Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Applause for Those Who Didn't Win

Posted by Bruce Miller
I loved the Artsies as much as the next theatre-nut, probably more. I think everyone who won was super-deserving and I offer my hardiest and most heartfelt congratulations.

I especially congratulate the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle for putting so much time, effort and love into this endeavor. It’s a great way to celebrate the diversity of talent and effort in the Greater Richmond theatre scene. And it was a heck of a party.

I’m proud that Theatre IV donated the magnificent Empire for the event, and doubly proud of our staff who made this historic albeit rundown facility twinkle and shimmer and buzz.

In addition to the deserving winners announced Sunday evening, I like to offer my appreciation to some other theatre artists, some nominated and some not.

All the winners who won on Sunday evening and are mentioned below deserved to win. I mean to take nothing away from their wonderful achievements.

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
Joe Doran is fantastic (and a good friend and a heck of a nice person). So is Lynne Hartman. She was nominated for The Clean House, but she could just as easily have been nominated for Children of a Lesser God, Thoroughly Modern Millie or any one of several other shows. I love and will always be inspired by her exemplary work.

Outstanding Achievement in Set Design
Ron Keller is an uber-talent (aagfaahoanp – see above). With significantly smaller budgets, the other nominees also did amazing work. Let me single out one who deserves lots of praise. Lin Heath. Show after show, year after year, Lin quietly creates wonderful sets at Chamberlayne Actors Theatre with tiny budgets and no paid staff. His set for All My Sons was an intimate valentine to post-WWII America that worked in beautiful counterpoint to the betrayals revealed in the play. Lin is an under-recognized (but not under-appreciated) artist. He amazes me.

But let’s leave the Lynne/Lin’s, and move on to the Ali/Aly’s.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Musical
Ali Thibodeau is a singing / dancing / acting dream, and she was incredibly wonderful in Millie. Aly Wepplo is also young, beautiful and talented. I know I have no objectivity about Ms Wepplo, since I directed the show I’m about to mention. Nonetheless, I thought Aly Wepplo was fantastic in Sanders Family Christmas. Her performance and the show received no nominations, but I loved watching the amazing connections she and the rest of the cast made with the audience night after night.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Play
Marta Rainer absolutely blew me away in Rabbit Hole and I've been wooing her for Barksdale ever since. Jan Guarino also blew me away in The Clean House. Jan has been so beloved by the Richmond audience for so long that it’s easy to take for granted how incredibly talented she is. She is a cornerstone of our theatre community, as is the un-nominated Kelly Kennedy. So I just want to tell both Jan and Kelly that I love their work.

Best Actress in a Leading Role – Musical
Audra Honaker is a force of nature and everyone knows how much I love her. People make fun over how highly I think of Ms. H. I think this year, Maggie Marlin also deserves great acclaim. Maggie carried Thoroughly Modern Millie on her capable shoulders. Her co-stars all were award-winners, and her show won Best Musical, but it was Maggie who WAS Thoroughly Modern Millie, and triple-threated her way into the hearts of the Richmond audience. I hope Maggie knows that our award-sweeping musical would have been nothing without her amazing, heartfelt star turn.

Ford Flannagan and Landon Nagel. I thought they were both incredible in The Widow’s Blind Date at the Firehouse. And I thought Ford also was excellent in Normal at Stage 1 (along with Dave Amadee). I thought Landon, Erica Siegel, Richie Gregory and the not-nominated Michelle Schaefer were all terrific in Children of a Lesser God. And in Children’s Letters to God, I thought the ensemble of kids was completely winning—even if they didn’t win on Sunday.

And as for that other ensemble of Joy Williams, James Bynum and Garet Chester--those three pulled off two hit runs in two different facilities, thrilling thousands.

Best Musical
Of course, I’m thrilled that Millie won. I completely agree. And now I’m going to be so bold as to mention the fact that Barksdale produced a very worthy World Premiere musical last season—Mona’s Arrangements by Bo Wilson and Steve Leibman. If this had been the Tony Awards, Altar Boyz, Annie, Trailer Park, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and tick, tick…Boom! would all have been competing for Best Revival, and only Mona’s Arrangements would have been eligible for Best Musical.

Producing a World Premiere is a BIG DEAL, so I mention it here. I thank Bo and Steve for their amazing work. I’m so proud of the entire Mona’s Arrangements team. I hope Richmond theatre will continue to grow to the point where it makes sense to offer an Artsie for Best Original Play or Musical.

Just like the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle, there are hundreds of other performances I loved. Space and time don’t allow mention of them all. But there is plenty of room in the comments for your thoughts.

Thanks again to the RTCC for their great evening on Sunday. See you at the theatre.

--Bruce Miller


Anonymous said...

I understand there was a pool out there in the community where you picked who you thought SHOULD win and who you thought WOULD win. Who won that pool?

'Rick Gray said...

All very worthy, Bruce, but I'd like to add one more. Jeff Cole not only did an outstanding job as McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", but he twice tackled one of the towering roles in world theatre - Hamlet - and I think he pulled it off both times. It's amazing that his powerful performances did not receive so much as a nomination.

Bruce Miller said...

I don't know anything about the pool. I thought Jeff was very impressive in "Cuckoo's Nest." He has a LOT of machismo and stage presence. I wish I'd seen him in "Hamlet," but it's one of the few shows I missed. I LOVED working with Jeff in "The Lark," at Barksdale Willow Lawn. I'll forever appreciate what a good sport he was in the lead of "No Sex Please, We're British," which I directed horribly at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern. I was greatly relieved when he not only survived "No Sex," but went on to play McMurphy and Hamlet to great acclaim. Thanks 'Rick for recognizing his talent and terrific work last season.

Anonymous said...

So is the sound of flatulence a commentary on the selections made by the RTCC? Sure sounds like it to me.

Bruce Miller said...

No. FARTSIE&S was all about me being an old fart, not a commentary on the selections made by the RTCC. I meant every word I said about the deserving winners. I keep sticking my foot in my mouth. It's time for me to shut up.

Alyson said...

Oh, no no no. I love calling your imaginary awards Fartsies. I've heard the "Artsies" called the "Ratcocs" much, much more than by their actual name, and I always thought "Fartsies" would've been funnier.

In any case, I just think it's healthy (and funny) to poke fun at ourselves in a gentle way. It's a good reminder that all our hard work is supposed to be fun.

Also, my Fartsie would go to Robin Arthur in Sideways Stories. I love love loved her.

Alyson said...

Oh, it occurs to me that maybe you don't want people to know about that first nickname. In that case, don't post it! I was just thinking aloud.