Small theaters win big at L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards

Theater @ Boston Court takes top honors at the 46th annual L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards

Small theaters took home top honors at the 46th annual L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards on Monday night at Beyond the Stars Palace in Glendale.

The showing by companies such as Theatre @Boston Court and Echo Theater Company comes at a time when Actors Equity is advocating a significant increase in pay to actors in small theaters in Southern California, a move the critics group opposes. 

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For the record, March 17, 2:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misstated the title of "Firemen" as "Fireman," and it identified the company that produced the show was Echo Theater   rather than by its full name, Echo Theater Company. Also, David O of "Floyd Collins" received the award for musical direction, not "directing a music," as the post originally stated.

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Two shows shared the night's top award for production: "Stupid ... Bird," the modern reimagining by Aaron Posner of Chekhov's "The Sea Gull" at  Boston Court in Pasadena, and "Firemen," Tommy Smith's examination of sexual tension in middle school, produced by Echo Theater in the Atwater Village Theatre Complex.

There were multiple winners in many of the categories.

Boston Court  had a big night. The company's “Everything You Touch” by Sheila Callaghan won the Ted Schmitt Award for the best L.A.-area world premiere, as well as awards for costume design (Jenny Foldenauer), lighting design (Jeremy Pivnick), properties (John Burton), and a featured performance by Tyler Pierce.

In addition, “Stupid ... Bird,” which was co-produced with Circle X Theatre Co., took home honors for writing (Aaron Posner), direction (Michael Michetti) and ensemble performance. Michetti and Boston Court co-artistic director Jessica Kubzansky also took home the LADCC’s Polly Warfield Award for outstanding season in a small-to-midsize house.

"Firemen" also earned nods for writing (Tommy Smith), direction (Chris Fields), lead performance (Ian Bamberg) and featured performance (Rebecca Gray).

Times theater reviewers Margaret Gray and David C. Nichols are members of the critics' group.

Annette Bening won for solo performance for her work in "Ruth Draper's Monologues" at the Geffen Playhouse, and Michael Urie took home the same award for "Buyer & Cellar," the off-Broadway hit that he brought to the Mark Taper Forum for Center Theatre Group.

Additional honors went to Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman for their score for "Harmony," which was staged at the Ahmanson by the CTG, and to Cicely Tyson for lead performance in CTG's "The Trip to Bountiful" at the Ahmanson.

The award for musical direction went to David O for "Floyd Collins" at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Spencer Liff received the award for choreography for Deaf West Theater's "Spring Awakening."

Other than that, the 99-seats-or-less crowd cleaned up. See the full list of winners below:

Production

"Firemen," The Echo Theater

"Stupid ... Bird," The Theatre @ Boston Court and Circle X Theatre Co. at The Theatre @ Boston Court

McCulloh Award for Revival (for plays written between 1920 and 1980)

"A Delicate Balance," Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre

Direction

Guillermo Cienfuegos, "Henry V," Pacific Resident Theatre

Chris Fields, "Firemen," The Echo Theater

Michael Michetti, "Stupid ... Bird," The Theatre @ Boston Court and Circle X Theatre Co. at The Theatre @ Boston Court

Writing

Aaron Posner, "Stupid ... Bird," The Theatre @ Boston Court and Circle X Theatre Co. at The Theatre @ Boston Court

Marja-Lewis Ryan, "One in the Chamber," 6140 Productions in association with Theatre Planners, Racquel Lehrman, Victoria Watson, Lynne Peck, Joe Cirincione, Ed Ryan and Robin Greenspun at The Lounge Theatre.

Tommy Smith, "Firemen," The Echo Theater    

Music direction

David O, "Floyd Collins," La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Choreography

Spencer Liff, "Spring Awakening," Deaf West Theatre in association with The Forest of Arden, Cody Lassen, Jarrod Musano at Inner City Arts

Musical score

Matt Almos, Brendan Milburn & Burglars of Hamm (original songs), "The Behavior of Broadus," Sacred Fools Theater Company and Burglars of Hamm in association with Center Theatre Group at Sacred Fools Theater

Barry Manilow (music) and Bruce Sussman (lyrics), "Harmony," Center Theatre Group and Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA, Ahmanson Theatre

Lead performance

Ian Bamberg in "Firemen," The Echo Theater

Patrick Stafford in "Cockfight Play," Rogue Machine Theatre at Theatre/Theater

Heidi Sulzman in "One in the Chamber," 6140 Productions in association with Theatre Planners, Racquel Lehrman, Victoria Watson, Lynne Peck, Joe Cirincione, Ed Ryan and Robin Greenspun at The Lounge Theatre

Cicely Tyson in "The Trip to Bountiful," Center Theatre Group in association with ArtsEmerson at Ahmanson Theatre

Featured performance

Rebecca Gray in "Firemen," The Echo Theater

Tyler Pierce in "Everything You Touch," The Theatre @ Boston Court and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater at The Theatre @ Boston Court

Joel Polis in "My Name Is Asher Lev," The Fountain Theatre

Ensemble performance

"Cockfight Play," Rogue Machine Theatre at Theatre/Theater

"Stupid ... Bird," The Theatre @ Boston Court and Circle X Theatre Co. at The Theatre @ Boston Court

Set Design

Jeff Cowie, "The Trip to Bountiful," Center Theatre Group in association with ArtsEmerson at Ahmanson Theatre

Lighting design

Jeremy Pivnick, "Everything You Touch," The Theatre @ Boston Court and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater at The Theatre @ Boston Court

Costume design

Jenny Foldenauer, "Everything You Touch," The Theatre @ Boston Court and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater at The Theatre @ Boston Court

Sound design

Doug Newell, "Foxfinder," Furious Theatre Company in association with Artists Repertory Theatre of Portland, Ore., at Pasadena Playhouse Carrie Hamilton Theatre

Solo performance

Annette Bening in "Ruth Draper’s Monologues," Geffen Playhouse

Michael Urie in "Buyer & Cellar," Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum

CGI/Video

Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington, Noel Coward’s "Brief Encounter," Kneehigh, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Properties design

John Burton, "Everything You Touch," The Theatre @ Boston Court and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater at The Theatre @ Boston Court

Special effects

Tony Doublin and Gabe Bartalos, "Taste," Sacred Fools Theater Company, The Schramm Group LLC and Red Hen Productions at Sacred Fools Theater

Illusions/Magic design

Teller, Johnny Thompson, Thom Rubino and Christopher Rose, "The Tempest," South Coast Repertory

Special awards

The Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play was presented to Sheila Callaghan for "Everything You Touch." The award was accompanied by an offer to publish from Samuel French Inc.

The Polly Warfield Award for an excellent season in a small to mid-size theater was presented to the Theatre @ Boston Court. The award was accompanied by an honorarium funded by the Nederlander Organization.

The Kinetic Lighting Award for outstanding achievement in theatrical design was presented to Cricket S. Myers. The award was accompanied by an honorarium funded by Kinetic Lighting Inc.

The Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theater was presented to Independent Shakespeare Company. The award was accompanied by an honorarium funded by an anonymous donor.

The Joel Hirschhorn Award for outstanding achievement in musical theater was presented to 3D Theatricals. The award was accompanied by an honorarium funded by contributions from the theatrical community.

The Milton Katselas Award for career or special achievement in direction was presented to Robin Larsen. The award was accompanied by an honorarium funded by Beverly Hills Playhouse.

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