Posted May 15, 2012
The Roger Sturtevant Award
Equity Membership Candidates Emelie Faith Thompson and Matthew Elliott Win 2012 Roger Sturtevant Award
Actors' Equity is pleased to announce that Emelie Faith Thompson and Matthew Elliott are the recipients of the eighth annual Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Awards, named for the beloved casting director who passed away in 2003. The award is given to Equity Membership Candidates (EMCs) who have demonstrated outstanding abilities in the field of musical theatre. The award consists of a certificate accompanied by a $1000 check.
Emelie Faith Thompson
Emelie Faith Thompson grew up in Culpeper, Virginia, and has been interested in musical theatre ever since she did her first Church Cantata in kindergarten. At the age of nine, Emily had her first audition at a community theatre for a production of BARNUM. "I sang ‘Happy Birthday.’ I remember thinking that it was not my best work!" She was cast as a clown in the ensemble. She made the decision, at the age of twelve, that she was going to be a professional actor. After graduating from Culpeper County High School, Emelie attended Shenandoah Conservatory where she earned her B.F.A in Musical Theatre. Upon Graduation, she became a Barter Player at the Barter Theatre in Virginia where she performed as Agatha in FRANKENSTEIN, Rapunzel in RAPUNZEL, Charlotte in CHARLOTTE’S WEB to name a few.
Among all of her credits, there are two roles that stand out in Emelie’s mind. The first was when she played Dot/Marie in her college’s production of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. "This was my favorite college credit, and playing that (almost iconic) Sondheim role was an absolute dream come true. My favorite professional credit thus far would have to be playing Eliza Doolittle in MY FAIR LADY at the Heritage Theatre Festival in 2011. I had the incredible opportunity to work opposite seasoned Broadway vet Allen Fitzpatrick, and everyone in the cast and on the production team was so lovely."
There are many characters Emelie is eager to play. "They range from the classics (Laurey in OKLAHOMA!, Sarah Brown in GUYS AND DOLLS, etc.) to the modern 'classics' (anything Sondheim) to the contemporary (Elle in LEGALLY BLONDE, for one). I really look forward to growing with musical theatre and playing roles such as Diana in NEXT TO NORMAL when the time comes for me! I could truly go on and on."
Emelie heard about the Roger Sturtevant Award from her mentor Katy Brown. When asked what receiving this award means to her, Emelie replied, "To me, it means I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. It's a great honor and a great affirmation to me, especially just three months after moving here (NYC). Also, it meant a lot to me that I won this award doing my work at its simplest. I hired an accompanist and rented a studio at Shetler, and just recorded it myself on my iPhone and edited it on my macbook. I never anticipated actually winning, and it means so much to me to know that my work was judged for my performance, and not because I produced a high-quality video."
This summer, Emelie will be leaving the city for a contract with Festival 56 in Princeton, IL to play Cindy Lou in THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES and Sally Bowles in CABARET, as well as appearing in CAROUSEL and AND THEN THERE WERE NONE.
Matthew Elliott grew up in a small town right in the middle of Kansas called Great Bend and has loved performing for as long as he can remember. His first audition was for "THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER" and he was cast as Ollie Herdman when he was just 7 years old. "According to my parents, I came home after one of the rehearsals in tears. When asked what was wrong I just said ‘I don't have as many lines as everyone else!’ My parents knew from that moment that I was meant to be on stage." He was cast in his first musical at age 8, at the local community college as the Prince in THE KING & I. Matthew loved musical theater but just considered it a fun hobby. "It gave me so much joy, but I never saw it as a possible career path."
That all changed when he was cast as Troy Bolton in Music Theatre of Wichita's production of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. Matthew had just graduated from high school and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. This was his first time performing in a professional theatre production, and his eyes were opened by the many people involved that lived their lives performing in musicals.
Matthew ended up attending the University of Kansas for three years because of a full scholarship and used his general ed classes to take voice and dance classes. "That could only take me so far, so I decided to transfer schools and am now graduating (after two years) from Wichita State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre."
To date, Matthew’s favorite role to play was John Wilkes Booth in ASSASINS. "I'm usually cast in the leading male roles and they are always the regular guy, the nice guy, and the guy with the beautiful ballads. Don't get me wrong, I love those roles, but it was nice to finally get to play a villain and get a little dirty." Matthew would absolutely love to play Elder Price in BOOK OF MORMON. "I have fallen in love with that score and recently was able to see the show during my first trip to New York over Spring Break this year."
Matthew found out about the Roger Sturtevant Award this past Fall, and after putting it off for a while, he decided to submit for it. When he received the call that he was one of this year’s recipients, he was speechless, "I spent the next few hours calling my family and going through just about every emotion available. Receiving this award means that I will be able to move to New York with much more confidence. It's not just financial confidence, but confidence in myself. This award gave me the validation that I am on the right track and that I am ready to put myself out there."
Matthew will spend his summer at Music Theatre of Wichita where he is cast as Fyedka in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and will be in the ensemble for the rest of the summer, performing in 9 TO 5, HONK, SINGIN IN THE RAIN, and LEGALLY BLONDE. Matthew has advice for anyone pursuing their dreams, "Don't stick to the status quo! Be yourself and do what truly makes you happy. It is absolutely worth it. You CAN be the captain of the basketball team and the star in the musical!! It just takes courage."
Arizona Theatre Service
Diversity on Broadway
Roger Sturtevant began a show business career as box office treasurer (and sometimes as casting director) for summer theaters in the northeast, including the New London Barn Playhouse in New Hampshire and the Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome, PA. On Broadway he served as assistant treasurer in several theater box offices, including the Winter Garden during the original run of Follies, his favorite musical. After his passing, Roger’s family contacted Equity’s Foundation to set up the award. Jane Sturtevant Johnson notes, “Inspired by the many expressions of gratitude and heartfelt appreciation, we are proud and happy to announce the establishment of an award in Roger’s name to be given to talented new actors and actresses in the musical theatre.”
The award was established in 2005 and is supported by donations from Roger's friends and family.