Role Call: Henry Nominee Emma Messenger

Emma Messenger, 2017 Henry nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play, answered our Role Call and spilled her thoughts about some of her most memorable roles.

 


Role I was nominated for this year:

I was nominated for Annie in Misery at The Edge Theater Company.

Role I totally nailed:

I nailed Big Mama in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, that was at the Edge Theater. The reason I feel so good about this particular role is because while I was rehearsing I had this epiphany when I realized that the relationship between Big Mama and Big Daddy was kind of like my parents. I mean my mom is in no way Big Mama but my father is kind of a big daddy. The way she handles my father is really subtle, so you think he’s this big blustering, charismatic man in control but actually she is in control and that really helped me with Big Mama.

emma messenger

Emma Messenger and Rick Yaconis in ‘Misery’ at The Edge Theater. Photo Credit: RDG Photography

Role with the best costume:

Sylvia, because I played three completely different characters. One of them whom was a gentleman and it was a great deal of fun dressing up as a man. I had to put stubble on my face and a great big pillow because this is not easy to hide. Then there was also this sock that grew in size from performance to performance and I loved just stalking out there like this kind of crazy guy. Then I also was Phyllis who is this sort of a New York socialite, so she was very elegant, and then went into Leslie who is like this creature from psychiatry hell.

Role that scared the hell out of you:

Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I didn’t get this character until about a day and a half before we opened, because she is so complicated there’s like layers and layers and layers and she does and she hides so deeply within the text. She was just afraid of being abandoned again. Her mother had died when she was young, she has this really cold father. And the only one who really loves her is George but she doesn’t know that in her heart, so she misbehaves like a child like the naughtiest little girl because she keeps wanting George to stop. It’s a long one, three and a half hours show with intermissions, but this was the hardest one and I felt I just squeaked in.

Role that was a blast:

Sue Mangers, in I’ll Eat You Last. This is my role that I choose to say this was a blast. This was such a great cast and I love working with them. It’s the kind of thing you are by yourself out there for 90 minutes and if you mess up it’s on you and you got to save yourself. She’s so brave and she’s so ballsy and just sure of herself and she doesn’t give a f**k about anybody and she’ll let you know. I could just go out there and not give a f**k about anybody. It was like his incredible lightness that would come.

Role I was funniest in:

Misery, Annie Wilkes. It wasn’t supposed to be funny but this really strange thing happened. It’s a horror story, and I think people came expecting to be thrilled and horrified. She would say things that she would take completely seriously, but the audience knowing the context of the whole story would find hilarious.

The show that was the funniest The Birds Sing too Loud, it’s by Jack Kenny. It was a benefit an evening of one acts for this wonderful theater I worked for in Los Angeles called Circus Theatricals. Jack Kenny wrote it, he also wrote Titus and Warehouse 13, he was a television writer. This was a three-person 15-minute show about too old aunts that come to visit this young man in Los Angeles and they are the whiniest most complaining. Everybody has one of these. At one point I think he says, ‘Please don’t smoke in here.’ They just light up. In those days you could smoke a cigarette in the theater and he tries to kill them by various means, he pours bleach in their coffee and he’s stabbing them in the neck and they just go ‘Ugh I’m not so comfortable here.’ It was so funny I think because everybody could relate to people like this in their family. The audience would be stomping their feet in their seats. It was just one of those 15 minutes of just pure rollercoaster. It was great.

Emma Messenger Stella

Role that was least like me:

Mag from The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Oh my God. Turning into a Mag is like Smeagol becoming Gollum. Because you are stripped down to the ugliest most animalistic, greedy, selfish, part of your nature. It wasn’t just a physical transformation, which it was because I went through cans of gray hairspray and I had this old cardigan, that I had actually made, that was a show in itself with little kitten buttons on it. This is an Irish woman who had been just completely isolated and she has a difficult relationship with her daughter. And it just became feral. I really felt like I disappeared into this character and it was great fun.

Role that was most like me:

Stella in Stella and Lou. Stella is effortless. She speaks differently than I do. She’s got a little bit of an accent but her heart is so close to mine. So putting this character on is just effortless. It’s gossamer, it’s so light and so gentle and just easy there’s nothing forced about this character. I think she is the one most like me because she’s just already there.

Role you were sexiest in:

Noleta in Sordid Lives. Noleta is this big fat girl who has been left by her husband and she’s devastated. She has big Texas hair and I had this huge wig and this little mini skirt and I’m not a woman to wear a miniskirt but Noleta was. She had cowboy boots and a gun and she was hot. My husband still likes me to put that wig on sometimes and the mini skirt.

Role I was totally wrong for:

None of the roles were totally wrong for me I was right for all of them.

Role I love with all my heart:

I loved all of them with all my heart. Asking me to choose one would be like asking my to say with one of my kids is my favorite. I loved all of them.


