Community theater group celebrates successes
By Mark Cleveland
Citizen Chronicle Writer
SOUTHBRIDGE — In one dozen categories, area residents and thespians waited with baited breath last night for the conclusion of the sentence: “And the winner is…”
Gateway Players Theatre’s sixth annual Twizzler Awards Dinner was held Saturday evening at the Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center. The event is Gateway’s way of celebrating the various shows the local community theater group put on over the past year. Cast members, directors, stage crew, costume designers, and producers alike all came together to look back at 2017 and have some fun. The Awards are given in various areas of theater from costume design and set building to outstanding acting performances and directing or producing the shows. In addition to the Twizzler awards, each year’s event features a handful of NEAT Awards — “Not Exactly A Twizzler.” The NEAT Awards, certificates with boxes of candy other than Twizzlers licorice, are given to Gateway members for various efforts, events, and outstanding silliness.
The evening was hosted by Gateway actors Lynn Boucher and Rom Portwood, and their presentation, jokes, and innuendos were well received, though not all of the comments are print-friendly for The Citizen Chronicle.
Prior to the buffet dinner and award winners being announced, Gateway Players Theatre President Lou-Ellen Corkum shared the non-profit and all-volunteer organization’s mission statement, along with a pledge that the group’s mission will continue as they seek a new permanent home. For generations, Gateway shows have been primarily housed at the Quinebaug Valley Center for the Arts’s Barn. Colloquially known as the Gateway Barn, significant structural issues were discovered last year, necessitating a move out of the organization’s long-time home. As part of the push forward, Corkum announced the recently created “Gateway to the Future Fund” would be benefitting from a 24-hour fundraising drive planned to take place on Facebook on February 2.
Throughout the evening, various presentations and announcements occurred. Anjolina Fantaroni, who played Scuttle the Seagull in the group’s summer production of “The Little Mermaid,” performed a song and dance from the show; Pat Haddock announced the recipient of the annual Bill Mastro Memorial Scholarship, in memory of her late husband; and Linda Bouthiller received the Aileen Lau Award for Excellence. Long-time Gateway volunteer Barbara Day, seated next to the podium with flowers given to her by husband Larry, was honored with a “This is Your Life, at Gateway” tribute, with a number of presenters speaking about her service.