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Geyer Performing Arts Center recognizes its stars

| Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, 6:45 p.m.
State Rep. Deberah Kula presents a citation to Geyer Performing Center for the Arts President Brad Geyer at the Tottie Awards Saturday night as part of the theater’s 25th anniversary celebration. Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier
Grace Rusnica and Ben Pimental reprise their roles as Mary Lennox and Dicken when they performed a song from the musical 'The Secret Garden' at the Tottie Awards on Saturday. Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier
At the Tottie Awards on Saturday night, a new award, dubbed the Golden Door Award, was presented to recognize three individuals who were instrumental in reopening the theater 25 years ago. Those individuals were Millard Hess, Mary Beistel and Tottie Kiefer. Above, GPAC President Brad Geyer presents the award to Lynn Andras, daughter of Kiefer. Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier
Rich Davis was the recipient of the Golden Doorknob award, the prestigious Tottie, on the order of a lifetime achievement award. It is given to an individual who has shown years of commitment to the theater and doing whatever is necessary to help keep the doors to the theater open. Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier
Geyer Performing Arts Center (GPAC) President Brad Geyer talks with Marilyn Forbes, winner of the best performance by an actress in a play at the 6th annual Tottie Awards on Saturday night. Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier

The sixth annual Tottie Awards show at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale was held on Saturday evening and doubled as a kickoff for the year's 25th anniversary celebration schedule of events.

Besides the actual awards and musical numbers from some of the shows performed this past year, the night included the presentation of citations from U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair; state Rep. Deberah Kula, D-Fayette County; and other local dignitaries.

A representative from Murphy's office said the theater is the only cultural outlet in Scottdale and a tangible link to the borough's past.

The theater is a great place for young people to establish their talents and have a place to perform, Kula said.

“It allows them to begin at a young age to appreciate the arts,” she said.

Along with the citations for the theater, another new part of the awards evening was the presentation of the Golden Door Tottie Award.

Brad Geyer, president of the Geyer Performing Arts Center board of directors, said the board came up with the award to honor three individuals who were instrumental in the reopening of the theater 25 years ago. The three — Millard Hess, Mary Biestel and Tottie Kiefer — were on the first board of directors for the then-Scottdale Showtime Theater.

Martha Oliver said Hess was one of the individuals who spearheaded the renovation of the theater, although originally he had planned to use it as a storage area for his furniture company.

Dottie Davis said Biestel sold shoes but had a love for the theater.

“She would be so happy to see that this theater is still here doing shows,” Davis said. “I'm proud to say I know this lady, and I'm glad I got to work with her.”

Mark Fox called Kiefer a “one-of-a-kind, can-do person.” Kiefer's daughter Lynn Andras accepted the award on behalf of her mother.

As in recent years, the theater presented the Golden Doorknob Tottie Award, which is given to an individual who has been involved with the theater for a number of years and who will do just about anything needed to keep its doors open.

The recipient this year was Rich Davis, who was given the award by last year's winner, Karen Snyder.

Snyder said Davis has done everything: cleaning the theater, working the fly, directing, acting, traveling to schools to put on children's shows, constructing sets and even repairing stage curtains.

Davis said he was truly humbled by the award and to be mentioned in the same breath with Kiefer.

“She was a wonderful woman, and without her, this place would not be here,” he said. “Thank you for this honor, and I'll do what I can to try to keep the doors open.”

The big winners of the night were Bill Dreucci as best director of a play or musical for “The Producers” and “While the Lights Were Out” as best play and “The Producers” as best musical.

Adam Kenney took home the Tottie for leading actor in a play for his work in “Fools.” Laurie Watson landed the Tottie for leading actress in a play for her work in “While the Lights Were Out.”

Roger Rhodes was recognized as best performance by a leading actor in a musical for his role as Max in “The Producers,” and Lexie Rohlf won the Tottie for best performance by a leading actress in a musical for her role as Elle in “Legally Blonde.”

Other winners of the evening included: Sam and Jaye Crawford for best costume design, John Wagner for best choreography, and Ernest and Laurie Watson for their work on “The Producers”; Jim Overly for best music for his work in “The Secret Garden”; and Rich Davis as best performance by a featured actor in a play and Marilyn Forbes as best performance by a featured actress in a play for their work in “Fools.”

Ben Pimental and Nick Onesko tied to win Totties for best performance by a featured actor for their work in “Secret Garden” and “The Producers,” respectively. Whitney Weimer won the Tottie for best performance by a featured actress for “Legally Blonde.”

Alex Scabis took home the Tottie for best antagonist for his work in “The Producers,” and Onesko, David Fox, Jeremy Lowery, Pimental, Wagner and Sophia Jones all received Totties for best comedic troupe.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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