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Memories and laughs at Statesboro's Emma Awards

Local talent recognized at the Averitt Center

Memories and laughs at Statesboro's Emma Awards

Memories and laughs at Statesboro's Emma Awards

Best Actor nominee J.J. Crawford shou...

Playing the part of Anna was not the first time Best Actress winner Nora Franklin had a part in the musical "The King and I."

"When I was 5 years old I was cast as the littlest child in ‘The King and I' and my mom was cast as Anna," Franklin said during the third annual Emma Awards at the Averitt Center for the Arts. "And the king, Dave Sterner, who I'll never forget, decided to go the Yul Brynner route and shave his head. Well, he freaked me out completely, and I wouldn't do the show. I wouldn't go near him, so my mom had to take me out to take me out of the show."

Like the Emmas, the theater in which her mother performed also had an award ceremony, one in which her mother won Best Actress for her portrayal as Anna.

Some 40 years later, on Saturday evening, Franklin won the same award, for the same role, that her mother had all those years ago, making the night that much more special for her.

"To be here is a little surreal," Franklin said. "It's very special to me. I've thought about it a lot, and it makes me miss my mom because she passed in November."

The Emma Awards began with nominees making a grand entrance into the Averitt Center on a red carpet.
Nominees arrived in style, via sleek black cars and SUVs. Each nominee was given the red carpet experience, set to resemble the trademark one you can see at any famous award show.

Awards were given in nine categories, featuring People's Choice (done by online voting at $1 per vote) and Critic's Choice winners for each. The categories were Best Set Design, Best Costumes, Best Choreographer, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Show.

The audience was treated to performances ranging from musical numbers (by nominees from productions from the past season), to a tap-dance number choreographed by Best Choreographer Critic's Choice winner Emily Winn to "Razzle Dazzle" from the musical "Chicago."

The night also saw one individual win not only one award, but three. Director Mical Whitaker, a veteran of the theater world, won the Critic's Choice award for Best Director and Best Show, and the People's Choice for Best Show.

Whitaker had two productions nominated at the Emmas, "The King and I" and "The Music Man."

"Both of the shows are American icons, ‘The King and I' and ‘The Music Man,' and when you're surrounded with material like that, and the cast I had, they were two good shows," Whitaker said. "I am feeling like I am on top of the world. They were very good shows. I had a fabulous cast."

Although Whitaker was ecstatic about his awards, he said his greatest joy was seeing the end result of both productions.

"A director's major joy is watching it come together. There are times when you feel like it's not going to come together ever. Then there is usually that one rehearsal, right before you open, and you say ‘Wow this is really good,'" Whitaker said.

The night was a celebration of the talent as well as raising money for the center.

"We came up with something like a spinoff of the Tonys and the Emmys. We call it the Emma Awards after Emma Kelly, who the theater is named after," said Melinda Roell, the director of development for the Averitt Center.

There are two sections in the awards ceremony: People's Choice and Critic's Choice.

The People's Choice awards are the fundraising portion of the night, where nominees can have individuals ‘vote' for their favorite nominees. Each vote cost $1, and the nominee with the most money raised at the end of the voting period wins the award for their category.

For the Critic's Choice, each winner is chosen by an anonymous group of individuals who all have history in theater. The critics attend one, live production of the play, then watch a recording of the play again. After the productions have been viewed, the critics record their choices for the winners in each award category.

"It's all about fun and acknowledging the level of talent we have here in Statesboro, and raising money for the arts," Roell said.


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