Rustony 2023 Awards Celebration


Theatre-lovers filled the Dixie Center for the Arts for the 31st Annual RusTony Awards Celebration on Thursday night, August 24th. Each year Ruston Community Theatre (RCT) holds this event to celebrate their production season.  

A crowd of over 250 people walked the red carpet to enter the theatre. The lobby was filled with balloons and a display of props and programs from the season shows. As the curtain opened, the audience was welcomed by the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland voiced by Grisham Locke and puppeteered by a team of young performers.

Joe Brown and Stephen Vessel served as the Masters of Ceremony while RCT President Mark Graham presented trophies to cheers and applause from the lively attendants.

Live entertainment was provided by featured actors and actresses from the four musical productions from the season: Shrek Jr, Elf the Musical, Cinderella and Smoke in the Mountain.

Highlights from the other season shows were presented in a series of video and photo montages produced and edited by Britton, Jenn, Siri and Dove Kilpatrick. It was night to celebrate and remember all the amazon performances and productions RCT has presented for this past season.

This year’s RusTony nominations were made by a pre-selected anonymous committee of persons with an eye for talent and theatre. Only performers who received nominations from the majority of this committee were added to the final ballot which was voted on by RCT membership to determine the award winners for the evening. This was also the first year in which youth shows were included in the awards, with unique categories created in part by the members of the RCT Youth Council. 

An event of this grandeur could not happen without the help of numerous volunteers who served countless hours.  Stage Managers for the event were Westley Terry, Monika Locke, and Robbie Cunningham. Sound control was provided by Brent Gay, lighting was designed by Monika Locke and run by Sawyer Cunningham.  The RusTony planning committee was chaired by MaryBelle Tuten, with members Diana Grirgsby, Stephen Vessel, Monika Locke, Grisham Locke, Ayden Brown, Lizzy Beasley, Eli Farris and Mia Graham who designed and produced the programs for the evening.  

This year’s RusTony Award winners are as follows:

Technical Awards:

Best Creative Lighting for a Play - Kevin Beasley for ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Best Creative Lighting for a Musical - Kevin Beasley for CINDERELLA

Best Creative Lighting for a Play - Brent and Conner Gay  for THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG and ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Best Creative Lighting for a Musical - Brent and Conner Gay for  CINDERELLA

Best Costume Design for a Play - Karen Pittman for ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Best Costume Design for a Musical - Karen Pittman for CINDERELLA

Best Set Design for a Play - Tami Alexander, Anna and Johnathan Baines for ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Best Set Design for a Musical - Mark Graham for CINDERELLA

Best Choreography - Chlo—Ď Alexander for CINDERELLA and Megan Wilkins for ELF THE MUSICAL

Best Stage Manager for a Play - Westley Terry for THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

Best Stage Manager for a Musical - Monika Locke for CINDERELLA

Best Director for a Play - Mary Watkins

Best Director for a Musical - Dee Alexander

Best Play - The Play That Goes Wrong

Best Musical - Cinderella

Play Awards:  

Best Leading Performer in a Play - Benjamin Gross as 'Robert Grove (Thomas Collymoore)' in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG;

Best Supporting Performer in a Play - Anky Kiremire as 'Dennis Hyde (Perkins)' in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

Musical Awards:

Best Performer in a Leading Musical Role - Jacob Guillot as 'Buddy' in ELF, THE MUSICAL

Best Actor in a Supporting Musical Role - Joe Brown as 'Walter Hobbs' in ELF, THE MUSICAL

Best Actress in a Supporting Musical Role - Emily Stogner as 'Madame' in CINDERELLA

Best Performer in a Minor Musical Role - Nathan Richardson as 'Manager' in ELF, THE MUSICAL

Best Cameo in a Musical - Robbie Cunningham as 'The Giant' in CINDERELLA

Best Young Performer in a Musical (18 and Under) - Charlotte Hanchey as 'Fox Puppet' in CINDERELLA

Best Musical Performance - Asthon Thomas as 'Marie' in "There is Music in you" from Cinderella

Best Ensemble - “Nobody Cares About Santa” from ELF, THE MUSICAL

Junior Awards:

Spotlight Award - Grisham Locke as 'The Cheshire Cat' in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and Cole Morganthall as 'Donkey' in SHREK THE MUSICAL, JR.

Most Emotive Performance - Esther Allen as 'Small Queen of Hearts' in ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Most Creative Performance - Caed Baines as 'The Mock Turtle' in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and Landon Walker as 'Pinocchio' in SHREK THE MUSICAL, JR.

Newcomer Award - Esther Allen as 'Small Queen of Hearts' in ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Best Ensemble - Flower Girls from ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Special Awards:

Outstanding Performance - Katie Roberts as “June” in SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN

Artistic Contribution - Johnathan and Anna Baines

Helen M. Thomson Community Award - Johnathan Baines

Kevin Cuccia Comedic Award - Joseph Stogner

Congratulations to all the winners, all those who were nominated, and everyone else involved in these fabulous productions. This event was a celebration of all the talent that was presented on stage this year and everybody involved should feel proud of what you have accomplished.

As the 2023-2024 season closes, the 2023-2024 season is about to kick-off with Anne of Green Gables, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Steel Magnolias, and Fiddler on the Roof.  RCT will also present the Sanders Family Christmas, Disney’s Descendants, and Annie as non-season shows.

Season Memberships are on sale, and you now have the option to purchase an additional pass which includes the three non-season shows as well.  Go to to purchase a membership.  

RCT thanks the community for its continued support of the theatre and performing arts in Ruston.

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Ruston, LA 71270
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