Tacoma Musical Playhouse this month was nationally recognized for its exceptional production in community theater during a festival that draws hundreds of participants.
During the National AACTFEST Festival, Tacoma Musical Playhouse was awarded the highest honor, the Distinguished Merit Award, which is presented to individuals or organizations recognizing their contributions to outstanding community theater.
Managing artistic director Jon Douglas Rake received the David C. Bryant Outstanding Service Award for his significant and lasting service to community theater. The theater also was awarded Outstanding Production for its interpretation of The Addams Family, and several cast and crew members received outstanding recognition for their involvement in the show. In total, Tacoma Musical Playhouse took home eight of the 13 awards presented.
Rake likens the festival to the Tony Awards for community theater. He knew Tacoma Musical Playhouse did well with its production of The Addams Family, but the awards were further affirmation of their hard work.
“We all knew that we did a really great job when we presented it at the festival because the audience couldn’t stop laughing,” Rake said. “Everything was just really spot on. Whether we won or not was not important to us. We knew we had done a really great job.”
Aside from the state and regional competition process that advanced Tacoma Musical Playhouse to the national festival, the Tacoma-based theater never had received this kind of recognition before. Rake said he’s been to several theater festivals before, but this was the first time he had seen a theater company dominate the awards like Tacoma Musical Playhouse did.
When it came to his own recognition, Rake said it was an honor to have been nominated by the executive director of the national association, and he feels honored that they considered him an outstanding contributor to community theater.
The festivals are part of a multi-year process that culminates in a national festival. Typically, more than 600 people participate with performances of 12 productions, plus workshops and exhibitions. The award recipients were announced July 1 at the AACTFest in Rochester, Minnesota.
Rake and Jeffrey Stvrtecky founded Tacoma Musical Playhouse in 1994 to fulfill the need for a local theater company that specializes in the American art form of musical theater. They’ve put on productions including Into the Woods, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, RENT, and West Side Story.