… And the show goes on

With joy and poignance, the PAMTA musical-theater awards show went virtual on Thursday night. The winners, and the moments to remember.

“You can have all the bells and whistles or you can have none of them and you can still move an audience. You can still reach an audience and make them laugh and cry. It’s what the actors are saying and doing that really makes theater theater.”

Those are the words of Corey Brunish—and they perfectly capture the thirteenth edition of the Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards,known as the PAMTAs. While the show, which Brunish founded and produces, drew more than 300 people to the Winningstad Theatre in 2019, this year’s audience had to experience the ceremony via YouTube. And it didn’t feel unplugged.

I tuned in partly to see if any of my favorite musicals from last year (like Broadway Rose’s Into the Woods and Triangle’s That’s No Lady) would triumph, but I stayed for the show’s pre-recorded musical performances. When Julianne Johnson Weiss plunged into an achingly beautiful rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in the opening moments of the show, it became clear that this year, the PAMTAs wanted to remind us that making music is, in and of itself, an act of hope.

“We need joy,” Brunish said two days before the ceremony. “We need to celebrate the accomplishments of our community, but it’s considered by some unseemly to celebrate while so many are suffering, and we are sympathetic to that. We agree with that.”

True to Brunish’s words, the show didn’t ignore the realities of a world convulsed by a global pandemic and systemic racism. An opening title card announced that the PAMTAs have donated $2,000 to the NAACP, and “#blacklivesmatter” appeared at the bottom of the screen throughout the show. There was also something subdued about the presentation of the awards—no gushy acceptance speeches, just the names of the nominees and winners on the screen.

Brunish believes that Portland’s musical theater artists are “better at it than ever before.” Apparently, the 14 PAMTA voters—along with what Brunish describes as “random dates or spouses or relatives” who weigh in—agreed. There were five ties, including a three-way tie for outstanding young female performer (the winners were Cora Carver, Ella Carson and Jorja Reed, all of whom played Matilda).

I’m happy that there were many worthy winners, but the evening’s musical interludes are what I will remember the most vividly when I look back. I’ll remember Kevin Michael Moore growling through “How I Became a Pirate” with gusto. I’ll remember Victor Morris’s voice reverberating gloriously inside his car in Los Angeles as he sang “I’ve Come Too Far From Where I’ve Started From” and “There’s a New World Comin’.” I’ll remember Ithica Tell weeping through “Fiddle and the Drum” and seeming to draw strength from each tear.

I’ll also remember the show’s tributes to sound technician Dave Petersen and actor-director-teacher Thomas Beckett, both of whom died this year. I didn’t know Petersen, but Mr. Beckett cast me in three plays when I was a student at da Vinci Arts Middle School. When I was a shy teenager terrified of expressing myself publicly, he believed in me. I remain grateful for that, just as I’m grateful that his legacy was a part of the ceremony.

It’s possible that when the PAMTAs return, they will once again be virtual. But if this year is any indication, they won’t be any less meaningful because of it. Brunish seems unflappable—he told me, “When you’re operating under a siege mentality, you just do the best you can.” Events like the PAMTAs can’t (and shouldn’t) make the walls of social distancing and quarantine vanish, but they do make them feel a little less confining. Right now, that’s enough.

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For outstanding performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting role the nominees are:

Calvin Lieurance — Footloose— BRTC

Jordon Waters— West Side Story— Stumptown

Collin Carver— Once— BRTC

Matthew Henry Curl— Once —BRTC

Andrew Maldarelli —Once— BRTC

Laurence Cox— Yeoman of the Guard —Mock’s Crest

Austin Comfort— Into the Woods— BRTC

Kevin-Michael Moore— How I Became A Pirate —NWCT

John Ellingson— Matilda —NWCT

Heath Koerschgen— How I Became A Pirate— NWCT

For outstanding Set Design the nominees are:

Demetri Pavlatos— Mamma Mia —Stumptown

Sean O’Skea — Into The Woods —BRTC

Demetri Pavlatos —-West Side Story —Stumptown

John Ellingson— Matilda —NWCT

Emily Wilkin — Footloose — BRTC

For outstanding Costume Design the nominees are:

Margaret Louise Chapman— Mamma Mia — Stumptown

Jamie Hammon —Once —BRTC

Darrin J. Pufall Purdy —Into the Woods —BRTC

Allison Dawe— Footloose —BRTC

Mary Eggers— Matilda —NWCT

For outstanding performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting role the nominees are:

Lisamarie Harrison— Blood Brothers —Triangle

Danielle Valentine— Up and Away —BRTC

Anna Galavis —Yeoman of the Guard —Mock’s Crest

Margo Schembre —Yeoman of the Guard —Mock’s Crest

Kayla Dixon— Footloose— BRTC

Camille Trinka —Matilda —NWCT

Elizabeth Hadley— Mamma Mia— Stumptown

Brooke Moltrum— Matilda —Lakewood

Chrissy Kelly-Pettit —Footloose— BRTC

For outstanding Light Design the nominees are:

Mako Barmon —Mamma Mia —Stumptown

David Castaneda— Into the Woods —BRTC

Harrison Moye —West Side Story —Stumptown

Mark LaPierre —Rocky Horror Show—- Lakewood

Carl Faber —Once —BRTC

For outstanding Sound Design the nominees are:

