Congratulations to the winners of the 2017-2018 volunteer awards. They are all very much deserved.

Haskell Fitz-Simons Distinguished Performer Award:
Tina Morris-Anderson

Charles V. York, Jr. Theatre Service Award:
Heather Strickland

Glenn Amos Miller Technical Service Award:
Joseph Heil

Ed Bodell Rookie of the Year Award:
Linda Wellnitz

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Awards:
Asabea Amaniampong
David, Devon, Mason and Logan Bennett
Ruth Berry
Janice Freeman
Alex Gromo
Morgan Harris
Jackie Kelly
Joel Schaer
Brian Westbrook

Tina Morris-Anderson – Haskell Fitz-Simons Distinguished Performer Award

Presented by Patrick Torres

The Haskell Fitz-Simmons Theatre Service Award honors a volunteer who not only delivers outstanding on stage performances, but also works behind the scenes to make Raleigh Little Theatre great. This year’s recipient, Tina Morris Anderson, exemplifies the spirit of this award and the wonderful human being it is named after. Tina has graced us all with breathtaking performances over the years – she is the very definition of a show stopper. There is nothing she can’t do on stage. But, Tina also works hard behind the scenes to make us who we are.

She has served as the Assistant Stage Manager for Divas for several years, tonight is her third time serving as emcee for the Cantey Awards, and she has volunteered as an usher and a House Manager. Raleigh Little Theatre is also regularly asked for special performances in the community like the First Lady’s luncheon during the inauguration or the Chambers Conference on Diversity and Inclusion, and Tina always says yes when we ask her to sing at these events. The impact she has made on this community on the organization’s behalf is immeasurable.

And now for a personal story. On my very first day at RLT, nearly four years ago, I attended rehearsal for Hairspray. As the brand new Artistic Director taking over for a beloved artist who had been at the helm for nearly 30 years, I was nervous. But that night in rehearsal, Tina sang “I Know Where I’ve Been,” and in that moment, as the hair stood up on the back of my neck at hearing her sing, somehow I knew things were going to be ok. Here we are 4 years later, and I am still nervous, but I have the memory of that first day to help me when I need it. Friends, let’s give a big round of applause to Tina Morris-Anderson.

Heather Strickland – Charles V. York, Jr. Theatre Service Award

Presented by Charles Phaneuf

Our next award recipient was recognized last year as well, but we couldn’t help ourselves from highlighting her achievements again. She just wrapped up her second year as Volunteer Rep to the board and in that role, she’s helped us significantly grow Backstage Nights, been a constant ambassador and recruiter on social media and in-person, organized volunteer thank you events, recruited people to feed casts and audiences, and besides all that she creates a beautiful word cloud. She was instrumental in building powerful audience engagement events around What We’re Up Against this year, going above and beyond the typical duties of the director of a production, and last year she helped plan our first ever congressional reception around A Piece of My Heart. She is often the first person to volunteer for a new opportunity and never shies away from a challenge, addressing any and all new objectives with creativity, collaboration and kindness. It’s a pleasure to present the York Award to Heather Strickland.

Joseph Heil – Glenn Amos Miller Technical Service Award

Presented by Alec Haklar

The Miller Technical Service Award honors a volunteer who has made a significant contribution to the technical areas of production. Tonight, it is my pleasure to present this award to Joseph Heil. From loading the set of Cinderella back into the warehouse to carrying a 200 pound desk down a fire escape to helping me navigate to Durham to pick up furniture for a show, Joseph has made himself available to help in any capacity he can. Whether it is lights, sound or set, Joseph has approached each task with a sense of pride and ownership. I have witnessed him mentor fellow volunteers with the deepest respect. He has embraced every challenge presented to him and has never walked away from a project out of frustration, even though I may have given up on it 3 hours earlier. His ingenuity has come in handy on more than one occasion. I’m glad to have gotten to know and work with Joseph over this past season since our first work call together in November-when it was just me and him and we had no choice but to converse-and it is my pleasure to present him with this award.

Linda Wellnitz – Ed Bodell Rookie of the Year

Tonight I’m proud to be able to present the Ed Bodell Rookie of the Year award to one of our newest volunteers. It didn’t take a second for her to enthusiastically jump into the thick of the activity in the costume shop. No matter what the task or the need she is quick to get it done. And almost as soon as she got involved, she brought in her family. Her husband came in and built some supports for the serger table and painted the new door for the air conditioner access. She also talked her daughter into coming in to help. They even went over to the steaming hot warehouse to help organize in preparation for the costume sale. What drive and enthusiasm! We’re so thrilled that she has become one of our regular volunteers and we look forward to having her with us in future productions. I’m happy to present this award to Linda Wellnitz.

Asabea Amaniampong – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Jenny Mitchell

Word of mouth brought us the next award winning volunteer. She was introduced to me as a shy person – which she actually isn’t once you get to know her. She is a citizen of the world, having been born in England, lived in Canada and now in the States – fortunately for us. She has been a mainstay of the evening volunteer pool. In fact, she is one of our regulars. She will soon be leaving us to go to grad school in Denver but we want her to know how much we valued her help and friendship. This award will go to Asabea Amaniampong.

