Bronwen Sharp’s Portraits of American Playwrights are currently on view at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza (65th St and Columbus Ave) in New York.
Playwrights who are featured in the series include Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lucas Hnath, Mac Wellman, Mike Folie, Benjamin Scheuer, Christopher Shinn, John Logan, Sarah Ruhl, Austin Pendleton, Sheila Callaghan, Anne Washburn, Amy Herzog, David Ives, Lisa Kron, Colman Domingo, and Gregory S. Moss.
Bronwen Sharp, an award-winning portrait photographer who has spent the last 10 years photographing theatre in London’s West End, was celebrated at the opening reception for her exhibition, Portraits of American Playwrights, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center on April 11, 2018. Ms. Sharp’s subjects – playwrights Lucas Hnath, Mac Wellman, Mike Folie, Benjamin Scheuer and Christopher Shinn, were in attendance.
Ms. Sharp has a specific interest in and passion for photographing playwrights. Her recent exhibitions include Playwrights in Focus at the Southwark Playhouse, Generate in Toronto Canada’s Theatre Centre, and Meet the Writers, which is currently on display at the Bush Theatre in London. Her portraits have been featured in both the Guardian and The Stage.
Bronwen Sharp’s American Playwrights Series celebrates playwriting and documents American theatre history in the making. “Writers are interesting to photograph, very different from actors,” Sharp writes. “I really enjoy the journey of reading their plays, then meeting and spending time with them. I hope that these new portraits reveal a bit more about the writers and bring playwrights into the spotlight.”
Doug Reside, Curator, Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center and Jacqueline Z. Davis, Executive Director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Photo by Lia Chang
Doug Reside, Bronwen Sharp, Curator, Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center. Photo by Lia Chang
Bronwen Sharp. Photo by Lia Chang
Barry Grove,Executive Producer of the Manhattan Theatre Club and Doug Reside, Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center. Photo by Lia Chang
Sheree Sharp, Bronwen Sharp and Kim Depole. Photo by Lia Chang
Mike Folie. Photo by Lia Chang
Mike Folie and Bronwen Sharp. Photo by Lia Chang
Stephanie Karpell, Mike Folie and Doug Reside, Curator, Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center. Photo by Lia Chang
Benjamin Scheuer. Photo by Lia Chang
Christopher Shinn. Photo by Lia Chang
Lucas Hnath. Photo by Lia Chang
Mona Pirnot and Lucas Hnath. Photo by Lia Chang
Mona Pirnot, Lucas Hnath, Benjamin Scheuer, Jemima Williams. Photo by Lia Chang
Mac Wellman. Photo by Lia Chang
Hazen Cuyler, Bronwen Sharp. Photo by Lia Chang
Vasilis Onwuadu, Maria Paz Alegre, Bronwen Sharp, Steven Meehan and Jobina Tinnemans. Photo by Lia Chang
These portraits were taken in the living rooms, hotels, rehearsal studios, and writing rooms of these playwrights.
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 is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com
Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum’s production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, has been nominated for 5 NAACP Theatre Awards in the categories of Best Director for Phylicia Rashad, Best Lead Female for Lillias White, Best Lead Actor for Jason Dirden and Glynn Turman, and Best Sound – Larger Theatre for Dan Moses Schrier. The play is set in 1927 Chicago at a white-owned studio with the legendary singer – inspired by real-life Mother of the Blues-Gertrude “Ma” Rainey.
The 27th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards are presented by the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch’s Theatre Viewing Committee. To honor such outstanding examples of black excellence in theatre, an extravagant dinner show will be held on Monday, February 26, 2018, 6:00 p.m. at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California.
Pulitzer prize winner Suzan Lori Parks’ “Father Comes Homes from the War Parts 1, 2 and 3,” “Fly,” and “Barbecue” have all received 8 nods in The Equity Theatre (larger theatre) nominations.
