Sep 032014

Posted in SmyrnaLife Magazine 2014 July/Aug Vol. 1 – Issue 4

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the word hammy (adjective) means marked by exaggerated and usually self-conscious theatricality.  In June the Little Theatre of New Smyrna Beach did just that; presented the 2014 Season Hammy Awards.  The event took place at the Sugar Mill Country Club. 2014 Hammy Awards NSB FLSix pm the doors opened; Barbara and Jim O’Connell greeted both men in tuxedos and women in various semi-formal outfits (from short dresses to pant suits). Once checked in, you were free to mingle; enjoy appetizers and join the line at the bar.

New to Florida and no idea what the heck the Hammy Awards were, I soon found out.

Barbara O’Connell told me she’s from South Florida (Hollywood) and loves it here. “We’ve been here about 3 years,” she says “we fell in love with the theatre. My husband’s the director and began in the fall. We’re just enjoying all the nice people. Good sense of humor, fun. If you’re not having fun you better not be doing this.”

Another couple told me this was their first Hammy Awards but the Little Theatre has been there for years and years. Now in their second building because they’ve enlarged it. It’s a community theatre and it has strong following.  “The last musical was my first one for the little theatre,” says another gentleman at the table. “I tell my friends I finally got to play the villain,” says a second guy who joined us.  “And he did a hell of a job,” commented the first guy.  “I wonder if the reason their doing the Hammy awards tonight,” asked the gentleman’s wife “is because the Tony awards are to2014 Hammy Awards NSB FLmorrow night.” She also told me tickets sell out fast.  The theatre is on 3rd avenue; a nice facility.  “The hurricanes in 2004 or 2005 came through and tore the place up really bad,” they said “it was perfect timing. The Little Theatre already planned to remodel. Between the insurance money and the money they already had for the construction we have a nice place for the community.”  Now in its 67th year, the Little Theatre is still strong.    They have six productions in the winter season (September to May) and one production in July.

At 6:30pm the buffet opened; table of salads, coffee and mini pastries, and a pasta station. In the background DJ Thom played a variety of tunes. A packed house, opening ceremonies started at 7:00pm to swear in the new board.  Karen Poulsen then presented the life membership award.    However, not before the new board (Paula, Steve, Noel, Al, Rick, and Tom) gave us the top ten reasons why.  “She describes herself as a multi-dimensional person, she loves learning,” says Karen Poulsen “I can say personally that she’s taught us a lot. Even though we can give many reasons why we nominated her for life membership, we’re going to give the top ten reasons.”

“10. She served on the board for 10 years.   9. She’s a real traveler but a Jersey girl at heart. 8. She’s been a member since 1998. 7. She’s given significant and substantial service in all seven categories to qualify as a life member; acting, directing, production, board member, special events, usher and lobby, and regularly attended membership 2014 Hammy Awards NSB FLmeetings.  6. She has directed six times including Wonderland Children’s Programs.  5. She’s been President of the Board for five years.  4. She’s an educational leader; VP for her two computer companies, college professor, high school teacher, and instructor for beginning acting. This woman cannot keep a real job.  3. Even on days when she’d rather be playing Mah Jong she’s at the Little Theatre with her husband taking out the trash.  2. She’s got more than a dozen acting credits to her name including everything from sexy senior to cemetery plug to one of the victims of an axe murderer in Defending Lizzie.  1. She got a hole in one when she joined the out team.”  Dear readers, the Little Theatre’s 2014 Life Membership Award went to Dr. Harriet Winokur. Dr. Winokur was present with an exquisite decorated glass bowl.

The ceremony opened with a parade of outfits from Karin and David Jenkins. Karin wore a strapless evening gown and David wore a black tuxedo. Next Karin began to walk us through what to expect for the evening; especially for us newcomers.   “First, a long time tradition,” says Karin “is to have a trophy girl or guy here to help present the awards. Tonight we’re very proud to announce we chose a trophy guy; John Walker.”  John Walker walked out in a long-tail black tuxedo.

To keep in tradition with the Tony Awards, David ran through the instructions quickly on how one receives their trophy.  “There’s a little acting involved,” he said “a little blocking, posing, and some impromptu speaking.” They announced the top five highest scored nominees in each category; cast and crew, running lights, actor playing a lead in a drama, comedy or musical.  There were fifty plus trophies and eight coveted piggy awards.  The piggy awards went to one lucky memorable winner from each of the seasons shows.  Five awards went to young Thespians.

2014 Hammy Awards NSB FLThe Little Theatre offers classes for 5 – 18 year olds under Wonderland Theatre. Their goal is to help young people develop: enthusiasm, confidence, self – esteem, and communication and social skills. And to participate in a real live stage experiences then perform before a live audience.

For more information about the Little Theatre go to or call their box office between 1:00pm and 4:00pm at 386-423-1246 Monday thru Friday.


Photos and Story by Robin G Coles