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LADCC Announces Recipients of its 50th Annual Awards

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The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle announced the recipients of its 50th annual awards for distinguished achievement in theatre tonight at Pasadena Playhouse. Wenzel Jones presided over the festivities, and Christopher Raymond served as music director.

There were four recipients of the 2018 Production award: Cambodian Rock Band (South Coast Repertory), Come From Away (Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre), Cry It Out (Echo Theater Company), and Sell/Buy/Date (Geffen Playhouse/Los Angeles LGBT Center). Awards in 17 other categories celebrated a wide range of Los Angeles theater, with 17 different productions taking home honors. Celebration Theatre’s Cabaret took home the most awards for a single production, with six, including a nod for Revival. Antaeus Theatre Company received the most awards, with three of its productions winning a combined seven trophies. In a competitive category, Tom Hanks received a lead actor award for his performance as Falstaff in The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles production of Henry IV.

In addition, the LADCC presented eight previously announced special awards, including the Ted Schmitt award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play to Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band, the Margaret Harford award for sustained excellence in theater to Sacred Fools Theater Company, and the inaugural Theater Angel award for distinguished service to Los Angeles theater to Yvonne Bell.

The complete list of award recipients is as follows:

PRODUCTION

  • Cambodian Rock Band, produced by South Coast Repertory and Honorary Producers Carolyn and Bill Klein and Samuel and Tammy Tang, South Coast Repertory
  • Come From Away, produced by Junkyard Dog Productions, Jerry Frankel, Latitude Link, Smith & Brant Theatricals, Steve & Paula Reynolds, David Mirvish, Michael Rubinoff, Alhadeff Productions, Michael Alden & Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Sam Levy, Rodney Rigby, Spencer Ross, Richard Winkler, Yonge Street Theatricals, Sheridan College, Michael & Ellise Coit, Ronald Frankel, Sheri & Les Biller, Richard & Sherry Belkin, Marlene & Gary Cohen, Allan Detsky & Rena Mendelson, Lauren Doll, Barbara H. Freitag, Wendy Gillespie, Laura Little Theatricals, Carl & Jennifer Pasbjerg, Radio Mouse Entertainment, The Shubert Organization, Cynthia Stroum, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Gwen Arment/Molly Morris & Terry McNicholas, Maureen & Joel Benoliel/Marjorie & Ron Danz, Pamela Cooper/Corey Brunish, Demos Bizar/Square 1 Theatrics, Joshua Goodman/Lauren Stevens, Just for Laughs Theatricals/Judith Ann Abrams Productions, Bill & Linda Potter/Rosemary & Kenneth Willman and La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre, Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre
  • Cry It Out, produced by Chris Fields and Rachael Zambias/Echo Theater Company, Echo Theater Company at Atwater Village Theatre
  • Sell/Buy/Date, produced by Geffen Playhouse/Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center, Andrew Carlberg, and Foment Productions, Geffen Playhouse/Los Angeles LGBT Center

MCCULLOH AWARD FOR REVIVAL (Shows between 1920 and 1980)

  • Cabaret, produced by Michael Matthews, Michael O’Hara, Jay Marcus, Mark Giberson, Alan Wethern, David Tran, Parnell Damone Marcano, Constance Jewell Lopez, Celebration Theatre
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, A Noise Within
  • The Little Foxes, Antaeus Theatre Company

LEAD PERFORMANCE

  • MaameYaa BoafoSchool Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre
  • Tom HanksHenry IV, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
  • Kasey Mahaffy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, A Noise Within
  • Alex NeeCabaret, Celebration Theatre
  • Conrad RicamoraSoft Power, Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre

FEATURED PERFORMANCE

  • Rob Nagle, The Little Foxes, Antaeus Theatre Company
  • Daisuke TsujiCambodian Rock Band, South Coast Repertory

ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE

  • Come From Away, Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre
  • The Little Foxes, Antaeus Theatre Company

SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • Sarah JonesSell/Buy/Date, Geffen Playhouse / Los Angeles LGBT Center

WRITING

  • Sarah JonesSell/Buy/Date, Geffen Playhouse / Los Angeles LGBT Center
  • Molly Smith MetzlerCry It Out, Echo Theater Company

WRITING ADAPTATION

  • Patrick MarberThree Days in the Country, Antaeus Theatre Company

MUSICAL SCORE

  • Irene Sankoff and David HeinCome From Away, Center Theatre Group/ Ahmanson Theatre

MUSICAL DIRECTION

  • Ian EisendrathCome From Away, Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre
  • Anthony ZedikerCabaret, Celebration Theatre

CHOREOGRAPHY

  • Janet RostonCabaret, Celebration Theatre

DIRECTION

  • Jennifer ChangVietgone, East West Players
  • Geoff ElliottRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, A Noise Within

