Distinguished Merit Award

Distinguished Merit
Presented to individuals and organizations in recognition of contributions made to promote and develop the highest standards for community theatre

2018 Honoree
Andrea Campfield, Sand Springs, OK
Andrea is the drama teacher for the Charles Page High School and is the founder of the Sand Springs Community Theatre. With school funding slashed for drama, she engaged the community to participate financially, helping to continue the production of quality shows. Andrea organizes a summer arts tour that has taken her students overseas to tour theatres and museums, and to New York to attend Broadway shows. Andrea co-authored and directed a play about inclusion that involved multigenerational actors, and incorporated sign language, for which she was recognized nationally by Sertoma International, an organization whose philanthropic efforts assist those with communicative disorders. From her nomination papers:“In a climate that has been hard on the arts, Andrea never backs away from supporting students and the community in teaching us the benefits and necessity of arts in our lives."

2018 Honoree
Gai Jones, Ojai, CA,
Gai has been a driving force in community theatre, theatre education and youth theatre for most of her life. She was recently elected to a two-year term as Vice President of the members of the Education Theatre Association, to be followed by a two-year term as President. While teaching eighth grade Speech/Drama in Fullerton, CA, Gai completed an MA in Theatre as the first woman to receive the degree at California State University, Fullerton. Gai is founder of California Youth in Theatre, and taught theatre at El Dorado High School, Placentia, California for 34 years. Upon retirement, [Ojai Art Center Theater’s?] Black Box Theater was named the Gai Jones Theater. “Gai Jones is truly devoted to theatre and, in particular, intergenerational theater. She has done an amazing job at the Ojai Art Center Theater bringing youth and adults together in wonderful learning experiences.” [Quote source]

2018 Honoree
Dan LaMorte, US Army IMCOM Europe
Dan has brought over a quarter-century of professional experience to his position as sole director the SHAPE Players and Performing Art School—a position he has held since 2006. Dan has been the recipient of numerous TOPPER Awards from the Tournament of Plays Festival (an Army based program created to support volunteerism), and has taken five SHAPE Players productions to the national AACTfest. After evaluating and researching for five years, He began preparations to integrate a Performing Arts School into the already successful theatre, including new classes in theatre, music and dance for children and adults. After six years, PAS enrollment has quadrupled, and the income for the organization has tripled. He recruits professional teachers, develops innovative programs, and is considered a visionary who has influenced and inspired a large and diverse audience.

Previous Recipients

1979  Norman Carver* (Kalamazoo, MI)
1980  Douglas Cook (University Park, PA)
1981  Henry Fonda* (Omaha, NE)
1982  David Gooder* (Downers Grove, IL)
1983  Bea Miller* (Memphis, TN)
1984  Alaska State Community Theatre
1985  National Multicultural Theatre Association
         of Canada
1987  Twink Lynch (Topeka, KS)
1988  Kalamazoo Civic Players (MI)
1989  Charles Jones* (Omaha, NE)
1990  Hiroshi Koizumi (Toyama City, Japan)
1991  Target Stores
1992  Paul Ebert (Oak Ridge, TN)
1993  Jon Kerkhoff (Omaha, NE)
1994  Theatre Midland (TX)
1995  Sherwood Lohrey* &
         Theatre Memphis (TN)
1996  Steve Spiegel & Music Theatre
         International (New York, NY)
1997  William Talbot (New York, NY)
1998  Stage Directions Magazine
1999  David Young (Gainesville, FL)
2000  Charles Jeffers* (Hickory, NC)
2001  Jim Sohre (US Army, Europe)
2002  Enid Holm* (Odessa, TX)
         Harv Thompson (Madison, WI)
2003  Ohio Community Theatre Association
2004  Shirley Cockrell (Oneida, NY)
         Hap Ryder* (Fairbanks, AK)
         Pat White (Amherst, NH)

2005  Jerry Zimmerman (Ft Jennings, OH)
2006  John Rich (Pullman, WA)
2007  Morrie Enders (Kalamazoo, MI)
2008  Jim Buckley (Cambria, CA)
2009  Bonnie Daniels (US Army)
         Andre Bruce Ward (Memphis, TN)
2010  Penelope Notter (Grand Rapids, MI)
2011  April Cochran (Paducah, KY)
         Ginny Morrison (Seville, OH)
2012  Dennis Assaf & Jefferson Performing
         Arts Society (Metairie, LA)
         Linda McClane (Fernandina Beach, FL)
2013 Anthony Del Rosso
        & Gwendolyn Whitney
        (SHAPE Perf. Arts Centre NATO Base)
        Carolyn Pitman (Whitefish, MT) 
2014 Melanie Cornelison (Ashland, KY)
         Lisa Garza (Houston, TX)
         SCERA Center for the Arts (Orem, UT)
2015 Aubrey Dunne* (San Diego, CA)
2015 Oklahoma Community Theatre Association (OCTA)
2016 Jim Chervenka (Grand Rapids, MI)
         Celia Couture (Tewksbury, MA)
         Loween Getter (Webster City, IA)
2017  Alan Buxkemper (Stuttgart, Germany)
          Dr. Alan D. Kaplan (Manchester, New Hampshire)
          André Bruce Ward (Moscow, Tennessee)
          Tacoma Musical Playhouse (Tacoma, Washington)

          * Deceased



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