The Zenon Award is a prestigious honor that awards excellence both on and off stage each season. Highlands Lakeside Theatre hosts an annual awards show gala to honor the recipients. Entertainment between awards presentations is provided by nominees throughout the show. The suspense builds until the Best Play of the Year is announced before the close of the show.  

2019 Nominees & recipients

33rd Annual Zenon Awards

*The recipients are underlined and denoted by an *asterisk. 

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Bea Walsh & Helen Curcio – Godpsell

Tom Staik – I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Tammie Pollard & Kristin Diefenthaler – Nana’s Naughty Knickers

*Kris Juve – Mamma Mia!

Tammie Pollard – 9 to 5 The Musical



Darin MacNeill & Kathy MacNeill – Godspell

Amanda Mercer – I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Jillian Febres & Kevin Hacker – Nana’s Naughty Knickers

*Jen Westergom – Mamma Mia!

Frank Oberhausen – 9 to 5 The Musical



Art Harriman — Godspell

Erika Weaver-Coleman — Nana’s Naughty Knickers

*Johanna Johnston & Jaime Gallo — Mamma Mia!

Art Harriman – 9 to 5 The Musical



Stan Epling — Godspell

*Mike McMillian — I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change 

Steve Lundey — Nanna’s Naughty Knickers

Kevin Hacker — Mamma Mia!

Mac Byron — 9 to 5 The Musical



Stan Epling — Godspell

Larissa Meagher & Benton Hughes — l Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Larissa Meagher – Nana’s Naughty Knickers 

*Jen Westergom — Mamma Mia!

Robert Jarvis – 9 to 5 The Musical



Heidi Hoffman — Godspell

Frank Oberhausen — l Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Thor Knutson – Nana’s Naughty Knickers

*Thor Knutson – Mamma Mia!

Tom Staik & Frank Oberhausen – 9 to 5 The Musical



Patty Young: Assistant Director — Godspell

*Joe LaCotti, Mike McMillian, Dewayne Mercer: Rotating Stage Engineering — I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

*Frank Oberhausen and Robert Jarvis: Engineering Lighted Walls — l Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Bob Hippchen: Special Effects — Nana’s Naughty Knickers 

Kevin Hacker: Assistant Director — Mamma Mia!

Debbi Burnett: Wardrobe Assistant — Mamma Mia!

Mac Byron & Mike McMillian: Construction Of Fly System Rig — 9 to 5 The Musical 

Glenn Fowler: Props — 9 to 5 The Musical



The Godspell Band: Live Music — Godspell

Sharon & Tony Jones: Live Music — I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Margaret Macbeth: Music Director — I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change 

*Cassidy Hitt, Nancy McDuffee, & Jen Westergom: Choreography — Mamma Mia!

Tracy Schucknecht: Music Direction — Mamma Mia!

*Kristen Diefenthaler: Seamstress — I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, 9 to 5 The Musical, & Mamma Mia!

Hannah Summer: Set Art — Mamma Mia!

Candice Anders: Music Direction — 9 to 5 The Musical



Margaret Macbeth — Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Marcia Ward as Sylvia Charles — Nana’s Naughty Knickers 

*Dawn Smith as Donna Sheridan — Mamma Mia!

Dawn Smith as Violet Newstead — 9 to 5 The Musical

Margaret Macbeth as Judy Bernly — 9 to 5 The Musical

Hannah Summer as Doralee Rhodes — 9 to 5 The Musical



*Isaac Hernandez as Jesus — Godspell

Andrew Macbeth — I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Dylan Ross as Tom O’Grady — Nana’s Naughty Knickers 

Gary Johnson as Sam Carmichael — Mamma Mia!

Andrew Macbeth as Franklin Hart — 9 to 5 The Musical



Johanna Johnston — l Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change 

Brenda Hippchen as Vera Walters — Nana’s Naughty Knickers

*Sydney Hitt as Sophie Sheridan — Mamma Mia!

Kate Mc’nttyre as Roz Keith – 9 to 5 The Musical



Paolo Pineda as John/Judas — Godspell

Marcus Conerly — I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change 

Bill Farmer as Gil Schmidt — Nana’s Naughty Knickers 

*Isaac Hernandez as Sky — Mamma Mia!

Anthony Tolar as Joe — 9 to 5 The Musical



Benton Hughes — Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Pete Pollard — I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Tanya Turner as Heather Van Pree — Nana’s Naughty Knickers 

Dean Lundey as Fed Ex Guy — Nana’s Naughty Knickers 

*Paolo Pineda as Pepper — Mamma Mia!

Tammie Pollard as Margaret Pomerance — 9 to 5 The Musical



Kathy MacNeill – Godspell

Amanda Mercer – I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Jillian Febres – Nana’s Naughty Knickers 

*Jen Westergom – Mamma Mia!

