The 2018 Ruby Griffith Awards

As we know from the recent Royal Wedding, the British know how to throw a party. The most recent example was the top-notch afternoon when the British Players hosted the leading lights of Washington Community Theater for the presentation of the coveted Ruby Griffith Awards on Sunday, July 15

Photo by Harvey Levine.

In the verdant setting of the Bretton Woods Recreation Center, wine and beer flowed, croissant sandwiches, macarons, and scones and clotted cream pleased palates, and the guests swanned about in suits and garden-party frocks, with several ladies sporting proper formal hats.

After everyone had a chance to catch up, the afternoon’s entertainment began. Chuck Hoag acted as MC, introducing several numbers from the British Players’ season, accompanied on piano by Sue Mason McElroy. First came a piece from their traditional Pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, with Emily Alvarado as “Fairy Goody Two Shoes” battling it out with Missi Tessier as “Fairy Bovver Boots” in “Anything You Can Do.”

Then Serena Dibb reprised her charming number from the 53rd Old Time Music Hall, “There’s a Little Bit of Bad in Every Good Little Girl.” Chuck Hoag followed, leading the audience in a rousing chorus of the Music Hall favorite, “And the Band Played On.”  And finally, Meghan Williams Elkins and Missi Tessier rounded out the set with one of the loveliest numbers in Music Hall, a bi-lingual mashup of “My Man” and “C’est Mon Homme” with a soaring duet finish.

Then came the announcements of the winners of the Ruby Griffith Awards. Named in honor of a well-loved founding member of the British Embassy Players (as they were then known), the awards recognize Outstanding Achievement in a Musical, Outstanding Achievement in a Non-Musical, and the top prize for All-Around Production Excellence. Nineteen area theater companies had submitted their best production for consideration, and almost all of them had members in attendance, waiting with bated breath to hear the verdicts.

And the winners were:

Non-musicals:

Third Runner-Up: Greenbelt Arts Center, Angel Street

TIED WITH Little Theatre of Alexandria, Harvey

Second Runner-Up: Bowie Playhouse, Frankenstein

First Runner-Up: Colonial Players of Annapolis, Quartet

And the winner of the plaque for Outstanding Achievement in a Non-Musical was:

Silver Spring Stage, A Delicate Balance

Musicals:

Third Runner-Up: 2nd Star Productions, Mary Poppins

Second Runner-Up: Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, In the Heights

First Runner-Up: Rockville Musical Theatre, White Christmas

TIED WITH The Heritage Players, Into the Woods

And the winner of the plaque for Outstanding Achievement in a Musical was:

Damascus Theatre Company, The Little Mermaid

And last but definitely not least, the Ruby Griffith Award for All-Round Production Excellence trophy for 2017-2018 went to Children’s Theatre of Annapolis, Beauty and the Beast

The Ruby Griffith Award for All-Round Production Excellence goes to the Children’s Theatre of Annapolis. Photo by Harvey Levine.

If you’re connected with any companies submitting shows to Ruby Griffith adjudication next year, add this event to your must-attend list. How many excuses do we have to on this side of the pond to get gussied up and wear a hat? And what better way to catch up with old friends and celebrate the excellence of Washington Area Community Theater?

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Jennifer Georgia
Over the past four decades, Jennifer has acted, directed, costumed, designed sets, posters and programs and generally theatrically meddled in Maryland, Princeton, London, and Switzerland. She has made a specialty of playing old bats – no, make that “mature, empowered women” – including Mama Rose in Gypsy, the Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella at Montgomery Playhouse; Dolly in Hello, Dolly! and Carlotta in Follies in Switzerland; and Mrs. Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, and Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady in London. (Being the only American in a cast of 40, playing the woman who taught Henry Higgins to speak, was nerve-racking until a fellow-actor said, “You know, it’s quite odd – when you’re on stage you haven’t an accent at all.” Her most recent indomitable female was in a student-directed film where she played the monster Grendel’s Mother – a role last embodied on film by Angelina Jolie in a CGI coat of gold paint; Jennifer took it in a rather different direction. (She has no idea why she keeps getting cast as these imposing matriarchs; actually she is quite easy-going. Really). She has also directed shows including You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and Follies, and most recently Woody Allen’s Mr. Big in the MP One Acts Festival. She is also the Publicity and Promotions Director for Montgomery Playhouse. In real life she is a speechwriter and editor.