Star Power

Big Easy Entertainment Awards nominations in theatre and music feature names big and small, familiar and new.


Musician, arranger, composer and educator Harold Battiste will add the Lifetime Achievement in Music honor to his collection of awards.
Rarely has the strength of both New Orleans' theatre and music communities' more traditional and up-and-coming artists been so balanced -- if the nominees for the 17th annual Big Easy Entertainment Awards is any indication.

Newer artists and offerings sat comfortably next to longstanding traditions in the nominees for this year's awards ceremony, which will be held Monday, April 19, at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside (Poydras Street at the Mississippi River). Comedian, actor, Simpsons' voice-cast member, Le Show radio host and part-time New Orleanian Harry Shearer returns once again to host the awards, along with Honorary Music Chairpersons the Pfister Sisters and Honorary Theatre Chairperson Carol Sutton.

In the music categories, newer faces such as World Leader Pretend (Best Rock Artist), the Tin Men (Best Roots Rock Artist, Best Album) and Ballzack (Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist) made their presence felt. But then there was the legendary Deacon John, whose year was not only filled with the Best Album-nominated Deacon John's Jump Blues but also nominations for Best R&B Artist and Best Male Performer (along with a profile on ABC).

Carol Sutton, stage and screen actress, will serve as this year's Honorary Theatre Chairperson.

In the theatre categories, two companies with vastly different approaches are tied. Southern Repertory Theatre, which under Ryan Rilette has brought some of the newest, critically acclaimed theater works to New Orleans, had 13 nominations for works such as Bat Boy: The Musical. So did the venerable Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré, with such classics as Hello, Dolly!.

Legendary musician, arranger, composer and educator Harold Battiste will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Music award, while big band conductor and saxophonist Al Belletto will receive the Music Heritage Award. Tulane Summer Lyric artistic director Michael Howard, whose direction of The Pirates of Penzance earned him a nomination, will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Theatre award. Nick Spitzer, whose nationally syndicated, public-radio program American Routes, originates from the French Quarter, will be this year's Ambassador of Entertainment. (The show is carried locally by WWNO 89.9 FM at 8 p.m. Sundays.)

Tickets to the Big Easy Entertainment Awards are $125 (tables of 10 can be reserved for $1,000 before March 31) and can be purchased by calling Gloria Powers at 486-5900, ext. 136. Tickets include a dinner buffet, open bar, live performances by nominated artists, and admission to the Celebration Bash after-party. Proceeds from the Big Easy Entertainment Awards benefit the Foundation for Entertainment Development & Education. Sponsors for the event are Southern Comfort, Gambit Weekly, John Jay, Mardi Gras Productions, WGNO TV ABC 26, WNOL TV WB38, and Coleman E. Adler & Sons.


Big band conductor and saxophonist Al Belletto will be honored with the Music Heritage Award.

Carol Sutton -- Honorary Theatre Chairperson

Pfister Sisters -- Honorary Music Chairpersons

Michael Howard -- Lifetime Achievement in Theatre

Harold Battiste -- Lifetime Achievement in Music

Al Belletto -- Music Heritage Award

Nick Spitzer, host, American Routes -- Ambassador of Entertainment


Tulane Summer Lyric artistic director Michael Howard will receive the Lifetime Achievement in Theatre award and will compete for Best Director of a Musical.

Traditional Jazz
Evan Christopher
Tim Laughlin
Kermit Ruffins & Barbecue Swingers

Contemporary Jazz
Terence Blanchard
Kidd Jordan/Improvisational Arts Council
Irvin Mayfield
Nicholas Payton

Traditional Brass Band

Olympia Brass Band
Treme Brass Band
Tuba Fats & the Chosen Few

Contemporary Brass Band
Hot 8 Brass Band
Lil' Stooges Brass Band
ReBirth Brass Band

American Routes radio program host Nick Spitzer is this year's Ambassador of Entertainment.

Big Sam's Funky Nation
Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen

Rhythm & Blues

Deacon John
Dr. John
Eric Lindell

Soulja Slim

Tab Benoit
Snooks Eaglin
John Mooney

Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes
World Leader Pretend

Living legend Aaron Neville keeps going with two nominations, including Best Male Performer.

Roots Rock
Sonny Landreth
Tin Men

Sean Ardoin
Geno Delafose
Rosie Ledet

BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet
Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys
Amanda Shaw

Spencer Bohren
New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars
Mike West

Los Vecinos

Actor, comedian, radio host and Simpsons voice-cast member Harry Shearer returns once again as the master of ceremonies.

World Music/Reggae
Bamboula 2000
Zion Trinity

Gospel Choir
Daughters of the Promise

Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Choir
Shades of Praise

Gospel Group/Individual
Craig Adams & Higher Dimension of Praise
Rocks of Harmony
Cynthia Liggins Thomas

Male Performer
Deacon John
Aaron Neville

Female Performer
Theresa Andersson
Tricia Boutte aka Sista Teedy

Le Petit's Hello, Dolly! earned eight nominations, including one for Ann Casey (right, with Bob Edes, also nominated, for Tennessee Speaks in Tongues for You).

