Phoenix Productions, the Basie Center’s community theater company, receives 9 Perry Award nominations


originally published: 07/26/2022

(RED BANK, NJ) — Phoenix Productionsthe Count Basie Center for the Arts’ community theater company, has received nine nominations in the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters (NJACT)’s annual Perry Awards, the program honoring excellence amongst 80+ of the state’s community theater companies.

Two Phoenix presentations – last summer’s Spring Awakening at The Vogel at the Count Basie Center, and April’s production of The Wizard Of Oz in the facility’s historic theater – received nods, including Outstanding Production of a Musical for The Wizard Of Oz.

“The Perry Awards program honors the best of the best,” said James Grausam, Managing Artist Director, Phoenix Productions. “To be included alongside so many of our favorite companies, fellow directors and actors, and aficionados or theater in general, is both an honor and a thrill.”

Two actors from Spring Awakening were cited: Griffin Cole in the Best Supporting Actor in a Musical category, and Israel Orengo in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Including Outstanding Production of a Musical, Phoenix’s The Wizard Of Oz received a total of seven nominations: Outstanding Direction (Justin Christopher Odon), Outstanding Lighting Design (Kyle Santopadre), Outstanding Sound Design of a Musical (Justin Christopher Odon), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical (Emily Pellecchia), Outstanding Youth Actor in a Musical (Anthony Nardulli) and Outstanding Stage Management of a Musical (Dennis Tolentino).

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“I’m thrilled that Justin, as a first-time director on the main stage, received this recognition,” Grausam added. “He put so much heart and soul into the production, as did all of our nominees.”

Phoenix Productions has received numerous Perry Awards nominations, and previously won in 2020 in the Outstanding Stage Management of a Musical slot. (Kathleen Rose Gallardo).

Phoenix Productions and the Count Basie Center announced a merger last year, following Phoenix’s 30+ year run of calling the historic performing arts center its home for main stage productions. The addition of Phoenix Productions complements the Basie Center’s long tenure of supporting the Broadway community, from its “Broadway At The Basie Center” series of national touring companies, to the annual Basie Awards, which honors excellence in Monmouth County high school theatre. The Count Basie Center Academy of the Arts also offers a number of Broadway-themes classes and workshops, including fully-mounted junior productions on its historic stages.

The Perry Awards are named in honor of William Perry Morgan, a gifted director, actor, composer and musician who was once a driving force in New Jersey’s community theater scene. In 1973, Morgan and several of his community theater colleagues created the AVY Awards, named after the township of Avenel, where he lived. In 2004, NJACT was formed to take over the awards and formally re-branded the program in Morgan’s honor.

For over 30 years, Phoenix Productions has been dedicated to the mission of providing quality theatrical experiences on both sides of the footlights. After three decades of performances at the Count Basie Center for the Arts, the organizations announced a merger, combining and solidifying their regional impact on the performing arts. Together, the Count Basie Center and Phoenix Productions have a clear vision: to be the place where a diverse and inclusive mix of talented people want to do their best work. The organizations’ continued pledge to deepen their commitments to cultural competency, racial equity and social inclusion is at the heart of the Basie Center’s mission as a not for profit organization.

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