The Santa Barbara Independent honored John Blondell, Westmont theater arts professor, and James Connolly, Westmont adjunct instructor of music, with Independent Theatre Awards June 6 for their work in Lit Moon Theatre’s “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.” Blondell directed the show, Connolly wrote the original music score. Marjatta Kuivasto also won an Indy for set design. The 19th annual Indy Theater Awards, which recognize excellent work done in the local region, were held at the Santa Barbara Club.
“The Wonderful Adventures of Nils,” which premiered in Santa Barbara in September, also features Westmont faculty members Victoria Finlayson and Mitchell Thomas. Several alumni performed in the show, including Peter John Duda ’95, Kate Paulsen ’05, and Marie Ponce ’10. Also, alumna Diana Small ‘09 was the assistant director and alumna Jessica Drake ’11 served as dramaturge.
“The Wonderful Adventures of Nils,” written by Naomi Iizuka, is a new adaptation of a famous Swedish story by Nobel Laureate Selma Lagerlöf.
In December, Elizabeth Schwyzer, dance editor for the Independent, named the show the 2010 Best Experimental Theater Production.
Indy Awards are nothing new to Blondell and Thomas. Last year, Thomas won an Indy for directing the Westmont production of “The Bald Soprano” and Blondell accepted an Indy for his work directing “Our Town,” performed by Santa Barbara Theatre. Blondell received an Indy award in 2008 for his direction of Lit Moon’s “Queen C.” They both won Indy Awards in 2006 for “King Richard II,” Blondell for directing and Thomas for performing.
Blondell, who earned a doctorate from UC Santa Barbara, is founder and director of Lit Moon Theatre Company, an award-winning international theatre ensemble. He also founded the Lit Moon World Theater Festival, an international event produced yearly in Santa Barbara. In 2006, he founded the Lit Moon World Shakespeare Festival, the first of its kind in the U.S. and one of only five in the world.