Emerging Group or Artist
Troy Andrews
Hazard County Girls

Best Album
Deacon John -- Deacon John's Jump Blues

Iguanas -- Plastic Silver 9 Volt Heart
Aaron Neville -- Nature Boy
Tin Men -- Super Great Music for Modern Lovers


Best Musical
Bat Boy: The Musical (Southern Repertory Theatre)
Five Guys Named Moe (Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré)
Hello, Dolly! (Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré)
The Pirates of Penzance (Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre)

Best Contemporary Brass Band nominees the Lil' Stooges

Best Drama
All My Sons (Evangeline Theatre Company, at Southern Repertory Theatre)

House of Plunder (Southern Repertory Theatre & The Port of New Orleans)
Proof (Rivertown Repertory Theatre)
Topdog/Underdog (Dog & Pony Theatre Company, at the Contemporary Arts Center)

Best Comedy
Bunk Bed Brothers (Sweetwood Productions, at Le Chat Noir)

Hollywood Heaven (Jacquee Carvin, Patrick Lee and the Producers Circle, at Le Chat Noir)
The Mystery of Irma Vep (Le Petit Theatre Du Vieux Carré and All Kinds of Theatre)

Double threat: Ricky Graham earned one of six nominations for Pirates of Penzance (pictured) and two of Hollywood Heaven's three nominations.

Best Director of a Comedy or Drama
Keith Briggs, Proof

Perry Martin, All My Sons
Ryan Rilette, In Walks Ed (Southern Repertory Theatre)

Best Director of a Musical
Brandt Blocker, Five Guys Named Moe

Derek Franklin and Sonny Borey, Hello, Dolly!
Emma Griffin, Bat Boy: The Musical
Michael Howard, Pirates of Penzance

Best Choreography
Jaune Buisson, Five Guys Named Moe
Karen Hebert and Anita Landry, Hello, Dolly!
Edmond Kresley, Guys and Dolls (Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre)

The Pfister Sisters assume the duties of Honorary Music Chairpersons.

Best Musical Director
Brandt Blocker,
Five Guys Named Moe
Derek Franklin, Hello, Dolly!
C. Leonard Raybon, Pirates of Penzance

Best Set Design
David Korin, In Walks Ed
David Raphel, Angel & Dragon (Mesa Productions, at Cowpoke's Theatre Space)
Bill Walker, Hello, Dolly!

Best Lighting Design
Bill Liotta, Bat Boy: The Musical /In Walks Ed/House of Plunder

Steven Thurber, Cabaret (Jefferson Performing Arts Society)
Bill Walker, Forever Plaid/Hello, Dolly! (Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré)

Angel & Dragon earned four nominations, including ones for Maggie Eldred (left) and Veronica Russell (right). (Stacey Arton is at center.)

Best Costume Design
Cecile C. Covert, The Mystery of Irma Vep/Angel & Dragon

Roy Haylock, Hollywood Heaven
Trish McLain, The Women (Rivertown Repertory Theatre)/All My Sons
Elizabeth Parent, House of Plunder

Best Performance by a Child
David Bologna, The Music Man (Rivertown Repertory Theatre)

Sara Rose Brignac, Gypsy (Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre)
Graham Martin, Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge (Southern Repertory Theatre)

Best Supporting Actress In A Play
Grace Fraga, Rio Seco (Le Chat Noir)

Veronica Russell, Angel & Dragon
Janet Shea, All My Sons
Jessie Terrebonne, All My Sons

Fiorella's mainstay Bingo! is up for Best Emerging Artist.

Best Supporting Actor In A Play
Martin Covert, Small Craft Warnings (Mesa Productions, at Cowpoke's Theatre Space)

Don Guillory, In Walks Ed
Dane Rhodes, House of Plunder
Gary Rucker, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (True Brew Cafe)

Best Actress In A Play
Jan Chimento, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Maggie Eldred, Angel & Dragon
Yvette Hargis, Proof
Ashley Nolan, Mr. & Mrs. Hollywood (Southern Repertory Theatre)

After all these years, R&B singer Timothea received her first nomination: Best Female Performer.

Best Actor In A Play
Randy Cheramie, All My Sons

Bob Edes, Tennessee Speaks in Tongues for You (True Brew Cafe)
Tony Molina, In Walks Ed
Lance Nichols, Topdog/Underdog

Best Actress in a Musical
Liz Argus, Guys and Dolls

Ann Casey, Hello, Dolly!
Lara Grice, Bat Boy: The Musical
Melissa Marshall, Pirates of Penzance

Best Actor in a Musical
Christopher Carey, Pirates of Penzance

Adam Hose, Bat Boy: The Musical
Leo Jones, Five Guys Named Moe
Gary Rucker, Sugar (Rivertown Repertory Theatre)

Cynthia Liggins Thomas received a nomination for Best Gospel Group/Individual.

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Wayne Daigrepont, Guys and Dolls

Ricky Graham, Pirates of Penzance
Jimmy Murphy, Hello, Dolly!
Rob Thomas, The Andrews Sisters Hollywood Canteen (Running With Scissors, at Le Chat Noir)

Best Supporting Actress In A Musical
Amy Alvarez, Bat Boy: The Musical

Helen Blanke, The Music Man (Rivertown Repertory Theatre)
Lisa Davis, The Rocky Horror Show (Moonsong Productions, at Cowpoke's Theatre Space)
Andrea Frankle, Bat Boy: The Musical

Best Original Play
Hollywood Heaven, by Ricky Graham

House of Plunder, by Jim Fitzmorris
Mr. & Mrs. Hollywood, by Barrett O'Brien
Rio Seco, by Dalt Wonk

Best University Production
Camwood on the Leaves -- Loyola University

The Children's Hour -- Loyola University
The Laramie Project -- University of New Orleans


Add a comment