SET DESIGN

  • Stephen GiffordCabaret, Celebration Theatre
  • John Iacovelli, The Little Foxes, Antaeus Theatre Company

LIGHTING DESIGN

  • Matthew Brian DenmanCabaret, Celebration Theatre
  • Andrew Schmedake, Native Son, Antaeus Theatre Company

COSTUME DESIGN

  • Allison DillardBLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!), Moving Arts at Atwater Village Theatre
  • Allison DillardPriscilla, Queen of the Desert, Celebration Theatre

SOUND DESIGN

  • Jeff GardnerNative Son, Antaeus Theatre Company
  • Joshua D. ReidA Christmas Carol, Geffen Playhouse

CGI/PROJECTION

  • Kaitlyn Pietras and Jason H. ThompsonVietgone, East West Players

SPECIALTY

  • Thomas Isao Morinaka and Aaron Aoki for Fight ChoreographyVietgone, East West Players
  • Jim Steinmeyer for Illusions, Stagecraft, and Magic CarpetAladdin, Hollywood Pantages Theatre


The following special award winners were previously announced:

The THEATER ANGEL AWARD for distinguished service to Los Angeles Theater: Yvonne Bell.

The GORDON DAVIDSON Award for distinguished contribution to the Los Angeles theatrical community: Native Voices at the Autry.

The MARGARET HARFORD Award for sustained excellence: Sacred Fools Theater Company.

The POLLY WARFIELD Award for an excellent season in a small to mid-size theatre: Echo Theater Company.

The JOEL HIRSCHHORN Award for distinguished achievement in musical theatre: McCoy Rigby Entertainment & La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

The TED SCHMITT Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play: Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band, originally produced by South Coast Repertory.

The MILTON KATSELAS Award for distinguished achievement in direction: Cameron Watson.

The KINETIC LIGHTING Award for distinguished achievement in theatrical design: Robert Oriol, Sound Designer.

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969. It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles. The 2018 membership consisted of:

Frances Baum Nicholson, Southern California News Group, Stage Struck Review
Paul Birchall, Stage Raw, Stage & Cinema
Katie Buenneke, LA Weekly, Stage Raw
Erin Conley, On Stage & Screen
Ellen Dostal, BroadwayWorld LA, Musicals in LA
Lovell Estell III, Stage Raw, Arts in LA
Shirle Gottlieb, Arts in LA, StageHappenings.com
Margaret Gray, Los Angeles Times
Hoyt Hilsman, Huffington Post
Harker Jones, Edge Media Network
Deborah Klugman, Stage Raw, LA Weekly, Capital & Main
Jenny Lower, Stage Raw
Dany Margolies, ArtsInLA.com, Southern California News Group
Myron Meisel, Stage Raw
Terry Morgan, Stage Raw, TalkinBroadway.com
Steven Leigh Morris, LA Stage Alliance
Melinda Schupmann, ShowMag.com, ArtsinLA.com
Jonas Schwartz-Owen, Theatermania.com, ArtsinLA.com
Don Shirley, LA Observed
Les Spindle, EDGE LA
Rob Stevens, haineshisway
Neal Weaver, Stage Raw, ArtsinLA.com

 

Theater Memories from LADCC Members

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On the occasion of our 50th Anniversary, past and present LADCC members share some of their most memorable moments in LA Theater.

WIN BLEVINS
When I was new as the Herald-Examiner entertainment editor, Hair opened in town. It was that season’s sensation—I was dying to review it. My very conservative publisher, George Hearst, sent word that his newspaper would not print a word about any play with a nude scene. HELP! Soon one of our photographers—call him Photogenic—told me Hearst had asked him to get the usual publicity shots, see if it really had a nude scene, and report back.  He himself was ultra-conservative. I considered resigning in protest but didn’t. The next day I got a cackling call from Hair’s PR guy. Working from the light booth, Photogenic dropped to his knees to change rolls of film. “Down there in the dark HE MISSED THE SCENE. HE $%!&# MISSED IT.” Photo said, “Go ahead, Win, write your review.” Surely that was divine intervention.

Win is a New York Times bestselling author whose Dictionary of the American West is held in 728 libraries. Winner of the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement in writing literature of the West, he resides in Utah.

LAWRENCE CHRISTON
I came along during the period when the Showcase Code yielded to the 1972 Equity Waiver Rule, passage of which created a numerical explosion of new theaters all over the LA basin, like toadstools after rain. Some of them did lovely work, some of them were toilets. The LADCC was a strange, contentious group, some of whom looked like they only came out at night, at the center of which was a cabal of reviewers, led by Variety’s Bill Edwards, who got together to push their pets—mostly mediocre and worse performers—for awards and recognition at the annual LADCC banquet. The LA Times’ chief theater critic Dan Sullivan once called Edwards “an oaf,” which was a perfect description. But no one will ever know how much Edwards did to bring that rule into effect and thereby lead LA theater into its most vibrant period.

