INDECENT, MEMPHIS, and More Win Carbonell Awards
Indecent, a haunting drama about a Jewish theatre troupe and its devotion to a controversial play, and Memphis, an exuberant musical about the racial divide in early days of rock and roll, took their respective places in South Florida theatrical history as Best Play and Best Musical on Monday, April 8, when the winners of the 43rd annual Carbonell Awards were announced. The ceremony was held at Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
It's been seven years since Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach has taken home one of the top honors, and it scored big with two shows. Indecent garnered five Carbonell Awards, the most of any show produced in 2018. In addition to Best Play, Jay Russell won Best Supporting Actor, Play; Paul Black won Best Lighting Design; Brad Pawlak won Best Sound Design; and the show won Best Ensemble. Palm Beach Dramaworks' summer musical, Woody Guthrie's American Song earned two Carbonell Awards: Best Director, Musical, for Bruce Linser; and Best Musical Direction for Sean Powell.
This is the first time Slow Burn Theatre Company has won the Carbonell Award for Best Musical, and it's the first time in eight years that a theatre in Broward County has won in this category. Slow Burn won four awards for two of its musicals: In addition to Best Musical, Memphis won two other awards, Best Choreography for Patrick Fitzwater and Best Actor, Musical, for Brian Golub. The company's other Carbonell Award went to Anna Lise Jensen for Best Actress, Musical, for The Bridges of Madison County.
Zoetic Stage won four Carbonell Awards for three of its shows. Christopher Demos-Brown, who made his Broadway debut last November with his play American Son, won the Best New Work category for his play Wrongful Deaths and Other Circus Acts, which also garnered the Best Director, Play, award for Stuart Meltzer. Zoetic's other two Carbonell Awards went to Caleb Scott, Best Actor, Play, for Dancing Lessons; and Jeni Hacker, Best Supporting Actress, Musical, for Fun Home.
Palm Beach County theaters won half of the 20 categories the Carbonell Awards recognizes. Of the other 10 categories, Miami-Dade theaters won six Carbonell Awards and Broward County theaters won four Carbonell Awards.
In addition to Palm Beach Dramaworks' seven Carbonell Awards, two other Palm Beach County theaters earned honors: Theatre Lab in Boca Raton, the professional resident company of Florida Atlantic University, won its first-ever Carbonell Awards this year. Their two Carbonell Awards went to Dawn C. Shamburger, Best Costume Design for The Revolutionists; and Niki Fridh, Best Supporting Actress, Play, for Tar Beach. This is Fridh's second Carbonell Award---she won Best Actress, Play, last year for Grounded at Thinking Cap Theatre. The Wick Theatre, also in Boca Raton, garnered the Best Supporting Actor, Musical, award for Michael C. Walters in The Pirates of Penzance.
While four of the Carbonell Awards bestowed upon Miami-Dade County theaters went to Zoetic Stage, Miami New Drama, which produces its shows at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach, won its first-ever Carbonell Awards for two of its shows: Betsy Graver won Best Actress, Play, for Queen of Basel; and the twin brother team Christopher and Justin Swader won Best Scenic Design for One Night in Miami.
All four of Broward County's Carbonell Awards went to Slow Burn Theatre Company.
Along with honoring excellence in regional theater for the previous year, a highlight of the annual Carbonell Awards ceremony is recognizing those who have made significant contributions to the arts. Three special Carbonell Awards were given to individuals who have made an impact on the arts in the region
The prestigious 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, was presented to Broward County native Michael McKeever, actor, scenic designer, co-founder of Miami's Zoetic Stage, and a prolific playwright whose 30 produced plays have all premiered in South Florida, with many going on to productions nationally, internationally, and off-Broadway.
The Ruth Foreman Award, named in honor of 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, was awarded to Juggerknot Theatre Company, for Miami Motel Stories, which explores Miami's colorful history with short plays by playwright Juan C. Sanchez, through an innovative, immersive theatrical experience. Tanya Bravo, Juggerknot Theatre Company's founder and artistic director, accepted the award on behalf of her company.
The Charlie Cinnamon Award, created in 2016 to honor 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, was awarded to Jennifer Sierra-Grobbelaar, for her dedication and volunteerism of several South Florida arts organizations, including the Carbonell Awards and the South Florida Theatre League.
In addition to recognizing the stars of today, the Carbonell Awards' mission has always been to award scholarships to the talent of tomorrow in the fields of theater and journalism. The Jack Zink Memorial Carbonell Awards Scholarships awarded a total of $6,000 in scholarships to three high school seniors, one from each county, who were selected after a rigorous, merit-based selection process. The scholarships were awarded to Julia Dale (Broward County) who attends Western High School in Davie and will study musical theater and vocal performance at the Steinhardt School at New York University in New York City; Bailey Hacker (Miami-Dade County) who attends New World School of the Arts and plans to pursue a BFA in theater with a focus on acting and directing; and Maura C. Wilson (Palm Beach County) who attends Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach and plans to pursue a BFA in theater and technical design, specifically scenic and lighting design.
The Carbonell Awards, a not-for-profit organization, is funded by tax-deductible donations and award sponsorships. The generosity of this year's sponsors shows a growing commitment from the community to the Carbonell Awards and their mission to advance theater in South Florida.
This 43rd annual Carbonell Awards was generously sponsored by the Actors' Equity Association, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Bee Free Media, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Broward Cultural Division, Carbonell Family, Rita & Jerome Cohen, Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, CultureForce, Knight Foundation, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Miami-Dade County Auditorium, South Florida Cultural Consortium, South Florida Theatre League, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, Mark Traverso, WLRN Public Media, WTVJ-NBC and WOW MKTG.
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. More than 25 professional theater companies in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties participate in the awards process every year. Each season volunteer panelists and judges choose nominees and recipients from nearly 100 shows produced on our area stages. The Carbonell Awards also celebrate the accomplishments of our artistic leaders by presenting 'Special Awards' and support 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, the signature trophy that is given to Carbonell Award winners.
Carbonell Awards 2018 Winners
Best New Work (play or musical)
Christopher Demos-Brown, Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts, Zoetic Stage
Best Production of a Play
Indecent, Palm Beach Dramaworks
Best Director, Play
Stuart Meltzer, Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts, Zoetic Stage
Best Actor, Play
Caleb Scott, Dancing Lessons, Zoetic Stage
Best Actress, Play
Betsy Graver, Queen of Basel, Miami New Drama
Best Supporting Actor, Play
Best Supporting Actress, Play
Niki Fridh, Tar Beach, Theatre Lab
Best Production of a Musical
Memphis, Slow Burn Theatre Company
Best Director, Musical
Best Actor, Musical
Brian Golub, Memphis, Slow Burn Theatre Company
Best Actress, Musical
Anna Lise Jensen, Bridges of Madison County, Slow Burn Theatre Company
Best Supporting Actor, Musical
Michael L. Walters, Pirates of Penzance, The Wick Theatre
Best Supporting Actress, Musical
Jeni Hacker, Fun Home, Zoetic Stage
Best Musical Direction
Patrick Fitzwater, Memphis, Slow Burn Theatre Company
Best Scenic Design, play or musical
Christopher & Justin Swader, One Night in Miami, Miami New Drama
Best Lighting Design, play or musical
Paul Black, Indecent, Palm Beach Dramaworks
Best Costume Design, play or musical
Dawn C. Shamburger, The Revolutionists, Theatre Lab
Best Sound Design, play or musical
Brad Pawlak, Indecent, Palm Beach Dramaworks
Best Ensemble (play or musical)
Indecent, Palm Beach Dramaworks