Founded in the mid-1980s in a church basement and now housed at the historic former Ebell Clubhouse, the SPTC is an acknowledged cultural leader that draws visitors to Santa Paula whose theater experience - as with the locals - often includes in-town dining.
Said Nichols, “It’s very advantageous for us to have even more viable restaurants than we had a few years ago, theater goers want to go to Garman’s, listen to music at Mupu Grill or stop at Rabalais as well as enjoy the great Mexican restaurants Santa Paula is famed for.”
Nichols described Skutley, whose daughters Bethany Blackshear and Jennifer Skutley accepted their mother’s award at the ceremony, as “The glue of the theater, she was that kind of member of our theater community.”
For more than two decades Skutley worked behind the scenes at the theater and was renowned for leading audience laughter.
“Although she certainly would have enjoyed the recognition if you handed it to her on a platter, most of all what she did was because it was enjoyable to her.
“She made it fun, she participated because it made her feel good and also because she felt it was a valuable place to invest her time for the community.
“It made her feel good to participate,” said Nichols, “to be a backbone in what she considered a valuable organization.”
When it comes to the annual Alliance awards the Outstanding categories are familiar: lead and featured performers, direction, choreography and design for sets, sound, lighting, costumes and a wild card category-Judges Choice.
The amazing variety and talent drawn to local live theater is evident in the most Outstanding Productions of each theater.
Santa Paula Theater Center’s “Second Samuel,” produced by Leslie Nichols and Fred Helsel, was a winner in three other categories. Its second most honored production was “In the Next Room.”
Four Star Theater Alliance Awards taken home by SPTC were: Outstanding Lead Performance Male, Eric Mello “At Long Last Leo”; Outstanding Lead Performance Female, Peggy Steketee “Second Samuel”; Outstanding Featured Performance Male, Seth Oserin “Death of a Salesman”; Outstanding Featured Performance Female, Tosca Minotto “In the Next Room”; Outstanding Set Design, Seth Kamenow “Second Samuel”; Outstanding Sound Design, Rich Smith “Improvised Music in Arcadia”; Outstanding Lighting Design, Gary Richardson “In the Next Room”; Outstanding Costume Design, Lori Lee Gordon “In the Next Room”.
Outstanding Direction was awarded to Fred Helsel for “Second Samuel” which also garnered the longtime SPTC veteran the Outstanding Overall Production Award for him and Nichols.
The full list of honorees is on the Four Star Theater Alliance’s Facebook page.