Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Big News (or the longest post ever...)

For immediate release

Local critics band together to recognize excellence in Richmond theater
Announce first annual awards show to be held October 19th

Richmond, VA - Theater critics representing several of central Virginia's major media outlets have created a new organization called the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle (RTCC) with the primary purpose of promoting and recognizing excellence in professional theater produced in the Richmond area. The group will do so via an annual awards gala, the first of which will be held on Sunday, October 19th at the Firehouse Theatre. Nominations for the First Annual RTCC Awards are listed below.

"For too long, the amazing depth and breadth of talent in the local theater scene has gone uncelebrated," asserts one of RTCC's co-founders, David Timberline. "We hope our awards will bring attention to the exceptional quality of the work being done by theater professionals in Richmond."

RTCC has made nominations in eighteen categories and will also present a special award in recognition of extraordinary ongoing contributions to the Richmond-area theater scene. This award is being named in honor of actress, producer, and casting director, Liz Marks, who recently succumbed after a battle with cancer and Ms. Marks will be the award's first recipient.

Winners in each of the categories will be announced at a black-tie gala awards ceremony that will feature performances from the nominated musical productions. The ceremony is being cosponsored by two companies that represent both the strength of Richmond's history and the vitality of the city's future: the C.F. Sauer Company and Y.Y Salon & Products.

A minimal admission will be charged to the invitation-only event. All proceeds from the awards ceremony will go to support the Richmond Theatre Artists Fund, a fund established by the Richmond Alliance of Professional Theatres to help those in the Richmond theatre community who fall on the hardest of times due to illness, injury or extenuating circumstances.

"Beyond just indicating which performances and productions we thought were most noteworthy during this past theater season, we hope these awards will showcase the richness and variety of Richmond theater," adds Susan Haubenstock, an RTCC co-founder and a theater critic for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "It'll be a celebration of all local theater, not just a few favorites."

Members of the RTCC include Mary Burruss (Style Weekly magazine), Susan Haubenstock (Richmond Times-Dispatch), Julinda Lewis (Richmond Times-Dispatch), David Timberline (Style Weekly magazine), and Joan Tupponce (Richmond.com).

Nominations for the First Annual Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards
for the 2007-2008 theater season

Best Musical
Guys & Dolls, Barksdale
Peter Pan, Theatre IV
Reefer Madness, Firehouse Theatre Project
Urinetown, Swift Creek Mill

Best Direction - Musical
Patti D'Beck, Guys & Dolls (Barksdale)
Steve Perigard, Peter Pan (Theatre IV)
Jase Smith, Reefer Madness (Firehouse Theatre Project)
Tom Width, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)

Best Actor - Musical
Brett Ambler, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)
Ford Flanagan, Peter Pan (Theatre IV)
Scott Wichmann, Guys & Dolls (Barksdale)

Best Actress - Musical
Rachel Abrams, Guys & Dolls (Barksdale)
Audra Honaker, Once Upon A Mattress (Swift Creek Mill)
Nancy McMahon, The Two Svengalis (Richmond Triangle Players)
Angela Shipley, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Musical
Chris Hester, Reefer Madness (Firehouse Theatre Project)
Richard Koch, Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter (Theatre IV)
Jason Marks, Guys & Dolls (Barksdale)
Scott Melton, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)
Robert Throckmorton, Peter Pan (Theatre IV )

Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical
Audra Honaker, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)
Debra Wagoner, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)
Joy Williams, Once Upon A Mattress (Swift Creek Mill)
Joy Newsome, Reefer Madness (Firehouse Theatre Project)

Best Musical Direction
Sandy Dacus, Guys and Dolls (Barksdale)
Paul Deiss, Plaid Tidings (Swift Creek Mill)
Paul Deiss, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)
Leilani Mork, Reefer Madness (Firehouse Theatre Project)

Best Choreography
Brandon Becker, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)
Patti D'Beck, Guys & Dolls (Barksdale)
Leslie Owens-Harrington, Peter Pan (Theatre IV)

Best Play
As You Like It (indoor), Richmond Shakespeare
Doubt: A Parable, Barksdale
The Late Henry Moss, Firehouse Theatre Project
The Little Dog Laughed, Barksdale
Spinning Into Butter, Firehouse Theatre Project