Pulitzer prize winner Suzan Lori Parks’ “Father Comes Homes from the War Parts 1, 2 and 3” has been nominated for Best Playwright, Best Lead Male for Sterling K. Brown, Best Supporting Female for Patrena Murray and Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris, and Best Supporting Male for Roger Robinson and Larry Powell, Best Costumes for ESosa and Best Music Director for Steven Bargonetti. Parks has written an intense drama that details the life of a slave as he joins the battlefield during the Civil War – an unexpected twist, he is a confederate soldier.
“Fly” has been nominated Best Choreography for Hope Clarke, Best Director for Ricardo Khan, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Producer for The Pasadena Playhouse and Crossroads Theatre Company, Best Sound for John Gromada, Best Costumes for Toni-Lesli James, Best Lighting for Rui Rita and Jake DeGroot, and Best Playwright for writers Ricardo Khan and Trey Ellis, the latter of which wrote a piece recently nominated for an Emmy. It follows the story of 4 Tuskegee airmen on their quest to integrate the United States Air Force.
Robert O’Hara’s “Barbecue” a humorous analysis of typical American family dynamics with an unexpected twist, has been nominated in the categories of Best Playwright, Best Director for Tony Award nominee Coleman Domingo, Best Costumes for Kara Harmon, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Lighting for Lap Chi Chu, Best Producer for Geffen Playhouse, Best Set Design for Sibyl Wickersheimer, and Best Sound for Lindsay Jones.
[See Full List of Nominations Below]
27th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards Nominations Best Choreography – Larger Theatre Fly – Hope Clarke Merrily We Roll Along – Eamon Foley Memphis – Edgar Godineaux
Best Choreography – 99 Seat Theatre When Jazz Had the Blues – Cassie Crump The Boy From Oz – Janet Roston Ferguson – Peachanda DuBose
Best Costumes – Larger Theatre Barbecue – Kara Harmon Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3 – ESosa Fly – Toni-Leslie James
Best Costumes – 99 Seat Theatre The Prequel to Othello, The Cause, My Soul – Mylette Nora No Place to be Somebody – Naila Aladdin Sanders When Jazz Had the Blues – Michael Mullen
Best Director – Larger Theatre Fly – Ricardo Khan Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Phylicia Rashad Barbecue – Colman Domingo
Best Director – 99 Seat Theatre The Mask We Wear – William Scales No Place to be Somebody – Ben Guillory Bars and Measures – Weyni Mengesha
Best Director of a Musical – Larger Theatre Recorded In Hollywood – Denise Dowse Merrily We Roll Along – Michael Arden Memphis – Edgar Godineaux
Best Director of a Musical – 99 Seat Theatre Much Ado About Nothing – Gloria Gifford The Boy From Oz – Michael A. Shepperd Down on your Knees and Up to the Moon – Gloria Gifford
Best Ensemble Cast – Larger Theatre The Last Tiger in Haiti Barbecue Fly
Best Ensemble Cast – 99 Seat Theatre A Nice Family Gathering It’s Just Sex When Jazz Had the Blues
Best Lead Female – Larger Theatre Memphis – Krystle Simmons The Fantasticks – Ashley Park Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Lillias White
Best Lead Female – 99 Seat Theatre The Mountaintop – Danielle Truitt Broken Fences – Donna Simone Johnson The Mask We Wear – Sade’ Moore
Best Lead Male – Larger Theatre
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Glynn Turman
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Jason Dirden
Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1,2 and 3 – Sterling K. Brown
Best Lead Male – 99 Seat Theatre No Place to be Somebody – Sammie Wayne IV No Place to be Somebody – Leith Burke The Mask We Wear – Wallace Demarria
Best Lighting – Larger Theatre Icebergs – Daniel Ionazzi Fly – Rui Rita and Jake DeGroot Barbecue – Lap Chi Chu
Best Lighting – 99 Seat Theatre My Manana Comes – Jennifer Edwards When Jazz Had the Blues – Leigh Allen No Place to be Somebody – Michael D. Ricks
Best Music Director – Larger Theatre Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3 – Steven Bargonetti Merrily We Roll Along – Matt Gould & Adam Wachter Memphis – Darryl Archibald
Best Music Director – 99 Seat Theatre Ferguson – Dean O’Leary When Jazz Had the Blues – Rahn Coleman Billy Holiday – Front and Center – Casey McCoy
Best One Person Show – 99 Seat Theatre Women on the Verge – Faith Collins Journey This – Cheray O’Neal Billy Holiday – Front and Center – Sybil Harris
