Best Theater Surprise - 2009
Abigail Isom at the Kevin Kline Awards
Nobody quite knows how it happened. (Or perhaps those who do know aren't talking.) But apparently at the eleventh hour, even after Lee Roy Reams had flown into St. Louis to host the fourth annual Kevin Kline Awards in March, he and the show's director, Ron Gibbs, together came up with the idea of surprising Professional Theatre Awards Council executive director Steve Isom at the end of the gala by having Isom's charming eleven-year-old daughter Abigail join him onstage. Only days earlier the redheaded Abigail had been cast in the title role of Annie at the Muny. A surreptitious call was placed to the Isom home, and Abigail was enlisted (probably without too much coaxing) to trumpet a stirring rendition of Annie's immortal anthem, "Tomorrow." No one who was there that night will soon forget the sturdy blast that filled the Loretto-Hilton. "She nailed it," a clearly relieved Muny president and CEO Denny Reagan muttered to himself. Indeed she did. So perhaps it was no surprise at all when, twelve Monday nights later, Abigail nailed it again — no sweat — on the vast Muny stage in the 96-degree heat of an opening night.