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Art Beat: Lionheart Theatre honored at state conference

Gwinnett's own Lionheart Theatre received multiple awards at the annual Georgia Theatre Conference held in Albany from Oct. 15 to 18. Lionheart actor and Conference participant Jason Caldwell summed up the experience succinctly by saying, "To our wonderful surprise, we won almost every award they had!"

Indeed they did. They won for Best Play, which was "Controlling Interest," written by Wayne S. Rawley; Best actor, Bob Smith; Best Actress, Tanya Carroll; Best Supporting Actress, Daphne Mintz; and actor Zach Hare was named to the Georgia Theatre Conference "All Star Cast."

By winning Best Play, they will now go on to compete at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Birmingham, Ala., in March.

Smith has vivid memories of the event. He said, "After we performed, we got another round of applause while waiting to hear the comments from the adjudicators. The adjudicators also thought very highly of the performance and mentioned how we all worked together, a true ensemble."

Bob continued, "In a standing room only crowd in the auditorium of Darton College, Lionheart Theatre received its awards to thundering applause and shouts. Some of the loudest shouts were from our fellow competitors."

Lionheart's Producing Artistic Director Carroll, who won the award for Best Actress, said, "The competition was very friendly and healthy as indicated by the applause from our competitors, and ours for them. The spirit amongst all competitors during load-in, performance and during the judging was very friendly, supportive and cooperative. It was an experience that Lionheart will look forward to participating in next year in Columbus, Georgia."

"In addition to the performances, there were seminars all week on areas ranging from improvisation to playwriting to set design," Bob Smith said.

Caldwell described the winning one-act comedy by explaining the plot. "Four successful young businessmen gather for their weekly staff meeting," he said. "Times are changing, and the issue of girls is on the table. Two persuasive young businesswomen arrive to negotiate the ultimate deal: The guys may start liking them, but only on the girls' terms."

The cast included Smith, Hare, James Beck, Caldwell, Carroll and Mintz. Mintz received the Best Supporting Actress award even though this performance was her very first time acting.

Beck said "Tanya did a great job keeping us focused. We had a great cast, and we had a lot of fun together off stage that made the work onstage really strong."

To catch this award-winning company in action, plan to see their upcoming production, "The Homecoming," from Nov. 7 to 9, 14 to 16 and 21 to 23. Lionheart's home is the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center. For more information about Lionheart and its season, upcoming auditions, children's programming and more, visit its Web site at www.lionhearttheatre.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail hcalmes@mindspring.com.