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TUSCALOOSA, AL – Theatre Tuscaloosa held the 24th annual T. Earle Johnson Awards Ceremony on Sunday, August 19, 2019, in the Atrium at Shelton State Community College to acknowledge the 2018-19 winners.


Each year, Theatre Tuscaloosa holds its version of the Tonys: The T. Earle Johnson Awards, which is lovingly shortened to “The T. Earles.” This program strives to recognize excellence demonstrated by Theatre Tuscaloosa performers, technicians, volunteers, patrons, sponsors, and contributors.


Audience members are encouraged to vote for the performance-related categories during and immediately after the summer musical each season.


Over the years, this program has grown with new categories and awards being added to recognize more and more people who invest their time, treasure, and talent to make Theatre Tuscaloosa the amazing organization it has become.


George Thagard received the Paul K. Looney, “Our Ox is in the Ditch” Award for taking on the role of “Scrooge” when only given two weeks to learn the part; Newcomer of the Year was awarded to Kenyatta “YaYa” Browne for appearing in  Crowns and A Festival of One Acts – Love & Cheese Toast, two shows in her very first year; Sontonia Stephens received the Jake Leigeber Volunteer of the Year Award for going above and beyond the call of duty; Kim Palm received the Patron of the Year Award for her extraordinary contributions to the theatre; Dianna Brown Shaw received the Doug Perry Outstanding Service to the Theatre Award; and Sarah Kathryn Bonds received the Charlie Dennis “Bear It” Award for Technical Service.


The acting awards included:

  • Meredith Vaughn  – Outstanding Featured Actress for her role as “Frenchy” in Grease
  • John Walker – Outstanding Featured Actor for his role as the “Teen Angel” in Grease
  • Margaret Carr – Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as “Rizzo” in Grease
  • Cole Cabiness – Outstanding Supporting Actor for his role as “Kinickie” in Grease
  • Callie Walker – Outstanding Leading Actress for her role as “Sandy” in Grease
  • Nolan McKinney – Outstanding Lead Actor for his role as “Danny” in Grease
  • Kathy Wilson – Outstanding SecondStage Actress for her role as “Stella” in Love and Cheese Toast
  • Ernie Turley – Outstanding SecondStage Actor for his role as “Roland” in Love and Cheese Toast


John Walker, John Hisey, Kim Plam, and George Thagard were inducted into the All-Star Cast. Inductees of this prestigious group must have received three prior T. Earle Awards. Once inducted, they are no longer eligible to be nominated for future awards. Honorees receive an All-Star Cast medal and are acknowledged on a plaque in the Wilson


Carr Rehearsal Hall. Members of the All-Star Cast serve as mentors and ambassadors to new actors, technicians, and volunteers.


John Hisey received The Lifetime Achievement Award for over five decades of dedication to Theatre Tuscaloosa as a lighting designer, having worked on more than forty shows.


More details about the categories and the history of the T. Earle Johnson Awards are available at or at 205.391.2277.



Theatre Tuscaloosa is a 501c3 not-for-profit community theatre located on the Martin Campus of Shelton State Community College.  Theatre Tuscaloosa has been enriching the greater Tuscaloosa community since 1971 through quality theatrical productions and educational outreach.