Entertainment awards recognize NKU

The seventh annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (CEA) will be held Monday to recognize and honor “the best in local theater and music from the past year” according to City Beat, and for the first time, some of the nominees are performers from Northern Kentucky University.

The CEAs were created in 1997 to acknowledge Cincinnati’s best performing artists.

“The awards also were created to raise funds for LINKS (Lonely Instruments for Needy Kids), which collects and repairs musical instruments that are distributed free of charge to student musicians throughout Greater Cincinnati,” according to City Beat.

Four people affiliated with NKU have been nominated. These include two professor nominations. Aretta Baunmgarter who was nominated in the category of best performance by a local actress in a supporting role, she played Gollum in the Ovation Theatre Company’s rendition of “The Two Towers”. And DeeAnne Bryll was nominated as a part of the cast of “The Boys Next Door” in the category of best community theatre production.

Two student nominations joined the professors.

Andrew Bernhard

Andrew J. Bernhard, a junior theatre major, was nominated for the 2003 CEAs in the category of Best Performance in a Musical by a Local Actor. Bernhard was nominated for his role as “the Padre” in NKU’s Fall 2002 production of “Man Of La Mancha”.

This is Bernhard’s first nomination for a CEA and he feels very privileged to be publicly acknowledged for his work.

“It is flattering to be recognized by Cincinnati while enrolled as a student,” he said. “I am very thankful for this distinct honor.”

Bernhard’s love of acting began at a very young age.

“When I was very young I wanted to be a priest because they got to speak in front of large groups of people-so I started taking acting classes at The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park when I was five years old,” he said.

“I continued at the Playhouse for eight years with training in all aspects and styles of performance.”

After high school he accepted a scholarship to NKU’s Acting Program in the fall of 2001.

Bernhard is very grateful to the NKU theatre department. “I’d like to thank NKU for their fantastic theatre program,” he said. “Specifically [I’d like to recognize] Ken Jones, Dr. Sam Zachary, Michael King, and Joe Conger for their wisdom and support.”

He plans to attend the awards ceremony with his friends and colleagues. “If I win the CEA for Best Actor in a Musical-I will accept it with much pride and thanks to our community,” Bernhard said.

“It will definitely help me in the future when I seek professional work in New York City. Most of all- I will hold it close to me as a token of appreciation from my home-Cincinnati.”

Bridget Conforti

NKU graduate of Spring 2003, Bridget Conforti is nominated in the performances in a musical by a local actress category for her role as Charity Hope Valentine in last spring’s “Sweet Charity.”

This is the first time Conforti has been nominated for a CEA, but she did win an award from NKU for Best Actress in a Musical for the same role.

“Each year the theatre department holds an awards ceremony for the past season. It’s sort of a mock Tony Award ceremony that’s not quite as serious,” said Conforti.

She first became interested in performing while taking dance classes as a child. She said her teachers and training gave her the confidence to perform for an audience.

“I came from a school where the girls were athletic and very sports-minded. Dancing wasn’t exactly the most popular extra curricular activity, but I found a place for myself there,” Conforti said. “It was something that I really enjoyed doing and felt like I was good at.”

Although she is proud of her performance in “Sweet Charity,” Conforti cannot choose what her favorite role was.

“That’s like asking a mother to choose between her children,” she said.

Conforti will attend the awards ceremony and even perform a song from “Sweet Charity.”

Judges and local music and theater critics determine nominations for the awards. Public voting determines the winners of most categories, according to CEA officials.

The awards ceremony will be held at Old St. George adjacent to the UC campus. Tickets can be purchased through City Beat’s Web site athttp://www.citybeat.com/cea/show2003.html for $12 in advance or $14 at the door.