ACT seeks national award for late director

Altoona Community Theatre will nominate the late Steven C. Helsel for a national award in 2020, for a lifetime of outstanding leadership and service to community theater.

Helsel dedicated his life to serving the theater and the community from 1987 until his death in November 2018. Among the many roles Helsel played at the organization were box office manager, full-time operations manager, flagship executive director, director and designer for dozens of plays and musicals, actor, singer, mentor, champion of the arts and beloved friend to hundreds.

American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) is a nonprofit organization that provides networking, resources and support for America’s theaters.

Altoona Community Theatre is one of 7,000 members of AACT across the United States and its territories, as well as theater companies with the U.S. Military Services overseas. Each year AACT’s events, such as AACTFest and aactWORLDFEST, celebrate theater across AACT’s 10 regions and across the globe.

AACT National Awards will be presented at aactWorldFest 2020, June 22 through June 27, in Venice, Fla.

Under Helsel’s tutelage, Altoona Community Theatre has participated in and won awards at 11 theater festivals at the state and regional levels — even one Yakumo International Theatre festival in Japan — but this is the first time Altoona Community Theatre has submitted a nomination for an AACT national award.

One year without Helsel has not dimmed the light of his legacy.

In 2019, ACT established, funded and awarded the first Steven C. Helsel Legacy Scholarship.

ACT members also gathered to celebrate his life and legacy onstage and off. ACT’s productions (including 2019’s sold-out runs of “Mamma Mia!” and “Elf — The Musical”) and educational programs (like the 30th year of Summer Drama Camps and the 14th annual Isaac Awards) would not have been possible without Helsel.

As Helsel’s egalitarian nature was friendly to all, ACT gives the whole community a chance to take part in the nomination, as an illustration of how many people he affected with his creativity, talent, humor, kindness, generosity of spirit and guidance.

The ACT Board of Directors invites anyone who knew and appreciated Helsel to “second the nomination” by adding their name to a list which will be submitted on the AACT award nomination form.

To express your support, send your name to act@altoonacommunitytheatre.com, to Altoona Community Theatre on Facebook or call 943-4357. Be sure to include your name and a contact number or email address.

To be included on this nomination, contact ACT no later than Jan. 15.


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