BWW Interview: Detroit Celebrates with the BWW Award Winners!
The 2016 BroadwayWorld Detroit Award winners were announced January 6th after weeks of theatre fans nominating then voting for their favorites in the Detroit community! It was the biggest year yet for awards with theatre fans first submitting their nominations in each category then having to make the tough decision on who to place that final vote for. Thanks to all who voted!
This year the Detroit Awards had 17 categories with shows, performers, and productions members nominated from over 25 different Detroit area theatres.
Stagecrafters of Royal Oak swept up the most awards with 8 wins including Best Play for How I Learned to Drive, which gained Josh Allor the award for Best Actor in a Play. Their production of Disney's The Little Mermaid earned them Best Lighting Design (Lucy Meyo), Best Sound Design (Ryan Lawson), and Best Production for Young Audiences. Dreamgirls won Best Musical. "The cast was incredible and we all had a goal of making this show as inspiring as possible," said Julie Smith Malloy, the winner for Best Music Direction for their production of Dreamgirls, "It is amazing that so many people supported our show. I am so thankful for everyone that voted."
St. Dunstan's Theatre Guild of Cranbrook had the second most wins with 4 awards. Midsummer's Night Dream won awards for Best Director of Play (Dan Dobrovich) and Best Shakespearean Production. Molly Dorset won for Best Actress in a Play for Lend Me a Tenor, which led to the theatre receiving a special personal congratulations over Twitter from the playwright Ken Ludwig to the cast and crew of the show and to Molly for winning! "I never expected to win and it feels amazing! I actually found out about the win because I received the notification that Ken Ludwig tweeted me a kind note of congratulations," said Dorset. "I felt so proud of our show and the work we put into it. That kind of recognition from the author is incredible." She loved playing the role of Maggie because of the brilliant script and the entire cast and production team was one of the best she has worked with. "Thank you to everyone who voted. Community theatre depends on our patrons who come out to support us and see our shows," she said. "I hope the recognition helps encourage people to see more shows at St. Dunstan's or any local community theatre."
Obie Burch won for St. Dunstan's as well with Best Set Design for Man of La Mancha. "This was my 43rd scenic design show for the theatre and it was a favorite because I was doing the show with and for friends," he said. Winning was quite a surprise for Burch as he was unaware of the awards prior to the nominations. "The recognition renews my commitment to helping to bring full theatrical experiences to the audiences that enjoy our productions," he said. "I thank everyone that saw Man of La Mancha and voted. Detroit is full of talented artists that should be recognized for their work. I hope audiences look for and support all the exciting theatre we have to offer. A special thank you to the craftsmen that help me bring my ideas to the stage. Thank you to BroadwayWorld for the support and awareness of theatre nationwide."
Best Actor in a Musical, Justin John Moniz, echoes the previous winners sentiments. "My heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who participated in this year's nominations and voting," he said. "I am so honored to have been selected as this year's winner amongst such an illustrious list of nominees. I would like to take a moment to thank Anne Berquist and the team at Opera Grand Rapids for the opportunity to lead such a fine production."
Moniz won for his role in The Student Prince at Opera Grand Rapids that he said "was an absolutely wonderful opportunity to sing such an iconic role as Karl Franz in a production of Romberg's classic that was beautifully executed by director Scott Skiba, with great emphasis placed on the music and libretto - just as the piece was originally intended to be produced on Broadway in 1931."
Jordan Gagnon won for Best Actress in a Musical for Heathers: The Musical at The Ringwald and she loved every moment in the role. "The entire time I couldn't believe that it was happening. I kept thinking that if you told me that I'd be playing my dream role with a professional company a year ago, I would have smacked you," she said. "I was so unbelievably blown away by the Ringwald and by the home that I found there. Everything was surreal."
Gagnon is humbled and happy to be part of the Detroit theatre community. "I cannot thank the BroadwayWorld fans enough for their votes. This is something that I will be able to carry with me for the rest of my life and it's because of the people who support me that I continue to do what I do," she said. "Theatre's is my life's passion and I'm so thankful every day that I live this life. Love your art. Spread your art."
"I'm super excited that Jordan Gagnon for Best Actress in a Musical. She is incredible and to have a real life 17-year-old in the role of Veronica was truly awesome," said Brandy Joe Plambeck. "Keep an eye on this girl...she is going to be HUGE!" Plambeck won Best Director of a Musical for Heathers: The Musical at The Ringwald, therefore he knows what he is talking about when he speaks about Gagnon. He also knew that The Ringwald had to be the theatre to tackle Heathers: The Musical. "From the moment I saw Heathers: The Musical in New York on its first preview, I knew. I also knew I had to direct it! It was a huge challenge, but one of the most rewarding outcomes of any production I have directed. I couldn't be happier with it," he said. "Thank you so much to everyone who cast a vote for me or The Ringwald! It means so very much for your support!!"
Larissa Marten won the Best Shakespearan Performance Award for her performance of Rosalind in As You Like It for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. "Playing Rosalind was incredibly challenging because she is a walking paradox. She has an immense vulnerability, yet she is tenacious. She is proud, yet shy. She is rebellious, yet structured. But because of this challenge, she was also one of the most exciting characters to play because these paradoxes made her human," said Marten. "Beyond the role itself, it was an absolute delight to play Rosalind while being supported by a company of talented, intelligent artists. The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is a repertory theatre that prides itself on artistic excellence, and I was very lucky to play Rosalind in such an encouraging environment."
She feels very lucky to have won an award for a role that she felt so passionately about, but she feels winning this award is an affirmation of how tight-knit the Michigan theatre community is. "If this play had been performed in a larger city, I'm not sure the play, nor my role, would have gotten the recognition it did in Detroit," she said. "And that's something to say about the magic of the Michigan theatre community. Thank you, deeply to everyone who took the time to come see the show, but special thanks to those who took the extra time to vote."
Congratulations to all the nominees! We know that no matter if you are on stage or behind the scenes, everyone part of the theatre world here in Michigan is what helps it thrive and stay alive. And especially a huge congratulations goes out to all the winners as you are recognized for standing out in the Detroit theatre community!
Click here for the full list of 2016 BroadwayWorld Detroit winners if you missed it!