Tony Award nominee Harry Groener (Oklahoma!, Crazy for You) and theatre critic Wenzel Jones hosted the 36th Annual Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards ceremony March 21 at West Hollywood's Coronet Theatre.
The three aforementioned shows shared the award for Production and won in other categories to make them the evening's big multiple winners. Among the stars to take home honors included Caroline co-stars Tonya Pinkins and Anika Noni Rose, Intimate Apparel actors Viola Davis and Corey Stoll as well as Take Me Out featured player Jeremy Sisto.
Playwright Tony Kushner did not beat out Athol Fugard or Trey L. Wilson (Stage Directions) for the Writing award, but did share a win with composer Jeanine Tesori for their Musical Score to Caroline. Kushner, though not in attendance, provided a special letter which was read during the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Center Theatre Group founding artistic director Gordon Davidson.
Another highlight came from Direction nominee Scott Ellis, whose Los Angeles Opera production of A Little Night Music received three LADCC Awards, when he took to the stage to accept its fourth honor — for Best Production. Moved by the evening's fellowship, Ellis spoke of his first professional experience in regional theater being hired to direct a project for $5,000. "I thought it was more money than I would ever make in my life," said Ellis according to a release. "Thank God that wasn't true." He then offered to personally donate $5,000 to the Polly Warfield Award winner (for an excellent season/year in a small-to-mid-sized theatre) Matt Shakman and his 30-seat Black Dahlia Theatre. "When you're big and successful," he quipped to Shakman, "you can pass it on to someone else."
The 2004 nominees (with winners in *bold) of Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards are: (there are multiples winners in some categories) PRODUCTION
Theater District - The Black Dahlia Theatre TOM MCCULLOH AWARD (REVIVAL)
*Rocket to the Moon - Pacific Resident Theatre and West Coast Jewish Theatre DIRECTION
*Matt Shakman Theater District MUSICAL DIRECTION
Jim Vukovich, Hairspray - Pantages Theatre WRITING
*Trey L. Wilson, Stage Directions - Ensemble Studio Theatre ADAPTATION
*Nicholas Saunders and Fran Dwyer Chekhov X 4 - The Antaeus Company MUSICAL SCORE
*Caroline, or Change Jeanine Tesori (music) and Tony Kushner (lyrics) LEAD PERFORMANCE
Lenny Von Dohlen, Light FEATURED PERFORMANCE
*Corey Stoll, Intimate Apparel ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
*The cast of Chekhov x 4 SCENIC DESIGN
Craig Siebels, Dorian - Open at the Top Productions and Denver Center Attractions LIGHTING DESIGN
Jeremy Pivnick, Light COSTUME DESIGN
Catherine Zuber, Intimate Apparel SOUND DESIGN
John Zalewski, M. Butterfly - East West Players, David Henry Hwang Theatre CHOREOGRAPHY
*Jerry Mitchell, Hairspray HAIR, WIGS AND MAKEUP DESIGN
*Paul Huntley (wig and hair design) Hairspray A tally of show with multiple wins follows:
Caroline, or Change - 6
Exits and Entrances - 5
A Little Night Music - 4
Chekhov x 4 - 2
Hairspray - 2
Intimate Apparel - 2
Book of Days - 1
Hedwig and the Angry Inch - 1
Rocket to the Moon - 1 Stage Directions -1 Talley's Folly - 1
Take Me Out - 1
Theater District - 1
Special awards were be bestowed as follows: The Margaret Harford Award (for sustained excellence in theatre) will go to Dakin Matthews. The Ted Schmitt Award (for world premiere of an outstanding new play) will also be presented to Dakin Matthews for The Prince of L.A. The Bob Z Award (for lifetime achievement in set design) will honor Tom Buderwitz. The Angstrom Award (for lifetime achievement in lighting design) goes to Steven Young. The Natalie Schafer Award (for an emerging comic actress) will be awarded to Kirsten Vangsness. The Polly Warfield Award (for an excellent season/year in a small-to-mid-sized theatre) will be bestowed upon The Black Dahlia Theatre. And the Lifetime Achievement Award will honor Center Theatre Group artistic director Gordon Davidson.
The LADCC, founded in 1969, is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles. 17 critics reviewed theatre for different websites, radio stations, and newspapers and magazines for the year 2004. For more information, visit www.ladramacriticscircle.com.