2016 Wilde Awards Nominations Announced!

2016 Wilde Awards Nominations Announced!

Theater professionals from across Michigan will gather Aug. 29 when The 2016 Wilde Awards are presented at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in the Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield. Presented by EncoreMichigan.com, the most comprehensive resource for news and information about the state's professional theater industry, The Wilde Awards were established in 2002 to honor the excellent work produced by Michigan's professional theaters.

"After reviewing a record-breaking - and sometimes resource-stretching - number of productions at theaters all across the state during the 2015-16 season, our team of critics sifted through their extensive notes and determined which were the best productions, performances and designs of the year," said David Kiley, publisher of EncoreMichigan.com and producer of The Wilde Awards. "And trust me: It wasn't an easy task!"

Now celebrating its 15th year, The Wilde Awards - named in honor of 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde - honor the best productions, performances and technical work produced or presented by professional theaters throughout Michigan. Nominations are based on reviews written by EncoreMichigan.com's team of professional critics. Only shows produced or presented by Michigan's professional theaters and opera companies - both union and non-union, large and small - and reviewed by EncoreMichigan.com's critics during the 2015-16 season were eligible for a 2016 Wilde Awards nomination.

And what an unusual season it was, said co-founder Donald V. Calamia, who oversees the nominating process. "While this past season we visited the 'usual subjects' - including such favorites as Meadow Brook Theatre, the Fisher Theatre, Mason Street Warehouse and dozens of others - we also were able to check out a handful of existing theaters we never reviewed before, such as Thunder Bay Theater in Alpena, the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival, and the Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre in Frankfort," he said. "Plus, there were approximately eight new companies we reviewed. If you asked most people how many professional producers and presenters we have in the state, I doubt many would guess 66, which is how many we reviewed. But that doesn't include the more than two dozen that we didn't, mostly because their shows didn't run long enough to adequately cover."

To Calamia and Kiley, such numbers reveal a fact that's mostly ignored, both within the state and around the country. "There's more professional theater here than almost anywhere else, and their work deserves to be recognized and celebrated," Calamia said. "And that's why The Wilde Awards were created and first given out way back in 2002."

The 2015-16 season

In total, EncoreMichigan.com's team of critics reviewed 241 productions produced or presented by 66 professional theater companies located in 36 communities across the state during the 2015-16 season. Shows had to be performed for four consecutive days or more or over two weekends or more to be eligible for a review. Only shows reviewed by EncoreMichigan.com could be nominated for a Wilde Award.

This year's nominations and winners were chosen by EncoreMichigan.com's team of critics, which included Paula Bradley, Calamia, Tom Emmott, Carolyn Hayes-Harmer, Marin Heinritz, Tanya Gazdik Irwin, Kiley, Martin F. Kohn, Jenn McKee, Sue Merrell, Amy J. Parrent, Frank Anthony Polito, John Quinn and Bridgette M. Redman. "I doubt many mainstream media companies have ever utilized the services of so many critics to cover the arts in general, let alone a single discipline," said Kiley. "In fact, as we saw earlier this year, they are continuing to decrease their coverage - which is why EncoreMichigan.com is so important to the theater community. No one covers professional theater like we do, and as the nominations will reveal, great work came out of theaters of every size and budget, and from every corner of the state."

Awards will be presented in 30 categories. While most are the same as or are variations of those used in past seasons, new this year is one suggested by Kiley. "One of my goals when I assumed ownership of EncoreMichigan.com last year was to figure out ways to encourage young people to consider the arts and live theater as a viable career," he explained. "And so not only do we now publish audition notices and educational opportunities for kids and teens on the site, we now have a 'Rising Star' award, which honors the performance of a young person age 18 or younger who appeared in one of the shows we reviewed." In addition, EncoreMichigan accepts actors under age 18 for inclusion in its E-casting digital casting directory on the site.

A handful of special awards will also be presented.

In total, 50 producers or presenters statewide received at least one nomination. Leading with 13 is Augusta's Barn Theatre, followed by Michigan Opera Theatre (Detroit) and Planet Ant Theatre (Hamtramck) with nine each. Five others each earned eight: Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (Holland), Mason Street Warehouse (Saugatuck), Michigan Shakespeare Festival (Jackson), The Purple Rose Theatre (Chelsea), and Tibbits Summer Theatre (Coldwater). Sixteen companies earned a single nomination.

