Newly eligible companies take emphatic bow at 2013 Henry Awards

177 CURIOUS

By John Moore
July 22, 2013

The Colorado Theatre Guild set out to put more Colorado in Colorado Theatre Guild’s 2013 Henry Awards, and tonight’s results certainly accomplished that goal. The question on many minds tomorrow, after the Guild had left so many of its own member companies out of the race for seven years, will be whether it perhaps overcorrected – all in one shot.

It was no surprise that the Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha” was the big winner of a refreshingly spread-out evening, pulling seven awards, including best musical and best direction for Rod Lansberry. Right behind was a mountain-company newcomer to the Henrys: The Lake Dillon Theatre Company pulled four wins, including three for “Kiss of the Spider-Woman.” Curious Theatre won best play for “The Brothers Size.”

In all, 11 companies and 16 shows won at least one award. (Here is the complete list of nominees and here is the complete list of all eligible shows.)

Theater companies from outside the metro area were eligible for Henry Awards for the first time, and all four trophies for best (male) actors went to regional theater companies:

*Jonathan Farwell, best actor in a play, OpenStage & Company’s “Amadeus,” Fort Collins
*Bob Moore, best supporting actor in a play, Lake Dillon Theatre’s “The Sunshine Boys”
*Joshua Blanchard, best actor in a musical, Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s “Kiss of the Spider-Woman”
*Thomas Rainey, best supporting actor in a musical, Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s “Kiss of the Spider-Woman

The Guild made great strides in expanding the eligible pool this year to a record 162 productions. That the 2013 winners represent a real swath of the Colorado theater community for the first time is the truest statement of community the Guild could make.

But one question tomorrow morning will be whether the Guild, in its noble effort to welcome statewide companies into the mix, inadvertently steered things in their favor. Because to make those outlying productions eligible, the Guild also expanded its pool of judges to those very communities. It takes six judges to make any production eligible for a Henry Award, which previously has made it logistically impossible to include regional theater companies in the pool. Now the outlying shows are judged by a mix of Denver-based judges who make the trek to see theater throughout the state, and reviewers and theater-lovers who live in the communities they now judge.

The natural, if uncomfortable, question might at least be asked: Were those judges predisposed to overly support the productions in their home areas? Or were the best theater performances in Colorado all living outside of the Denver area last year? Or is it maybe a little bit of both?

The eight women’s acting awards were more evenly distributed. It seemed a foregone conclusion that new Denver transplant SuCh (Celie) would win best actress in a musical for “The Color Purple” after she and castmate Ashlie-Amber Harris drew a mid-show standing ovation with their shattering live performance of the duet, “What About Love?”

This was easily the most powerhouse category of the night, including five amazing performances: Selah Grace (“Kiss of the Spider-Woman”), Norrell Moore (“Hair”), Megan Van De Hey (“Baby”), Kathi Wood “Little Shop of Horrors” and Brianna Firestone (“Sweet Charity”).

The Denver Center pulled two of the three remaining female acting awards: Jeanne Paulsen for “Romeo and Juliet” and Ruth Gottschall for “Sense and Sensibility, the Musical” (supporting actresses in a play and musical, respectively).

The other went to beloved local actress Laura Norman for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Ghost-Writer.” Interestingly, Norman’s was the most contained performance among a fiery field filled with incendiary performances by Abby Apple Boes and Anne Oberbroeckling in “August: Osage County,” Rhonda Brown in “Red Hot Patriot: The Wit and Wisdom of Molly Ivins,” and Kim Staunton in “Fences.”

Prognosticators were kept guessing all night long, simply because the fields were so deep in so many categories. The fully loaded ensemble award went to Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair.”

On a night stuffed with surprises, one award that was no surprise at all was Curious Theatre winning the outstanding season by a company award. After all, it placed three of the five nominees in the “best play” category. What may come as a surprise is that this is the first time in eight years that Curious, whose mission is to stage only plays that are new to Denver, has ever won the best-season Henry award.


My video tribute to Ray Angel, Diane Beckoff, Harry Cruzan, Shana Dowdeswell, Diane Gadomski, Robert Garner, Angela Johnson, David Kristin, Will Marshall, Brook Millard, Adam Perkes and Linda Rae Wheeler. This served as the “memoriam” section of the Henry Awards.

