2015 Philadelphia Barrymore Awards Winners Announced - Ben Dibble, Liz Filios, THE WHALE and More!

This evening, in a celebration attended by almost 750 theatre artists, staff, critics, and friends, Theatre Philadelphia distributed 26 awards at the 2015 Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre - now in its second successful season since relaunching in fall 2013. The Awards Ceremony was held at the Merriam Theater, followed by an After-Party at Dorrance Hamilton Hall at the University of the Arts. A full list of award recipients is below.

During the ceremony, Theatre Philadelphia also announced the creation of a brand new Barrymore Award entitled the Victory Award for Outstanding Theatre Education Program. Sponsored by the Victory Foundation, the annual award will carry a $7,500 prize for the recipient theatre company. Information about the new award's adjudication process will be announced in 2016.

This year's Barrymore Award recipients highlighted the great work being produced throughout the Greater Philadelphia region as well as reinforcing the theatre community's ongoing commitment to nurturing new work, artistic risk-taking, and new and emerging artists.

Theatre Exile led the pack this year with five total Barrymore Awards, including Outstanding Overall Production of a Play for its highly-acclaimed production of The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter, a darkly comic story about a 600-pound man's last chance for acceptance and redemption as he struggles to connect in the 21st century. The Whale received four awards in all - the most for any play this year - including Outstanding Direction of a Play for Matt Pfeiffer, Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play for Scott Greer, and the Clear Sound Award for Outstanding Sound Design for Christopher Colucci. Taking home her first Barrymore Award for individual performance after six acting nominations, Catharine Slusar received the Charlotte Cushman Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play for her performance as Martha in Theatre Exile's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Slusar received the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist in 2001.

Norristown's Theatre Horizon received four awards - the most for any musical this year - for its inventive take on Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's classic Into the Woods, including Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical,Outstanding Direction of a Musical for Matthew Decker, Outstanding Music Direction for Amanda Morton, andOutstanding Ensemble in a Musical for its cast of 10: Kala Moses Baxter, Alex Bechtel, Rachel Camp, Charlie DelMarcelle, Michael Doherty, Liz Filios, Kristine Fraelich, Leigha Kato, Ben Michael, and Steve Pacek.

Taking home his second Barrymore Award for individual performance in two years, Ben Dibble was awarded Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for his multi-role performance in Flashpoint Theatre Company's Herringbone. Last year's award recipient in the same category, Liz Filios received the Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical award for her performance as the sickly and obsessive Fosca in Arden Theatre Company's production of Passion.

The award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play went to Dan Hodge for his performance as lewd rogue Roughman in the Philadelphia Artists' Collective's production of The Fair Maid of the West. Newcomer Campbell O'Hare received theOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Play for her comedic role as college student Avery in Rapture, Blister, Burn at The Wilma Theater. The awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress in a Musical were presented to Michael Philip O'Brien and Leah Walton, respectively, for their roles in 11th Hour Theatre Company's world premiere musical Field Hockey Hot, which the company commissioned from local playwright and composer Michael Ogborn.

In the design categories, People's Light's production of Bach at Leipzig yielded trophies for Outstanding Costume Designfor Marla Jurglanis and Outstanding Choreography/Movement for Samantha Reading. Kristen Robinson received theOutstanding Set Design award for Rapture, Blister, Burn at The Wilma Theater. Russell H. Champa took home the trophy for Outstanding Lighting Design for brownsville song (b-side for tray) at Philadelphia Theatre Company. Philadelphia-based jazz/funk/hip hop band ILL DOOTS was honored with the Outstanding Original Music award for their work on Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments at Flashpoint Theatre Company.

Outstanding Ensemble in a Play went to the cast of Little Rock at Trenton's Passage Theatre Company for their work in the story of the nine black students who fought for integration at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Cast members includedAdiagha Faizah, Shabazz Green, Annie Grier, Bliss Griffin, Gia McGlone, Damian Norfleet, Brad Ogden, Jon L. Peacock, and Brandon Rubin.

Playwright Christopher Chen was awarded the Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play for Caught, a labyrinthine exploration of truth, art, social justice, and cultural appropriation that received its world premiere at InterAct Theatre Company.

Actor and three-time Barrymore Award nominee Akeem Davis was honored with the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist. Named after the philanthropist, civic leader, and chairman of Rohm & Haas and created byCarole Haas Gravagno in memory of her late husband, this special Barrymore Award is presented annually to a theatre artist who shows outstanding promise in the field and is dedicated to working in the Philadelphia theatre community. The award includes a $15,000 cash prize for the recipient and. The only award of its kind in the nation, it is intended to support an artist's living expenses so they can focus on their craft, as well as to encourage the artist to remain in the Greater Philadelphia community. The 2015 finalists

are actor/composer/musician Alex Bechtel, actor and Team Sunshine Performance Corporation co-founder Benjamin Camp, costume designer and teaching artist Katherine Fritz, and actor and teaching artist Bi Jean Ngo.

