Saturday, February 07, 2009

All Dressed Up for NHTA

Here's Daniel, his girlfriend Olivia, Jemi and me. We all got gussied up for New Hampshire Theatre Awards 7 on Feb. 6, 2009. It was probably the most successful awards night yet, at least in terms of crowds and energy and serendipity (sometimes melancholy). A frequent nominee of the event has been the famous and beloved James Whitmore, who performs just about every summer for the Peterborough Players. He died the day of the awards and we learned about it when the manager of the Players asked if he could say a few words before the annual memorial video, honoring those who has passed in the previous year. Whitmore made a number of other "appearances" through the night, including a couple of comic references to him in skits that had been filmed beforehand (one actor groused on camera, blaming him for making it impossible for anyone else to take home a Best Actor award), in a short clip from his last performance on the Peterborough stage this summer (as the Stage Manager in "Our Town"), and, most profoundly, in an acceptance speech. Academy Award writer Ernest Thompson received a Lifetime Achievement Award that night and after some other remarks, noted that he had spoken to Whitmore, a long-time friend, earlier that week. He had told Whitmore that it seemed like the Lifetime award should be going to him, instead: "because, you know, you're older," explained Thompson. He knew that Whitmore was ill (with cancer) and promised to dedicate the award to him. Naturally, he did, in the most emotional moment of the night.

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