The Roaring 20s were all the rage Saturday evening at the Essanee Theater as members of the Iberia Performing Arts League gathered to celebrate the group’s 20th season with its annual Essie Awards celebration.

The awards ceremony was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 shutdown. In fact, one of the plays represented, “The Music Man,” ran only a week before the pandemic forced it to close.

Donna Berard, who directed “The Death and Life of Larry Benson,” said that there were some additional steps that had to be taken when the show ran in December, but that it was still a great experience.

“We had to double cast everything, in case someone got sick,” Berard said. “But it was a really good time. It was great. The hard part was getting people to come to the theater, to get them in the seats. No one was going out at all.”

The energy in the troupe of actors was obvious as they moved in and out of the reception, some of them wired up as they auditioned for the awards show. IPAL Board President Charlie Robertson was working up a sweat, chasing down details in his vintage tuxedo as he stayed in character with the “Roaring 20s” theme.

For longtime IPAL board member and 2020 “OurPal” honoree Michael Durand, one of the biggest losses during the shortened season was the lack of a children’s production during the summer.

“We had ‘The Music Man,’ which is up for awards tonight, but really closed after only a week,” Durand said. “Then we lost the children’s workshop, the summer program we do with the kids putting on a production. I was sorry to see that go.”

Overall, though, the mood at the theater Saturday was upbeat, with actors trading stories and directors talking about their plans for the upcoming season. For example Angie Sanford, who performed one of her songs from “The Music Man” during the ceremony, was more excited about landing a script for her next project.

Although the pandemic slowed the IPAL season down, the group used the time in good stead. Major renovations were done, including new dressing rooms, an upgrade of the green room, and continuing work on the building’s facade and marquee.

And, for “The Music Man” at least, the show will go on. The play will resume its run next month, from Aug. 19 through 22.

IPAL Essie Award winners 2019 – 2020 Season

Outstanding Achievement in Stage Management

Lacey Guidry for The Silver Whistle

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design

Barbie Delhomme for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Outstanding Achievement in Technical Design

Hollie Guidry, Connor Smith and Ryder Romero for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Outstanding Achievement in Set Construction and Design

Billy Hochkeppel, Mike LaBiche and Charlie Robertson for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Outstanding Ensemble Member

Susan Clark for The Silver Whistle

Best Supporting Actor for a Play

Danny Palmintier for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Best Supporting Actress for a Play

Veronica Lay for Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Billy Walker Side by Side by Sonheim

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Melissa Bowen for Side by Side by Sonheim

Best Actress in a Musical

Angie Sanford for Side by Side by Sonheim

Best Actor in a Musical

Ian Bonin Side by Side by Sondheim

Best Actor in a Play

Treylan Gonsoulin for Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Best Actress for a Play

Michelle Colon for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Best Assistant Director

Stephanie Judice for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Best Director

Kaleigh Lay for Side by Side by Sondheim

Spirit of the Show Award

Michelle Colon for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Spirit of the Show Award

Kaleigh Lay for Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Spirit of the Show Award

Victoria Harrelson for The Death and Life of Larry Benson

Spirit of the Show Award

Kathryn Delcarpio for The Silver Whistle

Spirit of the Show Award for Side by Side by Sondheim

Kaedron Hall

OurPAL Award – IPAL Legend Award

Michael Durand

Production of the Year

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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