Posted May 13, 2009
The Roger Sturtevant Award
Equity Membership Candidates Kalyn Hemphill and Aaron Reeder Win 2009 Roger Sturtevant Award
Actors' Equity is pleased to announce that Kalyn Hemphill, and Aaron Reeder are the winners of the fifth annual 2009 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.
Equity President Mark Zimmerman noted: "Kalyn and Aaron are two very dedicated and gifted young people who were recommended highly by their teachers and directors. The awards were granted to them because in a field of very talented applicants, their passion for performing was notable."
Sturtevant Award winner Kalyn Hemphill
Kalyn Hemphill has been doing musical theatre for twelve years. "I was 8 years old when I played the littlest Von Trapp in THE SOUND OF MUSIC at my community theatre in Lake Jackson, Texas. I have not stopped acting, singing and dancing since. I graduated from high school a year early and completed a theatre internship in Creede, Colorado, which was an amazing experience. I moved to NYC at the age of 18 and feel so blessed to be working here!"
Kalyn has appeared in shows all over the U.S. including SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at Theatre Under the Stars, SWEENEY TODD, at Creede Repertory Theatre, and WILL ROGER'S FOLLIES, at Surflight Theatre. "I would have to say my favorite role would be a toss up between Cinderella in CINDERELLA, and Rizzo in GREASE. Both roles truly challenged me in completely different ways. My absolute dream roles are Shelby in STEEL MAGNOLIAS, and Mille in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLE. I am just itching to play both!"
Kalyn first heard about the Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award from an email from AEA. "I immediately started gathering the materials necessary to audition. I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to be seen by some amazing, influential people and it is such an honor to win."
She was notified that she was the recipient of this award while she was walking down the street in NYC. "It totally made my day! I could not stop smiling and was so thrilled and honored that out of all the applicants, I was the girl chosen. I wanted to tell someone right after I found out, so I tried calling my mom, dad, and boyfriend several times until FINALLY my mom answered the phone and I practically screamed into the phone with excitement."
Currently, Kalyn has been going back and forth to L.A. to film in the upcoming season of "Project Runway" and the new show, "Models of the Runway." After the show airs this fall, though, she is "hoping to be able to do lots of theatre here in NYC."
Sturtevant Award winner Aaron Reeder
Aaron Reeder is a triple threat with a full resume of credits and extensive training. "I am the youngest of four; I have always been in performance mode. The first time I really stepped on stage was my freshman year (10 years ago) as a favor to the high school choir teacher who was standing in as the Music Director of the spring production of 42ND STREET."
After high school, Aaron trained at Spoleto Vocal Arts Symposium, New York Opera Studio, The American College Theatre Festival at the Kennedy Center and studied with numerous teachers. His most memorable moment came on the set of the summer stock production of AIDA that he was cast in.
"It had been a pretty long run, we moved the show to a second theatre and shenanigans began. One night during the prison scene, Amonasro appears from the dark with a tasteful ascot and huge hairy mole on his cheek. He slightly faced upstage the whole scene, so just Aida and I could see him occasionally caress his mole. It was hilarious. Professional."
Aaron has been a Chorister in RIGOLETTO AND DON GIOVANNI at Washington National Opera, and Marcello in LA BOHEME at Teatro Caio Melisso in Spoleto, Italy. Closer to home, he has performed at the Signature Theatre in ONE RED FLOWER, and LES MISERABLES, Landless Theatre Company's productions of TICK, TICK….BOOM! and BATBOY, plus many more.
When asked what his favorite role was so far, he had a hard time choosing. "I think the opportunity to play a character that casting took a chance with me on has been most fulfilling - for example Papa Ge in ONCE ON THIS ISLAND. I was actually a last minute replacement and had a little over a week to learn the show. The piece, the music, the cast and the role itself were a rewarding experience. Or Tremont in JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA, where I got to run around in 4 inch heels. So, I guess just someone that is atypical Aaron Reeder."
His dream roles vary. "I always say, 'I look about twelve and a half but have a grown man's voice.' That said, I hope to one day sing Coalhouse (RAGTIME), Giorgio (PASSION) and Billy Bigelow (CAROUSEL). Now, I would also love to play Youth in PASSING STRANGE or C.C White in DREAMGIRLS."
Aaron found out about the Roger Sturtevant Award one day while searching for EMC theaters on the AEA website. When he received the news that he had actually won the award, it took a while to set in.
"I coach a swim team from 5:00-7:00 AM, then I swim a few miles and come back home for a nap before I really start the day. Just when I started to doze off, the phone rang. So suffice to say, it was a bit surreal until the 2nd/3rd, 'congratulations' and I am pretty sure I finally responded, 'What? Are you serious?!'"
Earning this award came at a great time for Aaron. "I was considering taking a hiatus and reevaluating pursuing theatre as a career, especially in the financial state the country's in. I'm doing OK right now but actors work from show to show, and getting hired can be subjective (e.g, how tall you are). But to have been chosen and honored with the 2009 Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award is reassuring! An award given by a panel, including fellow actors of the Union I hope to soon be a part of and members of the Casting Society of America…. I think I'm going to stay with my passion and press on, building a career doing something I love."
Aaron can currently be seen at the Ford's Theatre as a featured performer in Frank Wildhorn's song cycle, CIVIL WAR until May 24th.
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."
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.