Lawrence is a former LA Times staff writer, where he was the first full-time comedy critic on an American daily newspaper. He has written widely on culture and the arts for such publications and internet sites as the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and CultureCrash.

SYLVIE DRAKE
My first review was of an adapted short story, long title, by Shaw, The Adventures of The Black Girl In Her Search for God at the Mark Taper. I wrote it for a weekly called The Canyon Crier, to find out if I could be a theatre critic as much as become one. My first review for the LA Times was a really good community production of Brigadoon. When I turned it in, Dan Sullivan, who’d assigned it, asked “Was it really that good?” I said yes. I don’t think he believed me. Dan urged me to join the LADCC, which I discovered was a handful of severely opinionated and argumentative people. What a surprise. I was its president twice. Over the 19 years we worked together, Dan and I took turns, with one of us threatening to resign from the group and the other saying no, no, you can’t. Neither of us did, until we each left town.

Sylvie Drake writes “on a fairly regular basis” for cultural weekly.com, and has also written recently for the Los Angeles Times and American Theatre.

RICHARD STAYTON
“If it’s important, it will come to New York.” My newspaper’s lead drama critic Jack Viertel stared incredulously. I’d asked The New York Times cultural editor which critic he’d assigned to review the ten-week Olympic Arts Festival. Nothing like it had been attempted before. Los Angeles would host over 140 productions, performed by 146 theater companies: from West Germany, Pina Bausch; from France, Ariane Mnouchkine’s Kabuki Shakespeare; from Italy, legendary maestro Giorgio Strehler’s Tempest. I assured my mentor that the NYT editor had indeed said, “No one.” But I covered that phenomenal 1984 festival for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. And it made me a drama critic. Extraordinary theater compelled a higher level of criticism. When Viertel was lured from journalism by Gordon Davidson to become the Mark Taper Forum’s dramaturge, I inherited Jack’s role. Privileged, I asked to review a Harold Pinter premiere. In London! My new boss said, “If it’s important, it will come to L.A.”

For 20 years Richard was editor-in-chief of Written By, the WGA West’s monthly magazine. His play After the First Death won the Goshen Peace Prize and was produced in theaters across the world.

JACK VIERTEL
I was once president of your august body, in 1983-84. My memories are mainly quite vague about the activities of that time, except for one extremely vivid one where two critics had a passionate disagreement (I forget about what) during a meeting, and then, following the meeting, one of them tried to run the other one over with her car (I am not kidding). It was a fairly wild bunch. I do remember our hosting an annual event, possibly in an auditorium at the Roosevelt Hotel, but that’s about it….As I live in New York now I won’t be able to attend, but I’m hoping for a great event for those who do.

Jack is senior V.P. of Jujamcyn Theaters and the author of The Secret Life of the American Musical. He actually presided over the 1984 dinner at Variety Arts Center, about which Sylvie Drake wrote it was “emceed with verve and dispatch by Circle president Jack Viertel (Herald-Examiner), and masterminded by David Galligan (Drama-Logue).”

DAN SULLIVAN
Los Angeles? They got theater out there?” said a NY Times pal when I jumped ship for the LA Times in the sixties. Nobody would ask that today.  Once a road town, today’s LA has become what a travel agent would call a destination city, a place with its own theatrical history, neighborhoods, legends, accents, costumes. and weird tales. What a great story to cover, and I had a front row seat — at the Taper, at the LA Theatre Center, at South Coast Repertory, at all those ratty little theaters on Melrose, at the acting troupes that went on to glory (the Company Theater,  the Actors’ Gang) and the high-minded ones that couldn’t make it work (the Inner City Cultural  Center.)  It’s all a blur now but I’ve got a closetful of scrapbooks that prove it happened. And still does, no question.

Dan has reviewed theater and music for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Minneapolis Tribune and other fine newspapers for many years. Today he writes letters to the editor and composes light verse.

SHARON PERLMUTTER
I believe I was the first member of the LADCC who wrote exclusively for the Internet. I wasn’t sure they’d admit me—wasn’t sure that writing for the Internet counted. Next thing I knew I was joining meetings in the Special Collections Room of the Glendale Public Library (we were a special collection, I was told), debating the relative artistic merits of shows, and negotiating out the most equitable way we could vote on nominations from a field of shows too numerous for anyone to possibly see them all. Most memorable LADCC moment: when I had to tell the group we couldn’t get our liquor license in time, so might have to have a dry awards. Most memorable review: Once, I was invited back to see a show a second time, because they had incorporated a couple changes I’d suggested. I always enjoyed knowing that the people who created shows I loved knew how much I loved their work; but knowing that my input made a show better warmed my icy little critic’s heart.