Best Playwright – Larger Theatre Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3 – Suzan-Lori Parks Barbecue – Robert O’Hara Fly – Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan
Best Playwright – 99 Seat Theatre Journey This – Cheray O’Neal The Prequel to Othello, The Cause, My Soul – Ted Lange The Mask We Wear – Wallace Demarria
Best Producer – Larger Theatre
Fly – The Pasadena Playhouse and Crossroads Theatre Company
Icebergs – Geffen Playhouse
Barbecue – Geffen Playhouse
Best Producer – 99 Seat Theatre No Place to be Somebody – Ben Guillory & Robey Theatre Company The Mask We Wear – Wallace Demarria and William Scales When Jazz Had the Blues – Leigh Fortier & Tiffany Thomas
Best Set Design – Larger Theatre Icebergs – Anthony T. Fanning The Last Tiger in Haiti – Takeshi Kata Barbecue – Sibyl Wickersheimer
Best Set Design – 99 Seat Theatre The Prequel to Othello, The Cause, My Soul – Peter Hickok No Place to be Somebody – Thomas Meleck When Jazz Had the Blues – Se Hyun Oh
Best Sound – Larger Theatre Fly – John Gromada Barbecue – Lindsay Jones Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Dan Moses Schrier
Best Sound – 99 Seat Theatre When Jazz Had the Blues – Christopher Moscatiello The Boy From Oz – Eric Snodgrass The Prequel to Othello, The Cause, My Soul – Will Mahood
Best Supporting Female – Larger Theatre Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3 – Patrena Murray Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1,2 and 3 – Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris Disgraced – Karen Pittman
Best Supporting Female – 99 Seat Theatre A Lady in Waiting – Malika Blessing Blessing A Lady in Waiting – Pia D. Days No Place to be Somebody – Kacie Rogers
Best Supporting Male – Larger Theatre Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3 – Roger Robinson Icebergs – Keith Powell Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3 – Larry Powell
Best Supporting Male – 99 Seat Theatre The Mask We Wear – Jerrel O’Neal No Place To Be Somebody – Hawthorne James Ferguson – Alfred Rutherford
The NAACP Theatre Viewing Committee considers all candidates who submit their productions from January 2016 through December 15, 2016, for possible nomination. All productions must run for at least six (6) full performances in Southern California (San Diego to Bakersfield included). Previews, invited dress rehearsals, and other similar showings do not count towards eligibility. Eligibility for this year’s edition was limited to theatre productions opening in January 2016 through December 2016. Productions who meet all eligibility requirements before the deadline are considered eligible for a 2017 NAACP Theatre Award.
About the NAACP Theatre Awards
The NAACP Theatre Awards is presented by the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Branch in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles City Council President/District 10 Councilman, Herb Wesson Jr. The event is co-chaired by Councilman Herb Wesson, Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Branch President Ron Hasson, and the Executive and Creative Producer, Tia Boyd. The mission of the Theatre Awards is to entertain, educate, inspire the community and create diversity in the arts and entertainment industry. The prestigious star-studded gala aims to honor the highest achieving persons in the field of dramatic arts. The branch also celebrates a four-day theatre festival, which provides a platform for thespians to express their craft and share their contributions with an audience of their peers, the community and other individuals who celebrate live theatre in Los Angeles.
Signature Theatre presents Venus, written by Residency One playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Obie Award-winner Lear deBessonet.
The cast includes Hannah Cabell (The Father), Tony Award nominee John Ellison Conlee (The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence), Obie Award winner Randy Danson (Love and Information), Adam Green (The Winter’s Tale), Birgit Huppuch (The Moors), Obie Award-winner Zainab Jah (Eclipsed), Kevin Mambo (The Color Purple), Patrena Murray (Signature’s The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead), Reynaldo Piniella (Signature’s The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead), Julian Rozzell (Signature’s The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead), and Tony Torn (Latter Days).
