Contact and Lion King Vie for L.A. Ovations Nov. 12; Vilanch, Salonga Host

News   Contact and Lion King Vie for L.A. Ovations Nov. 12; Vilanch, Salonga Host They didn't have to compete with one another in New York, but The Lion King and Contact must vie against one another at Los Angeles 2001 Ovation Awards. Lion King, settled in at the Pantages Theatre, received 12 nominations including Best Musical, Best Leading Actress and Best Featured Actor and Actress. Contact received nine (Tony Award winner Susan Stroman and Tony Award winner Julie Taymor are both up for directing honors). The Center Theatre Group, who controls both the Ahmanson and the Mark Taper Forum, garnered a whopping 32 nominations.
Holly Cruishank and Alan Campbell in Contact.
Holly Cruishank and Alan Campbell in Contact.

They didn't have to compete with one another in New York, but The Lion King and Contact must vie against one another at Los Angeles 2001 Ovation Awards. Lion King, settled in at the Pantages Theatre, received 12 nominations including Best Musical, Best Leading Actress and Best Featured Actor and Actress. Contact received nine (Tony Award winner Susan Stroman and Tony Award winner Julie Taymor are both up for directing honors). The Center Theatre Group, who controls both the Ahmanson and the Mark Taper Forum, garnered a whopping 32 nominations.

In a match made only in Los Angeles, comic writer/performer Bruce Vilanch and Tony Award winning Broadway star Lea Salonga will host the awards at the new Kodak Theatre Nov. 12.

Vilanch recently performed his one-man show Almost Famous in New York, but he's best known for scripting such high-profile awards shows as the Oscars, the Grammys and the Emmys and for appearing in "Get Bruce" and on "Hollywood Squares." Salonga, a Tony winner for Miss Saigon, is currently starring as Chinese refuge Mei Li in the Mark Taper Forum's heavily revised Flower Drum Song.

Some big name and Broadway stars joined Lion King and Contact with Ovation nods. Both theatrical legend Uta Hagen and ""Frasier"'s Pierce were nominated for Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, now on its way to Broadway for the spring. John Spencer of "The West Wing" was nominated for Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine, which traveled to Manhattan Theatre Club after its L.A. premiere, and Alan Alda's solo turn in QED, now playing at Broadway's Vivian Beaumont, was honored with a Best Actor in a Play nomination. Broadway's and Off Broadway's Anthony Crivello, John Vickery, Carol Lawrence, Alan Campbell, Charlayne Woodard and Jessica Goldberg also received nominations.

Victory Theatre co-founder Tom Ormeny will be given the James A. Doolittle Award for outstanding leadership in the Los Angeles theatre community. Cathy Rigby, star of Peter Pan whose Rigby McCoy producing arm sponsors a season in the L.A. area, receives the Career Achievement Award. A complete list of the Ovation nominees follows:

Best Musical (Large Theatre)
Titanic, Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
The Lion King, Disney Theatricals at Pantages Theatre
Contact, Ahmanson Theatre
Hair, Reprise! at Wadsworth Theater
Brigadoon, Musical Theatre West at Carpenter Center

Best Musical (Intimate Theatre)
The Grave White Way, Curtain Down Productions at Hudson Backstage Theatre
A Little Night Music, Interact Theatre
bare, God Help Productions at Hudson Mainstage Theatre
There's No Place Like Hollywood, Shirley Hillard at Stella Adler Theatre
Glad to Be Unhappy: The Lyrical Life of Lorenz Hart, Theatre West

Best Play (Large Theatre)
A Huey P. Newton Story, Cultural Affairs Department at Los Angeles Theatre Center
Looking for Normal, Geffen Playhouse
In Real Life, Mark Taper Forum
Death of a Salesman, Ahmanson Theatre
The Vagina Monologues, James P. Freydberg, Yvette Fromer, William P. Suter at Canon Theatre

Best Play (Intimate Theatre)
Two-Headed, Timescape Arts Group at John Anson Ford Theatre
Good Thing, Mark Taper Forum at Actors' Gang
Weights, Mark Taper Forum at Actors' Gang;
The Godfather Workout (The Last Scenes), Susan O'Sullivan at Theatre East
Underneath the Lintel, Actors' Gang

Best Writing-World Premiere Play or Musical
Nick Zagone, David and Goliath in America
Jessica Litwak, Victory Dance
Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hartmere Jr., bare
Jane Anderson,Looking for Normal
Jessica Goldberg, Good Thing


Best Writing-New Translation/Adaptation
Clara Bellar, Herb Mendelsohn and cast, A Flea in Her Ear
Brent Hinkley, How to Steal an Election
Karen Leeds Schuler and Richard Miller, Beat for Sparrows
Roland Dubillard, Diablogues

Best Director of a Musical
Susan Stroman, Contact
Julie Taymor, The Lion King
Kristin Hanggi, bare
Brad Rouse, Scott Schwartz and Harold Prince, 3hree
Jon Engstrom, Evita

Best Director of a Play
Brent Hinkley, Underneath the Lintel
Anthony Sandoval, Pathe-X
Ron Lagomarsino, Looking for Normal
Daniel Sullivan, In Real Life
Veronica Brady, Two-Headed

Best Lead Actor in a Musical
Anthony Crivello, Do I Hear a Waltz?
John Griffin, bare
Avi Hoffman, Too Jewish?
Eric Kunze, Evita
John Vickery, The Lion King

Best Lead Actress in a Musical
Fuschia, The Lion King
Karen Morrow, Call Me Madam
Gogi Grant, Glad to Be Unhappy: The Lyrical Life of Lorenz Hart
Keili Lefkovitz, bare
Carol Lawrence, Do I Hear a Waltz?

