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2018 Dionysos Awards & Playhouse Legends


The Des Moines Community Playhouse held the 2018 Dionysos Awards on Sunday, Oct. 14. The theatre honored 18 backstage, front-of-house, and education volunteers, and announced 10 acting award winners. The evening with a number from Billy Elliot The Musical, on stage now through Oct. 28. The more than 300 volunteers and subscribers at Sunday’s awards paid tribute to the more than 750 active volunteers who give more than 55,000 hours to the theatre. The Dionysos Awards are named for the Greek god and patron deity of the theatre.

Dick Brown Superior Volunteer of the Year
The award is named for longtime Playhouse volunteer, Dick Brown, who embodied the theatre’s vision for our volunteer program and was nationally recognized for his community theatre volunteer service.

  • Kathleen Baustianhas been a scenic painter for many years. Her wood grain and sponging skills receive raves and her attention to detail is keen. Kathleen is always ready for the next big challenge.

Gypsy of the Year
The Gypsy Award, nominated by the season’s stage managers, is given to an actor, typically not a lead, who has shown dedication to the show, assisting in ways above and beyond a role on stage.

  • Ann Kramer was cast in Ragtime but ended up breaking her ankle. She was unable to perform in the show, but she still played a vital role. Ann attended all rehearsals, teaching her blocking and choreography to her replacement, running rehearsal music, and taking notes for the director. She was a role model for the cast, many of whom were not only new to the Playhouse but also to theatre.
  • Rachel Allen was absolutely essential to A Little House Christmas. As assistant stage manager she filled in for actors during rehearsals and ensured absent actors received and understood the blocking and choreography. During the show’s run, she kept props and actors organized backstage. Rachel was a friendly and comforting presence for new actors and youth actors.
  • Kim and Steve Blakesley are guest services superstars, volunteering for every show and doing whatever is needed. Kim excels in concessions and has helped our staff and other volunteers transition to our new front-of-house process. As a Nationwide employee, Kim’s hours are matched with a monetary donation. The Blakesleys are absolutely dedicated to the Playhouse.
  • Lora Cesana shared her wig styling talents for multiple musicals this past season. She helped create the looks of some of this year’s favorite leading ladies including Marion the librarian in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man and Mother in Ragtime. Lora’s most notable achievement this past season was the gravity defying wig for Ursula, the evil octopus in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
  • Travis Edrington has a keen eye for detail and is always eager to jump in and help with a show. He ran sound for Miss Nelson Is Missing! and followspot for many Mainstage musicals this past year. Travis has also volunteered regularly with our Spectrum Stories program, where his patience, kindness, and positive energy add so much to each class. Both students and teachers appreciate his great sense of humor!
  • Susan Eisenhour is a costume shop regular. She shares her cosplay experience and infectious enthusiasm while sewing, sewing, sewing. She’s become an expert in jumpsuits, creating fish jumpsuits in Disney’s The Little Mermaid and rock star jumpsuits in Mamma Mia! She was also responsible for the 20-foot wedding train in Mamma Mia! Susan’s work is currently in Billy Elliot The Musical as she created the puppets that lead off Act II.
  • Dan Goss is a go-getter backstage who never needs to be asked to do a task. He sees a need and does whatever is required. A dedicated run crew member, he sweeps and mops the stage before shows and during the show is the “Lord of the Flys.” Dan is an all-star’s all-star.
  • Anna Karr first began taking classes as a four-year-old and joined the Playhouse Pre-Intern Program (PIP) in 2012. As a PIP, she demonstrates a maturity and dedication that make her stand out in an exceptionally accomplished group of young adults. A typical teenager with an extraordinarily busy schedule, Anna always finds time each year to help with education programs. Her positive attitude and sense of humor comes in handy, corralling spirited youngsters backstage, collaborating with peers, and assisting teachers.
  • Alli Kroeger and Lisa Thoemmes are a backstage crew’s secret weapons. This team frequently manages the most complex part of a massive scenery shift. From pushing out, rigging up, and flying out Ariel’s transformation bubble in Disney’s The Little Mermaid to ninja-ing forgotten props on stage without being seen, Alli and Lisa can accomplish anything together.
  • John Messersmith is a leader in guest services. He is an awesome concessionaire and on our short list of volunteers who can be called upon at the last moment to come over and help out. A bonus: He always wears a tie.
  • Mary Gill Reeves has been with the Final Act Ensemble (FAE) almost from its inception. She has played many roles in the troupe’s radio shows, from “The Shadow” to “Titanic” and “Dick Tracy.” When it became clear FAE would need an off-site rehearsal space during summer renovations, she secured space for the group at Highland Park Christian Church. Mary’s work meant that our radio performance rehearsals continued without interruption while the Playhouse was relocated.
  • Don Rothweiler is much more than a Final Act Ensemble performer. He has volunteered his time, material, and artistic talents to make puppets to accompany songs and humorous props to illustrate commercials. He constructed a large, colorful Final Act Ensemble sign that travels with the group, giving it a more professional look. He also helped the group obtain FAE lapel pins. Don has helped with set construction for season productions and was part of the volunteer crew that helped relocate the office and scene shop into temporary facilities for the summer.
  • Christopher Rozenboom may be most familiar to our audiences for his work onstage, but this past season he really shined as assistant stage manager for Mamma Mia! Working off-site for rehearsals and performances was full of challenges, but Chris faced every issue with a smile and “Yes, I can do that.” His leadership backstage when working with new crew members allowed for consistency and the highest quality of production work. At the end of each performance, Chris had a smile and a willingness to do it all over again the next day.
  • Maggie Schmitt took on the immense challenge of coordinating the backstage area and volunteers for Misery. She choreographed scene changes and costumes changes and had needed props at the ready. If the situation had arisen, Maggie would have manually pushed the turntable with its immense house herself!
  • Shirley Sharp has volunteered with guest services for more than 50 years. She and her crew of six are greeting guests and show audiences to their seats for every Mainstage show each season except one, when many of them go to Florida or Texas for the winter. Shirley’s dedication for so many years is an inspiration to our entire volunteer corps.

