Center Theatre Group took center stage Monday night at the 2012 Ovation Awards, winning 13 awards including the coveted best season honor, for productions at each of its three venues: The Convert at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Waiting for Godot at the Mark Taper Forum and War Horse at the Ahmanson Theatre.
The Convert earned six awards including best director (Emily Mann), lead actress (Pascale Armand) and featured actress (Zainab Jah). Set in colonial Rhodesia in 1895, it’s Danai Gurira’s story of a young African woman who is forced to choose between family tradition and Western/Christian values. Samuel Beckett’s existential classic Waiting for Godot garnered five awards including best production of a play, acting ensemble in a play, lead actor (Alan Mandell) and featured actor (Hugo Armstrong). The National Theatre of Great Britain’s World War I saga, War Horse, won for best presented production — a category for productions imported from outside LA.
Celebration Theatre’s The Color Purple: A Musical, the most nominated production of the 2011/12 season (13), tied The Convert for top honors among single shows, with six awards including best production of a musical (intimate theater), acting ensemble in a musical, best direction of a musical (Michael Matthews), featured actress (La Toya London), choreography (Janet Roston) and music direction (Gregory Nabours).
Other multiple winners include Musical Theatre West with four Ovation statues for Forbidden Broadway: Greatest Hits, Volume 2, including best production of a musical (large theater) and lead actress in a musical (Susanne Blakeslee), Hairspray and Man of La Mancha for lead actor in a musical (Davis Gaines). Antaeus Company earned two for its music-infused retelling of Noel Coward’s Peace In Our Time including best production of a play (intimate theater). Theatre@ Boston Court’s The Children also garnered two awards for its premiere of Michael Elyanow’s puppet-infused sequel to Medea.
Andrew Dolan took home original play honors for The Many Mistresses of Martin Luther King, produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA at Atwater Village Theatre. The writing awards for musicals went to Isaac Laskin and Matt Fogel for the book for Hey, Morgan!, produced at Black Dahlia Theatre, and to the team of Parmer Fuller and Michael Kramer for their score for Stations: A Los Angeles Holiday Story, an Ensemble Theatre Company and Boom Kat Dance Theatre production at Miles Memorial Playhouse.
The LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, celebrating theatrical excellence and achievement during the September 2011-August 2012 season, were presented at the historic Los Angeles Theatre, a former movie palace in downtown LA. Awards were bestowed upon 13 different Southern California theater companies. Four of the awards, mostly in categories with only one nominee, were presented to the recipients at the October 12 nominee reception, not at last night’s event.
Additional honorary awards also were acknowledged last night. Sarah Lyding, executive director of the Biller Family Foundation, brought representatives of the eight LA theater companies that won the Biller BEST (Building Excellence in Small Theatre) Awards to the stage for a round of applause. The Biller grants total $89,000 to these companies: About Productions, Antaeus Company, CASA 0101, Circle X Theatre Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA, Independent Shakespeare Company, A Noise Within and Theatre @ Boston Court.
Laura Penn, executive director of SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society) came to the stage with Bill Rauch, the winner of SDC’s 2012 Zelda Fichandler Award, which is an annual honor to “an outstanding director or choreographer who is making a unique and exceptional contribution to the theater through work in the regional arena.” Rauch is the LA-based Cornerstone Theater Company’s co-founder, and he is the current artistic director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. SDC presented the award to him at a separate reception earlier in the day. Last night, Penn told her larger crowd about the award, and the two of them presented the Ovations for directing.
Lindsay Allbaugh of Center Theatre Group presented the CTG-administered 2012 Sherwood Award, for innovative and adventurous artists, to Los Angeles-based playwright and director John Sinner. This award is endowed by the Sherwood family and is accompanied by $10,000 to further Sinner’s artistic work.
Backstage, the LA STAGE Alliance itself was presented with a commendation from the office of California Assembly Speaker John Perez, for dedicating “commitment and unwavering compassion…to building awareness, appreciation and support for the performing arts in the City of Los Angeles.” Perez then took a turn as a presenter of the Ovations with Glenne Headly.
LA STAGE Alliance CEO Terence McFarland commented, “Tonight’s recipients reflect the diverse and rich landscape of greater Los Angeles theater. The Ovation Awards are a celebration of excellence, and one way that LA STAGE Alliance shines a light on the fantastic work of our LA theater artists. Theaters across the country should take note that these are the best of the best, and hire an Ovation Award-winning LA theater artist today.”
