An SRO crowd jammed El Rey Theatre on Monday night for a performance-art awards ceremony celebrating the best of L.A.'s small theaters. The show was co-conceived by the Steve Allen Theater's Amit Itelman and Craig Anton, and directed by Itelman, who transformed the venue and the event into a middle-school district drama-awards sleepover. An auxiliary environmental stage within the hall was a walk-through "haunted house," with a ghoulish tableaux from the theater group Zombie Joe's Underground.
The majority of attendees came attired in pajamas or other forms of sleepwear. Headliner band Ash Panda — consisting of middle school–age musicians — rocked the house with five pop/punk jams, which had people dancing in the aisles. Some audience members watched the band from the stage, parked on sleeping bags.
Co-hosts Rebekah and Matthew Miller, ages 11 and 14, respectively, appeared strikingly poised handing out awards to L.A.'s theater professionals. Another (adult) guitarist, John Reynolds, performed during the awards, providing an early-20th-century-style sweetness by serenading the recipients onto the stage. Reynolds also accompanied the dulcet tones of Janet Klein, who sang while playing the ukulele.
Live white geese Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas honked their way through a scene from David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, from within the confines of a goose-sized office set, complete with a flashing neon sign at goose-eye level — the concept of an unemployed concept-theater director played by Anton. Jim Turner led a posse of gyrating male middle-school faculty members, who, for an interpretive dance, stripped down to their skivvies and "freestyled" out into the audience, prompting the co-hosts to return to the stage covering their eyes with their scripts.
Thirty-five awards were presented in less than two hours, followed by a postshow reception catered by Shamshiri Grill.
And the winners are:
PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR
La Razón Blindada (Armored Reason), 24th Street Theatre
REVIVAL PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR (of a 20th- or 21st-century work)
Wit, Actors Co-op
MUSICAL OF THE YEAR
Hoboken to Hollywood, Reasoner Productions at the Edgemar Center for the Arts
Peter Haskell, Kataki, Prince Livingston Players at the McCadden Place Theatre
Simon Levy, Opus, Fountain Theatre
DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Jeremy Aldridge, Hoboken to Hollywood
Jaime Robledo, Watson, Sacred Fools Theater Company
Paul Litteral, Hoboken to Hollywood
Oedipus El Rey, Theatre@Boston Court
The Women of Brewster Place, Celebration Theatre
Yellow, Coast Playhouse
LEADING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Nan McNamara, Wit
LEADING MALE PERFORMANCE
Kevin Brief, A Prayer for My Daughter, Crown City Theatre
SUPPORTING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Agatha Nowicki, Parasite Drag, Elephant Theatre Company
SUPPORTING MALE PERFORMANCE (TIE)
Tom Costello, Take Me Out, Celebration Theatre
Garrett Matheson, Take Me Out
Thomas James O'Leary, Take Me Out
Robert Mammana and Will Bradley, The 20th-Century Way, Theatre@Boston Court
Ann Randolph, Loveland, Santa Monica Playhouse
FEMALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE
Christine Estabrook, Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, Blank Theatre
MALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE
Henry Dittman, Watson
Candice Afia, Blood and Thunder, Moving Arts
John Steppling, Phantom Luck, Gunfighter Nation at the Lost Studio
QUEEN OF THE ANGELS
Jessica Kubzansky & Michael Michetti
Brewsie and Willie, Poor Dog Group and the Center for New Performance at CalArts at the 7th Floor Penthouse
Luis Alfaro, Oedipus El Rey
LIGHTING DESIGN (TIE)
Efren Delgadillo Jr. and Adam Haas Hunter, Brewsie and Willie
Dan Weingarten, A Tale Told by an Idiot, Psittacus Productions at Son of Semele Theatre/Lounge Theatre
Christina Wright, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Open Fist Theatre Company
Potsch Boyd, Kataki
Robert Oriol, Oedipus El Rey
Tina Kronis, Anton's Uncles, Theatre Movement Bazaar at 24th Street Theatre/Bootleg Theater
Lynn Jeffries, Project: Wonderland, Bootleg Theater
Andrew Conrad and Andrew Gilbert, Brewsie and Willie
Louis Roth, Kataki
Steven Calcote, The Limitations of Genetic Technology, Off-Chance Productions at Theatre of NOTE
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Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe, The Marriage of Figaro, City Garage
Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble's trilogy of original plays presented in repertory at the Powerhouse Theatre: Gospel According to the First Squad, Wounded and Survived, collectively titled The War Cycle. Each concerned the U.S. military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan. The citation was given for breadth of vision and clarity of purpose by an ensemble.