THE DARK STAR FROM HARLEM and REPARATIONS Take Top Honors at 2020 AUDELCO AWARDS; Complete List of Winners

LaChanze and Roger Guenveur Smith
LaChanze and Roger Guenveur Smith

The 48th Annual AUDELCO Awards were celebrated via virtual broadcast on November 30. The online ceremony was co-hosted by LaChanze, Tony Award winner for The Color Purple , Tony nominee for Once on This Island and Summer, and 2019 AUDELCO Viv Award for Lead Actress in a Musical recipient for The Secret Life of Bees, and Roger Guenveur Smith, AUDELCO award winning actor, best known for his The Huey P. Newton Story and as Smiley in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. Watch the entire Awards ceremony below.

The AUDELCO (Audience Development Committee, Inc.) is an organization that acknowledges and honors Black Theatre and its artists in New York City. It was established and incorporated in 1973 by Vivian Robinson (1926-1996), to stimulate interest in and support of performing arts in black communities. The annual Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition, “The VIV”Awards are the only formally established awards presented to the black theatre community.  

A scene from the James Sheldon play, “Reparations.” (l to ri) Actors Gys de Villiers plays Alistair Jacobs; Lisa Arrindell plays Millie Jacobs; Alexandra Neil plays Ginny Pleasance; and Kamal Bolden plays Reg Abrose Photo: Dex R. Jones

The Billie Holiday Theatre’s production of James Sheldon’s Reparations led the awards tally with six wins including Best Play, Lead Actor in a Play for Kamal Bolden, Featured Actress in a Play for Lisa Arrindell, Director of a Play for Michele Shay, Set Design for Isabel Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay, and Sound Design for David D. Wright. 

Iris Beaumier in The Dark Star From Harlem: The Spectacular Rise Of Josephine Baker. Photo by Carlos Cardona
Iris Beaumier in The Dark Star From Harlem: The Spectacular Rise Of Josephine Baker. Photo by Carlos Cardona

LaMaMa’s world premiere of Glynn Borders and Mario E. Sprouse’s The Dark Star From Harlem: The Spectacular Rise Of Josephine Baker won five awards including Best Musical, Lead Actress in a Musical for Iris Beaumier, Featured Actor in a Musical for James A. Pierce III, Director of a Musical for Tai Thompson, and Outstanding Musical Director for Mario E. Sprouse.

Cast of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. Photo by Joan Marcus

The Public Theater’s revival of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf won in three categories including Best Revival of a Play, Costume Design for Toni-Leslie James and Outstanding Musical Composer for Martha Redbone. 

Liza Colon-Zayas and Rosalind Brown tied for Lead Actress in a Play for their respective work in Halfway Bitches Go Straight To Heaven and Leaving The Blues, with Brown’s castmate Benjamin Mapp winning for  Featured Actor in a Play.

Cooper Sutton, Benjamin Mapp, and Rosalind Brown in Leaving the Blues. Photo by Mikiodo.

Joshua Henry won for Lead Actor in a Musical for The Wrong Man and Teagle F. Bougere, tied for Lead Actor in a Play for The New Englanders with Reparations’ Kamal Bolden.

Joshua Henry (center) and the cast of MCC Theater’s ‘The Wrong Man.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
Joshua Henry (center) and the cast of MCC Theater’s ‘The Wrong Man.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

The casts of Black Spectrum Theatre Company’s Sassy Mamas- Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin, Marlon Carter, Jo Ann Cleghorne, Fulton Hodges, Niambi Steele and Travis Whitaker; and The New Group’s one in two –Jamyl Dobson, Leland Fowler and Edward Malwere tied for Outstanding Ensemble.

Jamyl Dobson, Leland Fowler, Edward Malwere in one in two. Photo by Monique Carboni
Jamyl Dobson, Leland Fowler, Edward Malwere in one in two. Photo by Monique Carboni
Additional winners included Playwright Donja R. Love (one in two), Choreographer Leslie Dockery (A Photograph / Lovers In Motion), Solo Performer Douglas Wade (Thurgood),  and Lighting Designer Alan C. Edwards (The New Englanders).
Kara Young, Teagle F. Bougere and Patrick Breen in The New Englanders. Photo by Joan Marcus


This year’s special AUDELCO Awards include Lifetime Achievement Awards for André De Shields and Voza Rivers; Pioneer Awards for Vivian Reed and Oz Scott; Outstanding Achievement Awards for Blair Underwood and Tina Fabrique; Legacy Awards for Robert Hooks and Vinie Burrows; and a Special Achievement Award to Kara Young.

D-Black presented the Special Achievement Award to Kara Young.

Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winning Hadestown star André De Shields received the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Sonia Sanchez read a poem and honored Lifetime Achievement Award winner Voza Rivers.

Petronia Paley presented the Legacy Award to Vinie Burrows.

Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Ty Jones presented Blair Underwood with the Outstanding Achievement Award.

Alyson Williams presented the Outstanding Achievement Award to Tina Fabrique and performed her new hit song, “Summer Nights in Harlem”.

La Chanze presented the  Outstanding Pioneer Award to Vivian Reed. 

Trezana Beverley paid tribute to Outstanding Pioneer Award winner Oz Scott. 

Woodie King, Jr. presented the Legacy Award to Robert Hooks.

Theatre, Sports, Entertainment and More
Rome Kyn Neal, director of The Black Theatre Project Documentary, produced the 2020 Final Curtain Call, a memoriam in honor of those individuals we have lost from the worlds of theatre, sports, entertainment, politics and more.  

His father, Rome Neal, sings “Here’s to Life” by Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary, accompanied by Andre Chez Lewis on Piano and Lonnie Plaxico on Bass for the video.

Neal shared, ” We added a late edition after the show that we would like to share. Our friend Miguel Algarin, co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, died. Miguel was a friend of the Black Theatre and he brought a safe space for spoken word, theatre, rap, performance art and more for multiple communities. His loud laugh and words of encouragement for young artists will be missed.”

Nov. 30: André De Shields, Voza Rivers, Vivian Reed, Oz Scott, Blair Underwood, Tina Fabrique, Robert Hooks, Vinie Burrows and Kara Young to Receive Special AUDELCO Awards 

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness andWhen the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The CactusThe Language LessonThe Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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