Sharon still occasionally writes reviews for TalkinBroadway.com, but now spends most of her free time traveling, coping with middle age gracefully, and trying to teach lawyers math.

AMY LYONS
Being part of the LADCC for three years was an amazing way to meet other critics and delve deeply into the extraordinary theatre community of Los Angeles. Co-producing an LADCC awards show with Bob Verini, hosted by the Troubies, was a highlight for me, except the part where I found out fifteen minutes before opening that the caterer had the date wrong. But the show, and the food, went on!

As a Los Angeles theater critic, Amy reviewed for LA Weekly, Backstage, The Santa Monica Mirror, Stage Raw, and The Beverly Press. These days, Amy splits her time between Los Angeles and the Washington D.C. area, where she contributes reviews to Washington City Paper. 

LES SPINDLE
Several years back, I was attending an opening night performance at the Malibu Playhouse. I arrived at the last minute, and did not initially notice that the woman seated next to me was a former child superstar and celebrated sitcom luminary. It was Rose Marie, who died in December of 2017, following the release of a fabulous documentary film about her extraordinary life and career. Clearly not a shy person, she apparently noticed my note-taking during the first act, and gently elbowed me in the ribs, saying, “Well, what do ya think?” I then noticed the tiny trademark hair bow she was wearing (Baby Rose Marie, grown up). We had a fabulous chat at intermission, as she relayed great anecdotes about Dick Van Dyke and Doris Day, and chatted up a storm. Halfway through the second act, an actress fainted onstage, and the show was interrupted for a while. Bow-haired Rosie quipped to me: “I could get up and do a dance.” Before long, we were told the actress was OK, and the show went on. I have never forgotten that funny and extraordinary encounter.

Les has worked as a journalist and critic since the 1980s for Backstage, Frontiers, LA Stage, and others. He has interviewed countless numbers of celebrities and is the author of a bio-bibliography of Julie Andrews.

BOB VERINI
When the set died during press night for 9 to 5: The Musical at the Ahmanson, the show’s composer-lyricist jumped up to jolly us into a singalong and wipe away any critical grumpiness (and we can be grumpy). 9 to 5 went on to cop LADCC awards for musical score and for choreography; who can say how much of the show’s lingering good cheer was set in motion that night by Miss Dolly Parton herself? I further recall the show’s director, the estimable Joe Mantello, taking exception to something I’d written in Variety in a fairly blistering e-mail. I wrote back politely, highly aware (without saying so) that the man was probably exhausted and may have regretted how he expressed himself. Our resulting exchange of ideas ended most pleasantly—a reminder that everyone in theater is trying to do their best, and that we’re all fallible human beings.

Bob covers New England theater for Variety and New York Stage Review. His Play-a-Day capsule commentaries, posted daily on Facebook, also appear in ArtsinLA.com.

DON SHIRLEY
Greater Los Angeles is one of the world’s most dramatic metropolises, thanks to the astonishing diversity of the people, their communities, even the physical topography. It’s also a magnet for people who want to act, write and direct. We have the ingredients for a great theater. But the sheer distances within LA, the domination of the Hollywood industry and the preponderance of very small venues sometimes prevent Angelenos from noticing their theater scene—and that includes many of those who now run LA’s major news organizations. Being an LA theater critic has repeatedly yanked me off my sofa, away from screens, and into face-to-face contact with the many communities where theater happens. I’d like to see those communities themselves reflected more often in their productions. But whatever is on the stage, I’m grateful that I’m able to get out there and take another look at what’s happening.

LOVELL ESTELL III
I was truly excited to see Brian Dennehy’s performance in Death of a Salesman, back in 2000 at the Mark Taper Forum. There was a buzz in the crowd, and a good hour before the show, I pampered myself with three or four glasses of wine. And, predictably, ten minutes before curtain, I had to make a stop. So, after waiting in line for a few minutes, I sauntered over to the WC, and as soon as I settled in, Kirk Douglas parks himself in the stall next to me. Hell, I was kind of surprised, and then I said “Hello, Mr. Douglas,” to which he replied, “Hello, how are you? Well, our “conversation” went on for a while, touching on the upcoming show, etc., etc. And then we parted ways. “Enjoy the show,” was the last thing he said to me. We could have just as well been talking over a cup of coffee!

