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


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

Comedy Direction:

Florinel Fatulescu, The Lesson, Stages Theater Center


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

LA Weekly