Hickory – The Hickory Community Theatre gave out 15 trophies representing 12 awards categories at its annual Kay Awards and volunteer celebration on Saturday, August 20th.

The honors for Outstanding Actress and Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role went to Shannon Underwood and Christopher Honsaker, respectively. Underwood was chosen by patrons for her portrayal of Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” and Honsaker for his fine work as Anthony in “Outside Mullingar.” Underwood is now working at Disney World in Orlando, FL but was in attendance via FaceTime to accept her award and give her thanks.

Dorothy Collier Best and Anthony Chambers were emcees for the evening, performing in their roles from “Young Frankenstein,” Frau Blucher and Igor. They had to do double duty as presenters and recipients when they were both recognized as Outstanding Actor and Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role, for playing these same characters. Best was also awarded Outstanding Actress in a character role for playing Eulalie MacKecknie Shinn in “The Music Man.”

“The Music Man” brought recognition to two other actors. Steve Austin, who played Marcellus Washburn was awarded Outstanding Actor in a Character Role, and Frederick Schuttenberg, who played the Conductor and Constable Locke, received the award for Outstanding Newcomer Actor. This was Austin’s fourth time receiving the Character Actor award in the past five years. He’s previously been recognized for playing Patsy in “Spamalot,” Mr. Tinsworthy in “9 to 5,” and Max Detweller in “The Sound of Music.”

Nikkita Gibson received the Outstanding Newcomer Actress Award for the role of Marie in “Incorruptible. The Outstanding Ensemble Award went to the cast of “Outside Mullingar,” Elizabeth Bokhoven, Connie Bools, Bill Boyd and Christopher Honsaker.

The Kay Awards also celebrate volunteers who do their work offstage. Joshua “Dozer” Presnell was named Technical Volunteer of the Year for his work in set construction, painting and behind the scenes, where he put in over 400 hours last season. Presnell’s service dog, Fred, received a trophy of his own. Retiring Board President Kent Kerley was presented with the Charles E. Jeffers Award for Outstanding Service to the Theatre in recognition of his tireless work on making the annual Vacation Extravaganza a success. The honor of Volunteer of the Year went to Wendy Hodges Walker, who has been a volunteer since 2012. Walker worked back stage on virtually every show last season, while also serving in the box office, the front of house and on the theatre Guild.

As she presented the award to Walker, Christine Stinson, the Theatre’s Administrative Director and volunteer coordinator pointed out that the Theatre had 387 volunteers in service last season, the most per capita of any community theatre in the state.

The Theatre kicks off its 68th season with “The Wiz,” opening September 2nd and running through the 18th. For information and tickets call 828-328-2283 or click hickorytheatre.org.

The Hickory Community Theatre is a Funded Affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. The Kay Awards were sponsored by Ernie Sills and CBSA Architects.

Photo: (back row) Elisabeth Bokhoven, Christopher Honsaker, Frederick Schuttenberg, Kent Kerley, Steve Austin, Anthony Chambers, Joshua “Dozer” Presnell, (front) Susan Underwood (standing in for daughter Shannon,) Nikkita Gibson, Dorothy Collier Best, Wendy Hodges Walker, Bill Boyd and Fred. Photo by Ken Burns.