Aug. 20 2014 12:00 AM

Standing ovation for Beachler at interactive annual theater awards

The 2014 City Pulse Pulsars, recognizing the best in Lansing theater, were handed out Monday night at Over the Ledge Theatre in Grand Ledge. Kelly Stuible and Veronica Gracia- Wing hosted the evening’s festivities. Instead of scheduled presenters and entertainers, Stuible and Gracia-Wing invited audience members to read the nominees and winners from the screen. Winners in “musical” categories were asked to sing for their award.

Multiple winners this year included the musical “Peter Pan” at Michigan State University and the period tragicomedy “The Lion in Winter” at Williamston Theatre.

“Peter Pan” won six Pulsars, including Best Director of a Musical, Best Musical Director, and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for MFA student Jaqueline Wheeler as Captain Hook. To “earn” her award, Wheeler led the audience in the refrain of “Hook’s Waltz”; “Who’s the swin ey-est swine in the world? Captain Hook!”

Beloved musical “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at Riverwalk Theatre won Best Musical. Director Jane Falion accepted the Pulsar (her first) along with the entire cast, which joined Falion onstage.

Other evening highlights included a special presentation to Ken Beachler, who won the Pulsar for “Best Featured Actor in a Musical.” In a video, WLNS’ Evan Pinsonnault introduced a highlight reel of footage and photographs from Beachler’s extensive stage career as an actor and director. The crowd gave Beachler a standing ovation.

The panel of Pulsar judges comprises Erin Buitendorp, Mary C. Cusack, Kathy Helma, Tom Helma, Ute von der Heyden and Paul Wozniak. More than 40 productions that opened between August 2013 and July of this year were evaluated and rated for this year’s field.