Monday, Oct. 14 saw the presentation of this year's After Dark Awards for excellence in Chicago theatre. Cabaret favorites Beckie Menzie and Honey West hosted the ceremony, which began with a reception at Petros Dianna's Restaurant and continued at the Royal George Cabaret.
The awards, now in their seventh year, are given out by Gay Chicago Magazine. Proceeds from the $20 tickets will go to the AIDS support organization, Season Of Concern.
Winners were chosen from 146 shows reviewed between Aug 1, 1995 and July 31, 1996. In their intro to the 1996 Awards list (in the Oct. 10 issue of the magazine), After Dark's editors noted that "moreso than any other year in recent memory, the collective efforts of groups of actors left impressions that lingered long after the curtain fell. We felt that this truly has been The Year Of The Ensemble."
Here are the 1996 Winners: OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION: Frankenstein, Redmoon Productions; Our Town, Bailiwick Repertory; A Piece Of My Heart, Circle Theatre; Sidetrack The Musical II - A Hangover, Chicago Gay Men's Chorus.
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE: Debbie Bisno, Was; Lori Hammel, Forbidden Hollywood; Margueritte Hammersley, The Lost Vegas Series; Candace L. Johnson, The Christmas Schooner; Ross Lehman, The Dresser; Trent Harrison Smith, Jelly Belly; Brian Stepanek, Fixin' To Die - A Visit To The Mind Of Lee Atwater; Cheryl Sylvester, Forbidden Hollywood; Alison C. Vesely, Macbeth. OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE: Detachments, Center Theatre Ensemble; Godspell, Centerlight Theatre; Hello Again, Bailiwick Repertory; Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Circle Theatre; Life in The Trees, Summernite; Our Town, Bailiwick; A Piece Of My Heart, Circle Theatre.
OUTSTANDING DANCE PERFORMANCE & CHOREOGRAPHY: Harrison McEldowney, An Unusal Way.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTION: Colleen Dodson and Dan LaMorte, Detachments; Cecilie A. Keanon, Our Town; Greg Kolack, A Piece Of My Heart.
JOHN W. SCHMID AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEW WORK/ADAPTATION: John Reeger & Julie Shannon, The Christmas Schooner; Paul Edwards, Was.
MUSICAL DIRECTION: Dan Stetzel Hello Again.
ORIGINAL MUSIC & LYRICS: Jon Steinhagen & Marc Stopeck, Inferno Beach.
OUSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN: Burt Pitcher, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers; William Buster, Robert DeWitt, John Randle, Whoop-Dee Doo!.
OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN: Timothy Morrison, The Dresser. OVERALL TECHNICAL DESIGN: The Barber Of Seville & The Play's The Thing (Court Theatre). Ubu Raw (Defiant Theatre).
OUTSTANDING CABARET ARTIST: Alexandra Billings.
OUTSTANDING SEASON: choreographer Marc Robin.
HALL OF FAME AWARD: Bailiwick Repertory's Pride Series.
-- By David Lefkowitz