'Deweys' honor local thespians
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Courtesy of Readers Theatre Plus
Kath Beecher, a relatively new member of Sequim's theater community, accepts a Dewey Award last Sunday for her portrayal of Wendy in "Olive and the Bitter Herbs."
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Damon Little of Port Angeles won the Dewey Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “A Thousand Clowns.” Photo courtesy of Readers Theatre Plus.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — In the Sequim Prairie Grange Hall version of the Academy Awards, there were song-and-dance numbers, words of gratitude and an armload of gleaming plaques.

The nonprofit Readers Theatre Plus troupe handed out the Dewey Awards last Sunday, honoring thespians young and, well, mature.

The Deweys are named in honor of musical director and performer Dewey Ehling — who himself won an award for directing last November's “The Winter Wonderettes” revue. Also an actor and singer, the 85-year-old Ehling portrayed Santa Claus in the show.

His co-stars, Wonderettes Janice Parks, Kyra Humphrey, Elise Ray and Vicki Helwick, received the 2014 Dewey Award for Best Ensemble.

One of the younger honorees was Damon Little, who won a Best Supporting Actor prize for his portrayal of Nick Burns in “A Thousand Clowns,” Readers Theatre Plus' January-February production.

The 12-year-old actor “was surrounded by enthusiastic family members and fans,” said Carol Swarbrick Dries, Readers Theatre Plus co-founder and mistress of ceremonies at the grange last Sunday.

Veteran actor Ric Munhall took home the Best Actor award for his work in “A Thousand Clowns,” in which he played Nick's Uncle Murray, himself a kid in a man's body.

In his acceptance speech, Munhall spoke of the joy he finds in acting — while raising money for local charity groups.

Benefit productions

Each Readers Theatre Plus production is a benefit for a designated organization, such as the Captain Joseph House Foundation or the Puppy Pilots guide-dog training team.

Barbara Drennan, who played Olive in “Olive and the Bitter Herbs,” won the Dewey for Best Actress, while Kath Beecher, who portrayed Olive's friend Wendy, was surprised — about everything — with her Best Supporting Actress award. She moved to Sequim from Fullerton, Calif., about two years ago, but didn't know about the Deweys until she was nominated for one.

Her character in “Olive” resonated, Beecher said: Wendy understood that people need to find their purpose in life, so they can make a difference. We want to be of use, Beecher said, and be part of something bigger than ourselves. That's how she felt in this play.

Beecher, who taught high school English and drama for more than 30 years before “graduating” — not retiring — to Sequim, added that she was delighted to be part of last Sunday's celebration.

“It was such a lovely evening, and I actually got to meet Dewey,” she said.

Readers Theatre Plus' next production is “The Wild West Mikado,” opening June 20 at the Sequim Prairie Grange Hall, 290 Macleay Road.

For information, visit www.readerstheatreplus.com or phone 360-797-3337.

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Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 10. 2014 5:28PM
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