Stuttgart earns 2018 Best Musical and more at Toppers

Jennifer Martineau Newman (left) from U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Stuttgart Theater Center, performs “I Wait for a Ship” from the musical “Berlin to Broadway” at the 2018 Tournament of Plays, or Toppers, ceremony on April 28 at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s Clay Kaserne. Toppers celebrates the best in military community theater in Europe each year. (Photo Credit: Jacob Corbin, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs)

By Jacob Corbin, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs
Updated by Holly DeCarlo-White, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs 

Each year the Tournament of Plays, or Toppers, recognizes the best military community theater programs in Europe, and this year’s was no different.

For this competition, judges attended 17 show productions at 10 community theaters across Installation Management Command-Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe, giving 50 awards at the gala event held April 28 at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s Clay Kaserne.

Michael Formica, director of IMCOM-Europe, began the event by acknowledging the people who make military community theater happen each year during performances staged from Belgium to Italy.

“I must recognize those who keep the theater program alive inside of IMCOM-Europe — our volunteers,” Formica said in a video message to attendees. “Thank you for providing such incredible entertainment. Your talent, dedication and hard work enrich us all.”

This year’s Toppers continued the longstanding tradition of having various celebrity presenters announce awards by video. This year’s video presenters included Ben Stiller, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kristin Chenoweth and others.

One of the returning presenters was Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce, known for his role as Dr. Niles Crane in the television show “Frasier.”

“I’ve been asked this year to present the award for Best Youth Performance in a play, which is a great coincidence because I used to be a youth — I gave it up,” Pierce joked.

However, he also echoed a common and important theme from the various stars of stage and screen, a thanks to the Soldiers, families and civilians serving and working overseas.

“I wanted to take this opportunity … to thank the Army for enabling your creativity, for encouraging your imagination,” Pierce said. “The freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to create, the freedom to be ourselves, all of those freedoms we must never take for granted. We also must never take for granted the people who everyday defend those freedoms for us, the people who stand up for us — that’s you.”

During the event, U.S. Army Europe Entertainment presented a ceremonial check for $8,826,911.70 to represent the 3,812 volunteers and their contribution of 365,655 hours to military community theater in Europe.

“This generous donation of time delivers an important gift to our community members,” Formica noted in his earlier address. “Whether you participated on a backstage crew, as a designer, technician, usher, performer, director or musician — you truly made a difference.”

The Stuttgart Theater Center on Kelley Barracks took home eight awards. U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Deputy to the Garrison Commander Heidi M. Malarchik shared her congratulations to the “awesome” community theater volunteers for a great season.

“Two plays performed in the community, “Berlin to Broadway” and “Taming of the Shrew” won a myriad of  awards including “Best Ensemble in a Musical” and the 2018 “Best Musical.”  A special thanks to Richard Roberts and Alan Buxkemper, our garrison professionals for their passion to the craft and dedicating their time and talents to everyone who contributes to our community theater program,” Malarchik said.

Stuttgart Theatre Center presents a Shakespeare classic re-set in the feminist 1960’s as a romantic comedy, in a tumultuously titillating battle of the sexes. The Taming of the Shrew explores men and women, marriage, and the tempestuous journey of love. – Photo by Kevin S. Abel

USAG Stuttgart Theater Center was awarded the following:

Richard Roberts. “Berlin to Broadway.” The Stuttgart Theatre Center

Richard Roberts. “Berlin to Broadway.” The Stuttgart Theater Center

“Berlin to Broadway.” The Stuttgart Theater Center

Richard Roberts. “Berlin to Broadway.” Stuttgart Theater Center

Lt. Col. Brandon Kaye Thomas (Katharina). “The Taming of the Shrew.” Stuttgart Theater Center

“Berlin to Broadway.” The Stuttgart Theater Center

Lt. Col. Robert Taylor (Ensemble). “Berlin to Broadway.” The Stuttgart Theater Center

“Berlin to Broadway.” The Stuttgart Theater Center

Read the review of “The Taming of the Shrew” performance. 

Community members in the Stuttgart area can view the schedule, contact the theater to volunteer, audition and get tickets to upcoming performances via the Stuttgart Family & MWR website, or via the USAG Stuttgart mobile app, under “Things to Do.”

View the photo albums of performances at the Kelley Theater on the USAG Stuttgart Flickr page.