Troubadour Theater Co. and Rogue Machine top Ovation Awards

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Troubadour Theater Company and its artistic director, Matt Walker, triumphed at the annual Ovation Awards ceremony Monday at the Orpheum Theatre, winning five trophies for excellence during the 2010-11 season.


Four of them were for “A Wither’s Tale” (shown above) in which the comic troupe applied its Shakespeare play-meets-notable pop oeuvre formula to “A Winter’s Tale” and the Bill Withers songbook. The fifth was for best season -– an award Troubadour also won in 2008-09.

“A Wither’s Tale” generated trophies for best musical acting ensemble, for Beth Kennedy as featured musical actress, and for Walker as director and featured musical actor. Launched in 1995 –- five years after the Ovations themselves debuted –- Troubadour had won four previous awards. One of Walker’s past performances may have created some helpful karma: In the 2004 Ovation ceremony at the Orpheum, the festivities found him clad head to toe in a skin-tight white outfit, personifying the arms-outstretched trophy that winners receive.

Rogue Machine also had a big night, winning three awards for its psychological thriller, “Small Engine Repair”: best play at an intimate theater, best acting ensemble in a play, and best direction of a play (Andrew Block).

Stefan Marks scored an impressive double victory, winning the best original playwriting and best lead actor awards for “Hello,” an offbeat love story staged at the Stella Adler Theatre. Among the playwriting nominees was John Pollono, for “Small Engine Repair.”

Other best production awards went to Ebony Repertory Theatre’s “A Raisin in the Sun” (large theater play), Reprise Theatre Company’s “Kiss Me Kate” (large theater musical) and Chance Theater’s “Jerry Springer: the Opera” (intimate theater musical).

Laurie Metcalf won for lead actress in a play, for “Voice Lessons” at Sacred Fools Theater Company. Awards for featured acting roles in plays went to Deidre Henry, in Ebony Repertory’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” and Henry Dittman, in “Watson –- the Last Great Tale of the Legendary Sherlock Holmes,” at Sacred Fools Theatre Company.

Lead actor awards for musicals went to Raul Esparza in “Leap of Faith” at the Ahmanson Theatre (shown above), and Lesli Margherita in Reprise’s “Kiss Me Kate.”

Gregory Nabours won for best original lyrics and music, for “The Trouble With Words,” staged by Coeurage Theatre Company, and the best book award went to William Norris, Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli for “Re-Animator: the Musical” at the Steve Allen Theater.

Center Theatre Group’s production of “Venice” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre received three design awards, for David Weiner’s lighting, Joshua Horvath’s sound design, and Jason Thompson’s video design.

Pasadena Playhouse’s production of “Twist -– An American Musical,” won for Todd Rosenthal’s scenic design and Emilio Sosa’s costume design.

The Ovation Awards are conferred by the LA Stage Alliance, which says on its website that about 250 “currently working theater professionals” have a vote.

Other winners: Choreography: Cate Caplin, “Fascinating Rhythms,” Rubicon Theatre Company

Musical Direction: Paul Litteral, “Hoboken to Hollywood,” Edgemar Center for the Arts

Lighting Design, intimate theater: Christopher Kuhl, “How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found,” The Theatre @ Boston Court; Kuhl also was this year’s winner of the $10,000 Richard E. Sherwood Award, given by Center Theatre Group for early career artists living and working in Los Angeles.

Scenic Design, intimate theater: Joel Daavid, “Skeleton Stories,” Theatre of NOTE

Sound Design, intimate theater: Alyssa Ishii, “Awake,” Bootleg Theater

Costume Design, intimate theater: A. Jeffrey Schoenberg, “The Malcontent,” Antaeus Company

Composition for a play: Brian Joseph, Lyle Lovett, Fred Sanders, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins, “Much Ado About Nothing,” Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles

Fight Choreography: Brian Danner, “The Walworth Farce,” Theatre Banshee

Puppet Design: Kristopher Bicknell, Gwyneth Conaway Bennison and Miles Taber, “D is for Dog,” Rogue Artists Ensemble


Ovation Awards nominations announced for 2010-11season

Theater review: ‘A Wither’s Tale’ at the Falcon

Theater review: Rogue Machine’s ‘Small Engine Repair’

For the record, 1:54 p.m., Nov. 15: An earlier version of this post said that Laurie Metcalf won her acting award in ‘Voice Lessons’ at Zephyr Theatre, where the play was staged in 2009. She won for its 2011 revival at Sacred Fools Theater Company.

-- Mike Boehm

Photos, from top: Brandon Breault and Katherine Malak were part of the Ovation-winning ensemble of Troubadour Theater Company’s `A Wither’s Tale.’ Credit: Chelsea Sutton.

Raul Esparza won a best actor Ovation playing a preacher in ‘Leap of Faith’ at the Ahmanson. Craig Schwartz/AP/Center Theatre Group.