In honor of his theatrical talents, Will Brooks recently captured two Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Award nominations. Along with being recognized in the play division — Leading Actor for his portrayal of Jack in The Pumphouse Players’ presentation of “Dead Accounts,” the Cartersville resident also garnered a nod in the musical division for Set Design with Act3 Productions’ “Urinetown.”
“It’s always gratifying to get recognition by your peer group at large for the work that you do,” Brooks said. “I found out about my nomination for ‘Urinetown’ back in May, and it was really satisfying. This was a show that I poured myself into and worked really hard on. It was probably the most conceptual set design I had ever done, and I had such a great time working with the director and crew of that show. Getting the nod for that work was a nice justification that I had done it right.
“I didn’t find out about the nomination [for] ‘Dead Accounts’ until a week or two ago, and it was a total surprise. I wasn’t expecting that at all, and I was thrilled when I found out. Originally, I was slated to do the set design and lighting design for the show and that was a full enough plate as it was. Then with about three weeks to go before the show was to open, the lead actor had to step aside due to some work conflicts. I got a frantic call from Suzanne Husting, our director, and she was trying to figure out what to do. I knew the part was in my age range and I was familiar with the show and knew it was a plum role, so I volunteered to step in and she, thankfully, let me do it. Usually, when you work on a show, you have around six weeks to learn a part. This was really a third of that time, and I really had fun with it. Working as hard as I did in such a short period of time makes the nomination for the role extra special.”
Performed at The Legion Theatre in Cartersville, “Dead Accounts” was presented in August 2016.
“As to why this play was selected as our MAT entry, I think there are several reasons,” Husting told The Daily Tribune News prior to the adult comedy’s opening. “First, it’s new; I don’t believe it’s been done in our area previously, so there is the novelty factor. Second, it’s complex, a challenge for the actors, and we feel confident that the MAT judges will recognize this. The language and the construction of the dialogue are so vital and real, but at the same time, almost jazz-like in its rhythms. ... Thirdly, we believe that it is a very relatable play for our audiences. I’m very excited to be entrusted with the responsibility of bringing this to our audiences, and by the prospect of it being up for MAT Award consideration.
“This play touches on so many topics that are familiar to families today. The empty nest that somehow doesn’t stay empty, with adult children returning home following divorce, loss of jobs or foreclosures. There is the resonance of family conflicts, the bickering that seems to ensue in any family get-together that runs the gamut from politics and religion to how to load the dishwasher. Does this sound funny? All throughout the rehearsal process, our cast has chuckled — ‘Oh, I had that same argument with my mom!’ ‘My brother is just like that!’
“Beyond the family dynamics, the play also takes on the effects of our most recent recession, the mortgage crisis, the bank and corporate bailouts. But it comes out affirming the values that solid families try to instill: work hard, take care of each other, cherish each other and the time we have together. Ultimately, it comes down to the difference between success, as the world promotes it, and fulfillment or true happiness. Although the play is set in suburban Ohio, I think these same hometown values are what we in Cartersville know to be real and true.”
The MAT accolades, which recognize plays and individual performances in community and nonunion professional theater, will be presented Aug. 27 at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center.
In addition to Brooks, two other individuals affiliated with The Pumphouse Players’ received MAT Award nominations for their work with theater companies outside of Bartow County: Alex LaVelle — Lighting Design/musical for OnStage Atlanta’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; and Zac Phelps — Choreographer for Marietta Theatre Co.’s “9 to 5 the Musical” and Leading Actor/musical for his portrayal of Bobby Strong in Act3 Productions’ “Urinetown.”
“I was offered the scenic design for Urinetown thanks to Ian Gibson, a former board member at Pumphouse,” Brooks said. “He is currently serving on the board [at] Act3 in Sandy Springs and recommended me for the gig. It was my first experience with them, and it was a great one. ‘Urinetown’ is a satirical musical set in a dystopian future.
“I was thrilled to see that Zac Phelps was nominated for his role in ‘Urinetown.’ He’s a super talented guy, and I enjoyed working with him at Pumphouse on ‘Godspell’ a couple of years ago.”
He continued, “This is my fourth and fifth nomination for the MAT awards. I’ve been nominated before for Supporting Actor on the musical ‘Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming,’ for Sound Design for ‘Duck Hunter Shoots Angel’ and I won for Lighting Design for ‘Agnes of God.’ All of these were local Cartersville productions.”
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