The first-time hosts for the evening were GerRee Hinshaw and Stephen J. Burge, taking a lighthearted approach that kept the evening quickly moving. The hosts enlisted Eden Lane, Kirk Montgomery, Gloria Shanstrom and myself for a comic opening bit about whether there would — or should — be an opening number. (Of course there was one — “Show People” by the cast of the Arvada Center’s “Curtains.” That kind of made up for the most awkward moment of the night — when eventual Henry-winning best musical “Man of La Mancha,” for reasons both logistical and economic, could not perform live along with the other nominated best musicals. (Instead, a videotape was played of the song “Dulcinea”).

There were many fun small moments — such as the Curious Theatre husband-and-wife team of Chip Walton (“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”) and Dee Covington (“The Brothers Size”) going head-to-head for best director of a play. The winner was Bob Wells, who was honored for directing “The 39 Steps” for the Town Hall Arts Center. That was made sweeter when Wells reminded the crowd that he appeared in the first Arvada Center staging ever held in 1976.

It was also sweet to see a live performance of “On My Own” from Chaparral High School’s recent “Les Miserables.” The show was the first winner of the Denver Center’s new Bobby G Awards, honoring the best in high-school theater musical.

Chris Campbell gave an endearing speech after winning one of the two best-costume awards (for “Man of La Mancha”). She said: “In the words of Jack Benny, I don’t deserve this … but I have arthritis, too, and I don’t deserve that, either.”

A major change by the Guild was a last-minute decision to split the four design categories (costumes, scenic design, sound and lighting) into large budget and small budget tiers.

You couldn’t help but be moved by octogenarian Jonathan Farwell’s surprise win for playing Salieri in “Amadeus.” “I am astonished and humbled,” he told the crowd.

But I think for most people the highlight of the night had to be Jim Hunt winning the
Lifetime Achievement award. It was presented by his former acting student at Alameda High School, Rick Bernstein, who went on to found the Morrison Theatre Company and Miners Alley Playhouse. For more on that, scroll to the bottom of the page.


Members of the local theater community give their shout-outs to this year’s field of 2013 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award nominees. One comes all the way from Poland.

Running list of winners:

Outstanding season:
CURIOUS THEATRE COMPANY

Outstanding Musical
“MAN OF LA MANCHA” Arvada Center

Outstanding Play
“THE BROTHERS SIZE” Curious Theatre Company

Outstanding Direction of a Musical
ROD LANSBERRY “Man of La Mancha” – Arvada Center

Outstanding Musical Direction
DAVID NEHLS
“Man of La Mancha” – Arvada Center

Outstanding Direction of a Play
ROBERT WELLS “The 39 Steps” – Town Hall Arts Center

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
JONATHAN FARWELL
“Amadeus” – OpenStage Theatre & Company

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
LAURA NORMAN
“Ghost-Writer” – Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

Special Award: Lifetime Achievement in Theatre:
JIM HUNT

Outstanding New Play:
“SWEET TOOTH” Buntport Theater Company

Special Award: Outstanding Regional Theatre:
THEATREWORKS, Colorado Springs

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical:
JOSHUA BLANCHARD
“Kiss of the Spider Woman”- Lake Dillon Theatre Company

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
SuCh
“The Color Purple” – Aurora Fox Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play
BOB MOORE
“The Sunshine Boys” – Lake Dillon Theatre Company

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play
JEANNE PAULSEN
“Romeo & Juliet” – Denver Center Theatre Company

Special award:
COLORADO STATE THESPIANS Advocate for Theatre Arts Education

Outstanding Ensemble
“HAIR”
Town Hall Arts Center

Outstanding Choreography
KITTY SKILLMAN HILSABECK
“Man of La Mancha” – Arvada Center

Outstanding Scenic Design, small budget:
ABSTER PRODUCTIONS “August: Osage County” – Abster Productions

Outstanding Scenic Design, large budget
BRIAN MALLGRAVE “Man of La Mancha” – Arvada Center

Outstanding Costume Design: Small budget
LINDA MORKEN
“The Wizard of Oz” – Boulder’s Dinner Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design, large budget:
CHRIS CAMPBELL
“Man of La Mancha” – Arvada Center

