History of NJACT

From the AVY Awards to the Perry Awards

The Perry Awards are named in honor of William Perry Morgan. Perry, as his friends have always known him, was a gifted director, actor, composer, and musician who was once a driving force in New Jersey Community Theater. During his time in New Jersey, Perry and several of his close colleagues came to the realization that there was a need to recognize the many great accomplishments of their fellow thespians, who gave so freely of their talents to enrich the lives of theater patrons in New Jersey. And so the AVY Awards were born in 1973, named after the town of Avenel, NJ, where Perry lived. The Avy Awards were held every June and the announcement of each year’s nominees was always a much-anticipated event throughout New Jersey’s theater community. Perry continued to produce the AVY Awards for more than 20 years until, in 1994, he announced that he and his wife were relocating to Memphis, TN.

After Perry’s departure and the retirement of the Avy Awards, a small group of individuals decided to keep the spirit of the AVY Awards alive by creating the ACT Awards. This awards program continued for several years until 1998, when it was renamed the Recognition of Excellence in Community Theater Award, or RECT Award for short. Then, in 2004, NJACT was formed to take over the awards program and, with the express permission of Perry Morgan, the awards themselves were renamed “The Perry Awards.”

At that time, Perry Morgan stated, “The acknowledgment of excellence in Community Theater by any award serves only to reinforce that which is already known: that some of the finest theatrical productions ever produced are done so year after year in community theaters throughout New Jersey.”