When the BroadwayWorld.com St. Louis Awards were announced in January, there was one winner whose performance was very familiar to Ozark Actors Theatre patrons. Peggy Billo was awarded Best Actress in a Drama for her performance as Ethel Thayer in this past summer’s On Golden Pond. The show was directed by Ozark Actors Theatre Artistic Director A.S. Freeman.
“Peggy’s performance this summer was remarkable,” said Freeman, “the way she completely embodied Ethel Thayer was a site to behold. A real treat for our audiences here at OAT who had the chance to see her.”
Billo wasn’t the only nomination Ozark Actors Theatre had in the Awards. In total, the theatre had nominees in five different categories - Best Actor in a Drama for John Contini and his portrayal of Norman Thayer, Jr in On Golden Pond. Additionally, the entire cast of On Golden Pond was nominated for Best Ensemble in a Drama, and the show was nominated for Best Drama. John Contini picked up a second nomination for Best Direction of a Musical for his work on I do! I do! - the final show of OAT’s 2017 summer season.
“We’re particularly proud of these nominations and Peggy’s win because it demonstrates that the work we’re doing is every bit as good as the work being done by our peers in larger markets,” said Freeman, “Not only should Rolla be proud to be home to a professional theatre of this caliber, but those in St. Louis and our surrounding communities should take note of our upcoming season and come give us a try if they haven’t before. We’re working very hard to ensure that seasons with productions the caliber of last year are the norm, not the exception.”
While other theatre companies outside of St. Louis were nominated for the awards, Ozark Actors Theatre was the only company outside the major metropolitan area to win in any category.
According to Freeman, BroadwayWorld has regional affiliates across the country, with nominations being taken from their lreadership.
“The cool thing about these awards is that it places people like Sam Gold, who directed the Fun Home tour that came through the Fox and is a mainstay on Broadway, in the same category as people like John Contini who directed “I Do! I Do!” at OAT.”
Ozark Actors Theatre will kick off their 2018 “Season of Strong Women” on June 21st when Hello, Dolly! Takes the Cedar Street Playhouse stage. That will be followed in July by the musical Violet, and the summer professional season will close with a production of As You Like It set in the 1960s and featuring the music of that era. That won’t be the end of professional productions in 2018, however. During December, Ozark Actors Theatre will unveil their new holiday offering - a one-woman version of the classic A Christmas Carol.