SAN DIEGO -- The Old Globe’s 2011 production of Tracy Letts’ drama “August: Osage County” was the leading honoree at the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle’s 10th annual Craig Noel Awards ceremony, held Monday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, in La Jolla before an audience of more than 450.
“August: Osage County” won the evening’s top award for Outstanding Dramatic Production, as well as for Lois Markle’s lead performance, Sam Gold’s direction and the Ensemble award for its 13-member cast.
La Jolla Playhouse was also honored in three top categories. It won top touring show honors for the Des McAnuff-directed, Broadway-bound production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which originated at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival last summer. Kirsten Greenidge’s “Milk Like Sugar” was honored as Outstanding New Play. And the Playhouse-produced audio drama “Susurrus,” presented last fall at the San Diego Botanic Garden, was named Outstanding Special Event.
Cygnet Theatre’s production of “Cabaret” picked up three awards, for director Sean Murray, choreographer David Brannen and leading lady Karson St. John, who starred in the musical as a female Master of Ceremonies.
Tied with “Cabaret” for three awards in the musical category was the Old Globe’s production of Paul Gordon’s “Jane Austen’s Emma,” which won Outstanding Resident Musical, and honors for set designer Tobin Ost and lighting designer Michael Gilliam.
San Diego’s ion theatre was the inaugural recipient of the Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work at a Small Theater for its production of Tony Kushner’s two-part “Angels in America.” The award was launched to honor Don Braunagel, a founding member of the Critics Circle, who passed away in June 2011 at the age of 72. Braunagel covered theater in San Diego for more than 30 years and was a passionate supporter of work at small theaters. The annual cash prize will be reserved for theaters with fewer than 200 seats.
The award was presented by, and is underwritten by, Braunagel’s wife, Yolanda, who told the audience: "He was extremely proud of San Diego theater. He admired your acting, directing, your light, sound, set and costume design. He appreciated good PR work. He respected the courage it takes to put on a play you believe in, not knowing how audiences or critics will respond to your hard work. And he particularly admired small theaters who -- with tiny budgets, difficult venues, sometimes difficult to find venues, sometimes drafty venues with hard seats -- still manage sometimes to put on unforgettable productions, sometimes the best theater in town. And on those nights, Don and I would drive home in awe."
Brian Mackey was named Actor of the Year for a body of work that included ion theatre’s “The Woolgatherer” and “Bash: Latter Day Plays,” San Diego Repertory Theatre’s “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)” and Cygnet Theatre’s “The Glass Menagerie.” Mackey was sick in bed with the flu Monday evening, but spoke to the audience via telephone held to the microphone by Ion Theatre's Claudio Raygoza.
Lucia Vecchio, 13, was named Outstanding Young Artist for her lead performance in the Onstage Playhouse production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Vecchio also received the Sandra Ellis-Troy Memorial Scholarship to assist her further development as a theater artist.
In the musical acting categories, the outstanding female leading performance in a musical was presented to both Linda Libby, who played Mama Rose in ion theatre’s “Gypsy: A Musical Fable,” and Karson St. John in “Cabaret.” The outstanding male leading performance in a musical was presented to B.Slade for his title role in San Diego REPertory Theatre’s production of “The Who’s Tommy.”
Featured performance in a musical nods went to Katie Whalley for her portrayal of Louise, later Gypsy Rose Lee, in ion’s “Gypsy: A Musical Fable.” and to Randall Hickman for his drag portrayal of Edna Turnblad in Moonlight Stage Production’s “Hairspray." Hickman and his "Hairspray" co-star Douglas Davis, who was also nominated in the category as Edna's husband, Wilbur, surprised and delighted the audience with a live performance of their show number "You're Timeless to Me."
In the dramatic acting categories, the outstanding female leading performance in a play award went to two towering performances as a family matriarch: Lois Markle in “August: Osage County,” and Rosina Reynolds in Cygnet Theatre’s “The Glass Menagerie.”
The outstanding male leading performance in a play was presented to Manny Fernandes for his portrayal of a developmentally disabled man in New Village Arts Theatre’s “Of Mice and Men,” and to Robert Foxworth for his portrayal of a burned-out ex-hippie doughnut shop owner in Tracy Letts’ “Superior Donuts,” produced by San Diego REPertory Theatre.
