The Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, which supports nonprofit theatres through such programs as StageTix discounts and the Barrymore Awards, has a new executive director. Melissa Shaner, a board member since 1997, steps up to the post Aug. 1.
"We are very pleased to make this appointment," Theatre Alliance Board Chairman Seth Rozin said in a statement. "Melissa is the right person to lead us at this exciting time in the Philadelphia theatre community."
Shaner, who's co-chaired the Alliance's Audience Development Committee, has also served as Development Director for the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival and artistic associate for Young Audiences of Eastern Pennsylvania. An actress and director, Shaner holds a masters from Columbia University and teaches and performs with the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
Sixty theatres are currently part of the Alliance, which works to strengthen the theatre community in Philadelphia. As for the Barrymores, the next ceremony date will be Oct. 16. Regular tickets are $75, but Artists tickets range from $35-$40. Call (215) 413-7150 for information. Barrymore nominations are announced in September.
The 2000 Barrymore Awards will offer more than 20 categories, plus three special awards: a Lifetime Achievement honor, the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist, and The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News Award for Excellence in Theatre Education and Community Service. Past Lifetime Achievement Award winners include Theatre Center Philadelphia's Albert Benzwie, Germantown Theatre Guild's Katherine "Kitty" Minehart, actor Doug Wing, longtime theatre supporter Frank C.P. McGlinn and Freedom Theatre founder John E. Allen, Jr. *
At last year's ceremony, held Oct. 18, 1999 at the Irvine Auditorium, the Barrymores honored Floyd Collins with five awards. The musical, about the media circus surrounding a man trapped in a cave, picked up wins for overall production, directing, lead actor, supporting actor and lighting. On the straight play side, Israel Horovitz's Lebensraum nabbed three awards, for director, ensemble and overall production of a play.
Nominees for the 1999 Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre were announced Sept. 8, 1999 at the Prince Music Theatre. The fifth annual event offered 20 standard awards plus three special nods: the F. Otto Haas Award for an emerging artist (which comes with a $10,000 cash award), the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News Award for Excellence in Theatre Education and Community Service, and a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Leading the nominees were The Arden Theatre (16 nominations), with Walnut Street next at 14. Walnut Street led production nominees with Grand Hotel (8 nominations), followed by four shows with 7 nods: Box Office of the Damned, Bed & Sofa, Floyd Collins and Lebensraum.
-- By David Lefkowitz