MARGARET GRAY
Soon after I joined the LADCC in 2014, I attended my first awards show at the Colony Theatre, driving to Burbank with two small balloon arrangements I’d agreed to contribute. When I placed them on the tables, I saw them as they were: pathetic, sparse and wan to the point of hostility. They ripped away the tissue-thin veil of illusion that guards the human spirit from despair. I stood alone as the nominees arrived, mortified that they had dressed so nicely for such balloons. Yet during the awards presentation the winners looked thrilled and moved—some to tears—to receive their plaques. That’s when I got it: the whole value of the LADCC, theater criticism, awards shows, even balloons. The opportunity to shine a light, however dim, on people’s work in the theater. It requires witnesses, this work, audiences to seek it out, experience it, find meaning in it, and fight for it. My urge to see and write about plays didn’t have to be a weird, shameful quirk that annoyed everybody. It could lead to something valuable, sometimes. That was the first time I felt like part of this community.

MYRON MEISEL
Padua Hills’ groundbreaking work by Mednick, Fornes, Steppling, O’Keefe, Martell. Bernard Jackson’s Inner City Cultural Center: an epic Ethiopian war play, Fernando Arrabal, & Fugard’s Arrests Under Immorality Act. The King’s Road Globe’s King John & George Coulouris as Lear. Los Angeles Actors Theater, doing Richard Wesley and Miguel Piñero later at LATC with Etta Jenks. Olympic Arts Festival, especially Teatro Piccolo de Milano and Ariane Mnouchkine. Everything ever staged by Peter Brook, most daringly The Ik, performed in the corridors of UCLA’s Melnitz Hall. Richard Wilson/Lucinda Childs: I Was Sitting on my Patio… Richard Foreman Inside the Ford. Joe Stern’s heyday at the Matrix. Ron Sossi’s Brechts at the Odyssey: Poor Woman of SzechuanCaucasian Chalk Circle with Franklyn Seales, BaalAfter the Fall with Harris Yulin and Julie Cobb. Reza Abdoh. David Schweizer’s Plato and Broadway. Antaeus Classics Fests at Dakin’s original sweltering location, particularly Tony Amendola’s best Strindberg I’ve heard, reading of The Father. All Fugard premieres at the Fountain. Laura Comstock’s Bag-Punching Dog. Actor Solidarity, when they can muster it.

ROB STEVENS
I started reviewing the professional theatre scene in Los Angeles for a Southern California community theatre magazine in August, 1973, not realizing press got free tickets. I had season subscriptions for the LACLO, Ahmanson, Mark Taper and Huntington Hartford and reviewed their shows. I discovered Equity Waiver theaters on a memorable Sunday in February, 1974. I saw a matinee of The Dark at the Top of the Stairs at the MET Theatre, which was a 50-seat space on Poinsettia Place. The show was directed by co-founder Timothy Scott and starred co-founder James Gammon, Carol Vogel and Belinda Balaski. That evening at the Zephyr Theatre I saw The Onion Co.’s A View From the Bridge starring co-founders Ed Knight and Patricia Kane. Those companies are long gone as are Colony Studio Theatre Playhouse, The CAST, the Callboard, the Megaw, Theatre of Light, L.A. Actors Theatre and many more from the glorious 1970s & 1980s.

MELINDA SCHUPMANN
My Los Angeles theater experiences produce a kaleidoscope of memories. Newly arrived in town, I sat near Fred Astaire at the old Huntington Hartford, who was as delighted as I at seeing Myrna Loy in Barefoot in the Park, watched Katharine Hepburn acting from a wheelchair at the Ahmanson after fracturing her ankle, marveled at Julie Taymor’s stunning African animals in Lion King, danced in the aisles at Mamma Mia at the Shubert, and spent hundreds of hours in tiny, strip mall theaters all over the city putting on productions that made me laugh, weep, and everything in-between. The rich artistic environment that is LA theater inspires me every time I head out for a show.

JENNY LOWER
One of my earliest encounters with Los Angeles theater remains among the most arresting: Circle X’s exquisite 2006 production of Eurydice at Inside the Ford. I had found myself at the theater almost by accident, drawn only by a suspicion that the sensibility of both the material and the company would speak to mine. The Los Angeles premiere flayed me. John Langs’ direction brought Sarah Ruhl’s poetic elegy for her father gorgeously to life; within minutes, I was openly weeping. Brian Sidney Bembridge’s tiled dream-logic set, Robbin E. Broad’s otherworldly sound design, and most of all the devastating performances of the ensemble, led by John Getz, Kelly Brady and Tim Wright—all was note-perfect. At the end I poured myself out of my chair and into my car, and from there began a long relationship with the works of Sarah Ruhl and Circle X. Since then I’ve watched as the company has tackled more and more ambitious plays, but none has affected me quite like that one. I still have the postcard.