Best Direction - Play
Andrew Hamm, As You Like It (indoor) (Richmond Shakespeare)
Bruce Miller, The Little Dog Laughed (Barksdale)
Morrie Piersol, The Late Henry Moss (Firehouse Theatre Project)
James Ricks, Richard II (Richmond Shakespeare)
Keri Wormald, Doubt: A Parable (Barksdale)

Best Actor - Play
Andy Boothby, Mr. Marmalade (Firehouse Theatre Project)
Frank Creasy, The Spanish Tragedy (Henley Street Theatre Company)
Justin Dray, The Late Henry Moss (Firehouse Theatre Project)
J. Ron Fleming, A Lesson Before Dying (African American Rep. Theatre)
Duke Lafoon, Doubt: A Parable (Barksdale)

Best Actress - Play
Terry Menefee Gau, A Streetcar Named Desire (Sycamore Rouge)
Margarette Joyner, From the Mississippi Delta (African American Rep. Theatre)
Katie McCall, Spinning Into Butter (Firehouse Theatre Project)
Susan Sanford, The Little Dog Laughed (Barksdale)
Irene Zeigler, Doubt: A Parable (Barksdale)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Play
David Bridgewater, Henry IV, Part 2 (Richmond Shakespeare)
Joseph Anthony Carlson, Henry IV, Part 2 (Richmond Shakespeare)
Toney Cobb, Charcoal Street (African American Rep. Theatre)
Dean Knight, The Seagull (Henley Street Theatre Company)
Stephen Ryan, Richard II (Richmond Shakespeare)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Play
Liz Blake, Measure for Measure (Richmond Shakespeare)
Katherine Louis, The Member of the Wedding (Barksdale)
Jennie Meharg, The Late Henry Moss (Firehouse Theatre Project)
Laine Satterfield, The Little Dog Laughed (Barksdale)

Notable Interactive Production
Murder at the Class Reunion, Mystery Dinner Theatre
Richmond Improv Festival, ComedySportz
Stories of Egypt, Carpenter Science Theatre

Outstanding Achievement, Lighting Design
Joe Doran, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)
Lynne Hartman, The Little Dog Laughed (Barksdale)
Lynne Hartman, The Member of the Wedding (Barksdale)
Matthew Landwehr, A Christmas Story (Theatre IV)

Outstanding Achievement, Costume Design
Rebecca Cairns, As You Like It (indoor) (Richmond Shakespeare)
Sue Griffin, Peter Pan (Theatre IV)
Liz Hopper, The Member of the Wedding (Barksdale)
Chris Mueller, The Seagull (Henley Street Theatre Company)
Maura Lynch Cravey, Urinetown (Swift Creek Mill)

Outstanding Achievement, Set Design
Brian Barker, The Member of the Wedding (Barksdale)
Brian Kalin, The Little Dog Laughed (Barksdale)
Ron Keller, Guys and Dolls (Barksdale)
Greig Leach, Peter Pan (Theatre IV)
Mercedes Schaum, A Christmas Story (Theatre IV)

Liz Marks Memorial Award for Ongoing Contribution to Richmond Area Theater
Award to: Liz Marks


Anonymous said...

What a great idea!!! It's a long time coming, and I love it! It sounds like a fun evening and an amazing way to honor some very talented folks.

Some questions though . . . have you issued any written standards? For example, when did a show have to open to be considered? What constitutes a "show" -- scripted only, not staged readings, only locally produced, only where actors are paid, etc? Is there a minimum time that the show has to run to be considered? What constitutes the "Richmond area" -- it appears that Petersburg is included -- what about Fredericksburg?

And perhaps most importantly, if a show meets the requirements stated, is there some sort of commitment from the critics association that a majority of members will see that show (if not review it)?

I would just fear that awards, which are meant to celebrate the "depth and breadth of talent in the local theater scene" and celebrate "all local theater, not just a few favorites," cannot live up to their mission without a few transparent standards in place. And if some equitable standards and rules are issued, it will add credence to the organization and the awards.

Best of luck! And thank you for getting together to support Richmond theatre in this manner.

