Longtime Community Theatre of Howell volunteer Vera Cunningham was honored Friday night with one of the most prestigious awards in community theater – the Community Theatre Association of Michigan’s (CTAM) Dorothy Arnett Volunteer Service Award.
Cunningham received the award in a surprise ceremony during opening night of CTH’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” The “Joseph” cast and crew were joined on stage at intermission with a host of other CTH veterans from through the years as Cunningham was presented with the award. She’s the first person in CTH’s history to win the award.
CTAM’s Terry Jolink was on hand to present the award to Cunningham.
Among the cast members who cheered wildly on stage as Cunningham received the honor was her granddaughter, Lottie Moorehouse, who is appearing in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” as a featured dancer.
According to the CTAM website, “The Dorothy Arnett Volunteer Service Award is presented by CTAM to individuals who have given valuable, long-term service to a theatre organization.”
Cunningham has been involved in CTH since 1993, making her one of the longest-tenured members of the group. She has appeared in several shows and has directed 14 productions for CTH – 10 big-stage musicals and four dramatic plays, everything from “The Music Man” and “Guys and Dolls,” to “Inherit the Wind” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Cunningham was also a longtime board member for CTH, and served as membership and patron chairperson.
Her children and grandchildren have also been heavily involved in CTH through the years. Her son Buddy met his future wife Kathy in a CTH show, and Cunningham’s granddaughter Leslie Huntley actually got married at the theater (the only wedding that’s taken place there).
Cunningham was nominated for the Dorothy Arnett Award by CTH board member Linda Peasley, who wrote, “Vera June (as many of us refer to her) has been a beloved Director, Board Member, Choreographer, Actress and Dancer and most of all a patron and forever friend of our organization, and she is truly deserving of this award.”