The creative team includes Matt Saunders (Scenic Design), Emilio Sosa (Costume Design), Justin Townsend (Lighting Design), Brandon Wolcott (Sound Design and Original Music), Danny Mefford (Choreographer), Thomas Schall (Fight Director). Evangeline Whitlock is the Production Stage Manager. Casting by Telsey + Company, Karyn Casl, CSA.
Venus is the second show in Parks’ Signature residency, following the critically acclaimed, twice-extended production of The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, this past fall.
Traveling from her home in southern Africa for what she hoped would be a better life, Saartjie Baartman became an unfortunate star on the 19th Century London freak show circuit. This Obie Award-winning play gives vibrant life to the story of Baartman’s journey to London, her rise to fame as the “Hottentot Venus,” and her eventual relationship with a French scientist. Inspired by the true story of Baartman, Venus is a tragic-carnival, an intense and devastating journey honoring the life of Baartman and examining the way we live and love today.
Venus runs April 25 – June 4, 2017 with a Monday, May 15 opening night in The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). All tickets for the initial run of the production are $30 as part of the Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access. To purchase tickets for all Signature Productions, call Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. – Sun., 11am – 6pm) or visit www.SignatureTheatre.org.
Tickets to the initial runs of all Signature Productions at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $30, part of the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that guarantees affordable tickets to every Signature production through 2031. Serving as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country, the Initiative was founded in 2005 and is made possible by lead partner The Pershing Square Foundation. Additional support provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Margot Adams, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Signature celebrates playwrights and gives them an artistic home. By producing multiple plays by each of its resident writers, Signature offers an in-depth look at these writers’ bodies of work. In addition, Signature engages the writer in every aspect of the creative process.
Signature serves its mission through its permanent home at The Pershing Square Signature Center, a three-theatre facility on West 42nd Street designed by Frank GehryArchitects to host Signature’s three distinct playwrights’ residencies and foster a cultural community. At the Center, opened in January 2012, Signature continues its founding Playwrights-in-Residence model as Residency One, a first-of-its-kind, intensive exploration of a single writer’s body of work. Residency Five was launched in 2012 to support multiple playwrights as they build bodies of work by guaranteeing each writer three productions over a five-year period. The Legacy Program, launched during Signature’s 10th Anniversary Season, invites writers from both residencies back for productions of premiere or earlier plays. In 2014 Signature became the first New York City theatre to receive the Regional Theatre Tony Award.
The Pershing Square Signature Center provides a venue for cultural organizations that supports and encourages collaboration among artists throughout the space. In addition to its three intimate theatres, the Center features a Studio Theatre, rehearsal studio, and a public café, bar and bookstore. Through the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, Signature has also made an unprecedented commitment to making its productions affordable by underwriting the cost of initial run tickets, currently priced at $30, through 2031. Serving as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country, the Initiative was founded in 2005 and is made possible by lead partner The Pershing Square Foundation. Additional support provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Margot Adams, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, María Irene Fornés, Athol Fugard, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, David Henry Hwang, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, Naomi Wallace, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, and a season celebrating the historic Negro Ensemble Company. Suzan-Lori Parks is the current Residency One playwright. Signature’s current Residency Five playwrights are Annie Baker, Martha Clarke, Will Eno, Katori Hall, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Kenneth Lonergan and ReGina Taylor. In addition to the Regional Theatre Tony Award, Signature’s productions and its resident writers have been recognized with the Pulitzer Prize, Lucille Lortel Awards, Obie Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions.
The Off-Broadway League today announced nominations in 19 categories for the 32nd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway.
One of my favorite plays, MTC’s New York premiere of Qui Nguyen’sVietgone, helmed by May Adrales and starring Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson, Samantha Quan, Jon Hoche and Jennifer Ikeda, received three nods including Outstanding Play, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for Paco Tolson and Outstanding Projection Design for Jared Mezzochi.
