Outstanding Service Award

David C. Bryant Outstanding Service
Recognizes individual members of AACT for significant, valuable, and lasting service to community theatre

2018 Honoree
Photo of Jerry Brees Jerry Brees, U.S. Army IMCOM Europe Entertainment, Italy
Jerry began his career with U.S. Army Entertainment in Panama in 1983. He has been the U.S. Army Entertainment Director and the Director of the Vicenze, Italy Soldiers’ Theater since 2008. His 35-year career exemplifies the U.S. Army Entertainment mission–unwavering service and commitment to soldiers through the art and power of community theatre. Jerry’s visionary leadership, creativity, and innovative thinking has created a vibrant community theatre from a defunct program in Panama, and brought to life youth programming, monthly Café Jam Nights, and Comedy Workshops. His years of devotion have earned him numerous awards, including the U.S. Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

As Jerry says, “Being involved in community theatre has enriched my life in a multitude of ways. Theatre is our life force; the creative and artistic elements lift the spirit, the camaraderie defines relationships, and the social impact feeds the soul. I cannot imagine life without theatre and the joy it has brought me and so many others.” 

2018 Honoree
Photo of Michael SpicerMichael Spicer, Salina, KS
Michael has been working as a creative partner in community theatre for over 40 years. He has been a leader for more than 20 years, not only to the Salina Community Theatre (SCT), but to the community of Salina itself. In that time, SCT received first place at the AACTFest 2001 National Festival, received the Kansas Governor’s Arts Award, and the AACT Twink Lynch Award. In 2009, Michael led the charge to double the square footage of SCT, helping to raise 3.8 million dollars for a new education wing, a Black Box Theatre, and other creative and administrative spaces. Michael’s regard for the importance of outreach has been demonstrated through a partnership with Kansas Wesleyan University’s Musical Theatre Education Department, post-production talk-backs, and tickets donated to area adult and youth groups. Michael also brings his years of experience to several Salina organizations, including the Arts and Humanities Commission, City Commission, Downtown Development Board, and Economic Development Commission.

During his time at the helm of Salina Community Theatre, Michael’s tireless work has provided a strong sense of artistic vision, stability, and growth that has led a well-established theatre into new horizons.

2018 Honoree
Photo of Lynn NelsonLynn Nelson, Tupelo, MS
Lynn was first introduced to the Tupelo Community Theatre (TCT) through her mother Phyllis Hawkins Harper, a long-time volunteer and Board Member. That introduction resulted in Lynn remaining involved in community theatre at the local, state, regional, and national levels for over 30 years. She has been a board member of TCT since 1995, and has served as the theatre’s Chair of Marketing for over 15 years. Lynn has also been involved in the community theatre festival circuit since the 1990s, serving as Community Theatre Chair for both the Mississippi Theatre Association and the Southeastern Theatre Conference. She has served as AACT Region IV Representative to the AACT Board and is active in attending and participating in their meetings, festivals, and governance.

Lynn’s passion for theatre began when she played a spoon in her third grade play about manners. She has given thousands of hours of service for the betterment of community theatre and is an asset to organizations at all levels.

Previous Recipients
1978  Robert E. Gard* (Madison, WI)
1979  Art Cole* (Midland, TX)
1980  John Wray Young* (Shreveport, LA)
1981  Jeanne Adams Wray* (Stillwater, OK)
1982  Robert Plumb* (Broken Arrow, OK)
1983  Betty Tomlinson* (Spokane, WA)
1984  Kay Fliehr* (Edina, MN)
1985  Twink Lynch (Topeka, KS)
1987  David Gooder* (Downers Grove, IL)
1988  Mort Clark* (North White Plains, NY)
1989  Al* & Elise King (Clinton, IA)
1990  Bea Miller* (Mempis, TN)
1991  Shirley Harbin (Detroit, MI)
1992  L. Newell Tarrant* (Raleigh, NC)
1993  Sandra Karnack (Minot, ND)
1994  Charles Chesnut* (Chappaqua, NY)
1995  John Wills* (Spokane, WA)
1996  John Viars (Des Moines, IA)
1997  JoAnne Nissen (Racine, WI)
1998  Donna Norberg (Minneapolis, MN)
1999  Jerry Paquette (US Army)
2000  Bill Razo (Hobbs, NM)
2001  Jeanne Stein* (Los Alamos, NM)
2002  Ginny Winsor (Omaha, NE)

2003  Dawn Enders* (La Crosse, WI)
2004  Eleanor Smith (Columbus, OH)
2005  Norm Small (Winter Haven, FL)
2006  Steve Walpert (Fort Gordon, GA)
2007  David Allen (Memphis, TN)
           Nick Credgington (Fort Belvoir, VA)
           Ginger Heath (Charlotte, NC)
2008  Vanita Rae Smith (Honolulu, HI)
2009  Dane Winters (US Army, Heidelberg)
2010  Dwight Martin (Honolulu, HI)
2011  Dennis Gilmore (Athens, TX)
2012  Paul Nelson (Olean, NY)
           Ron Paoletti* (US Army, Europe)
2013  Christi Thomas (Sidney, OH)
2014   Harriet Friedman (Waltham, MA)
           Dotti Peek* (New Palestine, IN)
2015   Victoria Hanrahan (Ansbach, Germany)
2015   Lou Vander Have (Grand Rapids, MI)
2016   Tom Cordingley (Helena, MT)
            Zada & Earl Jahnsen (Bulverde, TX)
2017    Joan Luther (Naples, New York)
            Jon Douglas Rake (Tacoma, Washington)

          * Deceased

David C. Bryant

David C. BryantThe David C. Bryant Outstanding Service Award was established in 1978 to honor one of the original founders and the third President (1965-68) of ACTA (later AACT).  Dave was the Artistic Director of the Sheboygan (WI) Community Players from 1957 until his death in 1971.  Under his influence in Sheboygan, according to its 50th anniversary book, "more people were involved onstage, backstage and in the audience.  There was a marked liveliness to the theatrical fare.  Even the printed playbills of the period reflect creativity, individuality and a sense of panache."  Dave instituted the production of a musical every year and was instrumental in the design of their new thrust stage in order to provide "closer visual, auditory and emotional contact with the actors."  His influence in Sheboygan was so powerful that when a new Artistic Director joined the staff in 1981, 10 years after Dave's untimely death, "Dave was all I heard about, even though there were four Directors of Theatre between us."

Essentially a "let-us-never-forget-the-work-of-those-who-have-gone-before-us" award, it is given for "significant and valuable service to community theatre" on a local, regional or national level.  This service may be artistic, business or ethical in nature.  It may be for a local theatre or the field of community theatre in general, but it must be significant and have a lasting impact.


Authorize.Net Merchant - Click to Verify Credit Card Merchant Services