Brian Karl Moen— Once— BRTC

Brian Karl Moen —Footloose— BRTC

Brian Karl Moen —Into the Woods— BRTC

Brian Karl Moen —Up and Away —BRTC

Gordon Romei —Matilda —Lakewood

Meg Slaughter —Mamma Mia— Stumptown

Rory Breshears —West Side Story— Stumptown

Jake Newcomb —Matilda— NWCT

For outstanding Young Performer; Male the nominees are:

Jarod Beideck— Shrek —Journey

Sam Cohen —How I Became a Pirate —NWCT

Brock Woolworth— Matilda— Lakewood

Titus Forstrom— Newsies —Journey

Clayton Lukens — Newsies — Journey

Skylar Derthick — Newsies — Journey

For outstanding Young Performer; Female the nominees are:

Rebecca Barnes— Shrek —Journey

Riley Holmes— How I Became A Pirate— NWCT

Cora Craver— Matilda— Lakewood

Jorja Reed —Matilda — Lakewood

Ella Carson— Matilda NWCT

Sophie Fletcher — Annie — Sherwood

For outstanding Orchestra the nominees are:

Mamma Mia – Stumptown

Once – BRTC

Footloose- BRTC

West Side Story – Stumptown

Matilda – Lakewood

For outstanding Musical Director the nominees are:

Eric Nordin— Once— BRTC

Tracy Ross —How I Became A Pirate– NWCT

Mak Kastelic —Footloose —BRTC

Darcy White —Rocky Horror Show —Lakewood

Andrew Bray— Matilda —Lakewood

Adam Joseph Young— West Side Story— Stumptown

For outstanding Choreography the nominees are:

Christopher George Patterson— West Side Story— Stumptown

Christopher George Patterson— Mamma Mia— Stumptown

Peggy Taphorn —Footloose— BRTC

Jessica Wallenfels —Into the Woods —BRTC

Chelsea Nicole Lapp— Newsies —Journey

Dan Murphy —Up and Away —BRTC

Dustin Brown— Matilda—NWCT

Diana Schultz— Hair —Staged!

For outstanding Ensemble the nominees are:

Once—BRTC

Into the Woods—BRTC

Newsies —Journey

Footloose —BRTC

Matilda —NWCT

For outstanding original Score the nominees are:

That’s No Lady — Jonathan Quesenberry, Don Horn, Rody Ortega, Jeff Sanders, Marv and Rindy Ross, Wesley Bowers, Storm Large

For outstanding original Song the nominees are:

Every Show is a Love Song —Don Horn/Storm Large

For outstanding performance by a Male Actor in a lead role the nominees are:

Andy Lindberg  — Matilda — Lakewood

Colin Stephen Kane — Up and —Away—  BRTC

Morgan Hollingsworth—  Once— BRTC

Adam Elliott Davis — South Pacific— Clackamas

Eric Michael Little—  Into the Woods— BRTC

Alexander Trull —Yeoman of the Guard— Mock’s Crest

Norman Wilson—  Rocky Horror Show —Lakewood

Kevin-Michael Moore—  Matilda —  NWCT

Eric Asakawa—  Footloose— BRTC

For outstanding Director of an Original Show the nominees are:

Dan Murphy— It Happened One Christmas— BRTC

Brandon Woolley— That’s No Lady—Triangle

For outstanding Original Show the nominees are:

That’s No Lady —Triangle

It Happened One Christmas  — BRTC

For outstanding performance by a Female Actor in a lead role the nominees are:

Jaqueline Mallene— Mamma Mia —Stumptown

Caitlin Brooke— Blood Brothers —Triangle

Leah Yorkston— Into the Woods —BRTC

Kailey Rhodes— Into the Woods— BRTC

Tina Mascaro— West Side Story —Stumptown

Marissa Neitling— Once— BRTC

Stephanie Heuston-Willing— Matilda —Lakewood

Kelly Sina —South Pacific —Clackamas

Malia Tippets—Footloose — BRTC

Erin Tamblyn — Into the Woods—BRTC

For outstanding Director the nominees are:

Dan Murphy —Up and Away —BRTC

Isaac Lamb —Once —BRTC

Andres Alcala —How I Became A Pirate —NWCT

Peggy Taphorn— Footloose— BRTC

John Oules —Rocky Horror Show —Lakewood

Jessica Wallenfels —Into the Woods— BRTC

Caleb Thurston —Newsies —Journey

Sarah Jane Hardy— Matilda— NWCT

Rebecca Lingafelter— Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical —Third Rail

Liz Bertsch — Oliver! — Eastside

For outstanding Production the nominees are:

Once

Into the Woods

Footloose

Newsies

West Side Story

Mamma Mia

Rocky Horror Show

Outstanding Musician

Andrew Bray

Outstanding Breakthrough

Rebecca Barnes

The Portland area and musical theater awards wishes to thank the following:

-Stage managers
-Company managers
-Dressers
-Hair/Makeup
-Carpenters
-Electricicians
-Sound
-Props
-Musicians
-Ushers
-Box office
-Custodial 
-Merchandise 
-Security
-Marketing
-Producers
-Directors
-Choreographers
-Writers
-Interns
-Set Designers
-Costume Designers
-Hair/Makeup Designers
-Lighting Designers
-Sound Designers
-Prop Designers
-All the design assistants
-Child wranglers
-Audition Monitors
-Pianists
-Coaches
-Teachers
-Actors
-Arrangers
-Orchestrators
-House managers
-Volunteers

Hear the acceptance speeches from a few of our 2019-2020 winners

Design: Bridgetown Marketing |Photo Credit: David Kinder
Questions: cbrunish@gmail.com