"What's interesting - to me, at least - is that five of the eight top-nominated companies produce their seasons only in the summertime," Calamia noted. "And secondly, that they span the width of the state, from east to west. This proves two things: that while Southeast Michigan may be home to the majority of the state's professional theaters, it doesn't have a lock on quality; and that the summer theaters really know how to step up to the plate and provide excellent entertain to their patrons."

Of the 99 nominated productions, no specific show leaped to the forefront. Both "2AZ" at The Purple Rose Theatre and "Mary Poppins" at the Barn Theatre earned six nominations, while earning four each were "As You Like It" at the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival, "Cabaret" at Mason Street Warehouse, "Love's Labour's Lost" at the Hilberry Theatre (Detroit), and "The Rivals" at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

"What's more, an astounding 57 productions earned a single nomination," Calamia said. "That proves how deep the field was this year, which was certainly the most competitive since the start of the awards in 2002. It was quite tough to rise to the top, but something about each of the 99 nominated shows had that 'special something' that earned recognition from our critics."

A similar indicator is the number of artists - actors, directors, designers and playwrights - whose work is honored this year.

"Altogether, there are 160 individuals whose work received a nomination this year - and only eight of them earned two or more, with Jamey Grisham earning the most with four," Calamia said. "As I've said in past years, this more than anything proves that Michigan is blessed with amazing and highly skilled theater artists who choose to live and work here, when in all likelihood, many could earn much more money elsewhere. And that's why we're thrilled to acknowledge them for the work they produced during the 2015-16 professional theater season."

The 2016 Wilde Awards

The 2016 Wilde Awards, sponsored by Pride Source Media Group, Comcast and The Berman Center for the Performing Arts, will be held Monday, Aug. 29 at The Berman in West Bloomfield. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with an hors d'oeuvre and cocktail reception. The awards show, hosted by Calamia with special guest participants, will begin promptly at 8 p.m.; a dessert afterglow will follow.

"The Wilde Awards have often been referred to as 'The Tony Awards' of Michigan, and the comparison will become even closer this year, thanks to Comcast coming on board as a sponsor," Kiley said. "We'll have a major announcement soon about that, and we think people will love it!"

Admission is $25 per person or $20 for E-casting members of EncoreMichigan. E-casting was launched in February 2016 and allows performers to post their resumes, headshots and performing profiles on the website. It allows casting directors to search the database of performers when they are casting shows and

specific parts. E-casting members get discounts at numerous theaters in the Encore network and at a growing number of pubs and restaurants, as well as service providers such as headshot photographers.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. July 5 at The Berman's box office, by phone at 248-661-1900, or online at http://theberman.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

The Berman Center for the Performing Arts is located at 6600 W. Maple Road, on the campus of the Jewish Community Center at the northwest corner of Maple and Drake Roads in West Bloomfield. Parking is free.

"Our 15th annual celebration of professional theater in Michigan will be a great way to salute the previous season and kick off the next," said Kiley. "It will truly be 'one Wilde night' to remember!"

Best Musical

  • Cabaret, Kurt Stamm, director; Mason Street Warehouse
  • Dogfight, Kathy Mulay, director; Farmers Alley Theatre
  • First Date, Kurt Stamm, director; Mason Street Warehouse
  • Into the Woods, Daniel C. Cooney, director; The Encore Musical Theatre
  • Mary Poppins, Dee Sandt, director; Barn Theatre
  • The Drowsy Chaperone, Steve DeBruyne, director; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment

Best of The Bard

  • As You Like It, William Church, director; Interlochen Shakespeare Festival
  • Henry IV, Janice L. Blixt, director; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
  • Macbeth, D.B. Schroeder, director; Shakespeare in Detroit
  • The Tempest, Katherine Mayberry, director; Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company
  • Twelfth Night, Bailey Boudreau, director; Slipstream Theatre Initiative