Special Award:
Outstanding Volunteer, Randy Dipner, TheatreWorks, Colorado Springs

Outstanding Lighting Design Small budget
JACOB M. WELCH
“Kiss of the Spider Woman” – Lake Dillon Theatre Company

Outstanding Lighting Design: Large budget
SHANNON MCKINNEY
“Man of La Mancha” – Arvada Center

Outstanding Sound Design: Large budget
BRIAN FREELAND
“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” – Curious Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design: Small budget
ADAM STONE
“Wake” – Buntport Theater

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

THOMAS RAINEY
“Kiss of the Spider Woman” – Lake Dillon Theatre Company

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical:

RUTH GOTTSCHALL
“Sense & Sensibility The Musical” – Denver Center Theatre Company

Excerpt of Jim Hunt nomination letter:

Full disclosure: I nominated Jim Hunt for the 2013 Life Achievement Award. I leave you with an excerpt from the nomination letter I submitted to the Guild on Jim’s behalf:

Your requirements for this Life Achievement Award seem written in the very acknowledgement of Jim Hunt’s career:

The nominee must show a significant contribution to the Colorado theater community: Jim Hunt has been an actor, director, teacher and coach in the Denver area for 50 years, dating (in my mind at least) back to a 1964 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opposite Nick Nolte for the Little Theatre of the Rockies. He hasn’t taken much of a break since.

Jim graduated from Westminster High School (1961) and UNC (1965). He taught theater at Alameda High School for eight years, and at Arvada West for 8 1/2. His students have included Rick Bernstein, who founded Morrison Theatre Company and Miners Alley Playhouse. He directed new Arvada Center executive director Phil Sneed as a young man in “South Pacific” at the Arvada Center in 1977.

He has supported efforts promote Colorado theater in innumerable ways, including the often-thankless job of directing of the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards for many years.

The nominee must show at least ten years of active participation in theater in Colorado:
Ten? How about 50?

The nominee must show involvement in many aspects of theater:
Teaching
Acting
Coaching
Hosting
Volunteering
Boosterism

The nominee may show involvement with more than one theater:
Jim Hunt has performed and directed at dozens of local venues, including the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (for the first time) starting in 1974. He was part of the very first production at the Arvada Center when it opened in 1975, and he remained part of the inaugural company there through 1978. He has maintained a pretty good mix between acting and directing ever since.

Jim boldly faced down a serious case of stage-fright in the late 1990s by taking improv theater classes. Since 2001, he has been back on the boards everywhere from the Denver Center to Colorado Shakes to Curious Theatre to the Victorian Playhouse to Paragon to Conundrum to Modern Muse to The Avenue to Town Hall to the Aurora Fox to Country Dinner Playhouse.

His crowning achievement may have been in Paragon Theatre’s “The Caretaker” in 2006. Or maybe it was In 2009, when Jim won the Denver Post Ovation Award for playing “Her Father” in Curious Theatre’s “Eurydice.” Or maybe it was playing Bull McCabe in the final production ever staged at the Vic, “The Field.” You can’t say because he just keeps topping himself.

Jim remains active, vital, and working for a wide range of theaters. Just last year alone, at the age of 68, he performed in Boulder Ensemble’s “The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde”; Lake Dillon’s “Sylvia”; Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Noises Off”; Vintage’s “Becky’s New Car”; and Backstage’s “A Christmas Carol.” That’s five productions for five different companies. In a single year! (He won the 2012 True West Award for this accomplishment). What actor – of any age – can ever have claimed that? Well how about Jim Hunt … the year before? In 2011, he won the Ovation Award for Victorian’s “The Field,” and also appeared in Lake Dillon’s “Seascape,” Paragon’s “A Lie of the Mind,” Boulder Ensemble’s “Mauritius,” and Town Hall Arts Center’s “The Wizard of Oz.” Already in 2013, he’s been in Boulder Ensemble’s “Ghost-Writer” and “Bach at Leipzig,” and Lake Dillon’s “The Sunshine Boys.”

Stay with me: That means in the past 30 months alone, Jim Hunt has performed in 13 productions … for eight different theater companies. … And did I mention … he turns 70 in December!

How has he been able to keep it going? “It’s my demon,” he told me once in an interview. “It’s my necessity.”

