News: The 2012 Barrymore Awards

By Howard Shapiro


The Philadelphia Theatre Company and Wilma Theater are the big winners of this year's Barrymore Awards, in what may be the final curtain for the theater honors that recognize work on the region's stages.

Together, the two companies on Broad Street's Avenue of the Arts won a dozen  awards, covering more than half of the 22 performance and stagecraft categories,  with four apiece for Body Awareness and The Scottsboro Boys.  Pig Iron Theatre Company also won four for a single production, its 2011 Live  Arts Festival Twelfth Night.

In all, eight companies in the region staged the 11 plays that won 2011-12  Barrymores for actors, directors, and stagecraft artists, which are being  announced Tuesday through e-mail and the Internet by the Theatre Alliance of  Greater Philadelphia.

The alliance, which first presented the Barrymores in 1995 and has since  overseen them, dissolved  this year, and the future of the awards - the  organization's most visible function - is unresolved. No Barrymores will be  given for the current season.

The Philadelphia Theatre Company, which performs at its Suzanne Roberts  Theatre, won four of its seven awards for The Scottsboro Boys,  including best musical. After Scottsboro's run on Broadway, the company  became the first regional theater to produce the show by John Kander and the  late Fred Ebb, with a book by David Thompson - and did so with much of the team  that originated it.

The edgy Scottsboro Boys tells the true story of nine African  American boys arrested on a trumped-up rape charge in 1931 in Alabama. The  entire cast won the Barrymore for ensemble acting in a musical, and Rodney Hicks  and Forrest McClendon won for best musical actor and supporting actor,  respectively.

The Wilma, which also produces at its own theater, won four of its five  awards for Body Awareness, including best production of a play. Annie  Baker's comic drama, about a lesbian couple, the contentious  teenager-in-residence, and their angst over a houseguest who photographs naked  women, also won the cast the Barrymore for best ensemble in a play. Anne  Kauffman won for her direction, and Mary Martello for best actress in a  play.

In  spring, the Theatre Alliance declared that its work to strengthen the  theater community in a region that now boasts 50-plus professional stages was  complete and that it did not wish to compete for contributions with the theaters  it served. The alliance board ceased operations, except for a one-person staff  and a consultant to tie up loose ends.

But because Barrymore judging was in full swing, with 62 judges assessing  about 150 plays and musicals, the board voted to complete the Barrymore process  for last season.

In the theater community, conversations have begun about the possibilities of  resurrecting the awards - a major enterprise that needs many willing and capable  judges to assess myriad productions, plus an administration to oversee the  process, from appointing judges to tabulating assessments to arranging for the  awards.

Those awards had been medallions, but are replaced this year by certificates.  Normally, the Barrymores would have been presented at a scripted celebration  next month, followed by a party.

A group of artistic directors is arranging an Oct. 22 ceremony and reception  called "Theatre Philadelphia: A Celebration" to present three additional awards,  usually part of the Barrymore celebration: the $25,000 Brown Martin Philadelphia  Award that recognizes a theater company for a play representing "the diverse  individual, cultural, and spiritual differences among us"; the $10,000 F. Otto  Haas Award to an emerging theater artist; and a posthumous lifetime-achievement  award to Jiri Zizka, who cofounded Wilma Theater. The event will be at the  Kimmel Center.

In the Barrymores announced Tuesday, Richard Poe won for leading actor in a  play and David Gordon for set design, both for The Outgoing Tide at  Philadelphia Theatre Company. The drama by Philadelphia playwright Bruce Graham,  about the effects of Alzheimer's disease on a man and his family, is about to be  done by Delaware Theatre Company in Wilmington, which is taking its production  Off-Broadway. That company produced Crowns last season, which won a  Barrymore on Tuesday for Barbara D. Mills as outstanding actress in a  musical.

The Barrymore for outstanding new play went to Jacqueline Goldfinger for Slip/Shot, about an accidental shooting and its racial fallout. It was  produced by Flashpoint Theatre Company.

Genevieve Perrier won for best supporting actress in the Philadelphia Theatre  Company's production of Reasons to Be Pretty. The Wilma's other  Barrymore went to James Ijames, named best supporting actor for Angels in  America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, Tony Kushner's celebrated  two-play work. The Wilma is currently presenting the second part.

Pig Iron Theatre Company's four-Barrymore Twelfth Night was an  offbeat take on Shakespeare that featured actors on a skateboard ramp and  highlighted the play's drunks, noblemen, and servants. The production won awards  for Olivera Gajic's costumes, Brett Cassidy's choreography, and Rosie  Langabeer's original music and her directing of it.

Joe Calarco won for directing the chamber musical Ordinary Days,  staged by 11th Hour Theatre Company, and Manna Nichols was named best supporting  actress in a musical, in Walnut Street Theatre's The King and I.

Thom Weaver won for his lighting design and Christopher Colucci and Daniel  Perelstein for their sound design of Theatre Exile's Knives in  Hens.

2012 Barrymore Winners

Best play Body Awareness, Wilma  Theater

Best musical The Scottsboro Boys,  Philadelphia

Theatre Company

Best new play Jacqueline Goldfinger, Slip/Shot, Flashpoint Theatre Company

Best director/play Anne Kauffman, Body  Awareness, Wilma Theater

Best director/musical Joe Calarco, Ordinary  Days,

11th Hour Theatre Company

Best actor/play Richard Poe, The Outgoing Tide,  Philadelphia Theatre Company

Best actress/play Mary Martello, Body  Awareness,

Wilma Theater

Best actor/musical Rodney Hicks, The Scottsboro  Boys, Philadelphia Theatre Company

Best actress/musical Barbara D. Mills, Crowns,

Delaware Theatre Company

Best set design David Gordon, The Outgoing Tide,  Philadelphia Theatre Company

Best lighting design Thom Weaver, Knives in Hens,  Theatre Exile

Best costume design Olivera Gajic, Twelfth  Night,

Pig Iron Theatre Company

Best sound design Christopher Colucci &

Daniel Perelstein, Knives in Hens, Theatre Exile

Best original music, Rosie Langabeer, Twelfth  Night,

Pig Iron Theatre Company

Best music direction, Rosie Langabeer, Twelfth  Night,

Pig Iron Theatre Company

Best choreography/movement Brett Cassidy, Twelfth  Night, Pig Iron Theatre Company

Best supporting actor/play James Ijames,

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, Wilma  Theater

Best supporting actress/play Genevieve Perrier,

Reasons to Be Pretty, Philadelphia Theatre Company

Best supporting actor/musical Forrest McClendon,

The Scottsboro Boys, Philadelphia Theatre Company

Best supporting actress/musical Manna Nichols,

The King and I, Walnut Street Theatre

Best ensemble/play Body Awareness, Wilma  Theater

Best ensemble/musical The Scottsboro Boys,

Philadelphia Theatre Company

Contact Howard Shapiro

at 215-854-5727 or,

or follow on Twitter #philastage.

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