Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Straw Awards 2012

By Joe Straw

At the 2012 Ovation Awards in Los Angeles I ran into Bruce French, an old friend and wonderful actor, and told him that I had seen close to 60 productions this year.  (Now over 60 productions.) He asked about the quality of the productions and I mentioned the work in Los Angeles is exceptional and getting better.

And it is.

The thoughts of remembering shows like “Our Town” at The Broad, “In the Heights” at Casa 0101, and “Faith” at the Latino Theatre Company still sends shudders of delight down my spine.

This year the work was astonishing and while this list may seem voluminous it is only a small percentage of the actors, directors, and writers’ work I have observed this year.  And of course it is a small percentage of the shows produced throughout the Los Angeles region. 

My objective of the blog is to grasp the craft, make notes about what works and what could have been improved.  Theatre is a process, a craft, and a way of finding ways to make the words work.  It is about character, creativity, and objectives realized. It is this process that really fascinates me. 

So, turn off your televisions and find a show to go to and know these shows are not interrupted every five minutes by commercials.  

It’s been a very good year.  This year there is a new award.  It is called the “Ortiz”.  This award represents a grand achievement for diversity in a theatrical production.  It is something I worked for as the SAG Hollywood President of the EEOC and continues today through this blog.

The actors, writers and directors, have sacrificed a lot, for the sake of a working in this industry.  There is no competition involved here. This is just a list of actors, writers, and directors that have excelled at their craft. They are listed below and deserve your attention.

Our Town By Thornton Wilder at The Broad Theatre
David Cromer - Director
Helen Hunt – Stage Manager

New Jerusalem by David Ives at The Pico Playhouse
Mark Bramhall - Abraham van Valkenburgh

The Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh at The Ruskin Group Theatre Company
Mike Reilly – Director
Jason Paul Field - Coleman
Jonathon Bray - Valene
Conor Walshe – Father Welsh

American Night The Ballad of Juan Jose by Richard Montoya at The Kirk Douglas Theatre
Daisuke Tsuji – Various Roles

Orange Flower Water by Craig Wright at The Moth Theatre
John Markland - Director
Amanda Brooks - Cathy
Rochelle Greenwood - Cathy

California Dreamin’ by Jill Charlotte Thomas at The Met Theatre
Jill Charlotte Thomas – Writer  
Tyson Robert Turrou – Charles Manson
Rachel Kerbs – Petra
Ivy Kahn - Abigail Fodger

The Bewildered Herd by Cody Henderson at The Greenway Theatre
Cody Henderson – Writer
John Getz – Bingo
Lisa Richards - Helen

The Boomerang Effect by Matthew Leavitt at The Odyssey
Kat Bailess – Julie

The Closeness of the Horizon by Richard Martin at The Odyssey
David Starzyk – Stein

Ghosts by Herik Ibsen at The Edgemar Center of The Performing Arts
James Giordano – Jacob Engstrand
Paul Stroili – Pastor Manders

Bitchslap! by Darrin Hagen
C. Stephen Foster – Bette Davis
Michael Taylor Gray – Joan Crawford
Therese McLaughlin – Hedda Hopper

Re-Animator The Musical – Music & Lyrics by Mark Nutter book by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon & William J. Norris at The Hayworth Theatre
Graham Skipper – Herbert West
Jessie Merlin – Dr. Hill
George Wendt – Dean Halsey

A Child Left Behind by Alan Aymie at The Beverly Hills Playhouse
Alan Aymie – Himself

Mutually Assured Destruction by Peter Lefcourt at The Odyssey Theatre
Michael Caldwell – Various Roles

Birds of A Feather by Christina Hart at The Complex Theatre
Robert Burgos - Director
Christina Hart – Writer
Eddie Kehler – Joey

Trio Los Machos by Josefina Lopez at Casa 0101
Rocio Mendoza – Aurelia

Café Vida by Lisa Loomer at The Latino Theatre Company
Lisa Loomer – Writer
Page Leong – Various Roles

Elmina’s Kitchen by Kwame Kwei-Armah at The Lost Theatre
Gregg T. Daniel - Director
Kwame Kwei-Armah – Writer
Noel Arthur – Digger
Leon Morenzie - Bagee

The Circle by Somerset Maugham at Theatre 40
David Hunt Stafford - Lord Porteus
Rhonda Lord - Lady Kitty

Annie Junior – Book by Thomas Meehan, Music by Charles Strouse and Lyrics by Martin Charnin at The Grace Lutheran Church in Culver City
Grace Basom as Molly

Love Struck – by Odalys Nanin and co-written by Marie Barrientos
Odalys Nanin - Laura
Tricia Cruz - Rachel

The Paris Letter by Jon Robin Baitz at The Lonny Chapman Theatre
Alex Parker – Burt Sarris (Young)
Julia Silverman – Lillian Sonnenberg

Flipzoids by Ralph B. Peña at The Latino Theatre Company
Ralph B. Peña – Writer
Maxwel S. Corpuz - Redford
Beca Godinez - Aying

Vincent by Leonard Nimoy at The VS Theatre
John-Michel Richaud – Theo

The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris at The Blank Theatre
Michael Matthews - Director
Paolo Andino – Crumpet

Their Eyes Saw Rain by West Liang at The Company of Angels Theatre
Justin Huen - director
West Liang – Writer
West Liang – Terrance

Hamlet by William Shakespeare at The Broad Stage
Christopher Saul - Polonium
Dickson Tyrrell - Claudius

Empanada for a Dream by Juan Francisco Villa
Juan Francisco Villa - Himself

Cymbeline by William Shakespeare at The Broad Stage
Ben Steinfeld - Iachimo
Andy Grotelueschen – Cloten

In The Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda at Casa 0101 Theatre
Rigo Tejeda – Director
Michael Torrenueva - Usnavi
Vivian Lamolli - Daniela

Anna Lucasta by Philip Yordan - A Robey Theatre Company Production in association with The Latino Theatre Company
Ashlee Olivia – Anna Lucasta
Carl Crudup - Noah
Cydney Wayne Davis – Theresa Davis
Tanya Lane – Katie Lucasta


(small venue)

Americano by John Markland at The Moth Theatre
John Markland - Stephen
Amanda Brooks - Kate
Wendy Haines – Dr. Leif
Patrick Scott Lewis - Nate
Pamela Guest - Barrista

(Mid-size venue)

Faith by Evelina Fernandez at The Latino Theatre Company
José Luis Valenzuela – director
Evelina Fernández – Writer
Esperanza America– Faith
Alexis de la Rocha – Charity
Olivia Delgado – Elena and Young Esperanza
Evelina Fernández – Lupe
Sal Lopez – Silvestre
Xavi Moreno – Charlie
Matias Ponce – Freddie
Geoffrey Rivas – Ricardo Flores
Lucy Rodriguez – Esperanza

(Large Venue)

Our Town by Thornton Wilder directed by David Cromer at The Broad Stage

And last, but not least.

The Ortiz award goes to In The Heights – Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda – Book by Aulara Alegría Hudes and directed by Rigo Tejeda presented by Teatro Nuevos Horizontes at Casa 0101 Theatre.

Thank you!

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