Uptown Players dominates DFW Theater Critics Forum awards

Posted on 14 Sep 2015 at 8:00am

Sterling Gafford and B.J. Cleveland in ‘The Nance,’ this year’s most honored show.

Uptown Players’ production of The Nance proved the prohibitive favorite at this year’s annual polling/luncheon/ slugfest of the Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum, which presented the show with four awards, while Uptown took nine total. Indeed, each of the mainstage productions won multiple honors.

The Nance, Douglas Carter Beane’s poignant comedy about a self-deluded gay burlesque performer, won a best director nod for Bruce R. Coleman, acting for star B.J. Cleveland and for the ensemble, and outstanding original music composition for Adam C. Wright. Uptown’s Catch Me If You Can won three awards, for director Cheryl Denson and actors Antony Fortino and David Lugo. And the just-closed Hedwig and the Angry Inch took a performance citation for star Kyle Igneczi and for director Jeremy Dumont.

Several other gay artists and gay-themed shows fared well, too. Blake Hackler won a nod for his direction of The Flick, which also took an ensemble nod. Local gay Dallas playwright Jonathan Norton was cited for outstanding new play or musical for Mississippi Goddamn, which also won for direction for vickie washington. And Danielle Georigiou won for best new play and best choreography for her queer-themed The Show About Men. Another choreography winner was out dancer Joshua L. Peugh for Colossal at the Dallas Theater Center. Paul Taylor was singled out for his performances in both Hot Mikado at Theatre 3 and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play at Stage West.

Michael Urie, the out North Texas native who opened his one-man show Buyer & Cellar last September, starred in one of the favorite touring shows. The others were the Mandy Patinkin/Taylor Mac mime The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville (Eisemann Center for Performing Arts), Pippin (Dallas Summer Musicals), Once (AT&T Performing Arts Center/Bass Hall) and Endurance. Local actor Van Quattro won the final award for best new play for his solo show Standing Eight Count.

Jay Dias, the gay music director for Lyric Stage, received a special citation for his scholarship and restoration of the scores for two forgotten musicals: Lady in the Dark and The Golden Apple.

The entire list — which for the first time lumps actors and actresses into one category called “performance,” is below.

Outstanding Direction: Akin Babatunde, Don’t Bother Me… I Can’t Cope and The Color Purple (both Jubilee Theatre); Bruce R. Coleman, The Nance (Uptown Players); Cheryl Denson, Catch Me If You Can (Uptown); Jeremy Dumont, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Uptown); Black Hackler, The Flick (Undermain Theater); Katherine Owens, The Testament of Mary and Tomorrow Come Today (both Undermain); Matthew Posey, The Egg Salesman (Ochre House); Vickie Washington, Mississippi Goddam (South Dallas Cultural Center).

Outstanding New Play or MusicalMississippi Goddamn by Jonathan Norton; The Show About Men by Danielle Georgiou (DGDG); Standing Eight Court by Van Quattro (Rite of Passage Theatre Company, presented at WaterTower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Festival and the Dallas Solo Fest).

Outstanding Performance: (Men) B.J. Cleveland, The Nance; David Coffee, King Lear (Trinity Shakespeare Festival); Hassan El-Amin, A Solider’s Play and Radio Golf (both African American Repertory Theater); Antony Fortino and David Lugo, Catch Me If You Can; Kyle Igneczi, Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Paul Taylor, Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play (Stage West) and Hot Mikado (Theatre 3); Pat Watson, Streamers (L.I.P. Service Productions).  (Women) Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso, Lydia (Cara Mia Theatre Co.); Shannon Kearns, The Testament of Mary; Jenny Ledel, for her season; Janelle Lutz, South Pacific and Lady in the Dark (both Lyric Stage); Ebony Marshall Oliver, In Real Time and The Color Purple (both Jubilee Theatre); Allison Pistorius, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence (Stage West); Sally Vahle, Medea (Dallas Theater Center);  Lulu Ward, The Two-Character Play; Sherry Jo Ward, Precious Little (Echo Theatre).

The award-winning ensemble of Jubilee’s ‘The Brothers Size.’

Outstanding Ensemble: The Brothers Size (Jubilee Theatre); The Egg Salesman; The Flick; Hands on a Hard Body (Theatre 3); Mr. Burns; Mississippi Goddam; The Nance.

Outstanding Creative Contribution: Robin Armstrong, fight choreography, Lovers and Executioners (Circle Theatre); Clare Floyd Devries, set design, The Explorers’ Club (Stage West and WaterTower Theatre); Danielle Georgiou, choreography, NICE and The Show About Men; Bob Lavallee, set design, The Rocky Horror Show (Dallas Theater Center); Joshua L. Peugh, movement, Colossal; Adam C. Wright, original music composition, The Nance.

Outstanding Touring ProductionBuyer & Cellar (AT&T Performing Arts Center); Endurance (Split Knuckle Theatre); The Last Two People on Earth; Once (AT&T Performing Arts Center and Performing Arts Fort Worth); Pippin (Dallas Summer Musicals and Performing Arts Fort Worth).

Special Citations: Lyric Stage and musical director Jay Dias, for their contributions to the musical restorations of The Golden Apple and Lady in the Dark, and for the first cast recording of the complete score of Apple; The producers of Shakespeare in a Bar for attracting new and large audiences to non-traditional spaces and reminding us that Shakespeare can be unexpected and fun; Audacity Theatre Lab and Brad McEntire for bringing quality local and national performances with the creation of the Dallas Solo Fest.

Critics partaking include me from the Voice, plus these folks from the following outlets: Dallas Observer (Elaine Liner, Lauren Smart), TheaterJones.com (Mark Lowry, Jan Farrington, Martha Heimberg, David Novinski), Dallas Morning News (Nancy Churnin), Culture Map (Lindsey Wilson), Fort Worth Star Telegram (Punch Shaw, Mark Lowry) CriticalRant.com (Alexandra Bonifield) and Dallas Weekly (Martha Heimberg).

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