Tottie's dream lives on at Geyer award show
Tottie Kiefer, a philanthropist and an individual who loved and saw the benefits of the theater, would've been proud Jan. 18 to see the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale teeming with actors and other individuals who shared that same love.
But no greater pride could she have ever had than to know that her dream was being carried on — not only by a bunch of individuals who love the theater, but also by her granddaughter Marah Kiefer, who performed on the GPAC stage for the first time in 2013.
At the Tottie Awards, Marah said she first made the decision to participate in the musical “The Wizard of Oz” after Albert Gallatin High School's musical director announced they were in need of short people to be munchkins in the production at the GPAC.
Not only did she participate in “The Wizard of Oz,” she loved the stage so much that she also took part in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
“I have a vision problem, but when I'm on the stage, it goes away,” Marah Kiefer said. “My grandmother died when I was 2 years old, so I never really got to know her, but when I'm on stage it feels like she's guiding me through.”
Tottie Kiefer's daughter and Marah Kiefer's aunt, Lynn Andras, said her mother would be so proud of Marah as well as how successful the theater has become.
“These children are our future, and tonight — this is what she (Tottie Kiefer) would've wanted for this place and this theater,” Andras said. “She wanted this to be a place the whole community could enjoy.”
And enjoy it they did on Saturday night as one award after another was given out in recognition of all the hard work put into performances over the past year.
Besides winning the awards for best musical and best director (Michael Rohlf), “Man of La Mancha” also won a Tottie for best scenic and lighting design, the best performance by a featured actor (Mark Fox) and best performance by a leading actor (Ron Hudson Jr.)
“Drinking Habits” was the top vote getter to take home the Tottie Award for Best Play.
“The Wizard of Oz” and “The Wedding Singer” also made a good showing with both shows tying for best music.
“The Wedding Singer” also won for best choreography, best comedic troupe (Martha Oliver and Brennan Malia), best performance by a featured actress in a musical (Lexie Rohlf).
“The Wizard of Oz” was represented well with Totties for best costume design, best antagonist (Breanna Otto for the Wicked Witch) and best performance by a leading actress in a musical (Kara Rohlf as Dorothy).
Considering the plays that graced the stage this past year, Paul Appleby took home the Tottie for best performance by a featured actor in a play for his portrayal as Mr. Richards in “The Boardinghouse,” and Mandy Onder took home the Tottie for best performance by a featured actress in a play for her portrayal as Sister Mary Catherine in “Drinking Habits.”
The best performance by a leading actor in a play was Brad Geyer for his work as Paul in “Drinking Habits.” and the best performance by a leading actress in a play was Martha Oliver for her work as Mrs. Ethel Savage in “The Curious Savage.”
The Golden Doorknob Award, which is the GPAC's version of a lifetime achievement award for those individuals who have contributed in several different ways to keep the doors of the theater open, was awarded to John Cunnard.
Rich Davis, last year's recipient of the Golden Doorknob Award, said Cunnard has certainly helped to open doors and keep doors open at the theater since he's been active in all aspects since the doors reopened 25 years ago as Scottdale Showtime Theater.
“He works tirelessly with the 50/50s, as an usher, an audience member, an actor and a director,” Davis said.
“You may or may not see him when you're here because he does a lot of work backstage, working on the set and working in the fly,” he added.
Cunnard was completely shocked by the award.
“It is such an honor,” he said. “I was honored just to present an award with Tottie Kiefer's daughter (Lynn Andras), so I don't even know what to say to this.”
Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.