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Video: Shout-outs to 2013 Henry Award nominees

By John Moore
July 18, 2013

Members of the local theater community give their shout-outs to this year’s field of 2013 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award nominees. One comes all the way from Poland. The ceremony is July 22 at the Arvada Center.

Video by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Running time: 7 minutes.

Shouters and the shouted at include: Colin Alexander, Joanie Brosseau, Rhonda Brown, Chris Campbell, David Cates, Matthew Dailey, Jennifer DeDominici, Ben Dicke, Terry Dodd, Michael J. Duran, Jonathan Farwell, Deb Flomberg, Brian Freeland, Ronni Gallup, Rachel D. Graham, Josh Hartwell, Tim Howard, Peter J. Hughes, Michelle Hurtubise, Wendy Ishii, Rebecca Joseph, Chris Kendall, Chris Kitchen, Madison Kitchen, Carla Kaiser Kotrc, Rod Lansberry, Sue Leiser, Lauren Cora Marsh, Matt Maxwell, Gavin Mayer, Melanie Mayner, Norrell Moore, Josh Nelson, James O’Hagan-Murphy, Anne Oberbroeckling, Jessie Page, Paul Page, Pat Payne, Max Peterson, Robert Michael Sanders, Steef Sealy, Megan Van De Hey, Jason Tyler Vaughn, Vintage Theatre, Burke Walton, Bob Wells, Chris Wiger, Kathi Wood and Ryan Wuestewald.

Please share this video
Direct link to the YouTube video above: http://youtu.be/5NzFbxsfxVg

2013 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards
Monday, July 22
Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Tickets: $25; available only through the Arvada Center box office, 720-898-7200
Info: Go to the Colorado Theatre Guild web site

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Photos: 2013 Bobby G Awards honoring Colorado high-school theater

IMG_5950
Chaparral High School wins the first-ever Bobby G Award for outstanding musical, “Les Misérables.” See the slideshow below for more shots. Just push the “play” button.

By John Moore
June 2, 2013

The 2013 Bobby G Awards, named after late Denver producer Robert Garner, honor the best in Colorado high-school musical theater. They are part of a national awards program called the Jimmys. The inaugural Bobby G’s gala was held May 30, 2013, at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

All photos taken by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. All rights reserved


Additional coverage:

For more coverage of the 2013 Bobby G Awards, click here. You’ll find:

Video: Watch as Chaparral High School’s “Les Misérables” wins best musical.

Video: Colorado actors on Broadway offer their support and congratulations.

Names: Complete list of nominees and winners.

What are the Bobby G’s?
In addition, here you can about the Denver Center’s decision to join the national high-school awards program.

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Video: Watch Chaparral High School win the Bobby G for Best Musical

By John Moore
May 31, 2013

Watch as Chaparral High School’s “Les Misérables” wins best musical at the inaugural Bobby G Awards on May 30 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Senior Chris Maclean also won best actor for his portrayal of Jean Valjean.

The Bobby G Awards honor Denver metro high-school thespians, which culminated Thursday with the announcement of Maclean and Nicole Seefried as best actor and actress. Seefried played Kate Monster in “Avenue Q” at the Denver School of the Arts. Their regional awards earned both a week-long Broadway immersion as part of the National High School Musical Theater Awards, affectionately known as “The Jimmys.” While in New York, the regional winners experience five days of private coaching, master classes and rehearsals with theater professionals administered by the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Their week culminates with a special performance on a Broadway stage — at the Minskoff Theatre. More than 50,000 students participate in the awards program nationally, and in the past five years, $750,000 in merit scholarships have been awarded. Local adjudicators considered 15 public and private high-school stagings.

The Bobby G Awards were initiated by David Cates and Denver Center president Randy Weeks. Next spring, the field is expected to expand to 24 participating schools

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    More Bobby G’s coverage:

Video: Colorado actors on Broadway offer their support and congratulations

Photo gallery from the awards ceremony:

Story: What are the Bobby G’s? Read about the Denver Center’s decision to join the national awards program honoring high-school theater.