Note from the author: When I started this series I wanted to be fair to all the nominees in the Outstanding Lead Actress in Play. Each actress was asked to participate in the series. If their schedules allowed, we filmed a Role Call with them. If the actress was not able to film a video, they were invited to do a written version. All stories were released the week of the Henry Awards in alphabetical order.

List of nominees:


2017 Henry Awards: Ticket information

  • Monday, July 17
  • 6 p.m. drinks; 7 p.m. awards
  • PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, MAP IT
  • Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets are available at parkerarts.org, or by calling 303-805-6800. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35.

MORE STORIES BY THE NIGHTLY MET 

2016-17 HENRY AWARD NOMINATIONS

Established in 2006, the Henry Awards honor outstanding achievements during the past season and serves as the Colorado Theatre Guild’s annual fundraising event. The awards are named for longtime local theatre producer Henry Lowenstein.

The Special Award categories are nominated by the theatre community and the winners determined by a vote of the CTG Board.

Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

  • Arvada Center
  • Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
  • DCPA Theatre Company
  • Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Thunder River Theatre Company

Outstanding Production of a Play

  • “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company, Dulcie Willis, Director
  • “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company, Davis McCallum, Director
  • “Constellations,” TheatreWorks, Joye Cook-Levy, Director
  • “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” OpenStage Theatre & Company, Wendy S. Moore, Director
  • “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company, Corey Simpson, Director
  • “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks, Murray Ross, Director
  • “Tartuffe,” Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director

Outstanding Production of a Musical

  • “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts, Meridith C. Grundei, Director; Gary Grundei, Musical Direction
  • “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center, Gina Rattan, Director; Max Mamon, Musical Direction
  • “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company, Scott RC Levy, Director; Sharon Skidgel, Musical Direction
  • “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative, Kelly McAllister, Director; Tanner Kelly, Musical Direction
  • “Motones vs. Jerseys,” Midtown Arts Center, Kenny Moten, Director; Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Musical Direction
  • “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” Lone Tree Arts Center, Randal Myler, Director; Dan Wheetman, Musical Direction
  • “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center, donnie l. betts, Director; Jodel Charles, Musical Direction

Outstanding Direction of a Play

  • Lynne Collins, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
  • Joye Cook-Levy, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
  • Davis McCallum, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Matt Radcliffe, “The Elephant Man,” Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
  • Murray Ross, “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks
  • Corey Simpson, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Dulcie Willis, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company

Outstanding Direction of a Musical

  • donnie l. betts, “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
  • Meridith C. Grundei, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Kelly McAllister, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Scott RC Levy, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Randal Myler, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Gina Rattan, “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Nick Sugar, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company

Outstanding Musical Direction

  • Neal Dunfee, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
  • Gary Grundei, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Max Mamon, “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Sharon Skidgel, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Jason Tyler Vaughn, “Murder Ballad,” The Edge Theater Company
  • Jalyn Courtenay Webb, “Motones vs. Jerseys,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Dan Wheetman, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” Lone Tree Arts Center

Outstanding Actor in a Play

  • William Hahn, “Burn This,” The Edge Theater Company
  • Kevin Hart, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Sammie Joe Kinnett, “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks
  • Steven P. Sickles, “Le Bete,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Micah Speirs, “The Elephant Man,” Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
  • Dan Tschirhart, “The Flick,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Adam Verner, “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” OpenStage Theatre & Company

Outstanding Actress in a Play

  • LuAnn Buckstein, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Carley Cornelius, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
  • Denise Burson Freestone, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Kathleen McCall, “The Glass Menagerie,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Emma Messenger, “Misery,” The Edge Theater Company
  • Sydney Parks Smith, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Caitlin Wise, “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

  • Leonard E. Barrett Jr. , “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
  • Joshua Blanchard, “Cabaret,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Stephen Day, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Miles Jacoby, “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • August Stoten, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center and Inspire Creative
  • Colin Summers, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Joe Von Bokern, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

  • Jacquie Jo Billings, “Little Shop of Horrors,” Miners Alley Playhouse
  • Colby Dunn, “The Toxic Avenger,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Sarah Groeke, “Cabaret,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Cecilia Iole, “The Little Mermaid,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Marissa Rudd, “Sister Act,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Tracy Warren, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
  • Danielle Hermon Wood, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center and Inspire Creative

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play

  • Nathan Cox, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Rodney Lizcano, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Wesley Mann, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Owen O’Farrell, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Hunter Ringsmith, “Equivocaton,” Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • Sandoval, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Corey Simpson, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

  • Miriam A. Laube, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Carolyn Lohr, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Leslie O’Carroll, “Silent Sky,” Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
  • Amelia Pedlow, “The Glass Menagerie,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Christina Sajous, “Disgraced,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Linda Suttle, “A Time to Kill,” Vintage Theatre Productions
  • Edith Weiss, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

