3rd Annual Berkshire Theatre Awards
27 Critics Voted for Prized Berkies
By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 13, 2018
Three years ago the Berkshire theatre community, which extends into Vermont, New York and Connecticut crammed into Mr. Finn’s Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company for the first iteration of the now annual Berkshire Theatre Awards.
Then in the terminal phase of illness, critic Larry Murray founder and inspiration for the awards, was on hand to present a trophy named for him. That award, in recognition for community service, last night, went to Shakespeare & Company.
There are 27 critics who vote on the awards with nominations spread over many theatre companies in the region.
The event has grown since its inception. This time there was a much larger turnout for the more spacious venue of Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield.
Yet again the evening, which typically of awards shows dragged on for two hours, was hosted by board members and critics Peter Bergman and Macey Levin. All six board members took turns reading names of nominees and presenting trophies.
Bergman, ever witty and flamboyant, is known for wearing colorful scarves. For the first time Levin also sported one. As a fundraiser Ed Sederbaum at intervals during the evening auctioned them. The average bid was $25 but Bergman, in the charitable spirit of the occasion, purchased one for $40.
A mandate of the awards is to honor the depth, range and quality of theatre in the region. The intent is to add more eligible companies. For some categories there were twenty or more nominations reduced to four finalists.
In a now familiar pattern, however, the four equity companies in Williamstown, Pittsfield, Lenox and Stockbridge were the primary winners.
Mostly for West Side Story, which won for Best Musical, Barrington Stage Company won nine awards. Williamstown Theatre Company took home five awards including Best New Play, Seared, by Theresa Rebeck.
There was intense competition particularly in the acting categories. The winners are listed below.
An innovation of this year’s event was to intersperse performance vignettes. This attempt was met with a mixed response.
There were several performances from regional theatre groups, some of whom were nominated for awards. The Acting Class with Patrick White recreated scenes from their production of Men in Boats, nominated for Outstanding Ensemble Production. Director Christine Decker and actors Erika Floriani and Jana Lillie presented a scene from Chocolate by Frederick Stroppel, Brian Petti performed a monologue from the Bridge Street Theatre’s production of Mickie Maher’s There is a Happiness that Morning Is directed by John Sowle. And Joel Ripka and Paul Pontrelli, did a scene from the Chester Theatre Company’s production The Aliens by Annie Baker, directed by Daniel Elihu Kramer, which won the Outstanding Ensemble Production award for the cast, which also included James Barry.
Part of that strategy may have been to increase the presence of performers. For most of the awards they were accepted by artistic directors of the companies. The winners, we were informed, were primarily working in other regions and unable to attend.
There were many trips to the podium by Julianne Boyd, of Barrington Stage, Mandy Greenberg of Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Allyn Burrows of Shakespeare & Company.
Accordingly, it was particularly thrilling when individuals made acceptance speeches.
Notable was a strong presence of new works, musicals and plays, on the agenda. That underscores the significance of regional theatre developing works that transfer to Broadway and Off Broadway. During the evening there was mention of a number of works that premiered in the Berkshires now reaching New York and national audiences.
Particularly significant is the aspect of risk taking for companies to focus on social justice theatre. There were a number of examples of complex and roiling plays particularly the programming of the smaller Nikos Stage of Williamstown Theatre Festival and Mark St. Germain Stage of Barrington Stage Company.
Having seen the work of most of the nominees I concur that all of the awards were richly deserved. They represented highlights of what had been a superb 2018 season. It creates a great sense of expectation for what will be presented in 2019.
Until then sleep perchance to dream.
2018 Berkshire Theatre Awards (winners appear in Boldface)
- Outstanding Supporting Actress Musical
Skyler Volpe as Anita - West Side Story - Barrington Stage
Hayley Podschun as Gwen Cavendish - Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
Latoya Edwards as Dionne - Hair -Berkshire Theatre Group
Monica M. Wemett as Miss Hannigan - Annie -Mac-Haydn Theatre
- Outstanding Supporting Actor Musical
Chip Zien as Oscar Wolfe - Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
Sean Ewing as Bernardo - West Side Story - Barrington Stage
A.J. Shively as Perry - The Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
Steven Rattazzi as Marinetti - Lempicka - Williamstown Theatre Festival
- Outstanding Supporting Actress Play
Ella Loudon as LaBelle/Phoebe Dennis - As You Like It - Shakespeare and Co.
Victoria Frings as Viv - Well Intentioned White People - Barrington Stage
Nemuna Ceesay as Macy - The Cake - Barrington Stage
Mary Stout as Anne Marie - A Doll’s House, Part II - Barrington Stage
- Outstanding Supporting Actor Play
Brooks Ashmanskas as Ronnie Wilde - The Closet - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Phillip James Brannon as Marcel - Dangerous House - Williamstown Theatre Festival
John Hadden as Arnold - HIR - Shakespeare and Co.