    Complete list of nominees and award recipients:

Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

The Producers, Bear Creek High School
In The Heights, Westminster High School
Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Outstanding Achievement in Direction
David Peterson, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Tami LoSasso, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Kella Manfredi, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Kryssi Martin, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
André Rodriguez, In The Heights, Westminster High School

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Nicole Seefried, Kate Monster, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts

Kelli Brewster, Elle Woods, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Libby Rubin, Molly Tobin Brown, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Northglenn High School
Lea Schoengarth, Vanessa, In The Heights, Westminster High School
Caroline Vickstrom, Hope Cladwell, Urinetown, Evergreen High School

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Chris Maclean, Jean ValJean, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Asa Cogswell, Caldwell B. Cladwell, Urinetown, Evergreen High School
Alex Owens, Leo Bloom, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Chris Salguero, Usnavi De La Vega, In The Heights, Westminster High School
Graeme Schulz, Jean ValJean, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Meaghan Johnson, Mrs. Meers, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High Scho
ol
Arika Drake, Meg Brockie, Brigadoon, Arapahoe High School
Charlotte Grimm, Brooke Wyndham, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Emma Grueskin, Delilah Strict, Zombie Prom, Colorado Academy
Samantha Steele, Madame Thenardier, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Michael Board, Trekkie Monster, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts

Clay Edwards, Eddie Flagrante, Zombie Prom, Colorado Academy
Matt Laughlin, Bun Foo, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School
Justin Michael, Carmen Ghia, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Nathan Montgomery, Cosmo Brown, Singin’ in the Rain, Cherry Creek High School

Rising Star (Outstanding undersclassman)
Rose Lucas, Serena, Littleton High School, Legally Blonde

Maria Gesicki, Chip, Legacy High School, Beauty and the Beast
Ethan Miller, Josh, Colorado Academy
Gavin Roberts, Roberts/Father Flynn/Miner/Maitre’D in Monte Carlo/Quartet, Northglenn High School, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Zombie Prom
Liam Sonke, Aaron/Grandmaster Chad/Harvard ensemble, Littleton High School, Legally Blonde

Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction
Steve Hinman and Jerry Vander Does, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Tammy Ahmed and Nathan Payant, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Marie Hayden & Brett (Bert) Lawson, Little Shop of Horrors, Hinkley High School
Bryce Melaragno and Teri Willmarth, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Kelly Parmenter, Brigadoon, Arapahoe High School

Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra
Little Shop of Horrors, Hinkley High School

The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Singin’ in the Rain, Cherry Creek High School
Beauty and the Beast, Legacy High School

Outstanding Achievement in Choreography
Stacia Luigi, Christina Mau and Kella Manfredi, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Meg Flinders and Stephanie Prugh, Once Upon a Mattress, Heritage High School
Jody Gayton and Santana Trujillo, In The Heights, Westminster High School
Heather Westenskow, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Lisa Wood, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
Erin Ramsey, In The Heights, Westminster High School

Dean Arniotes, Urinetown, Evergreen High School
Brandon Davis, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Taylor Dykstra and David Peterson, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Stephen A. Scherer, Zombie Prom, Colorado Academy

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
Daniel Davidek and Travis Roth, In The Heights, Westminster High School

Madison Arterburn, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts
Andy Becker, Emily Helmus and Julie Rooney, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Kenzi Everitt, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Patrick Hinchcliffe, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
Christian Atkinson, Once Upon a Mattress, Heritage High School

Vince Alcon, Karin Fowler, Naomi Sanchez and Reyna Sanchez, In The Heights, Westminster High School
Celene Alejandre, Nicky Fernandez and Genevieve Glowacki-Geyer, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts
Ellen Bradford, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Lisa Wood, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make-Up Design
Rebecca Maestas, In The Heights, Westminster High School

April Edwards, Justine Jones, Megan King, Maddie McKinnon, Arianna Savci and Schuyler Wright, Zombie Prom, Colorado Academy
Kella Manfredi, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Maggie Ste. Marie, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Jessica Van Houweling, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design
Steven Cross, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Emily Biffinger, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Kris Davis, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts
Jose Martinez, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Adriana Rodriguez, Ailee Rowe & Jack Worthington, In The Heights, Westminster High School

Outstanding Special Achievement Award Recipients
Matthew Cheney, Brigadoon, Arapahoe High School
Erik Peterson, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Jared Giammanco, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Greg Hainline and Ben Hartman, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts

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More information on the Bobby G Awards:
Check out this informational page: