It’s official—Queens is a theater town.
For the third straight year, the TimesLedger Newspapers has turned the spotlight on the borough’s thriving performance scene and presented the best of the bunch with our Queens Kudos Awards.
This time, however, we opened up the nominating and voting process to our readers.
And for the first time, all of the nominations honored the borough’s large community theater network, which stretches from Glendale to Floral Park and from Astoria to Woodhaven.
More than 5,000 votes were recorded in categories ranging from Best Play and Best Musical to Best Costumes.
Queens theatergoers spread the award wealth around the borough, honoring outstanding productions from Middle Village’s JC Players, Forest Hills’ Parkside Players, Woodside’s Hip to Hip Theatre Co. and Bayside’s Theatre by the Bay.
In the city that serves as America’s epicenter of performing arts, it is easy for community theater groups to be overlooked.
Well, Actors Equity card or not, the science teachers, insurance salesmen and stay-at-home moms who spend hours learning lines, remembering stage directions and rehearsing the same scene ad nauseum qualify in our book as real actors.
And opening night often turns out to be a showcase for surprising talent at both the acting, directing and production end in church basements and other low-key venues.
No, we are not saying every show mounted in Queens is on par with “Hamilton” or “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.”
But in a few years, or decades, when those shows are available to the borough’s community theater groups, you would be wise to secure a ticket — which even at those future prices will pale next to what you will likely have to plop down at TKTS in Times Square. And, honestly, will you really be jazzed to see Miley Cyrus in a revival of “My Fair Lady”?
Which brings us back to Queens.
While Ms. Cyrus is unlikely to be on the bill, theatergoers in the borough will continue to have the chance to watch up-and-coming performers making their New York City debut in a Queens community theater show.
You might just as easily catch a Broadway veteran taking on one of Shakespeare’s great tragic heroes in a free production at Jamaica’s Roy Wilkins Park.
One thing remains certain: In Queens, whoever you see perform in whichever venue, you can be assured that the people on stage and behind the scenes are there because they love the theater.
And the Queens Kudos is our way of saying thank you for sharing the love.