Dayton honors its own, looks ahead

Judges from FutureFest, the three-day, new play weekend; photo: Art Fabian

By: Jacqui Theobald

DayTony Gala at Sinclair, July 29

When theatre people get together what do they talk about? Theatre, of course. Outstanding productions, what’s funny or poignant or outrageous. Maybe even a cynical or sarcastic quip—they’re clever and know it. Usually comments are full of praise and admiration. They work with passion and dedication.

Since 2001, there’s been an organized format to preserve and honor the best of the Dayton area’s best. That’s a high standard; the Dayton area is a rich and varied theatre center. The Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame was established to recognize individuals who have been dedicated to theatre arts in Dayton or have made significant impact on the community. Then they have a party.

The 2017 inductees are Jennifer Lockwood, Gerri Nichols, and Sheila Ramsey. The induction ceremony will be held in conjunction with the annual DayTony awards on July 29 at Sinclair Community College.

Jennifer wasn’t quite born in a trunk, but her parents, Dodie and Jim Lockwood, have been significantly active and innovative in community theatre and are both DayTony winners. Jennifer made her acting debut at age 7 in Dayton Playhouse’s Wizard of Oz. Over time she has studied age-appropriate acting, taking tech classes for teens and the stage in many productions. She is also a skilled director with a long resume. She has been active on committees and boards, recently serving as chair of the FutureFest reading committee.

“I was just shocked to be honored with all the impressive people I have learned from,” Jennifer says, “My parents, first, then the directors and actors I’ve worked with since I was a child. I didn’t even know I had been nominated.”

Gerri Nichols was one of the 10 founders of the Troy Civic Theatre in 1965 and was right there when they celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2015-16. She’s one of those backstage workers who make the show go on. She’s done props, built sets, and created many costumes, including dressing the enormous cast of the “The King and I.” She co-wrote Troy’s Bicentennial production, “Let Freedom Ring,” and been part of management as a board member, remaining involved in everything.

Sheila Ramsey is an actor, innovator, teacher, director, and two-time winner of Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District Individual Artist Fellowship. As a poetry interpreter, she toured the area, making poetry appealing. As a teacher, she’s brought the Arts to Colonel White and to Wright State. She has both acted and directed for the professional Human Race Theatre. With her long-held dream of bringing the black experience to the stage, she established The Dream Keeper Theatre Company.

The DayTony Gala takes place at Sinclair Community College Building 12, on the corner of West Third and Perry Streets in downtown Dayton. The ceremony starts at 7 p.m., doors at 6. For tickets or more information, please visit

Playhouse South’s Once Upon a Mattress, Aug. 4–6, 11–13 

Once Upon a Mattress is the perfect summertime musical to celebrate relaxed outdoor entertainment without a serious theme. And it’s free at 7:30 p.m. on the run dates this August.

It’s just right for the end of the season, when other activities have gotten a little dry or tiresome. It’s a good time to kick back and enjoy the goofy show that made Carol Burnett a big name in 1959. It’s still “hilarious and raucous, romantic and melodic,” as described by local producers. Based on “The Princess and the Pea,” the familiar fairytale features music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Barer.

The story adds to the original fairytale and freely turns and twists the already irreverent plot, with a few innuendos but essentially still appropriate for all ages.

Nick Bellmyer directs, with musical direction by Judy Mansky, and choreography Jill Proudfoot.

At 7 p.m., an original scripted short play, “Sir Harry, the Voracious” by Carrie Thurston and directed by Jess Bledsoe, will begin the evening. It introduces Playhouse South’s new Youth Program.

Once Upon a Mattress takes the stage at North Park Amphitheatre, 195 Tamarack Trail in Springboro. For more information, please visit 

Pick up Dayton City Paper the week of Aug. 8 for the full review. 

’Tis the Beavercreek Theatre season

The community theatres have announced their upcoming seasons, and Beavercreek has one of the earliest fall play openings.

Urinetown, already cast and directed by Doug Lloyd, runs Sept. 1–10 on the Main Stage. Beavercreek cleverly compartmentalizes their productions. Young Frankenstein opens Oct. 27 through Nov. 5. Matt Owens directs at Edge of the Creek. “Just in the Nick of Time,” takes the stage Dec. 1–10 with the Youth Theatre. “And Then There Were None,” directed by Aaron Brewer, opens Jan. 26 and runs through Feb. 4, 2018, on the Main Stage. The Youth Theatre’s “Stuart Little” runs March 2–11, 2018. Edge of the Creek’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” runs April 27–May 6, 2018, with Jeff Sams directing. Finally, the Chris Harmon directed “Company,” opens June 15–24, 2018, an Edge of the Creek production.

For more information, please visit 

FutureFest looks onward

The three-day new play weekend is over and all participants, tired or exhilarated, have survived. But the FutureFest story never quite ends.

Adrienne Earle Pender, one of the past finalists, has been asked to write a screen adaptation of her play “N.” It tells the story of Charles Gilpin, the African-American actor who made a name for himself and for Eugene O’Neil’s “Emperor Jones” in the ’20s. The actor objected to the use of the N-word in the play and had a huge disagreement with the playwright, the story’s crux.

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Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at

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