Amy Berlin

Dave T said...

Points very well taken, Amy. I was expecting (hoping really) that this initial post would generate the kinds of questions you've asked. I will try to address them in subsequent posts. Two points I'll make right off, though:

-- Here is RTCC's stated "universe of consideration" for the awards: The annual RTCC Awards will consider locally-produced professional productions (i.e., actors and technical professionals are paid) staged by Richmond-area theater companies as part of a published season of scheduled productions opening between September of the previous year and August of the current year, inclusive.

-- We are initiating these awards with the understanding that there are likely to be aspects of the enterprise that will need refinement in succeeding years. We have already met with RAPT and have pledged to work with them to improve these awards in the future.

More details and information to come...

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
Having worked with theatre companies who hand out their own awards, I beg of all of you not to fall into the trap of last seen, first awarded. Many times I have seen the last show of the season walk off with the majority of awards (deserved or not) simply because it is the show uppermost on voters minds....I trust that you are all professional enough to consider each show equally.
That's just my 2 cents, and I totally agree with Amy!
Sue Howells

Anonymous said...

"Here is RTCC's stated "universe of consideration" for the awards: The annual RTCC Awards will consider locally-produced professional productions (i.e., actors and technical professionals are paid) staged by Richmond-area theater companies as part of a published season of scheduled productions opening between September of the previous year and August of the current year, inclusive."

You might want to include language for things such as Reefer Madness that are late additions to a published season. It was never published until right before it opened. And your current language limits what shows you can honor, especially since you seemed to enjoy the Reefer!

Your Buddy,

Anonymous said...

And what about a special award for Outstanding Achievement by a Youth Actor? Lots of good young actors on the stage this year... yours included.

Proof-Reader Freak

Anonymous said...

Because I'm a nominee and don't know if final votes have yet determined the award winners, I'll post anonymously to avoid the appearance of currying critical favor towards influencing the final results.

First - with any awards some will feel there are omissions. That's natural because there's so much great work in this theatre community and in the arts overall. However, having seen many of the nominees' work I must agree that this is a terrific list of nominees.

Second - thanks to the critics for doing something not only above and beyond, but also for agreeing on a format very similar to the highly reputable and established critics' awards in New York. It appears much time and consideration was given to the process and to the nominations. This speaks to a real love of theatre in this community. Thank you so very much for that.

Third - I see the names of many friends and acquaintances whose work I greatly respect and admire. I'm very glad for their recognition in addition to my own feelings of gratitude and humility over this acknowledgement. I hope to be included in the invitations to the October 19th event as I'd gladly attend, and a fellow nominee I spoke with today echoed that sentiment.

Finally, perhaps most importantly: Thank you for honoring the legacy of Liz Marks. Along with those we've loved and lost too soon such as Liz and Mary Sue Carroll, it's critical that we remember why we love this life and this art so very much, and the loving spirit of our departed friends is cause to celebrate art, life, and our friends and family in the community.

I hope to see many of my friends on the October 19th to celebrate.

Anonymous said...

This is a great initiative and I hope it gains the support needed to make it through the always tough first year and beyond.

There's always a quibble or two with these things--I didn't see any Chamberlayne nominations. They had some excellent performances. I also thought some Henley actresses were overlooked. Still, it's a fine list.

The youth actor award is a good idea. Someday a youth winner could rise to win a major award. That's when you'll know a tradition has been established.

Oh, on another topic I'm sure you'll cover--congrats to Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway for winning a Governor's Art Award.

Anonymous said...

Hey, speaking of nominees, the lovely Terry Gau has a website worth adding to the blog's main page "show people" list.


It's so nice to know that her stellar performance is being recognized, and that her nomination is there to represent Sycamore Rouge as well. Some challenges notwithstanding, they definitely have a winner with "Streetcar."

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it should be taken into consideration that "professional" doesn't necessarily constitute only that actors and technical professionals are paid. Plenty of talented and professional actors in the RIC area work free simply to continue using their craft. Not to mention the difference between no pay and the compensation given by some of the nominated theatres give is a mere pittance! Richmond isn't so overwhelmed with great theatre that others in the community should be ignored.