2018 Special Recognition Award

  • Timothy Rose is making a significant contribution in support of theatre in greater Des Moines. His blog, A Gentle Guide to Des Moines Theatre, encourages residents to “seize the play!” He talks with directors and actors for his “Inside the Production” articles and attends virtually every show in Central Iowa. Tim makes it easy for theatre fans by not only listing every theatre company, from the college level to the Civic Center, on his website but also maintains an exhaustive calendar with all of the show dates and times.

Outstanding Performance by a Youth Actor in a Play or Musical, Kate Goldman Children’s Theater & Family Holiday Classic

Prep Iowa
  • Crey Abbas as Ensemble in Miss Nelson Is Missing! [nominee]
    Will Bower as Nick in A Little House Christmas [nominee]
    Jackson Michael Gabby as Flounder in Disney’s The Little Mermaid [winner]
    Tyndal Hervey as Ensemble in Miss Nelson Is Missing! [nominee]
    Jack Ray as Adam in Miss Nelson Is Missing! [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by a Youth Actress in a Play or Musical, Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre & Family Holiday Classic

  • Isabelle Baker as Laura in A Little House Christmas [nominee]
    Caroline Holmes as Nellie in A Little House Christmas [nominee]
    Joy Mielke as Squirelle 2 in Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play” [nominee]
    Josie Talley as Mary in A Little House Christmas [nominee]
    Savannah Trotter as Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid [winner]
    Savannah Trotter as Allison in Miss Nelson Is Missing! [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Adult Actor in a Play or Musical, Kate Goldman Children’s Theater & Family Holiday Classic

  • Shawn Baker as Mr. Edwards in A Little House Christmas [nominee]
    Blake Clyde as Sebastian in Disney’s The Little Mermaid [winner]
    Douglas Cochrane as Gerald in Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play” [nominee]
    Mark Maddy as Pop Hanson/Mr. Blandsworth/ Al Catraz/Detective McSmogg in Miss Nelson Is Missing! [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Adult Actress in a Play or Musical, Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre & Family Holiday Classic

  • Jenna Darsee as Ma in A Little House Christmas [nominee]
    Gina Gedler as Miss Nelson/Viola Swamp in Miss Nelson Is Missing! [winner]
    Allyson Martens as Piggie in Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play” [nominee]
    Jackie Schmillen as Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play, Mainstage

  • Micheal Davenport as Paul Sheldon in Misery [winner]
  • Ian Shields as Chad in Choices [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Play, Mainstage

  • Lyndsy Darland as Liz Mayfield in Choices [nominee]
  • Preshia Paulding as Annie Wilkes in Misery [winner]

Outstanding Performance by a Youth Actor in a Musical, Mainstage

  • Will Donaghy as Mark in A Chorus Line [nominee]
  • Jack Gabby as Winthrop Paroo in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man [winner]
  • Ryan Henzi as The Little Boy in Ragtime [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by a Youth Actress in a Musical, Mainstage

  • Lorena Eclatt as Diana Morales in A Chorus Line [nominee]
  • Tess Meggison as Amaryllis in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man [nominee]
  • Sarah Rasavanh as Connie in A Chorus Line [nominee]
  • Lily Spahr & Nina Spahr as The Little Girl in Ragtime [winner]

Outstanding Performance by an Adult Actor in a Musical, Mainstage

  • Brad D. Church as Harold Hill in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man [nominee]
  • Blake Clyde as Coalhouse Walker Jr in Ragtime [winner]
  • Demarius Fisher Jr as Richie in A Chorus Line [nominee]
  • Bryan Gamboa as Paul in A Chorus Line [nominee]
  • Maxwell Schaeffer as Sam Carmichael in Mamma Mia! [nominee]
  • Brett Spahr as Tateh in Ragtime [nominee]

Outstanding Performance by an Adult Actress in a Musical, Mainstage

  • Dani Boal as Mother in Ragtime
  • Ann Kramer as Cassie in A Chorus Line [nominee]
  • Kellie Kramer as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! [winner]
  • Katy Merriman as Marian Paroo in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man
  • Jess Richter as Sophie Sheridan in Mamma Mia! [nominee]

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