Peter Hall Pollard – 9 to 5 The Musical



I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Nana’s Naughty Knickers

*Mamma Mia!

9 to 5 The Musical



*NELLY FORD As the chair of the Play Service Committee this person has done an excellent job of handling a variety of personalities as the committee proceeds through the play selection process and meeting with the board of directors, This person also has been timely in developing contracts with the various theater companies. She is organized, professional, and unselfishly gives her time to HLT.

JAKE & ANN ROHEM — This couple are wonderful Highlands Little Theater Ambassadors for through their performances with the Glad Hatters and the leadership they provide to this Reader’s Theater traveling group they have made an impact on the community, You will also find them ushering at every show, Jake passes Out programs while Ann assists Our patrons with their seating. For many years you would find Jake and Ann in the box office as well.

MELODI POWELL — Chairman of both the Building Maintenance Committee and the coordinator of ushers, this person is rarely away from HLT.  She has Organized theater improvement days and consistently has volunteers come in to do various repair projects. She has also been instrumental in ensuring that all ushers are property trained in current safety standards and procedures. She always gives her all to HLT.

FRANK & JANET OBERHAUSEN — Frank & Janet have dedicated themselves to continuing to lead the development and improvements to our deck facility, dedicating countless hours. Without fanfare, they have created individual lighting schemes for the space during every show this season. They are also responsible for the installation of decorative fencing, tiki torches, and new safety equipment.

THOR KNUTSON – Thor just recently served on the board of directors. He has also chaired Anthony’s lounge and recently has been very helpful in beefing up security in the building by installing much needed cameras Thor has also served as the committee chair for lighting for many years. He is always there to solve a problem or get a task done.

*CAROL SCHAFMEISTER Carol stepped up to join the membership committee recently and has been a great asset. She has been a pivotal member on that committee by assisting with it’s reorganization, new policies, and planning the volunteer banquet. She has also been a great contributor on the MMM committee.

ROSEMARIE TIPPINS BARRINGER — Rose is always volunteering in some capacity at HI-T. She works n wardrobe, does set construction, works in the bar, and is a member Of the Clad Hatters. She is always willing to assist and has a very positive attitude.

ROBERT JARVIS — Bob has taken on several projects in sound and lighting including new LED lights in the pavilion and mainstage and improving the sound system in the pavilion. He has also pitched in on several facility improvements.



Under the Big Top

Spring Into Broadway


*Dancing At Lughnasa

Summer Theatre Institute: Seusical Jr.



*MICHAEL MCMILLIAN Mike is one of the most giving people at HLT. He is one of those people who gets the work done with little fuss and never asks for recognition. He sees a need, fills the need, and then finds something else to work on. He has served on the board of directors, built numerous sets, directed shows, worked stage crew, has been an actor on stage, and has served on the play selection committee. He shows his love of theatre and HI-T by doing the work. That is a rare gift. Mike served on the Board of Directors as our most recent outgoing Vice President. Because Mike consistently puts the needs of HI-T first, he is a most deserving nominee for the Jane Lou Buck Lifetime Achievement award.

ART HARRIMAN – This gentleman arrived at Highlands Lakeside Theater during the 2001-2002 season in Peter Pan and wasted no time before diving right into set construction, stage crew. He performed in principle roles in three productions the first year he was with us. By the 2003-2004 season, he was serving on the HI-T Board of Directors and then as Vice President and President. He continues to perform on stage and directs shows on both the main stage and the Thakkar Pavilion. He created the Travelers acting group, which traveled to events and performs short skits. Most recently, he is the chair of the membership committee and works with the Thakkar Volunteer Banquet, which recognizes our theater members, and volunteers for the front of the “house” activities. For close to 20 years this man has been contributing his time and talents to Highlands Lakeside Theater and has earned the Jane Lou Buck Lifetime Achievement Award.

KRISTIN TAYLOR – This person first stepped on the Highlands Lakeside Theatre Stage during the 2004-2005 season as Frieda in the Allergists wife and during that season she went on to assist with set construction and wardrobe and earned a Zenon for the Best Supporting Actor in a female roe for her performance as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret. This delightful woman continued as an actor, a director, and behind the scenes. She has earned Zenons for the many accomplishments as a director and costume designer throughout her years with HLT. This individual is often asked to preview a show and assist the director with details needed to maintain the time period of the show. This talented director brought a delightful play, Second Samuel, to the Thakkar Pavilion and a few years later the same play was performed on the main stage and earned a Zenon for the Best Play of the Season.  She was one of the original directors to bring the Summer Theatre Institute to HLT many years ago which introduced theater to many children that went on to become active on stage at HLT. This multi-talented lady chaired Anthony’s Lounge for a while and displayed her skills as a mixologist behind the bar. As you can see, for her years at Highland Lakeside Theatre, she has been happy and very gracious in sharing her many abilities and deserves the Jane Lou Buck Significant Achievement Award for her many contributions. She is a wonderful supporter, champion, and ambassador for our theater, and for these reasons and many more, she deserves to be bestowed with the honor of this award.

