Roswell–Lionheart Theatre Company of Norcross had a huge day at the Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Awards (MAT), taking home eight wins for its production of “A Raisin in the Sun.” The 11th annual MAT ceremony gathered at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center to recognize the actors, directors, designers, and theaters for their contributions to the performing arts in community and non-union theatres in the metro Atlanta.
Lionheart’s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” directed by Joan McElroy, won:
• Best Overall Performance of a Play
• Best Ensemble in a Play
• Best Leading Actress, Celeste Campbell as “Lena Young”
• The Moira Thornett’s Best Director Award for a Play,
Joan McElroy and Assistant Director Ken Crease
• Best Major Supporting Actress in a Play, Jessica Wise
as “Beneatha Younger”
• Best Sound Design of a Play, Robert Peterson
• Youth Award in Play, Christian Gamble as “Travis Younger”
• Best Set of a Play, Tanya Moore
Lionheart was nominated in all categories. Also honored in nominations were Gary White for lighting design, Rose Bianco for costume design, Bryan Anthony and Jay Croft for Best Supporting Actor in a Minor Role as “George Murchison” and “Karl Linder” respectively, Roahshaun Cormier for best leading actor as “Walter Lee Young,” Markia Chappelle for Best Major Supporting Actress as “Ruth Younger,” and Esosa Ida-hosa for Best Major Supporting Actor in a Play as “Joseph Asagai.”
“Joanie always brings together a stellar cast and crew and all the work and dedication paid off,” Lion-heart’s Artist Director Tanya Caldwell. “This is an important play that is just as meaningful today as it was 40 years ago.”
The production was more than just another show for the play’s cast and director.
“Lorraine Hansberry, in 1959 when “A Raisin in the Sun” debuted on Broadway, said the story wasn’t just about an African-American family trying to better themselves,” said Darrell Grant, who played “Bobo” accepting the award for Best Ensemble. “It’s about the struggle, setting goals, and thinking outside of the box. And we are thankful to Lionheart Theatre for allowing actors of color to tell this important story.”
“My heart is so full,” said an emotional McElroy. “I didn’t know these actors when they walked in the door on the day of auditions. But not only did I get an amazing cast but I met nine wonderful human beings who became family. We throw that word family around sometimes, but this is truly a family. We care about one another, look after one another and on more than one occasion, dinners have been brought to my home in times of loss and sickness. It is a great honor to accept this award.”
Also from Gwinnett County, New Dawn Theatre’s Sherry Ingbritsen and Celeste Campbell won the MAT’s Board Award for a Play for Costume Design for “A Few Good Men.” The play also garnered nomina-tions for Best Design of a Play (Sherry Ingbritsen and Paul Ingbritsen), Youth Award (Ari Pomerance as “Howard,” and Best Actor in A Minor Supporting Role in a play (Dave Pomerance as “Kendrick”).
Norcross resident Dorey Casey won the Youth Award in a Musical as “Young Violet” in Act 3’s Pro-duction of “Violet.” Casey is a senior at Greater Atlanta Christian School and is a Lionheart Camp counselor.
Capturing the essence of a community theatre participants, Tanya Moore of Norcross said in her ac-ceptance speech, “Three years ago, after retiring from 30 years in IT, I walked into Lionheart to volunteer. It has been the most fulfilling and lowest paying job I have ever had.”
Lionheart’s popular “Lawless Spirits” walking tour of Norcross’ historic and infamous past takes place Oct. 26-29. Tickets are available at www.lionhearttheatre.org.