INDIO — A pair of Morongo Basin theaters brought home nine trophies from the Desert Theatre League Desert Star Awards held Sunday at Sun City Shadow Hills.
The Desert Theatre League, now in its 26th year, annually celebrates the achievements of community theaters, dance companies, production companies and school drama departments in the Morongo Basin and the low desert.
This year, the Morongo Basin was represented by Groves Cabin Theatre in Morongo Valley and Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms.
Groves earned awards for three productions: the comedy “The Clean House,” the drama “Strange Snow,” and the original play “Georgia O’Keeffe.”
“Strange Snow,” the story of Vietnam veterans dealing with the aftereffects of combat, earned an outstanding supporting actor award for Kurt Schauppner and an outstanding lead actor award for Abe Daniels.
Daniels also won for outstanding director of a drama while “Strange Snow” earned an award for outstanding production of a drama.
Groves Cabin Theatre co-founder Joy Groves won for outstanding supporting actress and Wendy Cohen won the outstanding director of a comedy trophy for their performances in “The Clean House.”
Cohen, a veteran actor, writer and director who is well-known to audiences in the Morongo Basin and the low desert, was also presented The Joan Woodbury Mitchell Award. Accepting the award, Cohen told the people assembled that theater is something she simply cannot stop doing. “It’s the only thing that makes me so damned happy I could die this second,” she said.
Groves was also honored as outstanding lead actress in a drama for her work in “Georgia O’Keeffe, one of three awards the original drama, written and directed by Dolores Becker-Trost, took home.
Anja Homburg won the title of outstanding supporting actress in a drama, while Becker-Trost took home the Bill Groves Award for Outstanding Original Writing, named for the co-founder of the theater that originally specialized in original plays about Abraham Lincoln.
Two Theatre 29 productions earned a total of three awards during the evening’s entertainment.
The props and special effects of the musical “Ragtime,” including a moveable model of a Model T Ford, earned an award for their creator, John Wright.
In the division for musicals, operas and pageants, the Theatre 29 production of “Gypsy” earned Gary Daigneault an outstanding director award and Analisa Pilecki and outstanding lead actress award for her portrayal of Mama Rose, the ultimate stage mother. While accepting the award, Pilecki thanked her own mother for her love and support.