Wright State Theatre productions saluted by Dayton.com as among area’s best in 2021–22

Tassy Kirbas, who graduated from Wright State in April with a bachelor’s degree in acting, was honored for the Breakthrough Female Performance in a Musical for her starring role of Charity Hope Valentine in “Sweet Charity.” (Photos by Erin Pence)

Wright State University Theatre students and faculty members were saluted for their excellent performances in a roundup of the best Miami Valley productions in 2021–22 by Dayton.com.

In an article reviewing the theatre season, Russell Florence Jr., the team leader/coordinator of the Lifestyles section of the Dayton Daily News and Dayton.com, singled out Wright State Theatre’s productions as among the best in the area.

“Wright State University scored with a joyous ‘Mamma Mia!,’ an outside-the-box, thrillingly danced ‘Sweet Charity’ featuring a Broadway-ready Tassy Kirbas, and a visceral production of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning socioeconomic drama ‘Sweat,’” said Florence, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Wright State.

Florence named Wright State’s productions of “Sweat” and “Sweet Charity” as the best local university productions.

“Sweat” was named the Best Collegiate Production of a Play. It was guest directed by Shaun Patrick Tubbs, who graduated from Wright State in 2002 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting.

Wright State’s production of “Circle Mirror Transformation” and “Lend Me a Tenor” were also nominated for best university play.

“Sweet Charity” was honored as the Best Collegiate Production of a Musical. It was directed Marya Spring Cordes, associate professor of theatre, and music directed by F. Wade Russo.

Acting major Tommy Cole was honored for the Breakthrough Male Performance in a Play for his portrayal of Jason in “Sweat.”

Wright State’s production of “Mamma Mia!” was also nominated for best university musical.

Acting major Tommy Cole was honored for the Breakthrough Male Performance in a Play for his portrayal of Jason in “Sweat.”

Tassy Kirbas, who graduated from Wright State in April with a bachelor’s degree in acting, was honored for the Breakthrough Female Performance in a Musical for her starring role of Charity Hope Valentine in “Sweet Charity.”

Brandon Kelly, a graduate of Wright State’s B.F.A. Dance Program, was honored for Best Local Choreography as the guest choreographer on “Sweet Charity.”

Pam Knauert Lavarnway, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures, was honored for Best Scenic Design of a Play for “Lend Me a Tenor” and for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for “Mamma Mia!”

“Sweat,” which was directed by Wright State theatre graduate Patrick Tubbs, was named the Best Collegiate Production of a Play.

Numerous Wright State students and faculty members also received nominations from Dayton.com, including:

Best Leading Actor in a Play: Aidan Lord as Max, “Lend Me a Tenor”

Best Leading Actress in a Play: Mady McCabe as Tracey, “Sweat”

Best Supporting Actor in a Play: Cole Frasher as Tito Merelli, “Lend Me a Tenor”

Best Supporting Actress in a Play: Zavi Odetta as Cynthia, “Sweat”

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical: Mitchell Lewis as Oscar Lindquist, “Sweet Charity”

Breakthrough Male Performance in a Play: Marcus Antonio as Chris, “Sweat”

Breakthrough Female Performance in a Play: Donya Rahimi as Maria Merelli, “Lend Me a Tenor”

Breakthrough Female Performance in a Musical: Sarah Green as Sophie Sheridan, “Mamma Mia!”

Best Direction of a Play: Joe Deer, “Lend Me a Tenor,” and Shaun Patrick Tubbs, “Sweat”

Best Direction of a Musical: Marya Spring Cordes, “Sweet Charity,” and Greg Hellems, “Mamma Mia!”

Best Local Choreography: Greg Hellems, “Mamma Mia!”

Best Scenic Design of a Play: Michael S. Brewer, “Sweat”

Best Costume Design of a Play: Zoe Still, “Lend Me a Tenor”

Best Costume Design of a Musical: Michelle Sampson, “Mamma Mia!,” and Zoe Still, “Sweet Charity”

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Matthew P. Benjamin, “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Sweat”

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Matthew P. Benjamin, “Mamma Mia!”

Best Sound Design of a Play: James Dunlap, “Sweat,” and Aaron Poland, “Lend Me a Tenor”

Best Sound Design of a Musical: Aaron Poland, “Sweet Charity,” and Grace Randall, “Mamma Mia!”

Best Orchestra: “Sweet Charity,” musical director: F. Wade Russo

Best Properties: John Lavarnway, “Mamma Mia!” and “Sweet Charity”

“Sweet Charity,” was directed Marya Spring Cordes, associate professor of theatre, and music directed by F. Wade Russo, was named as the Best Collegiate Production of a Musical.

Florence also recognized the following Wright State students for additional artistic acknowledgments:

Chap Hollin as Helene in “Sweet Charity”

Tassy Kirbas’ rendition of “If My Friends Could See Me Now” in “Sweet Charity”

Mady McCabe as Marty in “Circle Mirror Transformation”

The Vocal Quartet of “Sweet Charity”: Tanner Gleason, Melissa Matarrese, Lily Rowan and Alex Tischer

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