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Canyon Theatre Guild goes for the gold

Local theater celebrates its 25th annual Goldie awards with a look back to “Memories — Now and Then”

Posted: July 29, 2009 10:21 p.m.
Updated: July 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Winners of the Canyon Theatre Guild "Goldie Awards" gather on stage during the ceremony held in Newhall on July 11.

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The spotlight shined on local theater stars as Newhall’s Canyon Theatre Guild celebrated their 25th Annual Goldie Awards on July 11.

More than 150 CTG members and their families came decked out in their finest to enjoy the evening of food, fun, entertainment, and awards.

Event co-chairs Randy Aronson and Patti Finley acted as the evening’s hosts, introducing entertainers from shows of CTG’s past.  

The Goldies opened with members of the 1997 and 2009 casts of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” performing “Comedy Tonight.”  Other entertainment included Leslie Berra, who sang “Star To Be” and Greg Finley, who was Daddy Warbucks, singing “NYC” from the 2000 production of “Annie.”  

Nikki Berra, who was one of the “Annies” in 2000, sang “Tomorrow” from that show and segued into “What I Did For Love” from the 2009 production of “A Chorus Line” in which she played Diana Morales.

Berra won the Goldie for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Morales. “I saw the show five times on Broadway, so I was thrilled that I got her part,” Berra said. “I never thought I’d get the chance to play her.”

Berra, 18, who’s been acting with CTG since she was six, has been nominated in the past, but it was her first time to the podium to collect a shiny statuette.

“I usually tell myself I’m not going to win so I won’t be disappointed. I was excited and surprised that I won,” she said. “My mom was super proud of me, she was bawling her eyes out.”

“Mom” would  be Leslie Berra, a longtime CTG actress and director who scored a Goldie of her own for Best Director of a Family Show for “Musical! The Bard is Back!”

Hannah Lively and Nathaniel Dobies reprised their roles from the 2004 production of “Sound of Music” with the delightful “Sixteen Going On Seventeen,” then Greg Finley returned as Emile DeBecque to sing “Dites Moi” from 2004’s “South Pacific” with his children from the show (all grown up now) Danny Devan and Colin Robert.  

George Chavez returnedin his award-winning character, Nicely-Nicely to sing the “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat’ from 2005’s “Guys and Dolls.”  

The musical finale of the evening was the return of Lori D’Itri as Annie Oakley with members of the cast of the 2002 production of “Annie Get Your Gun” (as well as the “Forum” casts) singing a rousing version of the live theatre anthem “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”  

It was a night full of memories for many of those in attendance.  

“This is always a fun evening, but I think tonight was more fun than usual.  Everyone was part of the show,” said Patti Finley, event co-chair. “I got really nostalgic when I realized that some of this year’s winners were only seven years old when I met them.”  

For Best Director of a Play winner Ingrid Boydston, who scored her Goldie for “Leading Ladies,” the memories were much more recent.

“It brought me back to nights of audiences laughing so hard, they were shrieking. It feels good to know you’re making people that happy,” Boydston said. “Our cast and crew were not only amazingly talented, they worked hard making sure every detail was how it should be.”

The Irving G. Wallpaper award, given each year to a behind-the-scenes volunteer, went to photographer Neil Harris.

“I was surprised and flabbergasted. There’s a whole bunch of people working really hard here -  builders, designers, decorators, actors and all the other volunteers. I just show up after all the hard work and push the button,” Harris said. “This is a wonderful outfit to work with and I enjoy having all that wonderful talent put in front of my camera.”

Marla Khayat and executive director TimBen Boydston also gave special recognition to all the volunteers who have helped the CTG throughout the year.  

The Goldies show was followed by dinner on the CTG’s patio where winners, nominees and their families and friends celebrated and partied until midnight.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating our 25th Goldies,” Boydston said. “We’re looking forward to celebrating our 40th anniversary as a theater next year.  You figure, anything that lasts this long has to be good.”



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