There is something very satisfying about seeing somebody get the recognition they deserve.
Regina Belt-Daniels is currently tied for the lead in voting for the Broadway World Chicago Regional Theatre Awards as Best Director of a Play. The awards celebrate the best in Chicago-area theatre, with additional categories in dance and opera.
Gina, as she is known to her friends, is the director of the Paul Rudnick comedy I Hate Hamlet, which was presented earlier this year by Elgin Theatre Company just outside Chicago. I had the great honor of being in the cast of this wonderful production. In fact, it stands as one of my favorite theatrical experiences thanks to Gina, assistant director Matt Hordyke, and an amazing cast including David Gasior, Trace Gamache, Travis Greuel, Karen Mayberry Greuel, and Alison Thomas Hage.
In addition to Gina’s nomination for Best Director of a Play, I Hate Hamlet secured nominations for Best Ensemble, Best Play, Best Performer in a Play (Rikki Lee Travolta), and three instances of Best Supporting Performer in a Play (Trace Gamache, Travis Greuel, and David Gasior).
I think one of the things that makes Gina such a great director is that she is a former teacher. As an educator, Gina had to learn how to get through to all sorts of different students. You see, each person learns differently.
While some experts disagree on the number of learning types there are, they generally can include up to 12 styles: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, Kinesthetic, Sequential, Simultaneous, Reflective/Logical, Verbal, Interactive, Direct Experience, Indirect Experience, and Rhythmic/Melodic.
It is up to the teacher to find the different ways to get through to these different learning types. If you’re a good teacher, youfind a way to reach every individual. Gina was a good teacher. She did. And, now she brings that ability to connect with her to the world of theatre.
One of the ways Gina is able to connect to me in a director-actor relationship is her use of photography. The actor relies on the director to know what they look like on stage. I may think I am achieving a certain look during a monologue, but I don’t know for certain without the input of eyes in the audience.
Gina solves this problem by showing her actors exactly how they come across in photos from each rehearsal. This technique is something that works exceptionally well with me. It allows me to study my facial expressions, my posture, and my movements to ensure I am presenting the right image and characterizations at all times.
Another factor that lends itself well to making Gina such an effective director is that her directing career was born out of her acting career. Gina is a former New Yorker who has been in love with the theater her whole life. To this day, she regularly travels to the U.K. to take in Shakespeare and other pieces of theatrical brilliance.
As an actress, Gina got her start at the historic Woodstock Opera House in 1985. She has performed in media ranging from leading roles in musical theater such as Gypsy to featured roles in broadcast productions such as Upstaged the Series.
Sometimes it helps to get through to an actor when you’ve been there yourself. Having worked as an actor can help a director know how to assist their talent pool in creating viable characters, remembering their lines, understanding their blocking, and relating to the other actors on stage.
The final factor that makes Gina such a wonderful director is that she cares. She is a caring human being. She honestly cares about her actors as people. Yes, we are there to do a job, but we are human with feelings, concerns, and insecurities.
By recognizing this human element, Gina connects to her cast. They know she is in their corner. That tends to inspire the utmost dedication and allegiance from actors. We would do anything for her because she would do anything for us.
In addition to her work as a teacher and as an actor, another talent of Gina’s that also contributes to her abilities as a director is her work as a theatre critic. Gina is the lead theare critic for the Northwest Herald, one of Chicagoland’s major newspapers.
By not just watching the work of other directors but analyzing it to see what works and what doesn’t, Gina is in a master class every time she goes to see a play or musical. She has an inquisitive mind wherein she is always seeking to add to her knowledge base. Who doesn’t admire that in a director?
And now, Gina’s consistent excellence as a director has earned her a place among the contenders in the Broadway World awards. I, for one, could not be prouder of her.
The Broadway World Regional Awards celebrate the best in theatre for 68 different U.S. major metropolitan areas ranging from Anchorage, Alaska to Tampa, Florida. Infusing the awards with an international flair, there are also honors celebrating theatre in nine different countries.
In order to make sure that these regional awards reflect the communities they applaud and the preferences of the public, Broadway World encourages everyday people to vote on their favorite performers, creative personnel, and productions.
GETTING HER DUE
You can now vote for Gina and her production of I Hate Hamlet in the Broadway World Chicago Regional Theatre Awards.
I Hate Hamlet is nominated in the following categories:
- Best Direction of a Play – Regina Belt-Daniels
- Best Ensemble Performance
- Best Play
- Best Performer in a Play – Rikki Lee Travolta
- Best Supporting Performer in a Play – Trace Gamache
- Best Supporting Performer in a Play – David Gasior
- Best Supporting Performer in a Play – Travis Greuel
If you want to voice your support for Regina Belt-Daniels and the Elgin Theatre Company production of I Hate Hamlet, you can cast your vote at https://www.broadwayworld.com/chicago/voteregion.cfm
As always, I encourage you to support live theater in your community. See whatever you can – everything from Broadway tours to the local theatre group putting on a classic or premiering a new work. It’s all worth applauding for. And, please, instill a love for theater in the children in your life as well. With directors like Regina Belt-Daniels creating exciting theatre, there is something for everyone.
Peace. Love. Trust.
Rikki Lee Travolta
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