The hosts of this year’s Artsies will be the lovely and talented performers, Debra Clinton and Jason Marks. It was incredibly difficult to come up with a pair who could match the groundbreaking performance of Michael Hawke and Melissa Johnston Price last year, the first hosts drawn from within the local theater community since Jill Bari Steinberg bravely took on the job at the very first awards. But with years of performing, composing, and directing experience behind them, Deb and Jason will bring their considerable talents to bear in lighting up the RTCC stage with yet another engaging, enthralling hosting performance!
For those who don’t know, Deb is both the Director of Production for SPARC and the Artistic Director of the Weinstein JCC’s Jewish Family Theatre. Among her myriad other accomplishments, she has directed countless productions for both organizations and co-created two original musicals together with Jason. She is, of course, an amazing performer and was nominated for an RTCC award in 2010 for her role Henley Street’s “The Winter’s Tale” and recently was a stand-out in VA Rep’s “The Fiddler on the Roof.” Last year, her accomplishments were recognized with the awarding of the Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in Theatre by Richmond Magazine.
It’s hard to say enough about Jason’s many talents. He was the resident musical director at SPARC for years before winning the “Big Broadway Break” contest in 2010 and moving to New York to pursue many opportunities there. Richmond audiences were already plenty familiar with his winning stage presence and powerful voice, thanks in part to his boffo role as Nicely Nicely Johnson in “Guys and Dolls” that landed him a RTCC award in 2008. Since then, he has appeared in numerous shows in Richmond and for other regional theaters, including portrayals of Max Bialystock in several productions of “The Producers” and recent blockbuster portrayals of the title character in “Shrek: The Musical.” Oh, and Jason also picked up a Pollak Prize back in 2012!
Unbeknowst to many, Deb and Jason have provided invaluable assistance in the production of the awards in past years. For instance, the highly-entertaining appearance of a superb crew of SPARC students singing the song ‘R-T-C-C’ to the tune of “Under the Sea” (with original lyrics by Mr. Marks) that kicked off the Fifth Annual Artsies in 2012 was organized and produced by them. There’s little doubt that with Deb and Jason front-and-center this year, the awards are going to be another raging success!