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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 3:05 p.m., Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hawaii director/producer wins national community theater award

Wayne Harada,
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Vanita Rae Smith, veteran producer and director of Army Community Theatre at Fort Shafter, will receive the David C. Bryant Outstanding Service Award of the American Association of Community Theatre, for her significant and lasting service to community theater in America.

Smith will receive the honor at an awards luncheon July 11 at Sardi's, a celebrated New York Broadway restaurant.

Under her watch at Army Community Theatre, which is anchored at the 808-seat Richardson Theatre at Fort Shafter, Smith has brought stellar musical theater to both a civilian and military audience. Hers was the first community production of "Miss Saigon," the Tony Award-winning musical based on "Madame Butterfly" but set against the war of Vietnam. Over 40 seasons, Smith and ACT have produced a growing list of acclaimed works, ranging from "Cats" to "Guys and Dolls," from "Secret Garden" to "Sweeney Todd."

She also presents one of the state's largest Fourth of July celebrations at Schofield Barracks on July 4. Besides presenting a Readers Theatre at ACT, she frequently guest-directs at Manoa Valley Theatre, most recently for the acclaimed drama "Doubt."

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.