  • Brandon Bill, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center and Inspire Creative
  • Ben Hilzer, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • John Jankow, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Matt LaFontaine, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Bob Moore, “Cabaret,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Nicholas Park, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Kyle Ashe Wilkinson, “Titanic,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

  • Jenna Bainbridge, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Joan Bruemmer-Holden, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Charlotte Campbell, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Anna High, “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
  • Rebecca Hoodwin, “Cabaret,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Carol Rose, “The Little Mermaid,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Megan Van De Hey, “The Toxic Avenger,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

Outstanding Ensemble Performance

  • “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director
  • “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks
  • “Motones vs. Jerseys,” Midtown Arts Center
  • “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center

Outstanding New Play or Musical

  • “The Book of Will,” by Lauren Gunderson
  • Directed by Davis McCallum; Produced by DCPA Theatre Company
  • “The Firestorm,” by Meridith FriedmanDirected by Pesha Rudnick; Produced by LOCAL Theater Company
  • “Full Code,” by David Valdes GreenwoodDirected by Stephen Weitz; Produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
  • “The History Room,” by Charlie ThurstonDirected by Pesha Rudnick; Produced by Creede Repertory Theatre
  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Music and Lyrics by David Nehls, Book by Kenn McLaughlinDirected by Gavin Mayer; Produced by Arvada Center
  • “Lost Creatures,” by Melissa Lucero McCarlDirected by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski; Produced by And Toto too Theatre Company
  • “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” by Randal MylerDirected by Randal Myler; Produced by Lone Tree Arts Center

Outstanding Choreography

  • Mary Ripper Baker, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Joan Bruemmer-Holden & Amanda Berg Wilson, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Jeff Duke and Stephanie Hansen, “The Little Mermaid,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Kelly Kates, “The Robber Bridegroom,” Town Hall Arts Center
  • Michael Lasris, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Matthew D. Peters, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
  • Kate Vallee, “42nd Street,” Candlelight Dinner Playhouse

Outstanding Costume Design Tier 1

  • Camille Assaf, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Stephanie Bradley, “Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks
  • Janson J. Fangio, “Enchanted April,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Sydney Gallas, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Clare Henkel, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Clare Henkel, “Tartuffe,” Arvada Center
  • Lex Liang, “Shrek,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

Outstanding Costume Design Tier 2

  • Kari Armstrong, “The Snow Queen,” Bas Bleu Theatre Company
  • Buntport Theater, “The Crud,” Buntport Theater
  • Pamela Clifton, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Judith Ernst, “The Wizard of Oz,” Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
  • Tricia Music, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Jesus Perez, “The Little Mermaid,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Annabel Reader, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts

Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 1

  • Charles R. MacLeod, “The Glass Menagerie,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Shannon McKinney, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Jon Olson, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
  • Holly Anne Rawls, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Paul Toben, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Brian Tovar, “Frankenstein,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Mike Wood, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks

Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 2

  • Seth Alison, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Brandon Ingold, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Jen Kiser, “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Mallary, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Brett Maughan, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage

Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 1

  • Lisa Orzolek, “Disgraced,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Brian Mallgrave, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
  • Brian Mallgrave, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Christopher L. Sheley, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Sandra Goldmark, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Paul Black, “Mamma Mia,” Theatre Aspen
  • Jason Sherwood, “Frankenstein,” DCPA Theatre Company

Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 2

  • Shaun Albrechtson, “Steel Magnolias,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • James Brookman, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • M. Curtis Grittner, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Lori Rosedahl, “The Flick,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Kyle Scoggins, “Little Shop of Horrors,” Miners Alley Playhouse

Outstanding Sound Design Tier 1

  • Jason Ducat, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
  • Jason Ducat, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
  • Benjamin Heston, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Morgan McCauley, “Tartuffe,” Arvada Center
  • Stowe Nelson, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • David Thomas, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Zach Williamson, “The Secret Garden, “ DCPA Theatre Company

Outstanding Sound Design Tier 2

  • Travis Duncan and Jeremiah Walter, “The Elephant Man,” Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
  • Carlos Flores, “Misery,” The Edge Theater Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Allen Noftall, “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Allen Noftall, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You Theatre,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Jon Northridge, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Tom Quinn and Kenny Storms, “Murder Ballad,” The Edge Theater Company

Lifetime Achievement in Theatre goes to Ed Baierlein and Sallie Diamond

Todd Debreceni for Excellence in Special Makeup Effects

Outstanding Improvisational Theatre – SCRIPTprov™

Author: Avery Anderson

Avery Anderson is the general manager of Met TV. He hosts “The Nightly Met,” an entertainment show that highlights local art and culture. He loves the theater and all art and is an advocate for local theater companies through his many stories. He also enjoys gardening and being outside.
Connect with him through email at aande133@msudenver.edu.

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