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The 30th Annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards 

Actors and chickens and bears, oh, my!

Wednesday, Apr 1 2009
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View more photos in the 30th annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards slideshow.

 

Dancing girls and impersonators joined co-hosts Jake Broder and Vanessa Claire Smith to transform the El Rey Theatre into the stage of Las Vegas’ Sahara Hotel, 1958, for the 30th annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards on Monday night. Reprising their roles as lounge crooners Louis Prima and Keely Smith in their hit show Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara (now at the Geffen Playhouse), Broder and Smith were supported by their production’s six-piece jazz band and a gallery of supporting players from Sacred Fools Theater Company. That show walked away with the Musical of the Year Award in a very tight vote with some very heady competition from Joe’s Garage at Open Fist Theatre Company and Lovelace: A Rock Opera at the Hayworth. For much of the evening, the raucous, overflow crowd of 700 treated the excellent production, nicely paced by director Jeremy Aldridge, as a backdrop to their drinking and socializing.

click to flip through (8) TIMOTHY NORRIS - Co-hosts Vanessa Claire Smith and Jake Broder and friends bring it on.
  • Timothy Norris
  • Co-hosts Vanessa Claire Smith and Jake Broder and friends bring it on.
 

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From the stage, Queen of the Angels recipient Frédérique Michel repeatedly told the revelers to shut up. The only performer who could command some silence was Gwendolyn the chicken, who appeared contentedly on the arm of Center Theatre Group artistic director Michael Ritchie, as he gave a mock, somber homage to our hard times, adding that he always wanted to appear onstage with his pecker in his hand.

(Gwendolyn had been eating birdseed for a solid hour before her performance, and Ritchie was hoping that she would complement his performance by unloading during the act, but the bird was too well brought-up for such low comedy.)

Adding to the Dada were the artistic directors of the Colony Theatre and Geffen Playhouse, Barbara Beckley and Gil Cates, who performed a duet of “Under My Skin,” to which the Los Angeles Stage Alliance’s executive director Terence McFarland performed a spirited interpretive dance.

County Supervisor Zev Yaraslovksy’s keynote address acknowledged that the smaller theaters (the purview of the Weekly’s Theater Awards) are where the future of the theater lies, and Career Achievement recipient Dakin Matthews appeared digitally from Singapore, where he’s performing with an international company, directed by Sam Mendes. (Matthews’ fellow cast members Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Ethan Hawke, Roger Bean, Paul Jesson, Richard Easton, and Rebecca Hall also sent their greetings to L.A. from Southeast Asia.) Matthews closed his video with a nod to Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction — “Exit, pursued by a bear” _ for Antigonus, whom Matthews is currently playing in The Winter’s Tale. As Matthews spoke, a large bear head entered the scene.

 

AND THE RECIPIENTS OF THE  2008 L.A. WEEKLY THEATER AWARDS ARE ...

PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR
*Song of Extinction, Moving Arts at [Inside] the Ford

REVIVAL PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR (of a 20th- or 21st-century work)
*Klüb, Actors Gang

MUSICAL OF THE YEAR
*Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara, Sacred Fools Theater/Matrix Theatre

DIRECTION
*Jon Lawrence Rivera, Sea Change, Gay and Lesbian Center

DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
*Ken Sawyer, Lovelace: A Rock Opera, Hayworth Theatre

COMEDY DIRECTION
*Ian Forester, Fatboy, needtheater at the Imagined Life Theater

ONE-ACT DIRECTION
*Gary Blumsack, Sexy Laundry, The Hayworth Theatre

MUSICAL DIRECTION
*Dennis Kaye, Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara, Sacred Fools Theater/Matrix Theatre

ENSEMBLE
*The Friendly Hour, Road Theatre Company

MUSICAL ENSEMBLE
*Lovelace: A Rock Opera, Hayworth Theatre

COMEDY ENSEMBLE (TIE)
*Fatboy, needtheater at the Imagined Life Theater
*Stupid Kids, Celebration Theatre

ONE-ACT ENSEMBLE
*The Lost Plays of Tennessee Williams, Gay and Lesbian Center/Coast Playhouse

LEADING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
*Tinashe Kajese, Victory, Fountain Theatre

LEADING MALE PERFORMANCE NW
*Darrell Kunitomi, Song of Extinction, Moving Arts at [Inside] the Ford

SUPPORTING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
*Grace Wall, Gulls, Theatre @ Boston Court

SUPPORTING MALE PERFORMANCE
*Matt Kirkwood, Lady, Road Theatre Company

TWO-PERSON PERFORMANCE
*Regretrosexual (Colleen Crabtree and Dan Rothenberg), Hudson Guild Theatre

SOLO PERFORMANCE
*Jay Sefton, The Most Mediocre Story Never Told, MetaTheatre

FEMALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE
*Christine Lakin, Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, Hudson Backstage Theatre

MALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE
*Alexander Wells, Fatboy, needtheater at the Imagined Life Theater

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE
*Katrina Lenk, Lovelace: A Rock Opera, Hayworth Theatre

ONE-ACT PERFORMANCE
*Jack Heller, The Lost Plays of Tennessee Williams (Mr. Paradise), Gay and Lesbian Center/Coast Playhouse

PLAY WRITING
*Susan Johnston, How Cissy Grew, El Portal Forum Theatre

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT
*Dakin Matthews

QUEEN OF THE ANGELS
*Frédérique Michel and Charles Duncombe

PRODUCTION DESIGN
*U.S. Drag, Furious Theatre Company at the Pasadena Playhouse

ADAPTATION
*Nick Salamone, Gulls, Theatre @ Boston Court

LIGHTING DESIGN
*John Sylvain, 43 Plays for 43 Presidents, Sacred Fools Theater

COSTUME DESIGN
*Josephine Poinsot, Les Bourgeois Gentilhomme, City Garage

SET DESIGN
*Stephen Gifford, Lady, Road Theatre Company

SOUND DESIGN
*Paul Rubenstein, The Mission (Accomplished), City Garage

CHOREOGRAPHY
*Jennifer Lettelleir, Joe’s Garage, Open Fist Theatre Company

MASK DESIGN
*Charles Duncombe, Les Bourgeois Gentilhomme, City Garage

PUPPET DESIGN
*Michael Franco and Jeff G. Rack, Joe’s Garage, Open Fist Theatre Company

ORIGINAL MUSIC
*Maurice McIntyre, Gulls, Theatre @ Boston Court

Reach the writer at smorris@laweekly.com

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