And The Winner Is . . .
The Boston theatre community came together at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on May 22 for The 24th Annual Elliot Norton Awards. The awards are named for renowned theatre critic Elliot Norton and recognize excellence in Greater Boston theatre.
As in past years, WBZ-TV Entertainer Reporter Joyce Kulhawik (left) was the night's gracious host. And musician Barry Rocklin once again took his place at the piano to provide musical accompaniment.
Special Guest of Honor for the evening was Tony Award winning composer and writer William Finn. In a short but very funny speech, he said when Terry Byrne (Boston Herald critic and member of the Norton selection committee) called to ask him what would make him happy, he replied with a dead expression, "Nothing."
Reconsidering, the Natick native said it would give him great pleasure if they would invite his high school drama teacher, Jerry Dyer, to join him in presenting an award. And so they did.
This year's festivities were streamlined a bit with the critics' introductions and comments drastically (and gratefully) reduced. As Kulhawik said with a smile, "they've already had their say." (In truth, past ceremonies often sounded as if the critics at the podium were presenting a doctoral thesis). Adding to the mix, previous winners were also presenters.
Overall, the evening moved along nicely. Four musical numbers were presented representing productions of "Urinetown" from Lyric Stage, "Falsettos" from the Huntington Theatre Company, "On The Twentieth Century" from Overture Productions and "Kismet" from The Boston Conservatory. Each was warmly received by the crowd.
The acceptance speeches ranged from funny to heartfelt, with Paul Daigneault of SpeakEasy Stage recalling the challenge of presenting a full evening of Tennessee William's one-act plays, Allyn Burrows acknowledging the sense of community in Boston and Jefferson Mays sharing the astonishing experience of presenting "I Am My Own Wife" (left) in the actual Berlin museum of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (the show's main character).
Lyric's Spiro Veloudos was presented with the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence. In a poignant acceptance speech, he reminisced about his 32 years in the theatre; his first stage experience at Harvard Summer Theatre where he shared the stage with a young Christopher Reeve; his first directing job, "Guys and Dolls," working with Paula Plum (a dancer -- "in the chorus!!!"); and the love and support of his late Mother.
The only awkward flash came when "Twentieth Century" was named Outstanding Musical Production (over "Falsettos" and "Urinetown") and Overture Production's Deb Poppel took to the stage and preened "I beat William Finn!"
The full list of winners (highlighted in red) follows:
Outstanding Production by a Local
Outstanding Production by a Large
Outstanding Production by a Midsized
Outstanding Production by a Small
Outstanding Visiting Production
Outstanding Musical Production
Outstanding Director, Large Company
Outstanding Director, Small / Midsized
Outstanding Solo Performance
Outstanding Actor, Large Company
Outstanding Actor, Midsized Company
Outstanding Actress, Large Company
Outstanding Actress, Midsized Company
Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence
At the conclusion of the awards presentations, the audience was invited onstage to mix and mingle, enjoy a glass of wine and congratulate the winners.
-- R. J.Donovan / OnStage Boston
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