Best One-Person Show

  • Buyer and Cellar, Michael Heitzman, director; Mason Street Warehouse
  • Chesapeake, Daniel C. Walker, director; Theatre Nova
  • Fish Dinner 3: Enough Already, Dave Davies, director; Planet Ant Theatre
  • From Broadway to Obscurity, Brian P. Sage, director; Detroit Public Theatre
  • I'll Eat You Last, Jamie Richards, director; The Ringwald Theatre

Best Opera

  • La Boheme, Mario Corradi, director; Michigan Opera Theatre
  • La Traviata, Shawn McDonald, director; Arbor Opera Theater
  • Macbeth, Bernard Uzon, director; Michigan Opera Theatre
  • The Magic Flute, Garnett Bruce, director; Michigan Opera Theatre
  • The Passenger, Rob Kearley, director; Michigan Opera Theatre

Best Original Production or One-Act

  • Antenna, Mike McGettigan, director; Planet Ant Theatre
  • Newsish, Scott Myers, director; Go Comedy! Improv Theater
  • One Cat Away from 61, Tricia Turek, director; Planet Ant Theatre
  • Santa's Twerkshop, Tommy LeRoy, director; Go Comedy! Improv Theater
  • The Radicalization Process, Richard Newman, director; The Hinterlands

Best Play

  • 2AZ, Guy Sanville, director; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
  • A Streetcar Named Desire, Randy Wolfe, director; What A Do Theatre
  • Orson's Shadow, Charles Reynolds, director; Planet Ant Theatre
  • Sex With Strangers, Frannie Shepherd-Bates, director; Detroit Public Theatre
  • The Electric Baby, Lynn Lammers, director; Kickshaw Theatre
  • The Rivals, Robert Kauzlaric, director; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Suzi Regan, director; Performance Network Theatre
  • Best Theater for Young Audiences

  • Charlotte's Web, Lauren Mounsey, director; Wild Swan Theater
  • Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, Samuel J. Richardson, director; Flint Youth Theatre
  • Huck Finn, Janet Haley, director; Flint Youth Theatre
  • Miss Nelson is Missing!, Trinity Bird, director; Tibbits Summer Theatre
  • Rosie the Riveter, Hilary Cohen, director; Wild Swan Theater
  • Best Touring Production

  • A Christmas Carol, Graham McLaren, director; University Musical Society
  • Newsies, Jeff Calhoun, director; Broadway Grand Rapids
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, Mark Brokaw, director; Broadway in Detroit
  • The Bridges of Madison County, Bartlett Sher, director; Wharton Center for the Performing Arts
  • The Sound of Music, Jack O'Brien, director; Wharton Center for the Performing Arts
  • Best Performance - One-Person Show

  • Melissa Beckwith, Katherine; Theatre Nova
  • Sebastian Gerstner, Chesapeake; Theatre Nova
  • Eric Gutman, From Broadway to Obscurity; Detroit Public Theatre
  • Quintin Hicks, Fish Dinner 3: Enough Already; Planet Ant Theatre
  • Richard Payton, Buyer & Cellar; The Ringwald Theatre
  • Best Performance - Opera

  • Susanna Branchini, Macbeth; Michigan Opera Theatre
  • Nicole Cabell, La Boheme; Michigan Opera Theatre
  • Adrienn Miksch, The Passenger; Michigan Opera Theatre
  • So Young Park, The Magic Flute; Michigan Opera Theatre
  • Best Performance - Original Production or One-Act

  • Lauren Bickers, Antenna; Planet Ant Theatre
  • Liza Bielby, The Radicalization Process; The Hinterlands
  • Suzie Jacokes, Santa's Twerkshop; Go Comedy! Improv Theater
  • Matt Naas, Horseplay With Human Amusements; Go Comedy! Improv Theater
  • Mitch Socia, Desperate Renters; Planet Ant Theatre
  • Best Performance - Rising Star

  • Leo Ackerman, Les Miserables; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • Averi Beck, The Diary of Anne Frank; What A Do Theatre
  • Brandon Hart, Huck Finn; Flint Youth Theatre
  • Jack Proulx, Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory; Great Escape Stage Company
  • Maxim Vinogradov, BFs!; Slipstream Theatre Initiative
  • Nina White, 2AZ; The Purple Rose Theatre Company