FRANCES BAUM NICHOLSON
One’s most memorable moment in the theater isn’t always the production which remains the most inspirational, or most artistically creative, though I could name several banner moments. Sadly, sometimes it’s the one which was the hardest to get through. That would be Hal Prince’s production of A Doll’s Life, which premiered at the Ahmanson before heading east in 1982. It was awful, on many levels. I was 24 years old, sitting at a typewriter, trying to figure out how to say that the hallowed Hal Prince, hot on the heels of Sweeney Todd and Evita, had laid an egg. Hardest thing I ever wrote. I was never more grateful to read the reviews of others and realize I was not alone. The invective Prince used toward LA critics is now legend, as is the New York reputation of the show as one of the most notorious flops in Broadway history.

KATIE BUENNEKE
One of the best things about being in the LADCC is that I’m constantly exposed to the opinions of other LA critics, who put shows on my radar that I otherwise might not see. I remember a few years back, Margaret Gray recommended a show called Good Grief, a world premiere that had just opened at the Kirk Douglas. I don’t typically enjoy watching sad stories, so I was wary, but I trusted Margaret, and caught Good Grief in Culver. I was astounded—it was one of the best pieces of writing I’d ever seen, a beautiful, moving piece that plays with memory and time in elegant ways. I’ve held the play near and dear to my heart since, re-reading it and proclaiming its virtues to anyone who will listen. I’m quite thankful for Margaret’s recommendation, Ngozi Anwanyu’s nimble writing, and CTG’s stellar production.

HARKER JONES
One night at the theater doesn’t necessarily equal another. Some are filled with colorful music and energetic dance. Some offer powerful and insightful drama. And—rarely—some are true, transformative experiences. the theater is a blank page was one of those experiences. The immersive and innovative production, with an actor reading text from Virginia Woolf’s seminal novel To the Lighthouse, leads viewers—actually, participants—through the theater, from the balcony to backstage to center stage with visual art by Ann Hamilton and interactions with cloth and confetti and even cookies. It’s ruminative and contemplative and cathartic. When it’s over, it’s like awakening from a meditation. Like you’ve gone somewhere without leaving, and are rejuvenated. You feel rested and solid, and clearer somehow. While theater may be a blank page for directors and artists to project their dreams, it is also vibrant and alive and even spiritual.

ELLEN DOSTAL
It’s hard to believe that eight bars of silence in a musical top my list of unforgettable moments in LA theatre, but those eight bars were thrilling. It was 2002 and Deaf West’s Big River had just transferred to the Taper. I’d never seen deaf and hearing actors together on stage before and I spent the entire show transported by the exhilarating, passionate, and lyrical integration of disciplines. It was one of the most expressive performances I’d ever witnessed, and then came the reprise of “Waitin’ For The Light To Shine” in Act II. The combination of hearing actors singing full voice and deaf actors singing in American Sign Language was gloriously triumphant…and then the voices dropped out and everyone sang the next chorus in silence choreographed only with ASL. A collective gasp when through the audience and I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. Tears? You bet.

ERIN CONLEY
As a relatively new resident of Los Angeles, my theater memories here only go back about 8 years, but there are three moments that stand out so far. The first is seeing the initial production of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening in 2014. I was so moved and amazed by how many new layers this version had uncovered in a show I thought I knew inside and out, a show that was formative for me, that I went home and published my thoughts on my blog. A year later, thanks to that unofficial review, I found myself at Antaeus for their lovely production of Picnic, my first as an invited critic. Finally, I’ll never forget sitting outside on a June night last year, watching Tom Hanks entertain the crowd with improv, never breaking character, when Henry IV was paused for a medical emergency.

2016 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards

Jake Broder in performance.

Jake Broder in performance.

2016 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards

The critics of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle are pleased to announce the date and location of our annual awards ceremony.  The ceremony and accompanying fete celebrate excellence in theater seen in Los Angeles in 2015.

This year the event will take place on March 14, 2016. It will be held at the Ann & Jerry Moss Theater at New Roads School, in the Capshaw-Spielberg Center for Arts and Educational Justice. Doors open at 6:30 pm.  The show begins at 7:30 pm.

The Center is located in the Herb Alpert Educational Village, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA.

Tickets are $40.00, and can be purchased here (a small service fee applies) or at the door. There is some onsite parking and ample street parking.

For questions regarding the upcoming Awards show, please email here: 2016criticsawards@gmail.com

We hope to see you there.

Raymond Lee, Jon Hoche and Maureen Sebastian in South Coast Repertory's 2015 world premiere of VIETGONE by Qui Nguyen.

“Vietgone.” Photo by Jason Niedle.

Following is a list of special awards and nominees:

The Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theatre — Deaf West Theater Company.

The Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play — Qui Nguyen for Vietgone, originally produced by South Coast Repertory.

The Polly Warfield Award for an excellent season in a small to mid-size theatre — International City Theatre.