Daniel K. Isaac as Atung - The Chinese Lady - Barrington Stage
- Outstanding Lead Actor Musical
Will Branner as Tony - West Side Story - Barrington Stage
Will Swenson as Tony Cavendish - Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
David Garrison as Irving Berlin - Coming Back Like a Song - Berkshire Theatre Group
George Dvorsky as “Daddy” Warbucks - Annie – Mac-Haydn Theatre
- Outstanding Lead Actress Musical
Addie Morales as Maria - West Side Story - Barrington Stage
Harriet Harris as Fanny Cavendish - Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
Laura Michelle Kelly as Julie Cavendish -Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
Andrea Prestinario as Alison Bechdel - Fun Home - Weston Playhouse
- Outstanding Lead Actress Play
Annette Miller as Katherine - Mothers and Sons - Shakespeare and Co.
Debra Jo Rupp as Della - The Cake - Barrington Stage
Alfie Fuller as Noxolo - Dangerous House - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Laila Robins as Nora - A Doll’s House, Part II - Barrington Stage
- Outstanding Lead Actor Play
Jonathan Epstein as Gustav - Creditors - Shakespeare and Co
Christopher Innvarr as Torvald - A Doll’s House, Part II - Barrington Stage
David Adkins as Allen Squier - The Petrified Forest - Berkshire Theatre Group
Hoon Lee as Harry - Seared - Williamstown Theatre Festival
- Outstanding Ensemble Production
HIR - Shakespeare and Co.
Three Sisters - Living Room Theatre
Men on Boats - Acting Class with Patrick White at Sand Lake Center for the Arts
The Aliens - Chester Theatre
- Outstanding Solo Play
Mona Golabek in The Children of Willisden Lane - Hartford Stage
Danielle Skraastad in HOMEBODY - Ancram Opera House
Sharon Washington in Feeding the Dragon - Hartford Stage
- Outstanding Director Musical
Julianne Boyd - West Side Story - Barrington Stage
John Rando - Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
John Saunders - Cabaret – Mac-Haydn Theatre
Rachel Chavkin - Lempicka - Williamstown Theatre Festival
- Outstanding Director Play
Nicole Ricciardi - Creditors - Shakespeare and Co.
Saheem Ali - Dangerous House - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Jennifer Chambers -The Cake - Barrington Stage
James Warwick - Mothers and Sons - Shakespeare and Co.
- Outstanding Scenic Design
Alexander Dodge - Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
Wilson Chen - The Petrified Forest - Berkshire Theatre Group
Dane Laffrey - Dangerous House - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Kristen Robinson -West Side Story - Barrington Stage
- Outstanding Costume Design
Alejo Vietti - The Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
Hunter Kaszarowski - The Petrified Forest - Berkshire Theatre Group
Montana Levi Blanco - Lempicka - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Angela Carstensen - Cabaret – Mac-Haydn Theatre
- Outstanding Lighting Design
Bradley King - Lempicka - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Andrew Gmoser - Damn Yankees – Mac-Haydn Theatre
Lap Chi Chu - Dangerous House - Williamstown Theatre Festival
David Lander - West Side Story - Barrington Stage
- Outstanding Sound Design - TIE
Daniel Kluger - The Sound Inside - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Fabian Obispo - The Chinese Lady - Barrington Stage
Rider Q. Stanton - Ring of Fire - Capital Repertory Theatre
Palmer Hefferan - Dangerous House - Williamstown Theatre Festival
- Outstanding Choreography
Robert La Fosse - West Side Story - Barrington Stage
Joshua Bergasse - Royal Family of Broadway - Barrington Stage
Sebastiani Romagnolo - Cabaret – Mac-Haydn Theatre
Lisa Shriver - Hair - Berkshire Theatre Group
- Outstanding NEW Play
The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp, directed by David Cromer - Williamstown Theatre Festival
The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh, directed by Ralph B. Pena - Barrington Stage
The Closet by Douglas Carter-Beane, directed by Mark Brokaw - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Dangerous House by Jen Silverman, directed by Saheem Ali - Williamstown Theatre Festival
- Outstanding NEW Musical
Lempicka - Book and Lyrics by Carson Kreitzer; Music by Matt Gould, directed by Rachel Chavkin - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Royal Family of Broadway - Book by Rachel Sheinkin; Music and Lyrics by William Finn, directed by Joshua Bergasse - Barrington Stage
Coming Back Like a Song - by Lee Kalcheim. Songs by Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Jimmy Van Heusen and their collaborators. Directed by Gregg Edelman - Berkshire Theatre Group
- Outstanding Musical Production
West Side Story - directed by Julianne Boyd - Barrington Stage
Hair - directed by Daisy Walker - Berkshire Theatre Group
Ring of Fire - directed by Maggie Mancinelli -Cahill - Capital Repertory Theatre
Anything Goes - directed by Alan M-L Wager - Sharon Playhouse
- Outstanding Play Production
Creditors by August Strindberg, adapted by David Greig. Directed by Nicole Ricciardi -Shakespeare and Co.
Mothers and Sons by Terence McNally. Directed by James Warwick - Shakespeare and Co.
Dangerous House by Jen Silverman, directed by Saheem Ali - Williamstown Theatre Festival
Seared by Theresa Rebeck. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Williamstown Theatre Festival
The 2018 Larry Murray Award for Community Outreach and Support through Theater
Awarded to Shakespeare & Company for their Shakespeare in the Courts and Fall Festival of Shakespeare programs.