Cantey awards are the theatre’s annual performance awards. Canteys are awards to talented actors in the following six categories:
- Best Actress
- Best Actor
- Best Supporting Actress
- Best Supporting Actor
- Best Cameo
- Best Production
Performance awards have been presented since the 1949-50 season. In the 1975-1976 season, the name of the award was changed from “Oscar” to “Cantey” in honor of Mrs. Cantey Venable Sutton, the Grand Dame of Raleigh Little Theatre.
In 1938, Mrs. Sutton and others felt a dire need for her growing theatre group to have a building of its own in which to produce plays. For two years she fought the seemingly endless, insurmountable obstacles that appeared before her. Through courage, determination and much effort, she conquered lack of funds, citizens objections, incompetent W.P.A. labor, delayed building materials and innumerable disappointments.
Finally, on September 12, 1940, the dream of one woman, Mrs. Cantey Venable Sutton, the building of the Raleigh Little Theatre was realized.
Who decides who gets nominated and who wins?
Before the beginning of each season, a group of 9 people, the Awards Committee, is selected by the Board President. The names of this group are secret to all. Each member of the group is required to see every production (if they miss one, they must forfeit their vote).
For each show, the director indicates which actors are eligible for each of the six categories. At the end of the season, the group of 9 determine a short list of who they consider potential award winners and three of these are selected as nominees for each category. The group then picks the award winner out of that three.
Who designed the statue?
In 1955, Raleigh Little Theatre held a competition, co-sponsored by the NC State School of Design, for an original trophy to award to the winners. Bill Kaplan, who was at the time a fifth year student, submitted the winning design, which is still in use today. After NC State, Kaplan attended Harvard and Princeton, earned a Fulbright Fellowship, and later designed the restoration plan for Cape May, NJ. Kaplan’s wide ranging career has included work as an architect, planner and urban designer. He now resides in suburban Philadelphia with his wife, Carolyn.