The Kinetic Lighting Award for outstanding achievement in theatrical design — projections designer Jason H. Thompson.

The Joel Hirschhorn Award for outstanding achievement in musical theatre — director-choreographer Janet Miller.

The Milton Katselas Award for career or special achievement in direction — Michael Matthews.

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“Hit the Wall.” Photo by Ken Sawyer.

 

 Annual award categories

Production

  • André & Dorine, Kulunka Teatro at Los Angeles Theatre Center.
  • Bootycandy, Celebration Theatre at The Lex.
  • Enron, The Production Company at The Lex.
  • Fences, International City Theatre.
  • Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.
  • Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.
  • Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.
  • The Gospel at Colonus, Ebony Repertory Theatre at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.

McCulloh Award for Revival (plays written between 1920 and 1980)

  • Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.
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“Carrie The Musical.”
Photo by Jason Niedle.

 

Lead Performance

  • Angela Bullock in Watching O.J., Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA at Atwater Village Theatre Complex.
  • Jason Dechert in Picnic, Antaeus Theatre Company.
  • Mary Beth Fisher in Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.
  • Matthew Hancock in Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.
  • Ted Heyck in God’s Man in Texas, A Guest Production at The Blank Theatre’s 2nd Stage.
  • Lily Knight in A Small Fire, The Echo Theater Company @ Atwater Village Theatre.
  • Troy Kotsur in American Buffalo, Cal State L.A. Department of Music, Theatre and Dance and Deaf West Theatre at State Playhouse.
  • Emily Lopez in Carrie the Musical, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, The Transfer Group, Michael T. Cohen/Robin Reinach, Kraige Block and Joe Everett Michaels, in association with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and The Los Angeles Theatre.
  • Zoe Perry in Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.
  • Tiffany Royale in The Best of Enemies, The Colony Theatre.
  • Michael A. Shepperd in Fences, International City Theatre.
  • Jimmi Simpson in Trevor, Circle X Theatre Co. at Atwater Village Theatre.
  • Jeff Skowron in Into the Woods, Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Sabina Zuniga Varela in Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

Featured Performance

  • Richard Fancy in Awake and Sing!, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.
  • Charlotte Gulezian in Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.
  • Charlie Hofheimer in Bent, Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum.
  • Tracie Lockwood in A Permanent Image, Rogue Machine Theatre at Theatre/Theater.
  • Elyse Mirto in Figaro, A Noise Within.
  • Martin Rayner in Oedipus Machina, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and KOAN at Odyssey Theatre.
  • Bryce Ryness in Matilda the Musical, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.
  • Michael A. Shepperd in Bootycandy, Celebration Theatre at The Lex.

Ensemble Performance          

  • André & Dorine, Kulunka Teatro at Los Angeles Theatre Center.
  • Bootycandy, Celebration Theatre at The Lex.
  • Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.
  • Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.
  • Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

Solo Performance

  • Orson Bean in Safe at Home: An Evening With Orson Bean, Pacific Resident Theatre.
  • Monica Piper in Not That Jewish, Jewish Women’s Theatre at The Braid.
  • John Douglas Thompson in Satchmo at the Waldorf, The Long Wharf Theatre and Shakespeare & Company Production at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Direction

  • Jessica Kubzansky, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.
  • Jaime Robledo, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre.
  • Kim Rubinstein, Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.
  • Ken Sawyer, Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.
  • August Viverito, Enron, The Production Company at The Lex. 

Writing

  • Rebecca Gilman, Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.
  • Nick Jones, Trevor, Circle X Theatre Co. at Atwater Village Theatre.
  • Robert O’Hara, Bootycandy, Celebration Theatre at The Lex.
  • Lucy Prebble, Enron, The Production Company at The Lex.
  • Micah Schraft, A Dog’s House, IAMA Theatre Company at Elephant Theatre.
  • Luis Alfaro, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

Writing (Adaptation)

  • Luis Alfaro, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa. 

Musical Score

  • Stu Barker, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.
  • Jake Broder, Miravel, Sacred Fools Theater Company at Sacred Fools Theater.
  • Tim Minchin, Matilda the Musical, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.
  • Anna Waronker and Charlotte Caffey, Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Music Direction

  • Stu Barker, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.
  • Brian P. Kennedy, Carrie the Musical, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, The Transfer Group, Michael T. Cohen/Robin Reinach, Kraige Block and Joe Everett Michaels, in association with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and The Los Angeles Theatre.
  • Abdul Hamid Royal, The Gospel at Colonus, Ebony Repertory Theatre at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.
  • Julie Wolf, Girlfriend, The Actors Theatre of Louisville Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Choreography

  • Christopher Gattelli, Newsies, Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher at Hollywood Pantages Theatre.
  • Josh Rhodes, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Koos, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Carola Productions, Roy Furman, Peter May/Sanford Robertson, James Spry, Eric Schmidt, and Blanket Fort Productions, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.
  • Dana Solimando, Billy Elliot, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.
  • Angela Todaro, American Idiot, DOMA Theatre Company at The MET Theatre.