InterAct Theatre Company's production of The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane took home the Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award, which seeks to honor the spirit of Philadelphia by acknowledging a production from any period or genre that demonstrates the ability of theatre to illuminate the ways we live and interact with others as we seek to build community. In Jen Silverman's world premiere drama, which was commissioned by InterAct Theatre Company, a young South African soccer phenomenon forgoes her carefree life in London and returns to her homeland in search of her activist lover, who has gone missing. Returning to South Africa during the World Cup, her search brings her face to face with the demons of her past and her country's blind eye towards violence against women. This special Barrymore Award carries a $25,000 cash prize sponsored by the Virginia Brown Martin Fund. This year's finalists, each of whom receive a $2,500 cash prize, are The Gun Show at Passage Theatre Company, In the Blood at Theatre Horizon, Speech & Debate at Azuka Theatre, and The Whale at Theatre Exile.

Now in its third year, the June and Steve Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company seeks to recognize, promote, and reward creativity, growth, and excellence of evolving theatres within the Greater Philadelphia community. The award is intended to help foster interaction within the theatre community, increase the community's richness and diversity, and to focus public awareness and accessibility to what it describes as the most vibrant professional theatre community in the nation. Sponsored by the June and Steve Wolfson Family Foundation, this year's $10,000 prize was awarded to the Philadelphia Artists' Collective (PAC), a young company dedicated to the rediscovery of rarely-performed classical plays. The PAC has staged 10 full productions since 2010, including The Fair Maid of the West which was honored this year with three Barrymore nominations and an award in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play category. To be considered for the award, theatres must have maximum annual budget of $400,000.

The 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to longtime Philadelphia actor, director, and retired/tenured University of the Arts associate theatre professor Johnnie Hobbs, Jr. A three-time Barrymore Award nominee, Hobbs has performed in numerous productions at Freedom Theatre throughout his 40-year association with the company, as well as in film and on stages across the region. He most recently appeared in Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments at Flashpoint Theatre Company and The Shoplifters at 1812 Productions.

A total of 34 professional theatre companies participated in the adjudication process during the 2014/15 season: 11th Hour Theatre Company, 1812 Productions, Act II Playhouse, Arden Theatre Company, Azuka Theatre, BrainSpunk Theater,Bristol Riverside Theatre, Commonwealth Classic Theatre Company, Curio Theatre Company, Delaware Theatre Company, The Eagle Theatre, EgoPo Classic Theater, Flashpoint Theatre Company, Hedgerow Theatre, The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, Inis Nua Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, Isis Productions, Lantern Theater Company, Luna Theater Company, Mauckingbird Theatre Company, Montgomery Theater, Passage Theatre Company,People's Light, Philadelphia Artists' Collective, Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre,Plays & Players Theatre, Quintessence Theatre Group, Simpatico Theatre Project, Storybook Musical Theatre, Theatre Exile, Theatre Horizon, and The Wilma Theater.

During the 2014/15 season, which ran September 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015, an all-volunteer team of dedicated theatre artists, critics, and scholars saw 105 professional productions featuring the work of more than 550 artists throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. A team of eight Barrymore Nominators are randomly-assigned to attend each eligible production. Within 24 hours of attending the performance, each Nominator submits an online ballot in which they cast a YES or NO vote in each of the 22 artistic award categories. If a production receives at least five YES votes in any single award category, that production is designated as Barrymore Recommended and moves on to the Judges for further Barrymore consideration.

Barrymore Judges meet periodically throughout the theatre season to discuss the productions they have seen. At the end of the season, Judges are provided with a master list of all category submissions for all Barrymore Recommended productions. Judges submit their top choices in each award category to Theatre Philadelphia's Administrative Director, who aggregates the results for discussion at the final Judges meeting. At this final meeting, the Judges proceed to collaboratively narrow their choices down to a maximum of seven nominees in each play/design category and four nominees in each musical category. The award nominees appear on a final online ballot from which the Judges privately cast their votes in each award category. These final votes are tabulated using a weighted scoring system of 7 points for each first choice vote, 6 points for each second choice vote, 5 points for each third choice vote, and so on. The finalist receiving the highest average (mean) score in each category is deemed the award recipient. Each season, the Barrymore Awards system, ballots, and nominees/recipients are analyzed and certified by an independent auditing firm.

