Somewhere around 7 p.m. the night of The Loafies — about a half an hour before Tampa Theatre was scheduled to open its doors — David Jenkins of Jobsite Theater saw me standing by the stage looking frazzled (I believe I had an armful of Cuban bread at the time) and asked if there was anything I needed.
"A bullet to the head, maybe?"
Yup, it looked that bad. We'd only gotten a third of the way through the run-through (which had been scheduled to end at 5), and there was a strange hum in the sound system, the Power Point computer had frozen up and various essential participants had gone missing. In short, it looked like the first edition of our Best of the Bay awards show could end in only one way — disaster.
But you know what they say about bad dress rehearsals auguring great opening nights. If that old showbiz saw is true, then it must follow that one-third of a bad dress rehearsal means that your opening will be three times as great.
Because, if we do say so ourselves, The Loafies was a pretty damn good show. Everyone on the Loaf staff made contributions above and beyond the call of duty, from Joran Oppelt's seemingly unflappable stage management to Ashle Smith's dazzling turn as Miss Loafie 2007 to the vital behind-the-scenes machinations of London Fajkus, Kristina Woo, Chris Madalena, Durium Jones and many more. And the duo of Wayne Garcia and ABC Action News' Brendan McLaughlin, sharing the stage as presenters, may have a future as a comedy team.
None of this would have been half as fun without the effortless comic stylings of host Tim Wilkins from Tampa Bay's 10. Whether getting body-checked by the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins or cracking wise in the midst of tech-crew setups, he managed to be both suave and hilarious at the same time, no mean combination. Lorna Bracewell, Blac Soap and The Ditchflowers gave bravura performances. Tampa Digital Studios, Naptime Sounds, A List Events, the Tampa Theatre staff and the indispensable wackos of Jobsite were also vital parts of the evening's success. (And thanks again, Alessi Bakery, for the edible Loafies.)
Eric Snider, Sharry Smith and I lost some sleep about the wisdom of this endeavor, wondering, for instance, whether anyone would come. We were very pleased to see not only that hundreds of you did, but that you also got fully into the awards-show spirit. We saw arrivals by limo and fire engine, outfits from top hats to evening gowns — plus an all-purple zoot suit that drew one of Wilkins' best lines of the night: "Apparently Barney has a pimp."
But more important, people cared. It was truly heartening to hear how loudly people cheered for their favorites. Actor Steven Clark Pachosa, a 2006 Best of the Bay winner who handed out the awards for this year's Best Actor and Actress, mentioned to me after the show how rare it is for the creative talent in this area to get a chance for public recognition.
I agreed — and promised we'd be doing it again.
The list on these two pages shows the results of the 2007 Best of the Bay Readers' Poll, the winners of which were announced for the first time during the show Monday night. Congrats again to everyone who won this year's awards, whether chosen by our readers or our critics and staff.
See you at next year's Loafies!