Cartersville theater community receives acting nods
by Marie Nesmith
Jul 07, 2012 | 1279 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Along with garnering applause from local audiences, several members of the Cartersville theater community also caught the eye of the Metropolitan Atlanta Theater organization.

StageWorks Inc. received two nods for its production of “Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming,” which the theater group submitted for MAT’s consideration. Will Brooks was nominated in the major supporting actor, musical category for his portrayal of pastor Mervin Oglethorpe, and Karen Ruetz was recognized in the major supporting actress, musical category for her take on Oglethorpe’s wife, June Sanders.

“I thought they did an outstanding job and to have the MAT folks verify that was just a thrilling thing for me,” said Leslie McCrary, co-founder of StageWorks. “They’re both outstanding actors and in this particular play I asked them to go the extra mile for me and they more than stepped up to it and did exactly what I wanted them to do and enjoyed it. And now they’ve been nominated for it. So we’re all just ecstatic about the whole thing.

“[‘Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming’ is] the second part of a story of a traveling gospel singing family. In this particular installment of their story, the preacher of the church has married one of [the] daughters of the singing group. They are headed to Texas from their home church in North Carolina to start a new church, and she is extremely pregnant.”

In addition to StageWorks, The Pumphouse Players Inc. also received a MAT award nomination. The community theater group’s submission of “Extremities” garnered Kip Henderson a nod in the leading actor, play category.

“The Pumphouse Players, having been around for such a long time, we’ve been involved with some of the best actors and, in the case of Ray, playwrights in the region,” said PHP President Mike Harris, referring to longtime PHP member and playwright Raymond Fast, who was nominated for his original work “Bonneville Love,” which was performed at another venue. “So when the MAT awards are given out, it’s no surprise to me that some of the folks that have been on our stage, either appearing or backstage, will get nominated for MAT awards. Almost every year in the last few seasons, we’ve had nominees up there.

“And we’re especially proud to have Kip up there because he appeared at one of the shows that was at The Legion, produced by The Pumphouse Players. ‘Extremities’ is one of the most powerful dramatic plays that has been produced in the last couple of decades. It’s subject matter is very intense and the lead actors in this show have to bring a scary amount of intensity to it. It can be one of the most traumatic live stage plays that you will see and Kip as the antagonist in that show really did an outstanding job. He completely deserves to be nominated for a MAT award.”

To be presented in August, MAT awards recognize plays and individual performances in community and non-union professional theater.

According to, “The Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Awards, founded by Russ Ivey, originated in October of 2004 with the intention of recognizing those hardworking individuals that put their time and effort into community and non-union professional theater. There are many aspiring actors that would like to be given recognition for their skills and dedication to the performing arts. Many of those are of the desire to build their resume so that they will be given more audition opportunities.

“Secondly, many theaters have a hard time marketing themselves so they can draw not only an audience, but a lot of the talent to their shows. This is where the MAT awards come in. The ‘MAT’ is one of [31] different categories that are presented on an annual basis. Each year, an award ceremony is held to present those awards to the individuals/theaters that have put the time and effort into making their productions great.”