Tupelo Community Theatre wins big at theater festival

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo Community Theatre’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is officially an award-winning production.
The musical comedy, directed by TCT’s executive director, Tom Booth, scored major awards at the Mississippi Theatre Association’s Community Theatre Festival in Columbus this past weekend.
Booth won for best director and the musical won for Best Production. This means TCT will represent Mississippi in the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Kentucky in March.
“This is the fifth time to win the big award since 2001,” Booth said. “This will be the second year in a row and fifth time since 2001 that TCT will participate in SETC.”
Cast members Danielle Frerer and Mark Maharrey scored Best Supporting Acting wins, and John Carroll was named a member of the All-Star Cast. The cast won for Best Ensemble.
“Spelling Bee” offers big laughs as six quirky students – and a few audience members – try to win a middle-school spelling bee.
The show, which normally runs nearly 90 minutes, had to fit into an hour, so Booth trimmed some dialogue and songs. If the show went over an hour, it was disqualified.
“We had so much laughter, we almost went over,” Booth said.
Judges at the festival offered critiques and praise after each production, and Booth said he’s taking those critiques into consideration as the cast and crew prepare for the show’s debut at The Lyric next weekend.
There also may be an extra performance in Tupelo before the team takes the show to Kentucky in March.
At MTA, Secondary Festival, which included high schools, awarded winners from Oxford, Starkille and Union County schools.
Best ensemble went to Oxford High School’s cast of “The Outsiders,” and Corree Davis, who starred as Pony Boy, won as Best Actor. Starkville High School student Mary Kate Hughes won for Best Actress in “The Insanity of Mary Girard.”
Starkville Community Theatre also won several awards with its production of “Dinner With Friends.”

TCT’S AWARDS AT MTA: Warren McDaniel Award for Best Production, Best Scenic Design, Overall Technical Excellence,Best Ensemble.
INDIVIDUAL WINNERS: Tom Booth (Best Director), Danielle Frerer (Best Supporting Actress); Mark Maherrey (Best Supporting Actor); John Carroll (All-Star Cast) and Lyle Tate (Best Performance by an Audience Member).
For a complete list of winners, visit mta-online.org.

Click video to hear audio