Innovative, fresh and visually appealing, Nguyen’ssingular voice and vision is on displaywith Vietgone, a modern twist on the All-American love story, borrowing elements from the world of up-to-the-minute popular culture to recreate the playwright’s own parents’ meeting, ranging from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. It’s the classic story of boy meets girl – except this boy and girl are refugees from the Vietnam War newly settled in a relocation camp inside Middle America.
The Lortel Awards will be presented on Sunday, May 7, 2017 at NYU Skirball Center beginning at 7:00 PM EST. This year’s event will be hosted by actor and comedian, Taran Killam, and will once again serve as a benefit for The Actors Fund.
Leading the nominations this year with 7 each are the new musical, Hadestown – a folk opera produced by New York Theatre Workshop – and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, currently at the Barrow Street Theatre, which has been converted into a pie shop for the intimate staging.
As previously announced, celebrated costume designer William Ivey Long will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage will be inducted onto the famed Playwrights’ Sidewalk in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Former Managing Director of the Roundabout Theatre Company, Harold Wolpert, will be presented with the Edith Oliver Service to Off-Broadway Award.
A breakfast reception honoring the nominees will take place from 10 AM – 12 PM on Wednesday, April 26, at Playwrights Horizons (416 West 42nd Street, New York).
2017 LUCILLE LORTEL AWARDS NOMINATIONS:
Outstanding Play Indecent
Produced by Vineyard Theatre in association with La Jolla Playhouse and Yale Repertory Theatre
Written by Paula Vogel, Created by Paula Vogel & Rebecca Taichman Oslo
Produced by Lincoln Center Theater
Written by J.T. Rogers Underground Railroad Game
Produced by Ars Nova
Written by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard Vietgone
Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club in association with South Coast Repertory
Written by Qui Nguyen The Wolves
Produced by The Playwrights Realm in association with New York Stage and Film and Vassar’s Powerhouse Theatre Season
Written by Sarah DeLappe
Outstanding Musical The Band’s Visit
Produced by Atlantic Theater Company
Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek, Book by Itamar Moses, Based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin Dear Evan Hansen
Produced by Second Stage Theatre in association with Stacey Mindich Productions
Book by Steven Levenson, Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Hadestown
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
Written by Anaïs Mitchell Ride the Cyclone
Produced by MCC Theater
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond The Total Bent
Produced by The Public Theater
Text by Stew, Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald
Outstanding Revival The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks Othello
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
Written by William Shakespeare
Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Edward Albee, María Irene Fornés, and Adrienne Kennedy Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Produced by Rachel Edwards, Jenny Gersten, Seaview Productions, Nate Koch, Fiona Rudin, Barrow Street Theatre, Jean Doumanian, Rebecca Gold, and Tooting Arts Club
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler, Adaptation by Christopher Bond Sweet Charity
Produced by The New Group in association with Kevin McCollum
Book by Neil Simon, Music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Outstanding Solo Show Chris Gethard: Career Suicide
Produced by Judd Apatow, Mike Berkowitz, Brian Stern, Mike Lavoie, and Carlee Briglia
Written and Performed by Chris Gethard Latin History for Morons
Produced by The Public Theater in a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Written and Performed by John Leguizamo Notes From The Field
Produced by Second Stage Theatre and American Repertory Theater
Created, Written, and Performed by Anna Deavere Smith The Outer Space
Produced by The Public Theater
Book and Lyrics by Ethan Lipton, Music by Ethan Lipton, Vito Dieterle, Eben Levy, and Ian M. Riggs
Performed by Ethan Lipton Sell/Buy/Date
Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club
Written and Performed by Sarah Jones
Will Davis, Men On Boats
Anne Kauffman, A Life
Lila Neugebauer, The Wolves
Bartlett Sher, Oslo
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent
Joshua Bergasse, Sweet Charity
David Dorfman, Indecent
Georgina Lamb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
David Neumann, Hadestown
David Neumann, The Total Bent
Joe Morton. Photo: Monique Carboni