The featured actor in a play awards were presented to David Ellenstein for North Coast Repertory Theatre’s production of “My Name is Asher Lev,” to Catalina Maynard for “Angels in America,” and to Diana Reasonover for Mo’olelo Performing Arts’ production of “Stick Fly.”
Critics Circle President Pam Kragen commented that she was pleased at the diversity of recognition across multiple theatre companies and productions with both large and small budgets.
Recipients of the 2011 Craig Noel Awards
Outstanding Dramatic Production
“August: Osage County,” The Old Globe
Outstanding Direction of a Play
Sam Gold, “August: Osage County,” The Old Globe
“August: Osage County,” The Old Globe
Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play, Male
Manny Fernandes, “Of Mice and Men,” New Village Arts Theatre
Robert Foxworth, “Superior Donuts,” San Diego REPertory Theatre
Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play, Female
Lois Markle, “August: Osage County,” The Old Globe
Rosina Reynolds, “The Glass Menagerie,” Cygnet Theatre
Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play, Female
Catalina Maynard, “Angels in America,” ion theatre
Diana Reasonover, “Stick Fly,” Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company
Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play, Male
David Ellenstein, “My Name is Asher Lev,” North Coast Repertory Theatre
Outstanding Touring Production
“Jesus Christ Superstar,” La Jolla Playhouse
Outstanding New Play
Kirsten Greenidge, “Milk Like Sugar,” La Jolla Playhouse
Actor of the Year
Outstanding Young Artist/Sandra Ellis-Troy Scholarship
Lucia Vecchio, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Onstage Playhouse
Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work at a Small Theater
ion theatre for “Angels in America”
Outstanding Resident Musical
“Jane Austen's Emma,” The Old Globe
Outstanding Direction of a Musical
Sean Murray, “Cabaret,” Cygnet Theatre
Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical, Female
Linda Libby, “Gypsy: A Musical Fable,” ion Theatre
Karson St. John, “Cabaret,” Cygnet Theatre
Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical, Male
B. Slade, “The Who’s Tommy,” San Diego REPertory Theatre
Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical, Male
Randall Hickman, “Hairspray,” Moonlight Stage Productions
Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical, Female
Katie Whalley, “Gypsy: A Musical Fable,” ion Theatre
Outstanding Musical Direction
Steve Gunderson, “The Who’s Tommy,” San Diego REPertory Theatre
David Brannen, “Cabaret,” Cygnet Theatre
Outstanding Music for a Play
Shaun Davey, “The Tempest,” The Old Globe
Outstanding Sound Design
Melanie Chen, “Angels in America,” ion theatre
Deborah Gilmour Smyth, “The Book of the Dun Cow,” Lamb's Players Theatre
Outstanding Costume Design
Jennifer Brawn Gittings, “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)” San Diego REPertory Theatre
Jeanne Reith, “The Servant of Two Masters,” Lamb’s Players Theatre
Outstanding Lighting Design
Michael Gilliam, “Jane Austen's Emma,” The Old Globe
Karen Filijan, “Angels in America,” ion Theatre
Outstanding Set Design
Tobin Ost, “Jane Austen's Emma,” The Old Globe
Outstanding Special Event
“Susurrus,” La Jolla Playhouse
Outstanding Projection Design
Peter Nigrini, “Sleeping Beauty Wakes,” La Jolla Playhouse
About the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle
Founded in 1983 and re-established in 2002, the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle is an independent, nonprofit organization of print and online theater critics dedicated to open and honest dialogue about theatre in San Diego County and to honoring artistic excellence. The members of our organization are professional critics writing for daily newspapers, magazines, alternative weeklies, entertainment trade publications, broadcast media, and Web sites in San Diego County. The Circle’s annual awards for outstanding San Diego theatre are named for the late Craig Noel, founder and longtime artistic director of The Old Globe. The organization’s 2011 ceremony is presented as a gift to the theater community by a small group of donors, including The Shiley Trust, Danah H. Fayman, The Dr. Seuss Foundation, the Harvey & Sheryl White Foundation, Osborn & Dea Hurston, Jay & Julie Sarno, Ralph Johnson and Ted & Trina Kaplan. For information, contact Critics Circle President Pam Kragen at firstname.lastname@example.org.