Dec 31, 2015
by Nicole Kelly - The Daily News
BATAVIA — The Batavia Players spent 2015 honoring strong female roles in each of their productions. On Saturday, they will honor the best performances with the annual gala and awards ceremony.
Using the theme a “Wreck Among the Ruins,” the party, performance and ceremony will take place amidst the renovation of the Harvester 56 Theater with historic ruins as a backdrop. But this past season has been anything but a wreck or a ruin.
“Many people say it has been our best season ever,” said Patrick Burk, the troupe’s president and executive/artistic director. “We have tremendous talent here.”
The season included productions focusing on female protagonists, including “Mary Stuart,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “High Heels, High Jinx, and High Hair,” Alice in Wonderland, “ Xanadu,” “Into the Woods,” and “About Time.”
“The whole theme last year was the fairer sex on front and center stage – very tongue in cheek,” Burk said.
“It really has been an excellent season for theatre. To be able to have as many strong spectacular women roles has been a real treat,” said Wendy Williams, nominated for two Gala awards for her performance in “Mary Stuart “ and “Into the Woods.”
Along with Williams, several of this year’s females were nominated for two separate performances. Erin Stamp is nominated for three awards, for her performances in “Mary Stuart,” “Merchant of Venice,” and “Xanadu.”
“A lot of time, women do not get roles in a collection,” Burk said. “If there are females, there may be one or two. For a female actor to get four strong roles (in a single season) is unheard of today.”
For 17-year-old Celeste Brownell, being nominated for her turn in “Alice in Wonderland” is an honor.
“I work with them all; they’re so talented,” she said. “It’s all just a big family here. We all support one another.”
Williams, Brownell, and Burk voiced pride over the theatre’s musical and play selections, and over their support of women actors and all actors of various backgrounds, ages, and performance experience.
More than 30 actors and actresses were nominated in 16 categories. Nominations were made by the directors, choreographers and tech people.
“The nominations are very diverse,” Burk said. “I was pleased with the process.”
The gala is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave. Admission is $15 at the door.