Carolina Curtain Call congratulates a great artist and friend, Jenna Elser, artistic director of Glow Lyric Theatre in Greenville, for winning of The American Prize in DIRECTING—The Charles Nelson Reilly Prize (theater/musical theater division), 2021, for “West Side Story”.
And this is after Glow was just awarded The American Prize in Musical Theatre for their sizzling 2015 production of The Hot Mikado. And congratulations to Glow co-founder and Executive Director Christian Elser, who was named a finalist in the Music Direction category for The Crucible.
Jenna was selected from applications reviewed recently from across the United States. The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts, David (Volosin) Katz, founder and chief judge, is the nation’s most comprehensive series of non-profit competitions in the musical and theater arts, unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings. The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually in many areas of the performing arts. Applications for the 2022 contests are being accepted through the covid-extended deadline of September 14, 2021 with extensions available by email request. (theamericanprize.org)
Jenna’s focus is on utilizing lyric theatre to enact social change. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Glow Lyric Theatre, which produces opera, operetta and musical theatre in direct response to the social and political climate of South Carolina. Jenna collaborated with Jasmine Road and Safe Harbor on her recent productions of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Carmen, illuminating the effect of sex trafficking and domestic abuse on Southern women. Other credits: Ella Enchanted (Synchronicity Theatre) Spring Awakening (The Warehouse Theatre) and Guys and Dolls (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre). Jenna’s devised work includes Armed, which reflects on gun violence in the US, and Pulse (AnamCara Theatre), a piece responding to the Orlando mass shooting. Jenna is a recipient of the Robert Porterfield Directing Award, a finalist for the Drama League New Musicals Fellowship and chosen for the 2020 SDC Observership Program. She holds an MFA in Directing from FSU.
Link to official announcement: http://theamericanprize.blogspot.com/2021/10/winners-stage-directors-theatermusical.html
Charles Nelson Reilly was a Tony Award-winning actor and Broadway stage director, and an acclaimed opera director and teacher. Far more than the zany television personality by which he was most often identified, Reilly nurtured the creation of a whole series of unique one-person stage plays. Most famously, he directed Julie Harris in her Tony Award-winning star turn in “The Belle of Amherst”, on the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson. Among Reilly’s many Broadway directing credits were Ira Levinʼs “Break a Leg”, Larry Shueʼs “The Nerd”, and the revival of “The Gin Game”, starring Julie Harris and Charles Durning, for which Mr. Reilly was the sole American director to be nominated for a Tony in 1997. Mr. Reillyʼs career as an opera director included productions for Chicago Opera Theater, Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Toledo Opera, Milwaukee Opera and Opera Pacific. Charles Nelson Reilly and The American Prize chief judge David Katz were friends for three decades, first meeting through their mutual Hartford voice teacher, Mrs. Friedrich Schorr. Mr. Reilly served as honorary chairperson of the Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice from the competition’s founding in 1990, until his death. To read more about the career of Charles Nelson Reilly, please click here.
Winners of The American Prize receive cash prizes, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition based on recorded performances. In addition to monetary rewards and written evaluations from judges, winners are profiled on The American Prize websites, where links will lead to video and audio excerpts of artist performances.
THE AMERICAN PRIZE—History & Judges
The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts grew from the belief that a great deal of excellent music being made in this country goes unrecognized and unheralded, not only in our major cities, but all across the country: in schools and churches, in colleges and universities, and by community and professional musicians.
With the performing arts in America marginalized like never before, The American Prize seeks to fill the gap that leaves excellent artists and ensembles struggling for visibility and viability. The American Prize recognizes and rewards the best America produces, without bias against small city versus large, or unknown artist versus well-known.
David Katz is the chief judge of The American Prize. Professional conductor, award-winning composer, playwright, actor and arts advocate, he is author of MUSE of FIRE, the acclaimed one-man play about the art of conducting. Joining Katz in selecting winners of The American Prize is a panel of judges as varied in background and experience as we hope the winners of The American Prize will be. Made up of distinguished musicians representing virtually every region of the country, the group includes professional vocalists, conductors, composers and pianists, tenured professors, and orchestra, band and choral musicians.
“Most artists may never win a Grammy award, or a Pulitzer, or a Tony, or perhaps even be nominated,” Katz said, “but that does not mean that they are not worthy of recognition and reward. Quality in the arts is not limited to a city on each coast, or to the familiar names, or only to graduates of a few schools. It is on view all over the United States, if you take the time to look for it. The American Prize exists to encourage and herald that excellence.”
By shining a light on nationally recognized achievement, winners of The American Prize receive world-class bragging rights to use in promotion right at home. “If The American Prize helps build careers, or contributes to local pride, or assists with increasing the audience for an artist or ensemble, builds the donor base, or stimulates opportunities or recruitment for winning artists and ensembles, then we have fulfilled our mission,” Katz said.
The American Prize is administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization based in Danbury, Connecticut.