Annette O’Toole and Reed Birney in MAN FROM NEBRASKA (Photo: Joan Marcus)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, Man From Nebraska
Michael Emerson, Wakey, Wakey
Lucas Hedges, YEN
Joe Morton, Turn Me Loose
David Hyde Pierce, A Life
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
Johanna Day, Sweat
Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
Jennifer Kidwell, Underground Railroad Game
Kecia Lewis, Marie and Rosetta
Maryann Plunkett, Women of a Certain Age
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Michael Aronov, Oslo
Charlie Cox, Incognito
Matthew Maher, Othello
Justice Smith, YEN
Paco Tolson, Vietgone
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Jocelyn Bioh, Everybody
Hannah Cabell, The Moors
Randy Graff, The Babylon Line
Ari Graynor, YEN
Nana Mensah, Man From Nebraska
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical
Ato Blankson-Wood, The Total Bent
Shuler Hensley, Sweet Charity
Patrick Page, Hadestown
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Jeremy Secomb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Sweet Charity
Amber Gray, Hadestown
Jo Lampert, Joan of Arc: Into the Fire
Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit
Siobhan McCarthy, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Nathan Lee Graham, The View UpStairs
Gus Halper, Ride the Cyclone
Joel Perez, Sweet Charity
Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit
Chris Sullivan, Hadestown
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Asmeret Ghebremichael, Sweet Charity
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Betsy Morgan, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Emily Rohm, Ride the Cyclone
Karen Ziemba, Kid Victory
Outstanding Scenic Design
Scott Davis, Ride the Cyclone
Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
Laura Jellinek, A Life
Mimi Lien, Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Jason Sherwood, The View UpStairs
Outstanding Costume Design
Montana Blanco, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead
Tilly Grimes, Underground Railroad Game
Susan Hilferty, Love, Love, Love
Sarah Laux, The Band’s Visit
Emily Rebholz, Indecent
Outstanding Lighting Design
Mark Barton, Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Jane Cox, Othello
Greg Hofmann, Ride the Cyclone
Amy Mae, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ben Stanton, YEN
Outstanding Sound Design
Mikhail Fiksel, A Life
Robert Kaplowitz, Hadestown
Stowe Nelson, Small Mouth Sounds
Nevin Steinberg, Wakey, Wakey
Matt Stine, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Outstanding Projection Design
Elaine McCarthy, Notes From The Field
Duncan McLean, Privacy
Jared Mezzochi, Vietgone
Peter Nigrini, Dear Evan Hansen
Peter Nigrini, Wakey, Wakey
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
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 is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) at the New Vic is presenting a bold jazz interpretation of the Tony-Award winning musical The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, composed by George Gershwin, with a libretto by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, and adapted for the Broadway stage by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Father Comes Home from the Wars), February 9-26, 2017 at The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria Street, Santa Barbara CA, 93101.
Directed by ETC’s Artistic Director Jonathan Fox, the production features beloved songs, including “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” The score is reorchestrated by two-time Grammy-nominated music director Kevin Toney, and performed by an on-stage jazz ensemble.
ETC’s production is set in the 1960s in a poor neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina, and follows the tragic story of the love between a crippled beggar, Porgy, and a beautiful yet broken former cocaine addict and prostitute, Bess. Over a drunken game of craps, Bess’s abusive boyfriend, Crown, murders a rival gambler. Fleeing Catfish Row, Crown leaves Bess at the mercy of a seductive drug dealer and pimp named Sportin’ Life. As the residents of Catfish row ignore Bess’s cries for help, she finds herself in the care of the lowly Porgy, starting an unlikely romance set against the tumultuous civil rights era.
“I’ve been dreaming of directing Porgy and Bess for almost 30 years,” said Mr. Fox. “I’ve always loved the music, which is American songwriting at its greatest, but it always seemed so daunting to pull off. With the underwriting of our very generous sponsors, we were able to finally bring a production to fruition. With civil rights at the forefront of the national conversation, this seems to be an especially good time to revisit the musical.”
