Carbonell Awards Announces Special Award Recipients And Scholarship Winners

Carbonell Awards Announces Special Award Recipients And Scholarship WinnersAs the South Florida theater community prepares for the 42nd annual Carbonell Awards, the recipients of the prestigious George Abbott Award, Charlie Cinnamon Award, Howard Kleinberg Award and Ruth Foreman Award, have been announced. These special award-winners will be recognized on stage during the evening's ceremony as their contributions are celebrated.

This year's three talented scholarship winners have also been announced. In addition to recognizing special achievement in the arts and excellence in regional theater, the Carbonell Awards has, since its inception, awarded scholarships to high school seniors pursuing degrees in the performing arts and journalism.

In 1978 the first $500 scholarship was awarded, and more than $100,000 in scholarships have been awarded since. Each year, three distinguished candidates, are selected through a competitive, merit-based process with one student selected from each county in South Florida's tri-county region.

This year, Cypress Bay High School senior Rachel Schonberger, who will pursue her passion for writing and the arts at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, will receive a $3,000 scholarship.

Brooke Rosenbluth, who attends New World School of the Arts in Miami, will receive a $2,000 scholarship to pursue an education in theater.

Adam Benjamin, a senior at Boynton Beach High School, will receive a $1,000 scholarship to pursue his studies in theater and math at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Each year, the Carbonell Awards sponsors the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, awarded to an individual (or team) who has contributed significantly to the artistic and cultural development of the region. The award may be given for accomplishments within the year, or for a lifetime.

This year's recipient of the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts is Gail Garrisan, the founding artistic director of City Theatre's Summer Shorts festival, and a director and teacher whose work has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of theater professionals, students and audience members since she began her South Florida career in the early 1990s. Garrisan has taught future artists at Miami's New World School of the Arts, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Blue Dog School for Acting, Florida Atlantic University, Broward College, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training, the Caldwell Theatre Company and many other places. Her workshops on many facets of acting have been presented all over the region, and she has long worked as a private coach. For more than 20 years, Garrisan has directed productions at major theaters in the tri-county area. Though for many theater lovers Garrisan's work has taken place behind the scenes, her impact on the art form here has been major.

"I was totally surprised when Christine Dolen called and told me. Quite frankly, I was overwhelmed by the news. I think I said, 'What?!' and then I had to sit down," said Garrisan, describing her reaction to being informed of her George Abbott Award honor. "This is all very unexpected. I love this theater community and the artists in it. I'm always excited by the work I see on stage and the creativity of every person involved in the production, so this award is a tremendous honor and I am very grateful."

Created in 2017, the Charlie Cinnamon Award honors an individual who not only contributes significantly to the support of the arts in South Florida, but also for dedicated service to the Carbonell Awards organization. It was named for legendary press agent Charlie Cinnamon, who passed away in 2016.

Tony Finstrom is the recipient of this year's Charlie Cinnamon Award. Finstrom has served the Carbonell Awards for nearly two decades. His support of theater is boundless, from his aggregation and distribution of theater news, both local and national, to his enormous email list, to his financial support of many theaters. Finstrom is a playwright whose full-length and short plays have been produced in South Florida. Finstrom's dedication to playwrights and new work is evidenced in his work with the Jan McArt Play Reading Series at Lynn University, which showcases new works by many esteemed playwrights, who have then seen those plays go on to full productions. Finstrom is also the founder of the Silver Palm Awards, which last year celebrated its 10th anniversary of honoring excellence in South Florida theater, with an award that has no set categories or competition, an award which has risen to a place of importance in South Florida.

"My life is so much richer because of my involvement with the Carbonell Awards and our wonderful South Florida theater community," said Finstrom. "And for my minor contributions to this amazing regional theater scene, I couldn't be more honored and pleased to receive a special award named for the great Miami publicist, Charlie Cinnamon, who I knew and loved."

Established in 2000, the Howard Kleinberg Award is named for the long-time Editor of The Miami News, historian, and author of numerous articles and books on the social and cultural history of Miami and South Florida. It is awarded as special recognition for contributions to the health and development of the arts in South Florida.

Deborah Margol is the recipient of this year's Howard Kleinberg Award. Margol served

the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the cultural community with extraordinary distinction for more than 32 years. She retired in February as Deputy Director of that department. According to Michael Spring, director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Margol was directly responsible for the department's growth and success over these last three decades, and distinguished herself through her passion for the arts and insightful, creative and strategic contributions to both the department and the arts community.

"I am touched beyond belief for this extraordinary honor and hope to forever embody the spirit and contributions of Howard Kleinberg to the South Florida community," said Margol.

Also established in 2000, the Ruth Foreman Award is named after pioneer theater director and producer Ruth Foreman, to recognize contributions to South Florida theater development by an individual or group, for singular achievement and/or career contributions.

This year, Nicole Stodard is the recipient of the Ruth Foreman Award in recognition of her program GAP Play Reading Series at Thinking Cap Theatre. Stodard, who founded Thinking Cap Theatre, has an academic and social interest in gender and feminism, especially as it pertains to theater and the arts in general. Looking over the decades of Pulitzer Prize winners, Stodard realized that only 12 of the winning plays had been written by women. She began the GAP Play Reading Series, a year-long program of play readings, one each month, of the 12 plays written by women, beginning with Zona Gale's Miss Lulu Bett from 1920. Through the play readings and the talkbacks after, Stodard, her actors, directors and audience explored the subject of gender bias, as well as the gap of progress of women in general in society.

"The TCT [Thinking Cap Theatre] team is grateful to have the GAP Play Reading Series recognized; this recognition, like the series itself, helps to raise awareness about women's historic and ongoing struggle to overcome gender bias in the theater industry," said Stodard. "Without greater awareness of the issue and consistent action to effect change, women writers, directors and designers will remain marginalized."

Tickets are still available for the 42nd annual Carbonell Awards ceremony, which takes place Monday, April 2, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the Amaturo Theater, at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets can be purchased by calling 954-462-0222, in person at Broward Center's AutoNation box office or by visiting

About the Carbonell Awards

The Carbonell Awards fosters the artistic growth of professional theater in South Florida by celebrating the diversity of our theater artists, providing educational scholarships, and building audience appreciation and civic pride by highlighting achievements of our theater community. Over 25 professional theater companies in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties participate in the awards process every year. Each season volunteer panelists and judges choose nominees and recipients from hundreds of shows produced on our area stages. In addition, The Carbonell Awards celebrate the accomplishments of our artistic leaders by presenting 'Special Awards' and show our dedication to the next generation of artists and journalists by awarding scholarships. Along with New York's Drama Desk and Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Awards, the Carbonell Awards are among the nation's senior regional arts awards and predate others, including Washington, D.C.'s Helen Hayes Awards. The Carbonell Awards are named after Manuel Carbonell, an internationally-renowned sculptor, who designed the original solid bronze and marble award in 1976, which return again this year as the signature trophy for award winners.

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