David, Devon, Mason and Logan Bennett – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Charles Phaneuf

RLT is home to many families who spend time here together, which is one thing that make this space special. Our next family can trace its roots back to this very room as mom and dad met here in those seats during auditions for Guys and Dolls and they’ve never really met. Dad has served on the board since 2014, chipping in draftsman and archival skills along the way, and earlier this season he did his very first scenic design in many years with Little Shop of Horrors, which turned out beautifully despite challenging circumstances. The past three years the whole family has worked together to produce Art in the Garden, an annual visual art show in the Raleigh Rose Garden, with mom taking an especially large leadership role. Whenever I would ask whether they’d need help, I would hear, we’ll take care of it, or make the boys do it! They’ve contributed countless hours and all of them are true examples of selfless leadership. This Wolfie goes to the Bennett Family – David, Devon, Mason and Logan.

Ruth Berry – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Jenny Mitchell

The next award winner has been involved at RLT since she was a teenager. She has acted, designed and made props, dressed and lately she’s been sewing and doing make-up. She recently designed make-up for 2 shows all while having an insanely busy personal life and job changes. She has proven herself to be a very talented artist and we’re so glad she has chosen to bestow her talent upon Raleigh Little Theatre. This Al Wolfheimer Service Award goes to Ruth Berry.

Janice Freeman – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Vicki Olson

Before I begin I want to take this opportunity to say just how much Jenny and I appreciate all the volunteers in our department – those who make the costumes we design and those who dress the actors and who help with make-up and hair. Throughout my 23 years at this theatre they’ve always been there to make our dreams a reality.

Our next award goes to one of those volunteers who makes it happen. We have considered her to be one of our best regular volunteers over the last few years. She will come at least once or twice a week when needed. She even drove out to my home in Louisburg to work on Alice @ Wonderland when we couldn’t work at the theatre. Every one of our volunteers quickly becomes a part of the costume shop family. She has shared her experience, her talents, her stories and even her garden plants with all in the shop. I’ll always remember her when I look out into my back yard and see the daisies and black eyed susans she gave me.

I know she cannot be here tonight but I will see that Janice Freeman personally receives this Al Wolfheimer Volunteer Service Award.

Alex Gromo – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Dennis Berfield

This next Wolfheimer award goes to a person that I’ve had the pleasure to work with on large and small shows alike. They have approached both distinct styles of theatre, musical and non-musical, with a collected and focus calm that is infectious. The discipline they put into each show not only speaks worlds of their joy of working in the performing arts at RLT, it often spills over into their own creative confectionery talents. This person is always accepting of the responsibility presented to them and never hesitates to take on more. It is my pleasure to present this award to Alex Gromo.

Morgan Harris – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Larisa Putnam

My first Wolfie presentation goes to a young woman who has been a fixture at the theatre during the 17-18 season. I feel certain many of you have worked with her – both indoors and out! I worried for a number of months that she was volunteering for too many events…back-to-back nights & weekends, but she seems to thrive on ensuring that events run smoothly, and I hope that she continues to share that skill with the theatre. This volunteer remains calm in every situation, and I have relied on her to fill in for every imaginable last minute opportunity. Please welcome to the stage the most chill volunteer I have ever had the privilege of working with, Ms. Morgan Harris.

Jackie Kelly – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Kathleen Rudolph

This Al Wolfheimer Award goes to someone that is very dear to me. We met about 4 years ago when I was directing a Christmas show in Apex. We needed an adult female and Alison Lawrence, who was the Musical Director said “I’ve got the perfect person.” I had never worked with her before and she was a dream. At the end of that show she said to me, “If you ever need anything at all, I’ll do it.” Well, she really meant what she said.

Last season her daughter was cast in James and the Giant Peach, and this lovely woman dropped her off each night and went straight to the costume shop to “do whatever was needed.” This season she herself was cast in Beanstalk the Musical, and when she wasn’t on stage she was helping kids with their lines or providing cast and crew meals or sewing something that had ripped or doing laundry or ironing some actor’s costume because they left it on the floor. Sorry Jenny.

I became very spoiled! She has a heart of gold and I can’t imagine doing a show without her. This Wolfie goes to Jackie Kelly!

Joel Schaer – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Larisa Putnam

My second Wolfie recipient is as enthusiastic as Morgan Harris is chill. He contacted me late spring of last season for a tour of the theatre. He and his wife had recently moved to Raleigh, and inquired as to how they could get involved, as this Brooklynite’s love affair with theatre spans decades. He exudes a barely contained enthusiasm that he shares each time he’s in the building. During this past season, this volunteer has asked to usher at all special events, including this one, House Manage, coordinate and train House Managers, be trained in concessions, and has decided that he’s officially ready to participate backstage. I have no doubt that he will take on these new tasks with the same zeal and effort he has given his Front of House responsibilities. Please help me welcome to the stage my second Wolfie recipient of the evening, Mr. Joel Schaer.

Brian Westbrook – Wolfheimer Award

Presented by Patrick Torres

It is my pleasure to present this next Wolfie to a person who truly represents the spirit of Raleigh Little Theatre. For me, that is someone who approaches their work here with a passion and generous spirit. It is a person who is willing to teach from their wisdom and experience, but is also willing to learn new skills from the experience of others. It is also someone who enthusiastically approaches the work we produce in a way that inspires others and who recognizes this is a place that belongs to all of us. From his place on stage, or in the wings on a crew, or in the pit as a musician, or at my right hand as an Assistant Director, or from his seat as a dedicated audience member and cheerleader, Brian Westbrook truly represents who we strive to be at RLT. It is my sincere pleasure to give him this award.