Hosted by Jane Kaczmarek and Culture Clash co-founder Herbert Siguenza, this year’s ceremony included many local performers, city officials, union reps, artistic and executive directors, stage managers and publicists as presenters — (in alphabetical order) Patrick J. Adams, Lindsay Allbaugh, LJ Benet, Seamus Dever, Elizabeth Doran, Kristy Edmunds, Davis Gaines, Glenne Headly, Nikki Hyde, Leslie Ito, Brian Kite, Christine Lakin, Michele Lee, Dawnn Lewis, Monique L’Heureaux, Sarah Lyding, Lesli Margherita, Gates McFadden, Jessica Wethington McLean, Laura Penn, Assembly Speaker John Perez, Bill Rauch, Allison Rawlings, Mark Roberts, Kirsten Vangsness, Ken Werther, Vanessa Williams, and Charlayne Woodard.
2012 OVATION AWARD WINNERS
Center Theatre Group
BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY (INTIMATE THEATER)
Peace in Our Time — Antaeus Company
BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY (LARGE THEATER)
Waiting for Godot — Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum
BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL (INTIMATE THEATER)
The Color Purple: A Musical — Celebration Theatre
BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL (LARGE THEATER)
Forbidden Broadway Greatest Hits, Volume 2 — Musical Theatre West
BEST PRESENTED PRODUCTION
War Horse — Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre
ACTING ENSEMBLE FOR A PLAY
The cast of Waiting for Godot — Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum
ACTING ENSEMBLE OF A MUSICAL
The cast of The Color Purple: A Musical — Celebration Theatre
Janet Roston, The Color Purple: A Musical— Celebration Theatre
Gregory Nabours, The Color Purple: A Musical — Celebration Theatre
BOOK FOR AN ORIGINAL MUSICAL
Isaac Laskin and Matt Fogel, Hey, Morgan! — Black Dahlia Theatre
LYRICS/MUSIC FOR AN ORIGINAL MUSICAL
Parmer Fuller and Michael Kramer, Stations: A Los Angeles Holiday Story — Ensemble Theatre Company and Boom Kat Dance Theatre
PLAYWRIGHTING FOR AN ORIGINAL PLAY
Andrew Dolan, The Many Mistresses of Martin Luther King — Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA
DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Michael Matthews, The Color Purple: A Musical — Celebration Theatre
DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Emily Mann, The Convert — Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre
LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Davis Gaines as Cervantes/Quixote, Man of La Mancha — Musical Theatre West
LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Susanne Blakeslee as Woman 1, Forbidden Broadway Greatest Hits, Volume 2 — Musical Theatre West
LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY
Alan Mandell as Estragon, Waiting for Godot — Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum
LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Pascale Armand as Jekesai/Ester, The Convert — Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre
FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Todrick Hall as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Hairspray –– Musical Theatre West
FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
La Toya London as Shug Avery, The Color Purple: The Musical — Celebration Theatre
FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Hugo Armstrong as Lucky, Waiting for Godot — Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum
FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Zainab Jah as Prudence, The Convert — Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre
LIGHTING DESIGN (INTIMATE THEATER)
Luke Moyer, Deathtrap — LA Gay & Lesbian Center
LIGHTING DESIGN (LARGE THEATER)
Lap Chi Chu, The Convert — Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre
SCENIC DESIGN (INTIMATE THEATER)
Tom Buderwitz, Peace in Our Time — Antaeus Company
SCENIC DESIGN (LARGE THEATER)
Daniel Ostling, The Convert — Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre
SOUND DESIGN (INTIMATE THEATER)
Veronika Vorel and John Zalewski, The Children — Theatre @ Boston Court
SOUND DESIGN (LARGE THEATER)
John Zalewski, A Wrinkle in Time — MainStreet Theatre Company
COSTUME DESIGN (INTIMATE THEATER)
Shon LeBlanc, I Love Lucy Live on Stage — Rockahan, LLC
COSTUME DESIGN (LARGE THEATER)
Paul Tazewell, The Convert — Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre
COMPOSITION FOR A PLAY
Ryan Johnson, Stoneface: The Rise and Fall of Buster Keaton — Sacred Fools Theater Company
Andrew Armani, Hearts Like Fists — Theatre of NOTE
Susan Gratch, The Children — Theatre @ Boston Court
Brian Gale, Waiting for Godot, Center Theatre Group: Mark Taper Forum
CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT IN VIDEO DESIGN
Shawn Sagady, American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose — Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre