Fourteen years after the Over Our Head Players first launched their popular Snowdance 10 Minute Comedy Festival, the annual script-writing competition/performance event is not only still going, but going stronger than ever.
This year, a record 388 original comedies by playwrights in 41 different states and five foreign countries were submitted to the theater troupe for consideration.
And, beginning Jan. 26, audiences here will have the opportunity to see the top 10 finalists, chosen from those submissions, performed when the 2018 Snowdance 10 Minute Comedy Festival opens at the Sixth Street Theatre, 318 Sixth St.
While the festival has long been a hit with both playwrights and audiences — drawing at least a couple hundred script submissions each year and consistently selling out tickets for its entire run — this year, submissions “just went wonkers,” said Rich Smith, managing artistic director of the OOHP.
The prior highest number of submissions was last year’s 284 — slightly up from the previous several years, and much higher than the festival’s first year, which brought in more than 100. And Smith said he suspects that the festival’s growing notoriety may be due to playwrights, near and far, spreading the word about Snowdance.
“In the last couple years, I’ve also had a lot more people emailing me with questions about the festival,” he said. “There seems to be more awareness of it.”
Snowdance, which runs through Feb. 25, offers comedy fans five weekends (plus some Thursdays) of performances, with all 10 finalist comedies presented at each show. It also gives audience members the chance to take part in the fun by inviting them to vote for their favorite comedies at each show.
Votes are tallied throughout the festival’s run to determine the “Best in Snow”-winning playwright, who receives a cash award of $500 ($200 second place and $100 third place awards are also given). And the 2018 festival offers a wide range of funny topics to choose from.
Among the 10 finalists are short comedies about everything from parenting teenagers to office parties — there are even a couple about other, famous plays (“Hamilton” and “The Glass Menagerie”). Participating playwrights include four who have competed in previous Snowdance competitions, including two previous winners — Madison’s Joe Thompson and Boston’s Rick Park.
All will be performed and directed by an ensemble cast, led by Smith and also featuring John Adams, Kristin Althoff, Diane Carlson, Melissa Hughes Ernest, Nicholas Hoyt, Mary Kveton, A.J. Laird, David Maack II, Anne Mollerskov and Ron Schulz.
Still loving it
While the task of narrowing down hundreds of submitted scripts to 10 finalists can be a challenging one for him and others on the play-reading crew, Smith said that the annual “Snowdance” festival is still something he and the rest of the OOHP look forward to every year.
“This just never gets old,” he said. “Everyone gets all worked up at this time of year. We are still here and we are loving it. And that makes me happy.”
Snowdance runs Jan. 26-Feb. 25, with shows scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets cost $18 for Friday and Saturday performances, and $15.50 for Thursday and Sunday shows. They can be purchased online at www.overourheadplayers.org or reserved by calling 262-632-6802.
The 10 finalists for the 2018 Snowdance festival are:
“Mr. Teddy Bear,”
- by Ron Burch, Los Angeles — Jeanne’s annual performance review with the new team member
“Bowl of Trouble,”
- by Jeff Taylor, Chicago — Teenage Harrison has been hiding something from his parents
“When Babies Fly,”
- by Steven Korbar, Torrance, Calif. — Infants on a plane
“Walking Dead Dave,”
- by Joe Thompson, Madison — Dave from accounting proves to be the life of the office party
“True to You,”
- by Nicky Denovan, Berkshire, United Kingdom — Will Richard and Jane forge a love connection or an archrivalry?
- by Chip Bolcik, Thousand Oaks, Calif. — No price is too steep for the hottest ticket on Broadway
“The Crass Menagerie, or Why Amnesiacs Shouldn’t Write Memory Plays,”
- by Rich Orloff, New York — Inspired by the Tennessee Williams’ classic, but a bit “off”
“Joseph Receives Unsettling News,”
- by Rick Davis, Augusta, Ga. — The miracle of a virgin birth is not an easy concept to explain
“The Doppler of My Heart,”
- by Rick Park, Boston, Mass. — Measuring weather patterns and heart rates
- by James McLindon, Northampton, Mass. — Janet is sure that Bob is “the one,” and she has grounds for comparison