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Ovation nominations embrace a range of L.A. theater

Jonah Platt, left, and Mark Whitten in a scene from "Floyd Collins," presented at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.
(Michael Lamont)

The announcement of the nominations for this year’s Ovation Awards made Tuesday a better than average day for certain members of the Los Angeles theater community.

Culture Monster spoke to some of them after they learned they received multiple mentions, in the run-up to the annual awards held by the LA Stage Alliance. This year’s ceremony is Nov. 2.

The nominations cover small, midsized and large theaters. Among the most nominated theater companies were the Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena with 19, and La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and the Geffen Playhouse with 17.

The new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts was recognized with 12 for its first season, eight of them for “Maurice Hines Is Tappin Through Life.”

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The Geffen’s “The Country House,” Donald Margulies’ new play with Blythe Danner that moved on to Broadway (now in previews), was the most nominated (11) production, followed by La Mirada’s well-received revival of the chamber musical “Floyd Collins” and Boston Court’s Chekov update, “Stupid Bird” with nine.

“We’re astonished, humbled and grateful,” said Boston Court Artistic Director Jessica Kubzansky of the nominations for “Everything You Touch” as well as “Bird.” In addition, the group was nominated for best season, along with 3-D Theatricals, Actors Co-Op, the Fountain Theatre and La Mirada.

“We always try to program to our mission, which embraces passionate, artist-driven projects that challenge both the artists and the audience. But there are so many people who do great work, so when it happens that the stars align that enough people think it’s great to get us some nominations it’s just a thrill,” Kubzansky said.

Brian Kite, the producing artistic director of La Mirada, who was also nominated for best director of a musical for the company’s production of “Les Miserables,” took the group’s nomination haul as a vote of confidence in the company’s direction.

“We’re a large theater and we take a lot of financial risks with our bigger shows, but it’s proving that when we take risks on something like ‘Floyd Collins’ [which received nine nominations], it works and people want more,” said Kite. “I love that critics are liking it and audiences are responding.”

For his part, Randall Arney, the artistic director of the Geffen Playhouse, was touched to have earned such attention.

“I am heartened and thrilled to see Geffen Playhouse artists recognized in such competitive categories,” said Arney. “I am proud of all of our artists and wish us luck on Nov. 2. We are once again reminded of the depth and breadth of theater in Los Angeles.”

A number of the most interesting nominations (including director of a musical) went to “Invisible Cities,” the opera directed by Yuval Sharon, artistic director of the Industry, and staged at Union Station. Audience members wearing wireless headphones chose which performers to follow in and out of rooms at the station, interacting with the artists.

The fact that an opera was considered theater and recognized by the Ovations allowed Sharon to achieve a personal goal.

“To me it was really thrilling because when I started with the Industry one of my primary goals was to engage with as many artistic communities and disciplines as possible,” said Sharon. “For ‘Invisible Cities’ to be recognized by the theatrical community was an important and gratifying sign.”

The awards presentation will take place at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse.

For a complete list of nominees, go to www.lastagealliance.com.


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