‘Louis & Keely’ scores big at Ovation Awards


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As L.A. gears up for the film awards season, starting with the Golden Globes this Sunday, the city’s theater community held its own tuxedo and evening-gown affair this evening at the 2008-09 L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Awards ceremony.

Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara’ emerged as the night’s biggest winner at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, walking away with three top awards, including best production of a musical at a large theater. The show also won acting awards for Jake Broder and Vanessa Claire Smith, who play the Las Vegas lounge couple Louis Prima and Keely Smith.


Directed by Taylor Hackford, ‘Louis & Keely’ ran for eight months at the Geffen Playhouse’s Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre. The production is a revised version of the show that ran last season at Sacred Fools Theatre and the Matrix Theater.

At last season’s Ovation Awards, ‘Louis & Keely’ received the trophy for best production of a musical at an intimate theater.

Kevin King’s ‘The Idea Man’ won the playwrighting award, beating out such high-profile dramas as Donald Margulies’ ‘Time Stands Still’ and Rajiv Joseph’s ‘Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.’ The production, which ran at the Elephant Theatre Company in Hollywood, tells the story of an engineer who steals an idea from a factory worker at the request of his boss.

Tony winner Julie White won the award for actress in a play for the L.A. premiere of Douglas Carter Beane’s ‘The Little Dog Laughed,’ which ran at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The production also received awards for lighting and scenic design.

The play award at a large theater went to Ebony Repertory Theatre‘s production of ‘Two Trains Running’ by August Wilson. The production also received the award for best actor in a play (Glynn Turman).

The play award at an intimate location went to Chalk Repertory Theatre’s production of Julia Edwards’ ’Family Planning,’ which also won the directing award (Larissa Kokernot).


The musical award at an intimate location went to Havok Theatre’s production of ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman,’ which also won an award for choreography.

It was a bad night at the Ovations if you are a celebrity. Nominees Chris Pine (‘Farragut North’), Allison Janney and Dolly Parton (‘9 to 5’) all lost in their respective categories.

Other prominent losers included Laurie Metcalf (‘Voice Lessons’), Leslie Uggams (‘Stormy Weather’) and songwriter Charles Strouse (‘Minsky’s’).

The production of ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ at the El Portal Theatre had the most nominations going into tonight’s ceremony, but it only won the award for music direction.

Here’s the full list of winners at this year’s Ovations.

Musical, large theater: ‘Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara,’ L&K Productions / Geffen Playhouse

Musical, intimate location: ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman,’ Havok Theater Company

Playwrighting: Kevin King, ‘The Idea Man,’ Elephant Theatre Company

Play, large theater: ‘Two Trains Running,’ Ebony Repertory Theatre

Play, intimate location: ‘Family Planning,’ Chalk Repertory

Lead actor in a musical: Jake Broder, ‘Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara,’ L&K Productions / Geffen Playhouse

Lead actress in a musical: Vanessa Claire Smith, ‘Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara,’ L&K Productions / Geffen Playhouse

Lead actor in a play: Glynn Turman, ‘Two Trains Running,’ Ebony Rep

Lead actress in a play: Julie White, ‘The Little Dog Laughed,’ Kirk Douglas Theatre

Featured actor in a musical: Michael Paternostro, ‘The Producers,’ Musical Theatre West

Featured actress in a musical: Sarah Cornell, ‘The Producers,’ Musical Theatre West

Featured actor in a play: Hugo Armstrong, ‘Land of the Tigers,’ Sacred Fools and Burglars of Hamm

Featured actress in a play: Tasha Ames, ‘Rabbit Hole,’ Malibu Stage Company

Ensemble performance: ‘Stick Fly,’ Matrix Theatre Company

Book/lyrics/music for an original musical: Erin Kamler, ‘Divorce! the Musical’

Director of a musical: Matt Walker, ‘As U2 Like It,’ Troubadour Theatre Company

Director of a play: Larissa Kokernot, ‘Family Planning,’ Chalk Rep

Choreography: Lee Martino, ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman,’ Havok Theatre Company

Music direction: Darryl Archibald, ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe,’ El Portal Theatre

Scenic design, intimate theater: Jeff McLaughlin, ‘A Skull in Connemara,’ Theatre Tribe

Scenic design, large theater: Allen Moyer, ‘The Little Dog Laughed,’ Kirk Douglas Theatre

Lighting design, intimate theater: Luke Moyer, ‘Dracula,’ Noho Arts Center Ensemble

Lighting design, large theater: Donald Holder, ‘The Little Dog Laughed,’ Kirk Douglas Theatre

Sound design, intimate theater: Ken Sawyer, ‘Dracula,’ Noho Arts Center Ensemble

Sound design, large theater: Chris Webb and David Molina, ‘Lydia,’ Mark Taper Forum

Sound design, large theater: Erik Carstensen, ‘Beethoven as I Knew Him,’ Geffen Playhouse

Costume design, intimate theater: Anne Closs-Farley, ‘Ken Roht’s Calendar Girl,’ Bootleg Theatre

Costume design, large theater: Sharon McGunigle, ‘As U2 Like It,’ Troubadour Theatre Company

Season: Troubadour Theatre Company

-- David Ng