Special Recognition

Special Recognition
Presented to persons & organizations whose contributions are far-reaching & of a special nature

2017 Honoree
Chester Eitze (Austin, Texas)
Chester EitzeChester has been Executive Director of the Bastrop (TX) Opera House for the past 32 years. He began his theatrical career in his hometown of Austin by enrolling in Mrs. Mobley’s speech class at age five. After pursuing a Bachelor’s in Drama Education and a Master’s in Directing, he was offered the position of Special Activities Coordinator with Austin Parks and Recreation. There, Chester was able to build an arts curriculum, meld it with recreation, and direct the Zilker Park Outdoor Musical. Chester served as the Artistic Director of the Austin Civic Theatre, until moving on to become Artistic Director of Bastrop Opera House. In Bastrop, he built a theatre program as a tourism destination, preserving the landmark structure, and developing youth, adult, and senior performance programs. Chester served on the Board for Texas Nonprofit Theatres from 1990 through 2007, and over his 32 years of service has had an enormous impact on theatre, both locally and throughout the state.

2017 Honoree
Installation Management Command – Europe Region Entertainment
IMCONIMC has, for over 60 years, offered U.S. Service Members, U.S. civilians and their families serving overseas the opportunity to participate in and enjoy high quality music and theatre programs. There are nine U.S. Army Entertainment Branches at Army Garrisons in Germany, Italy, and Belgium. They also support and assist theatre groups in Turkey and the Netherlands, and U.S. Air Force theatre groups in Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Army Entertainment Branches in Europe operate as full community theatres, offering complete seasons of comedies, dramas, musicals, and special events for all ages. Many offer classes for youth and adults in acting, directing, singing, and other aspects of theatre arts. Programs are operated by a small staff of professional theatre, music, and technical directors. The program relies on countless community volunteers who serve as actors, directors, designers, choreographers, technicians, costumers, stage hands, painters, builders, ushers, and more.

2017 Honoree
Nathan Records (Kaiserslautern, Germany)
Nathan RecordsNathan started working with U.S. Army Entertainment on a voluntary basis as an active duty soldier. After completing his military service, he received his Master’s Degree in Directing in 2007. In 2009, Nathan was hired as a U.S. Army Europe Entertainment Director at KMC Onstage (USAG Rheinland-Pfalz Community Theatre). KMC Onstage had at one time been an active Army theatre program. However, before Nathan’s arrival, the program had languished for several years, due to recurrent staff vacancies and lack of strong management. Nathan’s dedication, hard work, and initiative quickly turned the program back into a vibrant and active community theatre, serving the largest American community outside the continental U.S. His professional standards and dedication not only brought awards for U.S. Army Entertainment, but created a loyal and enthusiastic audience base. Nathan’s departure was a significant loss to KMC Onstage, but his efforts have positioned U.S. Army Entertainment to move forward under new leadership.

2017 Honoree
The Frank Lee Family and the Jack K. Ayre & Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation (Fort Worth, Texas)
The Lee Theatre FoundationThe Lee Theatre Foundation has helped the AACT NewPlayFest, now in its third cycle, to become a significant AACT program, modeled after the Texas Nonprofit Theatres’ “POPS! New Play Project.” A big factor in this program’s success is the funding provided by the Frank Lee Family and the Jack K. Ayres and Frank Ayres Lee Theatre Foundation. Linda Lee and her siblings, first through personal contributions, and then through the Theatre Foundation they formed, have enabled AACT to grant $4,000 to each theatre producing a new play. In addition, their efforts have provided $4,000 per cycle to help AACT cover administrative costs of the program. Both participating theatres and playwrights have spoken highly of the benefits they have realized. The thousands of dollars contributed by the family and the foundation have made a difference that is, indeed, “far reaching and very special.”

Previous Recipients

1996  A. R. Gurney
1997  International Thespian Society
1998  Studio de Monaco - World Festival of Amateur Theatre
          Dundalk (Ireland) International Maytime Festival
          Toyama (Japan) International Theatre Festival
1999  Stephen Peithman (Davis, CA)
2000  Kurt Majkowski (Eau Claire, WI)
2001  1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery
          (Fort Sill, Lawton, OK)
         Women's Exchange of Sarasota (Sarasota, FL)
2002  Frank Peot (Sun Prairie, WI)
2003  Vilseck Bavarian Arts Guild (Vilseck, Germany)
2004  Patty Duke (Northern ID)
2005  Kathie Maldonado (Hobbs, NM)
2007  Angela L. Ardolino (Miami, FL)
2008  Victoria L. Hanrahan (Ansbach, Germany)
2009  Robert G. Anderson (Starkville, MS)
          John Kollack (Clarkesville, GA)

2010  Dan LaMorte (US Army, Europe)
2011  Ruth Legg* (Geneva, NY)
          L. Ross Rowland* (Muncie, IN)
2012  Merrie Dawkins (Rockingham, NC)
2013  Michael Fenlason (Tucson, AZ)
          Jan Mitchell (Menifee, KY)
2014  Wil Breden (Wellesley, MA)
          Twink Lynch (Topeka, KS)
          Kirk Players (Mundelein, IL)
2015   Dr. Mary Kay Switzer (Banning, CA)
2015   Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre (Grand Forks, ND)
2016  Dr. Tim Ballweber and Ballweber Orthodontics (Helena, Montana)
          Sue Ellen Gerrells (Alabaster, Alabama)
          Rhonda Wilson (Gainesville, Florida)

          * Deceased


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