Over Our Head Players Award Playwriting Prizes
RACINE, WISCONSIN, FEBRUARY 26, 2023: Over Our Head Players concluded the “2023 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 Too Hot to Handle by Michael L. Johnson of Racine, Wisconsin, second place went to Celebrities In Space by Jessica Moss of Toronto, Canada, and Third place went to The Exit Interview by Nina Kissinger from Chicago Illinois. This is the first Snowdance win for Michael Johnson, and only the third time in 19 years that a current Racine resident took home the prize.
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 Snowdance theme was the glorious land of Up North Wisconsin. At each performance, popular announcers “Chet Thespian” and “Rex Jig” returned to call another ’Dance. At the Closing Ceremonies, Chet and Rex described the action, including the annual pageantry of the Dance of the Salmon. This year, Paul Bunyan (John Adams) initiated the dance, before octogenarian Frances (Elizabeth Tannehill) claimed the coho as her date. Then, the ceremonial Snowdance snow cone was sealed away for next year’s competition. The company gathered around balloting supervisor Anna Clementi, who opened the sealed mayonnaise jar revealing the winners. Melissa Zeien, who played Steve in The Exit Interview, accepted third place on behalf of playwright Nina Kissinger, who was in the audience. Actor John Adams, Blake in Celebrities in Space, accepted second place. Finally, Melissa Hughes Ernest, who played Dear, accepted first place for Too Hot to Handle with Racine playwright Michael L. Johnson in the house.
The $300 first place Best in Snow award went to Michael L. Johnson from Racine, Wisconsin, for Too Hot to Handle, which features a doctor and his soon to be fiancé on a hot night out at a new Thai restaurant. Second place was awarded to Jessica Moss of Toronto, Canada, for Celebrities in Space about three NASA workers desperate to find a way to save the space program. Third place went to Nina Kissinger of Chicago, Illinois, for The Exit Interview in which Lenny and Steve interrogate Sam in the afterlife. Second place received $200, and the third place award was $100.
Managing Artistic Director Rich Smith reflects on this year’s Snowdance, “OOHPS absolutely loves making Racine the home of the 10-minute comedy! Playwrights recognize Racine and Snowdance, and we love that. The added benefits to our neighborhood in growing the economy of the downtown area we love so much is, of course, important for all of us.”
In addition to the Downtown neighborhood, Smith identified three keys to Snowdance’s success: writing, acting, and audiences, “Hundreds of playwrights from around the world send us great new material each year, and I know what we do challenges and encourages them as well. Another part of the equation is a cast of great actors and comedians who enjoy this process more than anything! And knowing that Racine has the mature theater audience needed to produce contemporary comedy and sell thousands of tickets is incredible!”
Snowdance was produced by an ensemble. The cast and crew includes John Adams, Paula Ann Czechowicz, Cynthia Hagopian, Nicholas A. Hoyt, Melissa Hughes Ernest, Mary Kveton, A.J. Laird, Joey Lange, Ron Schulz, Rich Smith, Matt Specht, Teri Stanley, Elizabeth Tannehill, and Melissa Zeien.
Kristin Althoff, Diane Carlson, and Rich Smith directed with Rich Smith also serving as artistic and production manager. The staff includes Lori Adams, Janine Anderson, Julie Boehme, Skip Carlson, Anna Clementi, Julie Harycki, Preston Hill, Parker Jones, Anne Mollerskov, Michael Retzlaff, Wendy Schulz, and Emily Sweetman.
The Snowdance Comedy Festival was sponsored by Minuteman Press.
Over Our Head Players operates the Sixth Street Theatre, Downtown Racine. A non-profit organization of volunteer theatrical talent from throughout Southeastern Wisconsin celebrating their 31st season, OOHPs focuses on contemporary comedies and original productions. OOHP will also present the Tony Award winning play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the novel by Mark Haddon and adapted by Simon Stephens, in March and April. For information, please email the box office at email@example.com or call (262) 632-6802.
2023 Best in Snow
"Too Hot to Handle"
by Michael L. Johnson, Racine, Wisconsin
A happy couple spices up date night.
- Melissa Hughes Ernest (Dear)
- Mary Kveton (Server)
- Teri Stanley (Woman)
- Matt Specht (Man)
- Nicholas A. Hoyt (Sweetie)
- Directed by Rich Smith
"Celebrities in Space"
by Jessica Moss, Toronto, Canada
NASA workers need to find a plan to save the space program and fast.
- John Adams (Blake)
- Rich Smith (Callaghan)
- Melissa Zeien (Olendowski)
- Directed by Rich Smith
"The Exit Interview"
by Nina Kissinger, Chicago, Illinois
Sam meets up with Lenny and Steve during an interview
- A.J. Laird (Sam)
- Melissa Zeien (Steve)
- Melissa Hughes Ernest (Len)
- Directed by Rich Smith