Best Performance - The Bard

  • Luna Alexander, The Taming of the Shrew; Slipstream Theatre Initiative
  • Alan Ball, A Midsummer Night's Dream; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
  • Scott Lange, The Tempest; Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company
  • David Montee, As You Like It; Interlochen Shakespeare Festival
  • Shawn Pfautsch, Henry IV; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
  • Michael Phillip Thomas, Love's Labour's Lost; Hilberry Theatre

Best Performance - Theater for Young Audiences

  • Sarah Briggs, Rosie the Riveter; Wild Swan Theater
  • Mollie Murk, Junie B. Jones The Musical; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • Mindy Padlo, Wiley and the Hairy Man; Open Book Theatre Company
  • Sandy Ryder, Charlotte's Web; Wild Swan Theater
  • Elizabeth Stone, Fancy Nancy the Musical; Farmers Alley Theatre

Best Performance, Lead Actor - Musical

  • Christopher Behmke, Cabaret; Mason Street Warehouse
  • Jamey Grisham, Mary Poppins; Barn Theatre
  • Jamey Grisham, Rock of Ages; Barn Theatre
  • Christopher Kamm, Rock of Ages; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment
  • Eric Parker, Hands on a Hard Body; Barn Theatre
  • Nick Raynor, Pippin; Tibbits Summer Theatre

Best Performance, Lead Actor - Play

  • Joe Bailey, The Whale; UDM Theatre Company and The Ringwald Theatre
  • Aral Gribble, Invasive Species; Tipping Point Theatre
  • Matt Lockwood, Sex With Strangers; Detroit Public Theatre
  • David Montee, The Odd Couple; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
  • Michael Brian Ogden, Dancing Lessons; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company
  • John Seibert, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Performance Network Theatre
  • Daryl Thompson, Glengarry Glen Ross; Ixion
  • Robert Vogue-Williams, Homeless and How We Got That Way; Detroit Repertory Theatre

Best Performance, Lead Actress - Musical

  • Hannah Eakin, Mary Poppins; Barn Theatre
  • Julie Grisham, The Will Rogers Follies; Barn Theatre
  • Stacey Harris, Cabaret; Mason Street Warehouse
  • Ashley Marie Lewis, Dogfight; Farmers Alley Theatre
  • Maika Van Oosterhout, The Light in the Piazza; Great Escape Stage Company
  • Natalie Storrs, First Date; Mason Street Warehouse
  • Best Performance, Lead Actress - Play

  • Sandra Birch, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Performance Network Theatre
  • Grace Hinkley, The American Plan; Summer Circle Theatre
  • Susan M. Kernish, August: Osage County; What A Do Theatre
  • Katherine Nofs, A Streetcar Named Desire; What A Do Theatre
  • Leah Smith, Homeless and How We Got That Way; Detroit Repertory Theatre
  • Jamie Warrow, A Streetcar Named Desire; The Ringwald Theatre
  • Best Performance, Supporting Actor - Musical

  • Vince Kelley, Heathers: The Musical; The Ringwald Theatre
  • Phillip M. McLellan, First Date; Mason Street Warehouse
  • David Moan, RoboCop! The Musical; Olympia Entertainment & Co Comedy! Improv Theater
  • Simeon Rawls, Smokey Joe's Cafe; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • Edmond Reynolds, Cabaret; Riverbank Theatre
  • Best Performance, Supporting Actor - Play

  • Dax Anderson, Orson's Shadow; Planet Ant Theatre
  • Dave Davies, The Art of Murder; Williamston Theatre
  • Michael Lopetrone, The Electric Baby; Kickshaw Theatre
  • Milan Malisic, The Rivals; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
  • Brandy Joe Plambeck, A Streetcar Named Desire; The Ringwald Theatre
  • Phil Rice, Clybourne Park; Two Muses Theatre
  • Best Performance, Supporting Actress - Musical

