Actors Guild wins regional award

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Actors Guild of Parkersburg is taking its performance of “Tuesdays With Morrie” to a national theater competition in June.

The Guild performance featuring John Lee and Josh Martin in lead acting roles advanced to the national stage June 17-23 in Carmel, Ind., by being named a co-winner for best community theater performance at the regional Southeastern Theatre Conference in Louisville on March 6-10.

Lee was named best actor during the competition and the Actors Guild of Parkersburg won four outstanding achievement awards: Martin for sound, Kelly Matthews for use of properties, Charlie Matthews for transitions and Martin for performance.

Charlie Matthews, director of “Tuesdays With Morrie,” said this was the first time a Guild performance has advanced to the national competition after winning the region.

“We are very proud to win and very proud of John and Josh,” Matthews said Sunday.

Lee said it was difficult to describe his emotions after learning Saturday night the show had been selected to advance to nationals and he won the best acting award.

“I thought ‘whoa, whoa.’ It was a good, good feeling,” the 83-year-old Parkersburg resident said.

Lee said the judges and audience gave him and Martin a standing ovation after their one-hour performance of “Tuesdays With Morrie” Thursday night. On Friday and Saturday, people attending the theater conference told Lee and Martin how impressed they were by their performance

Lee said he gets “boundless energy” when performing on the stage.

The show is about writer Mitch Albom’s conversations with his favorite college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is dying of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lee plays Schwartz and Martin is Albom in “Tuesdays With Morrie.”

The Guild competed against community theaters from 10 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in Southeast Region 4. Also advancing to the national competition in Indiana is a theater group from Winter Haven, Fla., performing “Golda’s Balcony.”

The Guild reached the regional competition by winning the state event at the West Virginia Community Theatre Festival in Glenville in October. It was the third time the Actors Guild of Parkersburg had reached the regional event, Matthews said.

Matthews said the Guild raised $5,000 to bring “Tuesdays With Morrie” to Louisville. The Guild was presented with $1,500 in Louisville to be used toward the national competition but still must raise money for the trip. Matthews said organizations and individuals wanting to make a contribution for the national competition can contact him at 304-481-4391.