Over Our Head Players Award Playwriting Prizes
RACINE, WISCONSIN, MARCH 5, 2017: Over Our Head Players concluded the 2017 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 Game Day by Robert O’Connell from Coral Springs, Florida. Second place went to Jesus Feeds the 4,999 by Kay Phillips of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Third place went to Snipped by Joshua Kaplan of Los Angeles, California.
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.
As is tradition, the ceremonial Dance of the Salmon highlighted the Closing Ceremonies. There was some concern that the props budget could not cover a salmon this year, but miraculous intervention prevailed. John Adams was able to once again dance with a fish. 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. Anna presented third and second place. Rich Smith, director of Snipped, accepted third place. Nicholas Hoyt, of Jesus Feeds the 4,999, took second place on the podium. As the excitement built, Anna commented how Snowdance 13 came off without any bad luck despite superstitions surrounding the number 13. However, she may have spoken too soon. After opening the winners envelope, she looked confused. Cast member Kristin Althoff stepped in to read the winner: “La La Land.” After a short but ill-fated celebration, cast member Nicholas Hoyt took the card to announce “Miss Columbia” as Best in Snow. Anna reclaimed possession of the winners envelope and declared the true winner, with Snowdance cast members accepting the awards on behalf of the playwrights. Finally, Ron Schulz accepted first place for Game Day.
The $500 first place Best in Snow award went to Robert O’Connell from Coral Springs, Florida, for Game Day which featured four revolution-era presidents cheering on their favorite football teams. Second place went to Kay Phillips of Sierra Vista, Arizona, for Jesus Feeds the 4,999 – Jesus and his disciple try to satisfy a follower who cannot stomach loaves or fishes. Third place was awarded to Joshua Kaplan of Los Angeles, California, for Snipped about the worst-case outcome of an anatomy-changing surgical procedure. Second place received $200, and the third place award was $100.
Managing Artistic Director Rich Smith reflects on this year’s Snowdance, “We are so proud to make Racine the home of the 10 minute comedy competition. Snowdance’s reputation continues to grow among playwrights, resulting in this year’s record-setting 284 submissions. Many years, we receive multiple submissions with variations on a similar theme, allowing Snowdance to truly reflect the material presented across the country; we are proud to bring the freshest writing to Racine. This year, many of the submissions had fun with history and chronology, placing historical figures in modern situation. We selected three of them for production: Soul Man, Jesus Feeds the 4,999, and Game Day. Two of those pieces were winners tonight, reflecting again the savvy Snowdance audience. Our audience continues to recognize good comedy and reward the playwrights and productions that are unique, clever, and funny.” Smith continued, “Of course, we couldn’t pass up Game Day not only because we knew our audience would enjoy it, but also because it provided a dream role for one of our cast members. After 25 seasons, OOHPs founding member John Adams had the opportunity to play president John Adams.”
Responding to a question, Stage Manager Diane Carlson added, “Despite the four presidents who bantered through Game Day, and the hyjinx appearances of ‘George W. Bush,’ ‘Barack Obama,’ and ‘John Dickert,’ Snowdance generally avoided political humor. Again, this reflects the material we received. But this year in particular, as a comedy festival, we see our mission as one to unite people, to make the audience laugh; the arts do have an obligation, but sometimes, that obligation is just to provide a respite.”
Smith concludes, “After 13 years, it is rewarding to hear from our audience, ‘It was difficult to choose. Each one made us laugh. We can’t wait to see Snowdance next year.’ Yes, OOHPs is planning to bring Snowdance back again in 2018.”
Snowdance was produced by an ensemble. The acting and directing ensemble featured John Adams, Kristin Althoff, Elizabeth Bitner, Diane Carlson, Chynna Chung, Nicholas Hoyt, Mary Kveton, Ron Schulz, Robbie Shaw, Rich Smith, Joe Van Hulle, and Eric Welch.
The additional production staff also included Joseph Piirto, Janine Anderson, Amy Ball, Skip Carlson, Anna Clementi, Paula Ann Czechowicz, Brandy Harrell, Chad Heinzelman, Preston Hill, Kevin Hlavka, Jerry Horton, Lori Kwiatkowski, Christopher Larson, Ryan Loberger, Anne Mollerskov, Paul Reese, Wendy Schulz, Connor Smith, Jim Smith, 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 25th season closes with Bob: A Life In Five Acts, a comedic exploration of American mythology, running April 21 – May 7. For information, please call the box office at (262) 632-6802.
2017 Best in Snow
The 2017 Best in Snow Winner, "Game Day" by Robert O’Connell from Coral Springs, Florida. Directed by Rich Smith. Featuring Rich Smith, John Adams, Nicholas Hoyt, Ron Schulz.
Second place went to "Jesus Feeds the 4,999" by Kay Phillips of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Directed by Rich Smith. Featuring Eric Welch, Nicholas Hoyt, and Chynna Chung.
Third place went to "Snipped" by Joshua Kaplan of Los Angeles, California. Directed by Rich Smith. Featuring Elizabeth Bitner, John Adams, and Rich Smith.