Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An appreciation

As I write this, it’s about 24 hours exactly since we called a wrap on the 2009 Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards. I’ve spent most of today enjoying the company of dear old friends of mine who live in Thailand who chose this weekend of all weekends to drop into Richmond. But throughout today, my interaction with them was interrupted by pleasant flashes of memory from last night. There were so many wonderful things to smile about, if not outright guffaw about, that it made for a completely delightful day. In my mind, at least.

One of the things that was amazing to me was that, after months of planning, so many aspects of the night came together in the very last days, if not last minutes before the event. Dr. Anderson’s onstage mayhem with Joe and Jeff: they choreographed it little more than two hours before they did it. My little bit with John at the start of the evening was John’s idea literally as I was getting ready to walk out on stage. These, and many more elements of the evening, came together so well (IMHO) because of the great talent and supportiveness of more people than I even know to thank. But I’d like to give some shout-outs to at least a few people, in thanks and recognition. Many apologies to any and all deserving people I inadvertently leave out.

I have to start at the end. Long after everyone had left the Empire, the last person hanging out there was Matthew Landwehr, still cheerful, still as friendly and engaging as he was some 6 hours plus before when, coincidentally, he was the first person I saw when I arrived at the Empire. He is truly a jack of all trades and helped tie up many ends that were still loose as 7pm approached.

Bruce Rennie also worked his butt off making the transition from Ugly Ducking to RTCC awards. And yet still managed to look pretty damn dapper. Derek Dumais provided uncredited technical assistance in the setup process. And my lovely daughter Bryce gave up most of her Sunday after a busy homecoming weekend to round out the tech crew, never complaining, eager to help out. Someone musta raised her right.

Bryan Harris and the band were exceptional, prompt, ready to go, and willing to adjust to all sorts of last minute curves. My only regret is that they didn’t get to do “Easy Street.” Mr. Phipps, very sorry you couldn’t be there and I hope you are feeling better soon!

Virgil Hazelett was about the most professional “Most Powerful Man in Richmond” I could ever imagine. He was the first or second presenter there for rehearsal. Of course, he may have just been eager to stand next to Audra for a while.

And Ms. Honaker: she presented awards, she won an award, she performed, and of course, she rocked an absolutely amazing dress. And you should have seen her celebrate in support of friends when they won awards. Very nice.

Of course, many people were doing double duty last night. Each person from the tick..tick..Boom! cast performed twice, Brett adding his voice to the stunning “I Believe” performance that had me a little choked up by the end. And the irrepressible Mr. Tyre not only performed twice but had to get dolled up in two totally different ways. I think the results were well worth the effort.

All of the presenters were incredibly game for it all. I so admired all of them – including Mayor Jones – for being willing to stray into territory that was undoubtedly far out of their comfort zone in support of the evening. It was hilarious good fun listening to Melissa Chase and Harry Kollatz run lines. Ms. Chase may be the most cheerful, friendly and approachable person I’ve ever met, with Sabrina Squire perhaps a close second.

And Debra Wagoner, with her voice still in recovery, had to shoulder the additional stress of my not sending her the patter that had been scripted for her until Sunday afternoon. D’oh! But the consummate professional that she is – and supported by the spectacular Jenn Meharg, also rocking a stunning dress – she knocked her presentation out of the park.

And speaking of that patter: I cannot thank Bo Wilson enough. If he had only written the actress jokes – perfectly delivered by Jason Marks – he would have more than earned considerable kudos for the evening. He had so many clever concepts that grew into great, snappy little bits. The man has a mad imagination and I am so grateful he was willing to apply it in support of our little show.

All of those who received awards were so gracious. All of the nominees who did not receive awards were also so gracious. They are all winners in my book.
It was a show that wouldn’t have flowed nearly as smoothly without Amy Wight Kube, who brings a welcome and exceptional detail-orientation to such a far-flung, diffuse endeavor. If there was an “i” to be dotted or “t” to be crossed, you can bet Amy was the one who did it, and I am so lucky she came on board for this ride.

The other members of the Critics Circle – what a great gang to work with. What I admire about them all is that they all really care about this business we are in. You have no idea the wrestling we did to come up with the list of nominees and then the additional rounds of votes and discussion and pleadings and analysis we went through to reach our list of winners. And though each of us may have come out of it with a selection or two we might have wished had gone the other way, everyone rallied behind the process and the event as being bigger than any of us individually. As was said last night pretty eloquently, the night was really about something more than choosing who would get an award. We were really celebrating us all, everyone who works in theater here in the Richmond area, everyone who loves and supports theater here.

And last, but far from least, Aaron Gilchrist. Who knew? He was indeed the consummate host. I knew he was a charming guy. I knew he was a smart journalist. But I had no idea he was so quick-witted, comfortable on stage, imaginative and charismatic. I think he gained a legion of new fans last night, and rightly so.

And OK, one more ‘last:’ that fight thing with Joe, Jeff and Aaron. Wasn’t that cool? Those guys were great.

Oh, and I just realized I have to add one more ‘last:’ epic amounts of thanks to my lovely wife and awesome family; they are the ultimate support crew. Holly recorded the voice-over intros around midnight on Saturday, Sage recruited pals from school to be award “lackeys,” my lovely neice Kiera was a deligent and tireless backstage worker, Cooper stuffed himself into a monkey suit and even little Mason stayed up way past his bedtime, all as part of making the evening work.

Thanks to everyone who came; I hope you had a good time. And I hope I see you all at the awards again next year!


Dave T said...

I knew I'd leave at least one thing out: I was incredibly impressed with the box office staff at the Empire. The number of "special situations" involving different groups of tickets were myriad and they handled all of the randomness with aplomb. I know there were a couple bouts of frustration for some people as they inquired about their tickets. Rest assured, if there were problems, they were not caused by the box office. Thanks to the women who worked Sunday night (wish I knew your names!) -- you were great!

eraserhead said...

It was a wonderful night, Dave, and so much of it was the result of your hard work and passion. Thank you for recognizing all the help you had and for reminding of us of some of the more memorable moments and personalities.

My date was a 14 year old theatre enthusiast. She was bedazzled and inspired by every aspect of the ceremony. I couldn't ask for better role models for her.

It was a night to remember!

Anj said...

Chiming in to agree with a suggestion Kim Jones-Clark made on Facebook to have an after-party somewhere with a dance floor so all the pretty people can twist the night away in their fancy clothes. I don't know if the Cornerstone across the street is an option, but I think they still do an occasional wedding reception.
Thanks from the bartenders for all your lovely money and exquisite patience.

Audra said...

I had an absolutely dandy time at the Artsies. Thank you to everyone who helped pull all that off.
I'm glad we now have an event wherein it is necessary for everyone to get all spiffy.
Thank you again.

Andrew Hamm said...

Total delight from start to finish. I second the dancing afterward.

derek phipps said...

Dave, thank you for your kind sentiments. I am feeling much better. I honestly felt like I could have easily performed, but there was no way I was gong to risk infecting a theatre full of my closest friends with my germs.
I just hate that I had to miss such a grand evening. Jackie Jones called on Monday and gave me the play by play. I felt like I was there. Congratulations and thank you for putting together what was obviously a fantastic evening. I look forward to next year's event. No way I'm missing that one!

Authentically me! said...

What a fabulous event! As a "newbie" to the area it was a wonderful way to put some faces with names, see some unbelievable talent, and get a grandiose picture of the arts community I moved across the country to be a part of.
Thank you! and Cogratulations!!
Lacey Ruskin
Sycamore Rouge