Mr. Toney tackles the daunting task of arranging the Gershwins’ beloved score for a jazz quintet. His impressive career includes numerous successful original compositions and solo recordings, as well as performances with legendary artists such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, and Isaac Hayes. His awards and achievements include two Grammy nominations, three RIAA Gold Record awards, a NAACP Image Award, and a National Endowment For the Arts Fellowship Grant.
Porgy and Bess features NAACP Award-nominee Karole Foreman in the role of Bess, who returns to the ETC stage following her critically acclaimed performances in Sweeney Todd and Intimate Apparel. NAACP Award-winning and Ovation Award-nominated Elijah Rock makes his ETC debut as Porgy, with an impressive career that includes a recurring guest starring role on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex,” and the upcoming release of “Gershwin for my Soul,” a contemporary adaptation of Gershwin hits produced by Mr. Toney.
The production’s tremendous supporting cast includes Dawnn Lewis, playing the role of Serena. Ms. Lewis starred in NBC’s “A Different World,” for which she also wrote the show’s theme song. Her other work includes roles in the current TNT series “Major Crimes,” as well as in the films I’m Gonna Get you Sucka and Dreamgirls. She was also the original star of Sister Act The Musical. Joining the cast are K.B. Solomon, Basso Profundo with Washington National Opera, New York City Opera, and Seattle Opera, as Crown, and Frank Lawson as Sportin’ Life, who has starred in the world tour of Rent, and has been featured in productions of Hair, Memphis, and The Who’s Tommy.
The cast includes returning actors Peggy Blow as Mariah, Philip Brandon as Mingo, and Brian Harwell as the Detective. Rounding out the cast are Davon Williams as Jake, Ashley Lynette Brown as his young wife Clara, Aaron Braxton as Robbins, LeSean Lewis as Fisherman, Constance Jewell Lopez as Strawberry Woman, and Sean O’Shea as Policeman.
The design team includes Choreographer Jeffrey Polk, Scenic Designer Frederica Nascimento, Costume Designer Karen Perry, Lighting Designer John A. Garofalo, and Fight Director Kenneth Merckx.
The career of songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin is the stuff of stage and music legend. Their catalogue includes the Broadway hits Crazy for You, An American in Paris, Strike up the Band, Lady Be Good!, and perhaps their most famous collaborative work, Porgy and Bess. Their remarkable songwriting catalogue includes mainstays of American musical repertoire such as “I Got Rhythm,” “Summertime,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “They Can’t Take that Away from Me.” Tragically, the Gershwin Brothers’ partnership was cut short by George’s sudden death from a brain tumor at the age of 38. Despite their impressive resume of musical hits, the Gershwins’ greatest achievement may have been to vastly increase the popularity of and respect for musical comedy as an art form in America.
ETC’s 2016-17 Season has been generously sponsored by The Stephen and Carla Hahn Foundation. This production of Porgy and Bess is sponsored by Sara Miller McCune and Lee Luria, with support from Elaine and Mike Gray, Elaine and Herbert Kendall, Debby and Peter Stalker, and Dana White. Additional support is provided by Eve Bernstein and The Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival.
Founded in 1979, Ensemble Theatre Company is Santa Barbara’s leading professional, resident theatre company. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jonathan Fox and Managing Director Jill Seltzer, ETC has attracted accomplished performing artists from around the country. Following The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, the 2016-17 Season will continue with Baby Doll, adapted by Emily Mann and Pierre Laville from the film by Tennessee Williams (4/13/17 – 4/30/17) and Syncopation by Allan Knee (6/8/17 – 6/25/17).
Performances of Porgy and Bess run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 pm, with a Saturday 4:00 pm matinee performance on February 18, and a Tuesday 7:00 pm show on February 13. Youth tickets are available for patrons aged 29-and-under for only $20.00 each. Single tickets are available through the ETC box office at (805) 965-5400, or online at etcsb.org. For group sales information, please call (805) 965-5400.