Artists Collaborative Theatre (ACT) is once again a regional award winner and is Kentucky’s most award winning community theatre! ACT won four out of six possible awards, including first place and best director, at the statewide Kentucky Theatre Festival (KTA). That performance earned the cast and crew of Dearly Departed, co-directed by Cody Anderson and Jason Justice, an opportunity to represent the entire state of Kentucky and compete against nine other states at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) in Chattanooga, Tenn., on March 7-11.
In its 63rd year, the SETC is the largest and most active regional theatre organization in the country. ACT’s performance garnered them the Spirit of the Road Award, given to the company that exhibits the highest caliber of professionalism, positive and productive attitude, and collaborative nature. The technical crew of the host theatre made the selection for this award, since they worked first-hand with each crew that took the stage throughout the week and weekend. Sara George received the All-Star Cast Award for her portrayal of Raynelle Turpin, joining four other actors from productions throughout the weekend highlighted for their outstanding performances.
Written by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones, both Kentucky born writers, Dearly Departed tells the story of the Turpin family. In the Baptist backwoods of the Bible Belt, the Turpin family proves that living and dying in the South are seldom easy and at times even downright hilarious. Despite their best efforts to pull themselves together for their father’s funeral, the family’s other problems keep overshadowing the solemn occasion: Firstborn Ray-Bud (played by Jason Justice) is horrified and outraged at the mounting costs of the funeral; Junior (Cody Anderson), the younger son, is juggling financial ruin, a pack of no-neck monster kids, and a wife who suspects him of infidelity in the family car; and the invasion of their Bible-thumping’, hymn hollering’ spinster aunt, Margurite (Gloria Ratliff).
Rounding out the all-local cast were: Randall Ramey as Bud Turpin, Lauren Stewart as Lucille, Sarah Ellen Norman Vazquez as Suzanne, Mark Hopkins as Royce, Santana Woodward as Delightful, and Larry F. Compton as Reverend Hooker.
ACT’s technical crew is unique in that it is comprised of students, ages 12 to 17, who are mature beyond their years. These young people run the light and sound boards, construct sets, and perform all the functions of theatre technology. Kentucky was the only state at SETC to feature an all youth crew, to the delight of the judges. At SETC, the technical crew of Dearly Departed excelled at placing and striking the set, finishing within the allotted time. The technical crew included Jordan Adkins, Emily Cash, Emily Chaney, Zachary Chaney, Keeli Collins, Kaitlyn Howell, and Allie Sesco.
ACT is a state and regional award-winning, non-profit community theatre located in Elkhorn City. This year, it will celebrate its 10th year as a company and 4th year as a black box theatre, built entirely by coal severance tax funding. The all volunteer theatre company celebrates local, Eastern Kentucky talent through the performing arts. It stages year-round programming that includes seven productions of sixteen performances per year plus an ongoing, tuition-free educational program that serves ages five to ninety-five.
For more information, visit ACT’s website at www.act4.org or call (606) 754-4228.