The Metropolitan Theater (The Met) hosted its first Inaugural Wally Awards ceremony on March 4 in San Andreas, a red carpet-style awards ceremony designed to celebrate the theater’s 50-plus cast, crew, and staff volunteers.
The Wally Awards was created by director and founder of The Met, Cyndie Klorer, who opened the theater in 2019 with husband Ben Klorer after years of hosting murder mysteries in their home. All theatrical productions are produced by the Fourth Wall Entertainment Group, which consists of volunteer actors and crew members.
The “Wally” at the Wally Awards is a troupe play, named after a theatrical, television, and film concept in which an invisible “wall” or barrier exists between the audience and the performer.
Klorer said he was “just looking for a way to show my appreciation to all my volunteers,” and wanted it to be a surprise, too. Klorer wanted the awards to be based on merit and “how the public perceives[actor’s]performance”, rather than a “popularity contest”. Instead of opening it up to the public, Klorer decided to ask a committee of about 30 theater regulars to cast their votes in each of about a dozen categories.
From the voting, the winner is selected and continues to be given a surprise until it is announced. The following awards were given:
Best child actor in adult drama: Emmaline Turnbeaugh, “A Christmas Story”
Best Featured Actor (male): Keifer Minehart, “A Christmas Story”
Best Featured Female Actor: Emma Hampton, “A Christmas Story”
Best supporting actor (male): Chance Tillery, “Sylvia”
Best supporting female actor: Mission Maury, “Boeing Boeing”
Best main (male) actor: Denny Bowen, “Sylvia”
Best female lead actor: See Harman, “Sylvia”
Best plays, adult productions: “Sylvia” was directed by Cyndie Klorer and Missie Maury
The best children’s productions: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” directed by Kathy Mazzaferro
Best mystery/special shows: TIE: “Dinner For One” and “That White Dress”
Additional recognition went out to creative team members, technical crew members, food service volunteers, and Missie Maury, who was appointed production manager, and Teresa Yeakey, who was appointed house manager during the ceremony.
Throughout the ceremony, a slideshow projected onto a large screen above the stage featured photos and videos of cast and crew members, as well as posters of all the theatrical productions – including those that never happened due to the Covid shutdown. Each of these failed productions appears on the screen with a red “no” symbol on it.
Performers and volunteers take to the stage in comedy and skit routines, announce awards, and deliver acceptance speeches. Off stage, musical performances were performed by singing group AmaZE, Nick and Trista Behm, Jared Bisbikis, and pianist Gabriel McCoy.
In a tearful speech at the closing of the ceremony, Klorer himself was awarded and thanked members of the troupe for creating a space for them to “come together and create such beautiful and amazing things”.
“This should be my night to give back to you because you give me every day, every show, and you have made this happen and it’s been such a hard work of love and I appreciate you guys and I adore you guys so much. a lot,” said an emotional Klorer.
Klorer has decades of theater involvement, in addition to a career as a librarian and media specialist at Calaveras schools. For the four years before opening The Met, Klorer worked at Calaveras High School. Although not a teacher, Klorer worked in the drama department doing technical work and managing the new Calaveras Center for the Performing Arts. Klorer also started an after-school theater program called GNAT PAC (Geeks, Nerds, Artists and Thespians of the Performing Arts Center) and created an award ceremony for senior students, which was part of the inspiration for Wallys, Klorer said.
Having your own theater was a dream come true in 2019, but Covid shut it down a year later. Since theaters reopened in fall 2021, Fourth Wall volunteers have done dozens of productions, starred in independent films about aliens, and been recognized at the Calaveras Arts and Music Awards.
“I don’t know what I did to get them,” Klorer said of the volunteers, whom he describes as a “friendly, supportive bunch.”