Set Design

  • Tom Buderwitz, The Whipping Man, South Coast Repertory and The Pasadena Playhouse.
  • Mimi Lien, Appropriate, Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum.
  • Don Llewellyn, Fences, International City Theatre.
  • Bill Mitchell, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Reperto 

 

Lighting Design

  • Martin Labrecque, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities, Cirque du Soleil at Dodger Stadium.
  • Tom Ontiveros, My Barking Dog, The Theatre @ Boston Court.
  • Matt Richter, Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.
  • Malcolm Rippeth, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.

Costume Design

  • Angela Balogh Calin, Figaro, A Noise Within.
  • Jessica Ford, These Paper Bullets!, Geffen Playhouse in association with Atlantic Theater Company presents the Yale Repertory Theatre Production at Geffen Playhouse.
  • Philippe Guillotel, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities, Cirque du Soleil at Dodger Stadium.
  • Wade Laboissonniere, Waterfall, The Pasadena Playhouse in association with The 5th Avenue Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse.
  • William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Koos, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Carola Productions, Roy Furman, Peter May/Sanford Robertson, James Spry, Eric Schmidt, and Blanket Fort Productions, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.

Sound Design

  • Gregory Clarke, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.
  • Bruno Louchouarn, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.
  • Jaime Robledo, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre.
  • John Zalewski, My Barking Dog, The Theatre @ Boston Court.


CGI/Video

  • Anthony Backman and Jim Pierce, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre.
  • Nicholas Santiago, A Permanent Image, Rogue Machine Theatre at Theatre/Theater.

 

Specialty

  • Gieselle Blair, Figaro, A Noise Within. (Hair, wigs, and makeup)
  • Garbiñe Insausti, André & Dorine, Kulunka Teatro at The Los Angeles Theatre Center. (Masks)
  • Aviva Pressman, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre. (Live art direction)
  • Jim Steinmeyer, Carrie the Musical, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, The Transfer Group, Michael T. Cohen/Robin Reinach, Kraige Block and Joe Everett Michaels, in association with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and The Los Angeles Theatre. (Illusion design)

 

 

"Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles." Photo by Craig Schwartz.

“Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles.” Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Productions which have garnered nominations

Hit the Wall (Los Angeles LGBT Center) 7
Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles (Getty Villa) 6
Tristan & Yseult (South Coast Repertory) 5
Astro Boy and the God of Comics (Sacred Fools) 4
Bootycandy (Celebration Theatre) 4
Luna Gale (Kirk Douglas Theatre) 4
André & Dorine (Los Angeles Theatre Center) 3
Anna Christie (Odyssey Theatre) 3
Carrie the Musical (La Mirada Center for the Performing Arts and Los Angeles Theatre) 3
Enron (The MET Theatre) 3
Fences (International City Theatre) 3
Figaro (A Noise Within) 3
A Permanent Image (Rogue Machine) 2
Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities (Dodger Stadium) 2
Matilda the Musical (Ahmanson Theatre) 2
My Barking Dog (The Theatre @ Boston Court) 2
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Ahmanson Theatre) 2
The Gospel at Colonus (Nate Holden Performing Arts Center) 2
Trevor (Atwater Village Theatre) 2
A Dog’s House (Elephant Theatre) 1
American Buffalo (Cal State L.A.) 1
American Idiot (MET Theatre) 1
A Small Fire (Echo Theatre) 1
Appropriate (Mark Taper Forum) 1
Awake and Sing! (Odyssey Theatre) 1
Bent (Mark Taper Forum) 1
Billy Elliot (La Mirada Center for the Performing Arts) 1
Girlfriend (Kirk Douglas Theatre) 1
God’s Man in Texas (Blank Theatre) 1
Into the Woods (Wallis Annenberg Center) 1
Miravel (Sacred Fools Theatre) 1
Newsies (Hollywood Pantages) 1
Not That Jewish (The Braid) 1
Oedipus Machina (Odyssey Theatre) 1
Picnic (Antaeus) 1
Safe at Home: An Evening With Orson Bean (Pacific Resident Theatre) 1
Satchmo at the Waldorf (Wallis Annenberg Center) 1
The Best Of Enemies (Colony Theatre) 1
These Paper Bullets! (Geffen Playhouse) 1
The Whipping Man (South Coast Repertory/Pasadena Playhouse) 1
Vietgone (South Coast Repertory)        -  The Ted Schmitt Award 1
Watching O.J. (Atwater Village Theatre) 1
Waterfall (Pasadena Playhouse) 1