The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre

2015 Award Recipients by Award Category

Outstanding Overall Production of a Play

The Whale (Theatre Exile)

Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical

Into the Woods (Theatre Horizon)

Outstanding Direction of a Play

Matt Pfeiffer for The Whale (Theatre Exile)

Outstanding Direction of a Musical

Matthew Decker for Into the Woods (Theatre Horizon)

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play

Scott Greer in The Whale (Theatre Exile)

Charlotte Cushman Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play

Catharine Slusar in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Theatre Exile)

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical

Ben Dibble in Herringbone (Flashpoint Theatre Company)

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical

Liz Filios in Passion (Arden Theatre Company)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play

Dan Hodge in The Fair Maid of the West (Philadelphia Artists' Collective)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

Campbell O'Hare in Rapture, Blister, Burn (The Wilma Theater)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

Michael Philip O'Brien in Field Hockey Hot (11th Hour Theatre Company)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

Leah Walton in Field Hockey Hot (11th Hour Theatre Company)

Outstanding Set Design

Kristen Robinson for Rapture, Blister, Burn (The Wilma Theater)

Outstanding Costume Design

Marla Jurglanis for Bach at Leipzig (People's Light)

Outstanding Lighting Design

Russell H. Champa for brownsville song (b-side for tray) (Philadelphia Theatre Company)

Clear Sound Award for Outstanding Sound Design

Christopher Colucci for The Whale (Theatre Exile)

Outstanding Original Music

ILL DOOTS for Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments (Flashpoint Theatre Company)

Outstanding Choreography/Movement

Samantha Reading for Bach at Leipzig (People's Light)

Outstanding Music Direction

Amanda Morton for Into the Woods (Theatre Horizon)

Outstanding Ensemble in a Play

Little Rock (Passage Theatre Company)

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

Into the Woods (Theatre Horizon)

Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play

Caught by Christopher Chen (InterAct Theatre Company)

F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist

Akeem Davis

Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award

The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane (InterAct Theatre Company)

June and Steve Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company

Philadelphia Artists' Collective

Lifetime Achievement Award

Johnnie Hobbs, Jr.

The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre

2015 Award Recipients by Theatre Company / Production

Theatre Exile (5)

The Whale (4)

Outstanding Overall Production of a Play

Outstanding Direction of a Play

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play

Outstanding Sound Design

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1)

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play

Theatre Horizon (4)

Into the Woods (4)

Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical

Outstanding Direction of a Musical

Outstanding Music Direction

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

11th Hour Theatre Company (2)

Field Hockey Hot (2)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

Flashpoint Theatre Company (2)

Herringbone (1)

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical
Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments (1)

Outstanding Original Music

InterAct Theatre Company (2)

Caught by Christopher Chen (1)

Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play

The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane (1)

Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award

People's Light (2)

Bach at Leipzig (2)

Outstanding Costume Design

Outstanding Choreography/Movement

Philadelphia Artists' Collective (2)

The Fair Maid of the West (1)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play

June and Steve Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company (1)

The Wilma Theater (2)

Rapture, Blister, Burn (2)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

Outstanding Set Design

Arden Theatre Company (1)

Passion (1)

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical

Passage Theatre Company (1)

Little Rock (1)

Outstanding Ensemble in a Play

Philadelphia Theatre Company (1)

brownsville song (b-side for tray) (1)

Outstanding Lighting Design

About the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre

Originally established in 1994 and successfully relaunched in 2013, the Barrymore Awards serve as Philadelphia's professional theatre awards program, recognizing artists for excellence and innovation while increasing public awareness of the richness and diversity of our city's thriving theatre community. A nationally recognized symbol of excellence for professional theatre in our region, the Barrymore Awards raise the bar for the work produced by local theatres and individual artists while providing cash awards that strengthen companies and individual artists' abilities to pursue artistic work of the highest caliber. Theatre Philadelphia also seeks to leverage the Barrymore Awards to provide high-value marketing exposure for all participating theatres and artists.

About Theatre Philadelphia

Founded in 2012 by a local group of artistic and managing theatre leaders, Theatre Philadelphia is a leadership organization that celebrates and promotes professional theatre in the Greater Philadelphia region, primarily via the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre and related theatre marketing efforts. Theatre Philadelphia also seeks to identify and build upon opportunities that will strengthen the Philadelphia theatre community as a whole while engaging foundations, corporations, and individual donors who are invested in the health and vitality of theatre in our city.

More information about the Barrymore Awards and Theatre Philadelphia is available online at www.theatrephiladelphia.org.



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