An image from "The Fall of the House of Escher," a production of the ASU School

Herberger Institute racks up ariZoni Theatre Award nominations

By

Deborah Sussman Susser

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts students, faculty, alumni and productions received more than 100 nominations for the annual ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence for 2013-2014. The ariZoni Theatre Awards is a not-for-profit organization devoted to promoting the visibility and growth of theater in the Phoenix area and Maricopa County.

Between its people and its productions, the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute earned more than 75 nominations – from MainStage’s “Fall of the House of Escher” for Overall Production of a Non-Contracted Play to faculty associate Randy Messersmith in the category of Actor in a Major Role (Contracted Play), for his appearance in Southwest Shakespeare Company’s “Equivocation.”

"We are so proud to have so many nominations this year for our students, faculty and alumni,” said Jake Pinholster, director of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. “It is particularly exciting to have ‘The Fall of the House of Escher’ nominated as a production, as it was the original, collective work of our graduate students in performance, design and directing."

People and productions affiliated with the School of Music in the Herberger Institute garnered approximately 25 nominations, including the Lyric Opera Theatre’s production of “RENT” for Best Overall Production of a Non-Contracted Musical.

“These nominations are great recognition of the exemplary efforts of our students, faculty and staff, who work tirelessly each year to launch engaging, challenging and provocative work,” said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music. “That the Herberger Institute fared so well this year in the nominations is a tremendous endorsement for the cutting-edge thinking and excellent instruction offered in our performing arts programs.”

Bachelor of Arts student Sam Wilkes, who starred in Lyric Opera Theatre’s “RENT,” as well as in the Phoenix Theatre production of the same musical, was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Contracted Musical) for the latter. Wilkes takes courses in both the School of Music and the School of Film, Dance and Theatre; School of Film, Dance and Theatre Director Jake Pinholster describes him as “a great example of a shared, interdisciplinary student.”

Tyler J. Gasper, Wilkes’ co-star in the ASU production of “RENT,” was nominated for Actor in a Supporting Role (Non-Contracted Musical). Another co-star in that production, Melissa Modifer, received a nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role (Non-Contracted Musical). In all, the Lyric Opera Theatre production of the provocative, moving musical earned six nominations.

The School of Film, Dance and Theatre’s mind-bending “The Fall of the House of Escher” received nine nominations in the category of Non-Contracted Play, including Overall Production, Actress in a Major Role (Julie Rada), Director (Brian Foley and Megan Weaver), Scenic Design (Brunella Provvidente), Costume Design (Anastasia Schneider), Sound Design (Stephen Christensen) and Original Writing (Punctum).

Winners will be announced at the ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence Ceremony, Sept. 15, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

The full list of nominees is available here.