Over Our Head Players Award Playwriting Prizes
RACINE, WISCONSIN, FEBRUARY 25, 2018: Over Our Head Players concluded the 2018 Snowdance® 10 Minute Comedy Festival on Sunday by presenting the audience favorite Best in Snow prizes. Over the five week sold-out Snowdance run, each attendee played judge via their votes. The Best in Snow winning entry was Walking Dead Dave by Joe Thompson from Madison, Wisconsin. Second place went to Bowl of Trouble by Jeff Taylor, Chicago, Illinois. Third place went to The Crass Menagerie, or Why Amnesiacs Shouldn’t Write Memory Plays by Rich Orloff of New York, New York.
After the final Snowdance performance Sunday, the audience voted for their favorites, just as audiences at each of the previous 24 performances had done. The final show’s tally was added to the votes from throughout the run. Then, the Snowdance ensemble came together for the Closing Ceremonies.
This year’s new commentators, “Don Pasty” and “Vicky Muffin” opened the ceremonies, but they were interrupted by the return of “Chet Thespian” and “Rex Jig.” As Rex and Chet described the action, the pageantry of the Dance of the Salmon commenced. After a touching waltz, the cast of “Walking Dead Dave” cut in. Then, the ceremonial Snowdance snow cone was sealed away for next year’s competition, and the company gathered around balloting supervisor Anna Clementi, who had the winning results sealed in a mayonnaise jar. A. J. Laird, who played Tim in The Crass Menagerie, accepted third place. Melissa Hughes Ernest, the mother in Bowl of Trouble, took second place on the podium. Finally, John Adams, who played the title role, accepted first place for Walking Dead Dave.
The $500 first place Best in Snow award went to Joe Thompson from Madison for Walking Dead Dave which featured Dave from Accounting as the unlikely ‘life of the party.’ Playwright Thompson is formerly from Racine and no stranger to Snowdance. He previously took home Best in Snow in 2006 for The Optometrist; Thompson’s Shopko (2008) and Don’s School of Dance (2014) previously placed second and third, respectively. Second place was awarded to Jeff Taylor of Chicago, Illinois, for Bowl of Trouble about teenage Harrison’s experimentation with illegal cereal. Third place went to Rich Orloff of New York for The Crass Menagerie, or Why Amnesiacs Shouldn’t Write Memory Plays – frustrated playwright Tim shares the evening he brought a Gentleman Caller home to his mother. Second place received $200, and the third place award was $100.
Managing Artistic Director Rich Smith reflects on this year’s Snowdance and notes that the foundation is the key to success, “We are so proud to make Racine the home of the 10 minute comedy competition. This year, we were overwhelmed that 388 playwrights submitted entries! That great response generated great quality scripts for production. Further, we are very lucky to attract talented actors to Snowdance; Snowdance actors embrace the challenge of playing multiple characters, creating a tight ensemble in every sense.” Smith continued, “We read every submission anonymously, without knowing the playwright. So, we were very excited when we matched names to finalists and found that Snowdance veteran and Racine native Joe Thompson submitted Walking Dead Dave. There is no bias toward Racine or Wisconsin playwrights, but Joe Thompson is a very funny guy and our audiences respond to his style of comedy.”
Once the plays and cast are in place, Smith emphasizes how important the final component, the audience is. “After 14 years, it is rewarding to hear from our audience, ‘It was so hard to choose.’ It is so rewarding to know that our formula still works, and audiences still enjoy what we are doing. We hope to continue enjoying Snowdance for a long time.”
Snowdance was produced by an ensemble. The acting and directing ensemble featured John Adams, Kristin Althoff, Diane Carlson, Melissa Hughes Ernest, Nicholas Hoyt, Mary Kveton, A. J. Laird, David Maack II, Anne Mollerskov, Ron Schulz, and Rich Smith.
The additional production staff also included Janine Anderson, Amy Ball, Elizabeth Bitner, Skip Carlson, Anna Clementi, Rebecca Eisel, Brandy Harrell, Chad Heinzelman, Preston Hill, Kevin Hlavka, Parker Jones, Lori Kwiatkowski, Ryan Loberger, Jay Mollerskov, Matthew Rangel, Paul Reese, Wendy Schulz, and Emily Sweetman.
The Snowdance Comedy Festival was sponsored by Minuteman Press.
Over Our Head Players is a non-profit organization of volunteer talent from throughout Southeastern Wisconsin; they operate the Sixth Street Theatre in Downtown Racine. Their 26th season includes Bakersfield Mist, a provocative and hilarious look at authenticity in both people and art, running April 6 - 21. They close the season with Oregon Trail: The Play!, an irreverent account of how the west was won, May 18 – June 2. For information, please call the box office at (262) 632-6802.
2018 Best in Snow
The 2018 Best in Snow Winner, Best in Snow: "Walking Dead Dave" by Joe Thompson, Madison, Wisconsin. Featuring Mary Kveton (Amy), John Adams (Dave), David Maack II (Tim), A. J. Laird (Kevin), Kristin Althoff (Jackie). Directed by Rich Smith.
Second place went to "Bowl of Trouble" by Jeff Taylor, Chicago, Illinois. Featuring David Maack II (Harrison), A. J. Laird (Dad), Melissa Hughes Ernest (Mom), John Adams (Ben). Directed by Rich Smith.
Third place went to "The Crass Menagerie, or Why Amnesiacs Shouldn't Write Memory Plays" by Rich Orloff, New York, New York. Featuring Kristin Althoff (Clara), Melissa Hughes Ernest (Miranda Wingnut), John Adams (Jimmy), A. J. Laird (Tim). Directed by Rich Smith.