Big River, Napoli Milionaria Big Winners at L.A.'s Ovation Awards

News   Big River, Napoli Milionaria Big Winners at L.A.'s Ovation Awards The Deaf West Theatre revival of Big River and the Road Theatre Company's Napoli Milionaria, the stage version that inspired Eduardo deFilippo's 1950 film, garnered the most Ovation Awards at the Nov. 24 ceremony at Los Angeles' Orpheum Theatre, taking home six each.

The Deaf West Theatre revival of Big River and the Road Theatre Company's Napoli Milionaria, the stage version that inspired Eduardo deFilippo's 1950 film, garnered the most Ovation Awards at the Nov. 24 ceremony at Los Angeles' Orpheum Theatre, taking home six each.

Ties were a common occurrence at the 2002 edition of the peer-voted awards, where three winners each shared the honors for Best Lead Actor in a Play, Best Lead Actress in a Play, Best Lead Actor in a Musical and Best Director of a Play. Even the Side Show twins Julie Dixon Jackson and Misty Cotton were able to claim their double nomination, besting Flower Drum Song's Lea Salonga and Always...Patsy Cline's Sally Struthers.

Big River, currently playing at the Mark Taper Forum through Dec. 29, took home the big honors for a musical, netting Best Musical in an Intimate Theatre, Best Director and Best Choreographer for Jeff Calhoun, plus Best Musical Director (Steven Landau), Best Lighting Design in an Intimate Theatre (Michael Gilliam) and Best Set Design in an Intimate Theatre (Ray Klausen). There has been some talk about Big River moving to Broadway: On June 5, Calhoun told Playbill On-Line that he was definitely interested in bringing the Deaf West revival to Broadway with Jujamcyn's Rocco Landesman as a possible producing partner. No solid word yet on whether the transfer will take place.

While Laura Benanti, Christopher Sieber, Gregg Edelman (Into the Woods), Salonga and Sandra Allen (Flower Drum Song) are all Broadway players, Jodi Long was the only Broadway performer to win her Ovation Award (beating out Benanti and Allen). Long plays the brassy theatrical agent Madame Liang in the Rodgers and Hammerstein revival, currently on the boards at the Virginia Theatre.

A complete list of the 2002 Ovation nominees with winners in bold follows: Best Musical (Large Theatre)
A Class Act, Pasadena Playhouse
Crazy for You, Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities
Flower Drum Song<, Mark Taper Forum
Into the Woods, Ahmanson Theatre
Side Show, Colony Theatre

Best Musical (Intimate Theatre)
Big River, Deaf West Theatre
Laura Comstock's Bag-Punching Dog, Circle X Theatre
Pinafore!, Celebration Theatre
Spoon River Anthology, Theatre West
Steel: John Henry and the Shaker, Oasis Theatre Company

Best Play (Large Theatre)
Crossings: Journeys of Catholic Immigrants,Cornerstone Theater
Red, East West Players
The House of Bernarda Alba, Mark Taper Forum
The Laramie Project, Colony Theatre
The Moliere Comedies, Mark Taper Forum

Best Play (Intimate Theatre)
After the Fall, Fountain Theatre
Clyt at Home, Theatre of NOTE
Death of a Salesman, Interact Theatre
Napoli Milionaria, Road Theatre
The Exonerated, Actors' Gang

Best Writing-World Premiere Play
Alison Carey, Peter Howard, Shishir Kurup, Page Leong, Armando Molina, Evangeline Ordaz, Bernardo Solano, Bernard White, , Crossings: Journeys of Catholic Immigrants
Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, The Exonerated
Matt Pelfrey, Terminus Americana
Dakin Matthews, translation of The Proof of the Promise
Sam Bobrick and Julie Stein, Lenny's Back

Best Writing-World Premiere Musical
Paula Mitchell-Manning and John Lathan, Flirting With Morty
Jillian Armenante and Alice Dodd, Laura Comstock's Bag-Punching Dog
Leon Martell and Penka Kouneva, Steel: John Henry and the Shaker
Max Baxley and Geo Hartley, Twisted
Rose Leiman Goldemberg, Picon Pie

Best Touring Production
Aida
Copenhagen
The Full Monty
The Tale of the Allergist's Wife

Best Director of a Musical
Alan Coats, Crazy for You
Jeff Calhoun, Big River
Larry Sousa, Swing!
Nick DeGruccio, Side Show
Robert Longbottom, Flower Drum Song

Best Director of a Play
Ayana Cahrr, How Kintu Became a Man
Dan Bonnell, And Still the Dogs
Deborah LaVine, Napoli Milionaria
Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, The Exonerated
Karen Kalensky, Traveling Lady
Nick DeGruccio, The Laramie Project
Stephen Sachs, After the Fall

Best Lead Actor in a Musical
Bill O'Brien, Big River
David Engel, Crazy for You
Kevin Earley, Side Show
James Black, Big River
Michael A. Shepperd, Steel: John Henry and the Shaker
Nic Arnzen, Moscow
R. Christofer Sands, Pinafore!

