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If the 19th annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards are any indication, 1997 was the year the newpaper’s theater critics couldn’t make up their minds, awarding a record-setting three ties (for Play Writing, Com edy Ensemble and Set Design). In a ceremony held at the Los Angeles Theater Center last Monday, co-host Robert A. Prior and the Fabulous Monsters set a surreal, ritualistic and whimsical tone with an opening parade through the theater featuring tribally painted actors and incense. Performance artist Rachel Rosenthal was carried onto the stage by a quintet of bald-headed tribesmen to receive her Career Achievement Award, introduced by Disney veep Thomas Schumacher. Rosenthal noted the Weekly’s good taste in selecting her as the Award recipient. The other co-host, Linda Purl, a model of good sportsmanship, played along with the Monsters while helping to introduce a docket of presenters that included Swoosie Kurtz, Laurie Metcalf, playwright José Rivera and the Taper’s Robert Egan. John Fleck and Tony Abate marco performed an excerpt from the quick-change extravaganza The Mystery of Irma Vep, exposing the backstage dres sers, and Margot’s Bush put on a bawdy sketch parodying Glamour Shots.


—Steven Leigh Morris


1997 Awards Recipients


 


Production of the Year:


The Arabian Nights, Lookingglass Theater Company at Actors’ Gang Theater


Revival Production of the Year (of a 20th-Century Work):


The House of Blue Leaves, West Coast Ensemble


Musical of the Year:


Bat Boy: The Musical, Actors’ Gang


Leading Female Performance:


Robin Johnson, An Unhappy Woman, Moving Arts


Leading Male Performance:


Armando Durán, Dictator, Theater of NOTE


Supporting Female Performance:


Lisa Forté, The Lesson, Stages Theater Center


Supporting Male Performance:


Chris Wells, The Importance of Being Earnest, Fabulous Monsters at Glaxa Studios


Play Writing:


Pamela Forrest, Valsetz, Celebration Theater


Murray Mednick, Dictator, Theater of NOTE


Direction:


Leo Geter/Dan Bonnell, Morphic Resonance, Eclectic Company Theater/
Matrix Theater


Comedy Direction:


Florinel Fatulescu, The Lesson, Stages Theater Center


Ensemble:


Morphic Resonance, Eclectic Company Theater/Matrix Theater: James DuMont, Lea Floden, Christopher Grove, John C. McLaughlin and Francesca Rollins


Comedy Ensemble:


Cheatin’, Theatre/Theater: Keana Hall, Debra D. Holt, Rif Hutton, Greg Poland, David Roberson, Stuart K. Robinson and Angela Teek


Fighting Over Beverley, Fountain Theater: Priscilla Pointer, Jacqueline Schultz, Robert Symonds and Malachi Throne


Solo Performance:


Alec Mapa, I Remember Mapa, Taper Too/East West Players


Sketch Comedy/Improvisation:


Margot’s Bush, Pedro’s Grill: Eliza Coyle, Loretta Fox, Melanie Hutsell, Joe Liss, Brett Paesel, Sam Pancake, Patrick Towne and Benjamin Zook


Production Design:


The Vakhos, Open Fist Theater Company at Los Angeles Playhouse


 


Costume Design:


Sherri L. Grider, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Stella Adler Theater


Lighting Design:


Kathi O’Donohue, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Stella Adler Theater


 


Set Design:


Lisa Hashimoto, The Taste of Kona Coffee, East West Players


Robert A. Prior, The Importance of Being Earnest, Fabulous Monsters at Glaxa Studios


Original Music:


The company of The Arabian Nights, Lookingglass Theater Company at Actors’ Gang Theater