giovanni

David Lefkowich
David Lefkowich is an accomplished stage director and fight choreographer and has enjoyed success with the Metropolitan Opera, Teatre alla Scala, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera.  Directing credits include new productions at L’Opéra de Montréal, the Ravinia Music Festival, Gran Teatre del Liceu, La Monnaie, Fort Worth Opera, Anchorage Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Tampa, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Saratoga, Opera Birmingham and New Orleans Opera. David is a guest artist and performs master classes at several Young Artist programs and universities including the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship Program and the Atelier Lyrique at L’Opéra de Montréal.  A graduate from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Theatre, David has a certificate from École Jacques-Lecoq in Paris, France. David is currently the Artistic Director of Out of the Box Opera in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

3rd Place: 
Nicholas Muni
UNCSA AJ Fletcher Opera Institute
Winston-Salem NC 
Debussy/Constant: Impressions de Pelleas

Nicholas Muni
Nic Muni is in his third year as Artistic Director of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He has also recently been appointed as Artistic Director of More Than Musical, Ltd, a new opera company in Hong Kong. His productions have been seen at San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Glimmerglass Opera and Opera Theater of St. Louis. In Europe he has directed for the Prague National Opera, the Kurt Weill International Festival, Stadttheater Giessen, Opera Ireland, Theater Erfurt, Tirolerlandestheater in Innsbruck and Stadttheater Bern. His revival of Jenůfa at the Canadian Opera Company in 2003 received Canada's prestigious DORA award for best theater production of the year. He served as Artistic Director for the Tulsa Opera (1987-93) and Cincinnati Opera (1996-2005).

The American Prize in Directing—The Charles Nelson Reilly Award, theater/musical theater division, 2018-19

The American Prize winner:
Geoffrey Arndt
Saint Patrick High School
Chicago IL

Geoffrey Arndt
Geoffrey is a teacher, director, and interdisciplinary artist from Chicago. He has served for eleven years as the Director of Theatre at Saint Patrick High School and runs the Saint Patrick Summer Theatre Company that supports students, community members, and professional actors through workshops, intensives, classes, and a summer musical. He has directed over forty productions in community and educational settings.

Some of his favorites include Man of La Mancha, Amadeus, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pippin, Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Macbeth, and Robin Hood. Geoffrey has also adapted and devised works for the stage as well as designed and fabricated puppets for production, as well. He is currently pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in Directing through the University of Idaho.

2nd Place:
Belinda Andrews-Smith
Denison University
Granville OH
Spring Awakening

Belinda Andrews-Smith
Dr. Belinda Andrews-Smith is the Director of Opera/Music Theatre and the Coordinator of Vocal Studies at Denison University.  Belinda joined the Denison music faculty in 1998. During her twenty years of service to the University, she has directed over 40 productions of music theatre, opera, and operetta. Singer's Theatre, the theatrical ensemble created by Dr. Andrews-Smith at Denison, has become an extension of her vocal and theatre training, connecting the voice studio to the stage. Her mastery of commercial and classical singing techniques and opera performance has created a unique method of theatrical direction. Dr. Andrews-Smith’s musical productions are extremely popular and have become "standing room only" events on the Denison University campus. Students trained in her distinctive music program have applied their undergraduate theatrical instruction to graduate programs throughout the United States, leading roles on Broadway, and National Broadway tours.

3rd Place: 
Kristina Keener Ivy
Top Billing Entertainment
Glendora CA
Peter Pan 

Kristina Keener
Kristina Keener Ivy is the Executive Director and founder of Top Billing Entertainment Performance Academy. She has performed with various jazz bands, as a member of various church worship teams, on three film soundtracks, and in numerous musical theatre productions. In January 2015, Top Billing opened a 4,000 square foot location in Glendora, CA where they offer group classes in singing, dancing, acting, on-camera acting, fitness and instruments. In 2014 Top Billing won Best Musical Theater Production and #2 Musical Theater Director in the American Prize National Competition, Best Dance School in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune's Readers Choice Awards 2013-2018 and has received 56 National Youth Arts Nominations with 14 wins. She would like to thank Jesus for all the good gifts around us, her husband, David, for his unending love and patience, and her family, friends, and especially her students for their continued support.

Finalist Honorable Mention: 
Paul Rugg
The Pope St. John Paul II Theater Troupe

of Saint Augustine Academy
Ventura CA
My Fair Lady 

Paul Rugg
Three-time Emmy Award winning writer and voice actor, Paul Rugg, never thought he’d find himself directing a high school play. But when a student at his daughter’s school, Saint Augustine Academy, asked if he’d be interested in directing “something fun”, Rugg dutifully obliged. Over the next four years, Rugg directed three plays and co-directed a fourth at the small high school.  It was, says Rugg, “the most challenging and satisfying creative endeavor I’ve ever been a part of. I didn’t have money for proper sets or lighting or an orchestra, but what I did have were students eager to collaborate and to give it their all.”


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