2020 ZEnon awards

The Zenon Awards will be held on October 2, 2020 and are graciously sponsored by the Zenon and Marilyn Hansen Foundation. 

The Zenon Awards more commonly known as the Zenons, recognizes excellence in the preceding season at Highlands Lakeside Theatre. The awards have been sponsored by the Zenon and Marilyn Hansen Foundation since their inception in 1986 at an annual ceremony in October. The awards are given for HLT productions and performances.  Several discretionary non-competitive awards are also given, including two Board Service Awards, the Director’s Choice Award and the Janelou Buck Significant Achievement Award. The awards are named after Zenon Hansen, an early supporter of the organization. 

The rules for the Zenon Awards are set forth in the official document “Zenon Awards Policy” and is supervised by the Zenon Awards Admin Chair.  In addition to the awards presentations, there are performances by nominees. The entire production is directed by a volunteer who is chosen by the Board President each year. 

There are three separate ballots to determine the recipients in the diverse categories.  The People’s Choice ballot goes to all Full Season subscribers and HLT Members who have registered at each of the five Blackman Stage Series shows, and includes Performance and Design categories, as well as choosing the Best Play of the Year.  The Committee ballot includes behind the scenes categories such as Outstanding Artistic Production and Best Stage Manager and is determined by the season’s directors and two community representatives. The Board of Director’s ballot is to choose the two Board Service award and the Janelou Buck Significant Achievement Award recipients. 

All completed ballots are delivered directly to the firm of CliftonLarsonAllen CPAs who tally the results and prepare the sealed envelopes, which are opened and revealed during the show. This is a gala affair to celebrate the artistic achievements of individual volunteers and the organization as a whole. Tickets go on sale to the nominees during an exclusive session before being made available to the general public.

Who were Zenon and Marilyn Hansen? The Zenon Ceremonies rests on their Foundation.

Since 1985, members of HLT have been honored with one or more pyramids known as a “Zenon.”  How did the award get its name? This piece hopes to shed some light on the origin and naming of the coveted honor. 

Everyone involved with the Highlands Little Theatre benefited when Zenon Hansen, the retired CEO of Mack Trucks, and his wife Marilyn moved to Sebring in 1980. The Highlands Little Theatre was just six years old at that time and was a functioning but struggling enterprise. It lacked a permanent home and depended on the various schools and clubs in the county to provide a venue for its productions and for this reason dinner performances were infrequent to the point of nonexistent. But like other six year olds, the group didn’t seem to consider this a hindrance, and made do with what was available. Its greatest asset was its youthful vigor and its determination to grow up and be somebody and this made all the difference between success and failure. Zenon Hansen, a pioneer himself, must have appreciated the theatre’s resolution and fortitude, for he strengthened the youthful organization with his help at a time when help was most appreciated and needed. 

Marilyn and Zenon Hansen became the fledgling theatre’s benefactors, and participated in many “firsts” at Highlands Little Theatre. In November of 1982 they received the first Lifetime Patron plaque from HLT for their interest and support of the organization. The plaque was presented at the premiere of the musical Camelot, the show that inaugurated the Ninth Season for HLT. That November also marked the first five-play season, a practice that has been maintained to this day. 

Four years later on Saturday, October 4, 1986, the first Zenon Awards Ceremony took place at the Sebring Elks Club. The ceremony, very much like the Hollywood Oscar Ceremonies and the Broadway Tony Awards, reflects the best of the theatrical season and awards the outstanding plays, performers, directors, and crews for their achievement. The presentation of the first award was made to Zenon and Marilyn Hansen in recognition of the contributions that they had made in support of the Highlands Little Theatre. The award read ZENON # 1, and as President Tena Pollard Conyer stated prophetically, as she presented the award to the generous couple, “We will hereafter, with great pride, respect and affection, refer to the award as the Zenon.” It has retained that name ever since. 

Zenon Hansen died in October of 1990 and his wife Marilyn in June of 1995, but their interest in Highlands Little Theatre’s annual tributes has continued. It has been assumed and assured by the Hansen Foundation, which underwrites the awards presented that night. 

We shall always be indebted to the munificence of Zenon and Marilyn Hansen and their enthusiastic interest in Highlands Little Theatre’s growth. By their support they have helped make our organization shine with a professional sparkle that would not have been as bright if it had not been for their generous assistance and attention. Zenon and Marilyn, we at Highlands Little Theatre salute you!