Volunteers star in ‘Toppers’

Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

Volunteers are the stars at the Installation Management Activity-Europe’s Tournament of Plays “Topper” awards to be held 7:30 p.m. April 22 at the Patrick Henry Village Pavilion in Heidelberg.

Comparable to the Tony awards, this annual Europe-wide competition helps volunteers at U.S. military theater programs, said Jim Sohre, IMA-E entertainment director.

“The Tournament of Plays is really about education and training,” he said.
“We’re giving people praise, but we’re also instructing them on what they might do to improve the show or where they might go to further their skills.”

A team of professional actors and directors spent six weeks going to theaters from England to Italy for this year’s competition. They will finish judging 23 plays Monday.

The judges were here March 17 to see KMC Onstage’s production of “Grease,” and they will return Sunday to see Razz-Ma- Tazz Family Theater’s production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

After the shows, the judges give a 30-minute evaluation to the volunteers.
Sgt. Joel Abelson, who is “Danny Zuko” in “Grease,” just started acting with KMC Onstage, and “Grease” is only his second time onstage.

“It was cool to have someone who is obviously a professional give someone like myself a young actor feedback on my performance,” he said
“As with any career, a novice needs training and feedback from those who are knowledgeable in the field.”

The judges will designate technical and performance award nominees for musical, comedy and drama categories.

The awards program will include a show with songs from the military theaters that put on musicals, as well as performances from the Topper singers.

Those interested in attending the show can purchase tickets from their entertainment directors. Cost is $10. A heavy hors d’oeuvre banquet will start at 6 p.m.