  • Penelope Alex, Rock of Ages; Barn Theatre
  • Jessica Grove, Into the Woods; The Encore Musical Theatre
  • Shinnerrie Jackson, Ghost the Musical; Barn Theatre
  • Erica Lustig, Dogfight; Farmers Alley Theatre
  • Paige Martin, Urinetown; The Penny Seats Theatre Company
  • Callee Miles, Les Miserables; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • Sierra White, Smokey Joe's Cafe; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • Best Performance, Supporting Actress - Play

  • Sarah Goeke, The Book of Liz; Summer Circle Theatre
  • Wendy Katz Hiller, The Rivals; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
  • Johanna Kokko, Invierno; The American Shakespeare Collective
  • Allison Megroet, Precious Little; Matrix Theatre Company
  • Rhiannon Ragland, 2AZ; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
  • Best Choreography

  • Jamey Grisham, Hands on a Hard Body; Barn Theatre
  • Jamey Grisham, Mary Poppins; Barn Theatre
  • Kevin Halpin, Pippin; Tibbits Summer Theatre
  • Dougie Robbins, Peter Pan; Tibbits Summer Theatre
  • Kurt Stamm, Cabaret; Mason Street Warehouse

    Best Design - Costumes

  • Risa Alecci, As You Like It; Interlochen Shakespeare Festival
  • Adam M. Dill, A Midsummer Night's Dream; Flint Youth Theatre
  • Sammi Geppert, Love's Labour's Lost; Hilberry Theatre
  • Laura Heikkinen, R.U.R.; Puzzle Piece Theatre
  • Melanie Schuessler, The Rivals; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
  • Marc W. Vital II, Peter Pan; Tibbits Summer Theatre
  • Best Design - Lights

  • Andrew Carson, Mary Poppins; Barn Theatre
  • Marcus Dilliard, The Tender Land; Michigan Opera Theatre
  • Aaron Lichamer, Pippin; Tibbits Summer Theatre
  • Neil Koivu, From Broadway to Obscurity; Detroit Public Theatre
  • Lanford Potts, Dogfight; Farmers Alley Theatre
  • Daniel C. Walker, Katherine; Theatre Nova
  • Best Design - Props

  • Megan Buckley-Ball, The Velocity of Autumn; Matrix Theatre Company
  • Thomas Koehler, August: Osage County; What A Do Theatre
  • Colleen Karg, The Odd Couple; Tibbits Summer Theatre
  • Tonae Mitsuhashi, Love's Labour's Lost; Hilberry Theatre
  • Best Design - Sets

  • Bartley H. Bauer, The Odd Couple; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
  • Gary Ciarkowski, 2AZ; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
  • Christopher S. Dills, As You Like It; Interlochen Shakespeare Festival
  • Joe Flauto, Hay Fever; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • Kristin Gribbin, The Explorers Club; Meadow Brook Theatre
  • Shy Iverson, Mary Poppins; Barn Theatre
  • Tonae Mitsuhashi, A Flea In Her Ear; Hilberry Theatre
  • Shoshanna Utchenik, The Radicalization Process; The Hinterlands
  • Best Design - Sound or Video

  • Mike Eshaq, Antenna; Planet Ant Theatre
  • Kate Hopgood, Henry IV; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
  • Jane Huffman, The Mountaintop; Face Off Theatre
  • Jeffrey Levin, Hay Fever; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • D.B. Schroeder, R.U.R.; Puzzle Piece Theatre
  • Tom Whalen and Noelle Stollmack, 2AZ; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
  • Best Music Direction

  • Jeff Bobick, The Light in the Piazza; Two Muses Theatre
  • Tyler Driskill, Into the Woods; The Encore Musical Theatre
  • John Jay Espino, Smokey Joe's Cafe; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • Best New Script

  • Kim Carney, Katherine; Theatre Nova
  • Jose Cruz Gonzalez, Invierno; The American Shakespeare Collective
  • Kathe Koja, Dracula; Nerve
  • Michael Brian Ogden, 2AZ; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
  • David Wells and R. Mackenzie Lewis, Irrational; Theatre Nova
  • Joseph Zettelmaier, The Decade Dance; Williamston Theatre
  • Matt Shabala, American Idiot; Barn Theatre
  • Cheryl VanDuzen, Peter Pan; Tibbits Summer Theatre
  • Neal Warner, Love's Labour's Lost; Hilberry Theatre

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