And the MONTI Goes To These Community Theatre Troupes, Thespians

Recognizing the best in community theater is the purpose behind the annual MONTI awards, founded by Carlton Jones, whose aim also was to promote theater attendance and to celebrate all efforts with a night of remembrances.


Awards in 25 categories were given to community theater troupes, thespians and production crews at the MONTI Awards ceremony Aug. 17 at the Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association in Brandon.

Founded seven years ago by theater veteran Carlton Jones, the annual awards ceremony began, he said, "as an outgrowth of going to the shows and wanting to recognize outstanding acting, shows and technical talent, but also as a way to bring us all together on one night to celebrate what we do as a family of community theater interests."

That celebration this year included the efforts of four community theater troupes:

  • The Frenzie Life Theatre (now known as The Frenzie Performance Factory)
  • MDHF Productions
  • Plant City Entertainment
  • The Village Players

The Frenzie took home awards in 12 categories, including eight for Cabaret and four for The Children's Hour, which was named the year's Best Play.

The next highest troupe count was for The Village Players, which earned awards in eight categories, including seven for Assassins, which was named the year's Best Musical.

  • (Note: The award count overall and for The Village Players and Assassins has been updated since the original posting of this article. Tracey Magruder, for Assassins, had been inadvertently omitted from the list of winners below. She is now on the list.)

Three people were awarded two MONTI Awards each:

  • Michael Mercer, for Best Director Play (The Children's Hour) and Best Musical Director (Cabaret)
  • Greg Summerall, for Best Director Musical (Assassins) and Best Actor Play (Bernard, in the MDHF Prouction of Don't Dress for Dinner).
  • Katie Miller, for Best Sound Design (Assassins), which she shared with Aaron Buckigham, and Best Lighting Design (Assassins).

Each year special recognition is given to "Hall of Fame" honorees in three categories. This year, Olivia Mitchell and Tayly Olney shared the honor for Best Young Star. Domin Pazo took home the award for Masks of the Theater and Jonathan Douglas was recognized for his Outstanding Support for Community Theatre.

MONTI is an acronym, it stands for: Monumental, Outstanding, Notable Talent with Integrity.

As the effort now stands, it involves members of the MONTI community (and anybody can join) coming together to first nominate a slate of potential winners and then to cast ballots selecting the top choices in each of those categories. The catch is that to be a part of the nominating and voting MONTI community, a person is required to attend a certain number of shows, which in turn helps to boost attendance at all shows.

"I had a feeling that it would work," Jones said, "even if some of my friends didn't think it would work."

Joining him in the effort is his long-time partner Todd Barber and a fellow community theater thespian, Pedro Amaral, who is in his third year as a co-producer of the show.

"We're about showing support to community theater," Amaral said.

For those who nominate and vote, "it's difficult to go to every show," Amaral said. "But we do ask that people make their best effort to go and that if you can't go, to send someone in your place."

  • For a list of this year's nominees, see the Brandon Patch report, 

That helps ticket sales — and helps to raise support and awareness for community theater, which in the end makes all the participants and community theater troupes winners in the end.

"That's what we hear from people, that because of the MONTI's, they go to more shows," Jones said.



Best Actress - Musical Jennifer Morgan (Sally) Cabaret The Frenzie Best Actor - Musical Oliver Sprague (Emcee) Cabaret The Frenzie Best Actress - Play Rachel Comstock (Martha Dobie) The Children's Hour The Frenzie Best Actor - Play Greg Summerall (Bernard) Don't Dress for Dinner MDHF Productions Best Supporting Actor - Musical Randy Magruder (Samuel Byck) Assassins The Village Players Best Supporting Actress - Musical Amber McCollum (Fraulein Kost/Fritzie) Cabaret The Frenzie Best Supporting Actor - Play Hal Granholm     (Dr. John Watson) The Penultimate Problem of Sherlock Holmes The Village Players Best Supporting Actress - Play Cindy Miller-Ray (Mrs. Amelia Tilford) The Children's Hour The Frenzie Best Featured Ensemble Actor - Play or Musical Maurice Cecchini (Erronious)
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Plant City Entertainment Best Featured Ensemble Actor - Play or Musical Tyler Dowdy    (Hans, Sailor, Gorilla) Cabaret The Frenzie Best Featured Ensemble Actress - Play or Musical Tracey Magruder Assassins The Village Players Best Stage Management Allison Miller Assassins The Village Players Best Director - Play Michael M. Mercer The Children's Hours The Frenzie Best Director - Musical Greg Summerall Assassins The Village Players Best Musical Director Michael M. Mercer Cabaret The Frenzie Best Choreography Justin Batten and Amber McCollum Cabaret The Frenzie Best Set Design Katrina Ross Cabaret The Frenzie Best Sound Design Aaron Buckingham and Katie Miller Assassins The Village Players
Best Lighting Design Katie Miller Assassins The Village Players
Best Costume Design Beverly Mercer Cabaret The Frenzie Best Musical Accompaniment Kevin Barta (conductor) The Coffee Shop Plant City Entertainment Production of the Year - Musical
Assassins The Village Players Prodution of the Year - Play
The Children's Hour The Frenzie Hall of Fame - Best Young Star Olivia Mitchell and Taylyn Olney

Hall of Fame - Masks of the Theatre Domin Pazo

Hall of Fame -Outstanding Support to Community Theatre Jonathan Douglas

Source: The MONTIS


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