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Curtain Calls

'Piazza,' 'Rain,' 'Bob' take top honors in debut awards

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BRIGHT LIGHTS Eileen Morris, left,   received an award for her perormance in ‘Light in the Piazza.’ - ERIC CHAZANKIN
  • Eric Chazankin
  • BRIGHT LIGHTS Eileen Morris, left, received an award for her perormance in ‘Light in the Piazza.’

'I don't like awards ceremonies," British comedian and actor Paul O'Grady once remarked. "I'd sooner go to the pub with mates I've known for years."

In just that spirit, four Sonoma County theater critics (the Sonoma County Gazette's Harry Duke, local blog Imagination Lane's Alexa Chipman, the Marin Independent Journal's Barry Willis and myself) have launched the Marquee Theater Journalists Association. Things kicked off on Monday, Nov. 14, with a laid-back ceremony at the Local Barrel taproom in Santa Rosa. The event brought together dozens of "mates" to celebrate the contributions of 58 nominated theater artists representing 14 theater companies.

The MTJA awards are different in a number of ways. For instance, they do away with gender distinctions in acting categories, awarding certificates to Outstanding Lead Performance and Outstanding Supporting Performance in musicals, dramas and comedies, ignoring the traditional male and female division.

The winners are:

Spreckels Theatre Company's mother-daughter drama The Light in the Piazza—directed by Gene Abravaya, with musical direction by Diego Garcia—won for Outstanding Production of a Musical. Also honored for The Light in the Piazza was Eileen Morris for Outstanding Lead Performance. Meanwhile, another Spreckels win, for Outstanding Costume Design, went to Pamela Enz for Disney's A Little Mermaid.

The two-actor cop-drama A Steady Rain, directed by Argo Thompson for Left Edge Theatre, took the top slot for Outstanding Production of a Drama. A Steady Rain also took honors for sound design (Thompson) and light design (April George).

The award for Outstanding Production of a Comedy went to Main Stage West's BOB: A Life in Five Acts, directed by Sheri Lee Miller. BOB also took acting awards for Mark Bradbury (lead performance) and Nick Sholley (supporting performance). Other nominees in the comedy category were It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play (Raven Players), One Man, Two Guvnors (6th Street Playhouse), Seminar (Left Edge Theatre), and Treasure Island (Spreckels).

Cinnabar Theater's aforementioned Time Stands Still took drama acting honors for Laura Lowry (lead) and Ivy Rose Miller (supporting), while 6th Street Playhouse's Abbey Lee won for Animal Crackers (supporting in a musical), and set designer Jesse Dreikosen was honored for his set for A Christmas Carol, also at 6th Street.

Congratulations to all!

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