Best Lead Actress in a Musical
Christa Jackson, Always ... Patsy Cline
Julie Dixon Jackson/Misty Cotton, Side Show
Lea Salonga, Flower Drum Song
Sally Struthers, Always ... Patsy Cline
Stephanie Block, Crazy for You

Best Lead Actor in a Play
Brian Bedford, The Moliere Comedies
Daniel Davis, Talking Heads (I)
George Murdock, The Price
Joe Mellis, Coyote on the Fence
Mike Genovese, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Morlan Higgins, After the Fall
Sam Anderson, Napoli Milionaria

Best Lead Actress in a Play
Fay Cato, Tonseisha
Jeanne Sakata, Red
Kathleen Chalfant, Talking Heads (2)
Livia Trevino, Coyote on a Fence
Shareen Mitchell, Tennessee in the Summer
Suanne Spoke, Napoli Milionaria
Tracy Middendorf, After the Fall

Featured Actor in a Musical
Christopher Sieber, Into the Woods
David Jennings, Side Show
Gregg Edelman, Into the Woods
Rod Keller, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Troy Kotsur, Big River

Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Beth Malone, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Donna Bullock, A Class Act
Jodi Long, Flower Drum Song
Laura Benanti, Into the Woods
Sandra Allen, Flower Drum Song

Best Featured Actor in a Play
Al Mancini, Time of Your Life
William Mesnik, Love's Labour's Lost
Cooper Thornton, After the Fall
Joe Spano, The Devil's Disciple
Neil Vipond, Richard III

Best Featured Actress in a Play
Carol Kane, He Hunts
Cathy Lind Hayes, He Hunts
Lily Nicksay, The Wild Duck
Louise Davis, Tennessee in the Summer
Mary Lou Rosato, King Lear

Best Ensemble Performance
How Kintu Became a Man
Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
Swing!
The Exonerated
The Laramie Project
The Last Season

Best Solo Performance
Ann Randolph, Squeeze Box
Arlene Malinowski, Or Forever Hold Your Peace
Gigi Bermingham, Non-Vital Organs
Jackie Maruschak, Last Stop Neverland
Saundra Quarterman, Shak'n, Part One

Best Choreographer
Alan Coats, Crazy for You
Ameenah Kaplan, Steel: John Henry and the Shaker
Dana Solimando, Swing!
Jeff Calhoun, Big River
Robert Longbottom, Flower Drum Song

Best Musical Direction
Darryl Archibald, Swing!
David O, Steel: John Henry and the Shaker
Steven Landau, Big River
Steven Smith, Crazy for You
Tom Griffin, Side Show

Best Set Design (Large Theatre)
Bradley Kaye, The Laramie Project
Christopher Barreca, King Lear
Don Llewellyn, Master Harold ... and the Boys"
Douglas Schmidt, Into the Woods
Gary Wissman, King o' the Moon
John Lee Beatty, My Old Lady
Rachel Hauck, The House of Bernarda Alba

Best Set Design (Intimate Theatre)
Bill Eigenbrodt and Meghan Rogers, Flight
Desma Murphy, Napoli Milionaria
Joel Stoffer, Coyote on a Fence
John H. Binkley, Street Stories
Ray Klausen, Big River
Robert Bingham, Little Shop of Horrors
Robert Bingham, Fools

Best Lighting Design (Large Theatre)
Brian MacDevitt, Into the Woods
Christopher Akerlind, King Lear
Geoff Korf, Crossings, Journey of Catholic Immigrants
Steven Young, The Laramie Project
Tad Shannon, Do Jump!

Best Lighting Design (Intimate Theatre)
Doc Ballard, The Last Season
Ellen Monocroussos, The Exonerated
Jerry Browning, Steel: John Henry and the Shaker
John J. Grant, Exmagare
Michael Gilliam, Big River
Robert Fromer, Street Stories
Robert L. Smith, Napoli Milionaria

Costume Design (Large Theatre)
A. Jeffrey Schoenberg, Side Show
Ellen McCartney, King Lear
Gregg Barnes, Flower Drum Song
Jane Greenwood, The Molière Comedies
Joyce Kim Lee, The House of Bernarda Alba
Susan Hilferty, Into the Woods

Costume Design (Intimate Theatre)
David Zyla, Big River
Marci Hill, Napoli Milionaria
Paul Spadone, Laura Comstock's Bag-Punching Dog
Shon LeBlanc, Little Shop of Horrors
Shon LeBlanc, After the Fall

Sound Design (Large Theatre)
Dan Moses Schreier, Into the Woods
Drew Dalzell, Side Show
Jon Gottlieb and Leon Rothenberg, King Lear
Jon Gottlieb and Philip G. Allen, Flower Drum Song
Mark Bennett, The House of Bernarda Alba

Best Sound Design (Intimate Theatre)
Bill O'Brien, Big River
Bob Blackburn, Street Stories
Dave Marling, Napoli Milionaria
David Robbins, Mephisto
Jef Bek, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Penka Kouneva, Steel: John Henry and the Shaker

Winners' breakdown:

Big River — 6
Napoli Milionaria — 6
After the Fall — 4
The Laramie Project — 3
Flower Drum Song — 3
Side Show — 2
Steel: John Henry and the Shaker — 2
Crazy For You — 2
Coyote on the Fence — 2
Street Stories — 2

Recipients of the Career Achievement awards were stage, film and TV couple Carole Cook (Broadway's original 42nd Street, Romantic Comedy) and Tom Troupe. The Los Angeles Country Board of Supervisors received the James A. Doolittle Award for Leadership in Theater.

First established by the Theatre League Alliance of Southern California in 1989, the Ovation Awards are given in 29 categories — separated in all cases except acting, directing, choreography and writing — into large and intimate theatre divisions.

The Theatre LA Ovation voting season runs from Sept. 1 of the previous year to Aug. 31 of current year. Productions must be registered with Actors Equity Association and run for at least 12 performances. The voters consist of Theatre LA member companies and 65 independent theatre professionals.

For more information on the Ovation Awards, check the Theatre League website at http://www.theatrela.org.