BWW Review: The 2014 Elliot Norton 32nd Anniversary Awards

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BWW Review: The 2014 Elliot Norton 32nd Anniversary Awards

Presented by the Boston Theater Critics' Association at Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA, on Monday, May 19, 2014

The Boston Theater Critics' Association hosted the 32nd anniversary presentation of the Elliot Norton Awards last night at the Wheelock Family Theatre. Barely before people were in their seats, the tap dancing ensemble of Stoneham Theatre's Thoroughly Modern Millie, led by Ephie Aardema, shuffled, ball changed, and kicked off the festivities. An enthusiastic Joyce Kulhawik, President of the BTCA, took the podium as Master of Ceremonies to introduce a parade of fellow critics and past winners as presenters, as well as two more nominated musical performances later in the program.

In addition to twenty-two awards given for productions, design, directors, actors, and ensembles, the Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed upon Academy Award-winner and theater veteran Olympia Dukakis, and the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence went to Paul Daigneault, Producing Artistic Director of the SpeakEasy Stage Company. Dukakis was introduced by her famous local cousin, Governor Michael Dukakis, who received a rock star's welcome and additional appreciation when he told the crowd that he had introduced a bill to the Legislature in 1964 which started the Massachusetts Arts Council. The actress regaled with stories of growing up and getting out of Lowell, knowing that she had to escape the constraints that her Greek family heritage placed on girls.

Daigneault's remarks focused on his love affair with risk-taking and the support that SpeakEasy Stage has received over the course of the past twenty-three years. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made his first appearance at the Nortons and gave an update on his search to fill the new Arts and Culture cabinet level position in his administration. Other highlights included warm, heartfelt tributes to three stalwarts of the Boston theater community who were lost during the past year. Awards were given in honor of great actress Julie Harris (Jeff Zinn, presenter), ART founding member Jeremy Geidt (Robert Brustein, presenter), and former Huntington Theatre Company Artistic Director Nicholas Martin (Michael Maso, presenter).

All of the award winners were gracious and grateful, while many also appeared stunned when they heard their names called. Some of the best, most spontaneous speeches included Erica Spyres (Outstanding Actress, Midsize Theater for Tribes at SpeakEasy Stage) closing her thanks with American Sign Language; Steven Barkhimer (Outstanding New Script for Windowmen at Boston Playwrights' Theatre) feeling "thrilled, honored, and abashed;" Ilyse Robbins (Outstanding Director, Midsize Theater for Thoroughly Modern Millie at Stoneham Theatre) giving credit for her training to all of the directors she has worked with in Boston; Maureen Adduci (Outstanding Actress, Fringe Theater for The Normal Heart at Zeitgeist Stage Company) expressing her gratitude to Director David Miller for taking a chance on her and bringing her into this community; and Aimee Doherty (Outstanding Musical Performance by an Actress for On the Town at Lyric Stage Company and Hairspray at Wheelock) beaming while she took "a mental snapshot" of her moment.

The audience was treated to rousing musical numbers from the Gold Dust Orphans' It's a Horrible Life, written by Ryan Landry with choreography by Meredith Langdon, and Wheelock Family Theatre's Hairspray, with choreography by Laurel Conrad, which took home a pair of awards as Outstanding Musical Production (Midsize, Small or Fringe Company) and Outstanding Ensemble. Throughout the evening, Ceremony Pianist Michael Kreutz played presenters and winners on and off the stage (and gave hints to a few who went a little long), and Joey Frangeigh did great work on the Projection Design that showcased all of the nominees. It was a well-oiled production that celebrated the deserving citizens of the Boston theater community, followed by a gala reception for boozing and schmoozing.



For a complete list of winners: http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/ALL-THE-WAY-Bryan-Cranston-THE-JUNGLE-BOOK-and-More-Top-2014-Elliot-Norton-Awards-in-Boston-All-the-Winners-20140519?PageSpeed=noscript#.U3uF-S_NBiM

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Nancy Grossman From producing and starring in family holiday pageants as a child, to avid member of Broadway Across America and Show of the Month Club, Nancy has cultivated her love of the art and respect for the craft of theatre. She fulfilled a dream when she became an adult-onset tap dancer in the early 90's ("Gotta dance!"); she fulfills another by providing reviews for BroadwayWorld.com and evolving as a freelance writer. Nancy is an alumna of Syracuse University and a retired Probation Officer-in-Charge in the Massachusetts Trial Court system.


 
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