By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Feb. 6 was a big night for the IU Southeast theatre program at the third annual Arts-Louisville.com/Broadway World Theatre Awards honoring excellence in local theatre in Louisville, Ky.
Cody King, a communications/theatre major from Sellersburg, Ind., was named best actor in a play for his portrayal of the neurotic thespian Garry Lejeune in the IU Southeast production of Michael Frayn’s farce, Noises Off.
“Garry has a tendency to think faster than he speaks,” King said, getting to the root of the role’s comic conceit.
A senior, King has been acting since he was 15 years old. He has performed in many main stage productions in his time at IU Southeast, including Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls, Hamlet, as well as children’s series plays.
The role of Garry forced King to extend himself.
“The biggest challenge was the physicality,” King said. “I had to hop two flights of stairs with my shoes tied together, and fall down another flight of stairs in the third act.”
King’s professor, Jim Hesselman, dean of the School of Arts and Letters, took home awards for best director of a musical (local) for Guys and Dolls, and best director of a play (local) for Noises Off.
Hesselman has directed over 200 musicals. His award for Guys and Dolls reflected his command of the genre. The award for Noises Off spoke to his ability to handle utterly novel directorial challenges.
“Noises Off was one of the most technically difficult shows to rehearse because there was a huge double-decker turntable onstage with intricate scenes happening on both sides of the wall simultaneously that depended on the other, and actors on one side who could not hear what the actors on the other side were doing—all done eventually at the break neck speed of a farce,” Hesselman said.
The competitive awards in four divisions were given out to local theatre companies and individual theatre artists after a public vote administered through the Broadway World website. The period of qualification for these categories was November 1, 2015 and October 31, 2016.
The awards were presented by Arts-Louisville.com and Vault 1031. Arts-Louisville is a media venture that exists to promote the arts and humanities in and around the Louisville Metro area. Vault 1031 is a nonprofit and performance space in the revitalized Old Louisville neighborhood that aims to support both cultural life and economic redevelopment in the historic district.
A veteran of the local theatrical scene, Hesselman is acutely aware that Kentuckiana audiences can choose from among a wide variety of events. Theatre companies battle one another, professional sports and the home computer for a share of people’s attention and free time. It takes a good product to win that battle, and an even better one to win an award.
“These awards signify that we in Southern Indiana truly are an active and respected member of the Louisville-area arts scene,” Hesselman said.
For King, the award marked the first public recognition for his acting.
“To receive an award in a category among such brilliant local talent was a humbling honor,” King said. “It was challenging, but after I did it, I realized I was capable of more than I thought,” he said.
Homepage photo: Cody King and James Hesselman. Photo by Jodi Combs-Kalla.