Monday, January 2, 2017

The Last Straw Awards 2016 by Joe Straw

This year’s theatrical outings have grown tenfold and are surprising in ways I could not have imagined. They made me laugh, cry, and raised an eyebrow when I saw a moment that just sent me into the stratosphere.

I’m not sure how the changes to the 99-seat rule will affect the current situation of limiting the work by AEA actors. Up until this time the work and production values kept getting progressively better, especially in the 99-seat venue, who are now competing with the big boys that want your dollars.   

What is true is that actors need to work.  The work is the instrument to their being.  They also need to be seen to validate the work.

As long as I write, I will write about the work of the writers, the directors, and the actors and keep it on the level of the work so that others may benefit. I’ll try to tell it in stories, and break some rules while I am at it, with just enough flavor for you to absorb in case you want to produce the play in your own hometown.

The Last Straw Awards 2016 are presented to the Writers, Actors, and Directors whose work I found to be inspiring, unique, and also made the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention.


Evelina Fernandez – La Olla
Bryonn Bain – Lyrics From Lockdown
Aliza Goldstein – A Singular They
Tommy Nohilly – Blood From a Stone
Carla Ching – Two Kids That Blow Sh*t Up
Robert O’Hara – Barbeque
Karen Zacarias – Mariela in the Desert
John Morogiello – The Consul, The Tramp and America’s Sweetheart
Daniel Henning – The Tragedy of JFK (As told by Wm. Shakespeare)


Vieux Carré by Tennessee Williams – Coeurage Theatre Company – Directed by Jeremy Lelliott
Jonathan Kells Phillips
Sammi Smith

Jack & Jill A Romance by Jane Martin – Directed by Jack Heller
Tanna Frederick
Robert Standley

A Singular They by Aliza Goldstein – Blank Theatre Company – Directed by Christopher J. Raymond
Lily Nicksay

Lyrics From Lockdown by Bryonn Bain – Directed by Gina Belafonte
Bryonn Bain

La Olla by Evelina Fernandez – Directed by José Luis Valenzuela
Cástulo Guerra
Esperanza America
Evelina Fernández
Xavi Moreno

Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti – Junction Theatre – Directed by Benjamin Pohlmeir
Nicola Bertram

The Story of Alice Book & Lyrics by Michael Cormier, Music by Scott Hilzik – Directed by Gary Lee Reed
Emily King Brown
Emily Barnett

Blood From A Stone by Tommy Nohilly – LB Production – Directed by Thomas C. Dunn
Joanne Baron
Chad Brannon
Frankie Ingrassia
Jossara Jinaro
Ryan Lahetta
Gareth Williams

La Cage Aux Folles – Book by Harvey Fierstein, lyrics by Jerry Herman – Directed by Tim Dang
Jon Jon Briones  
Gedde Watanabe

The Armadillo Necktie by Gus Krieger – The Group Rep – Directed by Drina Durazo
Bert Emmett

All The Best Killers are Librarians by Bob DeRosa – The Establishment – Directed by Alicia Conway Rock
Lauren Van Kurin
Jennifer C. DeRosa

Ajax in Iraq – by Ellen McLaughlin – Not Man Apart – Directed by John Farmaesh-Bocca
Joanna Rose Bateman

Next to Normal – Music by Tom Kitt, Book & Lyrics by Brian Yorkey – Directed by Thomas James O’Leary
Isa Briones

The Two Kids That blow Sh*t Up – by Carla Ching – Artists at Play – Directed by Jeremy Lelliott
Julia Cho
Nelson Lee

Barbeque by Robert O’Hara – Geffen – Directed by Colman Domingo
Frances Fisher
Yvette Carson

Moral Imperative by Samuel Warren Joseph – Theatre 40 – Directed by Howard Storm
David Hunt Stafford
Brandee Steger

The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare) – Conceived, Adapted & Directed by Daniel Henning
Tony Abatemarco
Chad Brannon
Cris D’Annunzio
Casey McKinnon
Jacob Sidney
Time Winters

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe Revisited by Jane Wagner – Directed by Ken Sawyer
Ann Noble
Rachel Sorsa
Julanne Chidi Hill

Vonnegut USA by Kurt Vonnegut adapted by Scott Rognlien – The Next Arena – Directed by Scott Rognlien
Marjorie LeWit
Eric Normington
Paul Plunkett
JR Reed

Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarias – Directed by Robert Beltran
Rachel Gonzalez

Vanya, Sonia, Masha,  & Spike by Christopher Durang – Directed by Barbara Tarbuck
Michelle Danner
Nate Golon
Christine Dunford

A Christmas Carol in Prose Being A Ghost Story of Christmas by Charles Dickens – Directed by Jen Bloom  
Yael Berkovick
Mike Nedzwecki
Julianna Robinson

The Consul, The Tramp and America’s Sweetheart by John Morogiello – Directed by Jules Aaron
Brian Stanton


José Luis Valenzuela – La Olla
Gina Belafonte – Lyrics from Lockdown
Thomas C. Dunn – Blood From a Stone
Jeremy Lelliott – Two Kids that Blow Sh*t Up
Daniel Henning - The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare) 

The Ortiz Award 2016 is given to the play that provides us with a grand presentation of diversity in a theatrical presentation. This year there are four recipients.

La Olla – The Latino Theatre Company
Two Kids That Blow Sh*t Up – Artists at Play
La Cage Aux Folles – East West Players
Barbeque – Geffen

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