Here are the winners of this year's Snowdance competition:
Third Place: "Second to Last," which is better known to audiences as the NASA play. The comedy opened with actors Ron Schultz and Cody Ernest playing astronauts singing along to David Bowie's "Space Oddity." Schultz said Sunday that he and Ernest came up with the opening with director Rick Ditter. "We were just playing around with different things to see what works," said Schultz, a fixture at the Sixth Street Theatre and in the Snowdance cast. The play was written by Ignacio Zulueta, of Oakland, Calif. He won $100 for finishing third in contest, which is judged by votes from audience members.
(Editor's note: If you haven't seen the plays, it's not too late. Time Warner On Demand is going to pick up the show and run it in its entirety. It will also offer each play on demand individually. Diane Carlson, of Sixth Street Theatre, said they don't have dates on when the plays will run on TV, but she'll put out word when they're available. We'll list the times on RacinePost when we find out.)
(Photo: The closing ceremonies on the 2008 Snowdance comedy festival.)
Second Place: "Shopko," by Joe Thompson. Thompson's plays are a fixture in Snowdance, and the Madison playwright didn't disappoint with this year's tale of a man who finds friendship in the checkout aisle of Shopko. Thompson won $100 for second place.
First Place: "The Crucifixion of Moe and Ira." Probably the edgiest play of the year, it stars two men crucified for telling jokes and speaking out against the Roman empire. Rich Smith took the lead on the play, which he described as a "little scary" when he first read the script. "We had no ideas how audiences would take it and who we would offend," he said.
But Smith found real meaning in the message of a comedian/performer who is silenced by authorities for material they find offensive. "Artists can be crucified for what they do," Smith said. The play grew from that message, and playwright Lynn-Steven Johanson, of Macomb, Ill., was rewarded for her edgy material with the 2008 Best in Snow. She won $300 for finishing first.
(Photo: Rich Smith, creative director for OOHPs, holds the award for Best in Snow.)
Following Sunday's final show and closing ceremonies, the cast celebrated another successful run. Nearly all of the shows over the past four weeks were sold out, which continues Snowdance's run as big source of income for the all-volunteer theater group. The Over Our Head Players, who perform Snowdance, will be back in the coming months with a couple of shows. April 4-26 they'll be performing "Deflowering Waldo" by Adam Szymikowicz, and May 16-31 they'll have "Theatre/Schmeatre," a collection of original material written by OOHPs, paired with live music. The new show is being compared to the "hijinx" skits that run between the plays during Snowdance.
Here's a few more notes from this year's Snowdance:
* Brandy Harrel's turn as an air guitar goddess (complete with power slide) was all the more impressive when you find out she's 5 months pregnant. "Before every show we weren't sure what would happen," Harrel said. "We had to remind Cody (her co-star), 'If she goes down, you have to help her up.'" Harrel said there was only one show where she struggled for a moment - and she pulled that one off too.
Harrel was joined at the closing show by her husband David, who has been something of a theater widow over the past few months of rehearsals and shows. "I spend my weekends alone," he said, but added that it was no problem. He saw three shows this year. "She really love it," he said about Brandy.
* Zachary Scot Johnson got one of this year's biggest laughs with a bit about Charlie McCarthy. So, who's Charlie McCarthy? He was the dummy for ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, best known for his performances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Bergen is dead, which means Charlie McCarthy is packed in a closet somewhere ... hence Johnson's frozen pose for a good three minutes during the show. "During rehearsals it was hard," Johnson said about holding his position, "but for the shows it was no problem." The bit was written by Jerry Rannow, a Hollywood sitcom writer who lives in Racine. Among Rannow's shows: Welcome Back, Kotter.
Johnson will be back on the Sixth Street Theatre stage Friday for the release of his new CD, "These Days." The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $5.