Best Lead Actor in a Play
Roger Guenveur Smith, A Huey P. Newton Story
David Hyde Pierce, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
Alan Alda, QED
John Spencer, Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine
Brian T. Finney, Underneath the Lintel

Best Lead Actress in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, Looking for Normal
Mary Mara, Two-Headed
Charlayne Woodard, In Real Life
Uta Hagen, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
Caroline Aaron, Call Waiting

Featured Actor in a Musical
William Akey, The Lion King
Hugh Panaro, Call Me Madam
Adam Dannheisser, Contact
Danny Rutigliano, The Lion King
Alan Campbell, Contact

Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Holly Cruikshank, Contact
Donna McKechnie, Mack & Mabel
Moe Daniels, The Lion King
Meg Howrey, Contact
Tina Gasbarra, Do I Hear a Waltz?

Best Featured Actor in a Play
Daniel Reichert, Side Man
Leslie Jordan, Southern Baptist Sissies
Howard Witt, Death of a Salesman
Derek Sitter, The Dead Boy
Scott Venters, Molly's Delicious

Best Featured Actress in a Play
Anastasia Basil, In Flagrante Gothicto
Elizabeth Franz, Death of a Salesman"
Ann Walker, Southern Baptist Sissies
Daphne Ashbrook, Landscape of the Body
Brenda Ballard, Wait Until Dark

Best Ensemble Performance
The Vagina Monologues
Infinity
Pathe-X
Good Thing
Night and Her Stars

Best Choreographer
Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Swing!
Garth Fagan, The Lion King
Rob Ashford, Daniel Stewart, Michael Arnold, 3hree
Susan Stroman, Contact
Jon Engstrom, Evita

Best Set Design (Large Theatre)
Walt Spangler, 3hree
Roy Christopher, Do I Hear a Waltz?
Richard Hudson, The Lion King
Thomas Buderwitz, Titanic
David Gallo, King Hedley II

Best Set Design (Intimate Theatre)
Cecil Schmidt, The Slow and Painful Death of Sam Shepard
Desma Murphy, A Mislaid Heaven
Greg Richman, Call Waiting
John Patrick, The Night of the Iguana
Susan Fellman, Night and Her Stars

Best Lighting Design (Large Theatre)
Donald Holder, The Lion King
Tom Ruzika, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
Michael Gilliam, Do I Hear a Waltz?
Howell Binkley, 3hree
Kathy A. Perkins, In Real Life

Best Lighting Design (Intimate Theatre)
Robert L. Smith, A Mislaid Heaven
Robert L. Smith, David and Goliath in America
Robert Fromer, Sleepwalk
Frank McKown, On the Open Road
Fredrick Wenzlaff, Infinity

Costume Design (Large Theatre)
Candice Cain, The Body of Bourne
William Ivey Long, Contact
Beaver Bauer, Everything's Ducky
Julie Taymor, The Lion King
Miguel Angel Huidor, 3hree

Costume Design (Intimate Theatre)
Sarah Fernandez and Moira Moore, A Mislaid Heaven
Kara Feely, Paule Lemasson, Norma Ramos, Pathe-X
Talia Jones, Night and Her Stars
Peter A. Lovello, A Little Night Music
Shon LeBlanc, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Sound Design (Large Theatre)
Philip G. Allen, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
Scott Stauffer, Contact
Richard Woodbury, Death of a Salesman
Steve C. Kennedy, The Lion King
Marc Anthony Thompson, A Huey P. Newton Story

Best Sound Design (Intimate Theatre)
Randy Schulman and DE3, Infinity
Karl Fredrik Lundenberg and Al Jackson, Weights
Jef Bek and Eric Snodgrass, Pathe-X
Jef Bek, Eric Snodgrass and J Warner, The Slow and Painful Death of Sam Shepard
Wav Magic and Ken Sawyer, A Mislaid Heaven

Presenters at the Ovations include Beau Bridges ("The Fabulous Baker Boys," Looking for Normal), 2001 Best Actor nominee Pierce (Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, "Fraiser"), Tony Award winner Rene Auberjonois (Coco, Big River, City of Angels), Sandra Oh ("Arli$$," Stop Kiss) and Marlee Matlin ("The West Wing," "Children of a Lesser God").

Four musicals will perform during the Ovations ceremony including the Celebration Theatre's Pinafore! and the Mark Taper Forum's recently extended Flower Drum Song.

Tickets to the Ovation Awards are now available through the Theatre League website at http://www.theatrela.org.

First established by the Theatre League Alliance of Southern California in 1989, the Ovation Awards are given in 26 categories, separated in all cases, except acting, directing, choreography and writing, into large and intimate theatre divisions. Two achievement awards, the Career Achievement Award and the James A. Doolittle Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Theatre, are also included in the event.

— By Christine Ehren