You didn't have to get nominated for Best Musical to be honored at this year's Big Easy Entertainment Awards. There were so many quality musical productions to choose from that two multiply nominated shows aren't even up for the vaunted Best Musical category.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood snags four nominations without the key nomination, while Nighttime Naughties earns three. The Best Musical nominations go to Will Rogers Follies, George M, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. All three Best Musical nominees earn four nominations each, setting up an intriguing four-horse race at the Big Easy Entertainment Awards, which will be held April 22 at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Riverside New Orleans Hotel followed by the Harrah's Celebration Bash at Harrah's Casino.
Father Ernest Ferlita, an award-winning playwright, director and teacher at Loyola University, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in Theatre, while Crescent City Pictures President and Louisiana Film Commission co-founder Al Salzer will serve as the Honorary Theatre Chairman.
Veteran co-host and part-time New Orleanian Harry Shearer (The Simpsons, NPR's Le Show) will pair with New Orleans native and Rendez-View producer and former Daily Show correspondent Vance DeGeneres as this year's masters of ceremonies. The awards program also will feature performances by nominees in both music and theater.
This year's Business Recognition Award honors the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Committee for its support of the Louisiana Living History Project, which for five years has employed actors each December to provide visitors with live history pieces in the French Quarter.
The theater nominees also quickly become a list of accomplishments for the veteran theater company The Producers Circle and upstart troupe Running With Scissors. The Producers Circle accounts for a combined seven nominations, four for When Ya Smilin' (including Best Comedy) and three for Nighttime Naughties. Running With Scissors accounts for a combined six nominations, four for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and two for Camille.
The nominations also underscore a resurgence in African-American theater in the city. The new Anthony Bean Community Theater scores a nomination, while Southern Rep's presentation of A Lesson Before Dying earns three. Two of the four Best Drama nominations, A Lesson Before Dying and Jitney, featured predominantly all-black casts.
Dillard University's Yvette Sirker earns a nomination for Best University Production for her Troubled Waters, while African-American actresses Carol Sutton (A Lesson Before Dying) and Gwendolyn Foxworth (Two Trains Running) are two of the three nominees in the Best Supporting Actress in a Play category. Troi Bechet's performance of Billie Holiday in Lady Day at the Emerson Bar & Grill (directed by Tommye Myrick) earns her a nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Finally, Gabrielle Porter will get to defend her 2001 win for Best Performance by a Child (Babes) with this year's nomination for Grease. Both were performed at NORD Theatre.
VIP tickets to the Big Easy Entertainment Awards are $125 each, with tables of 10 going for $1,000. Cost includes open bar, buffet dinner, special reserved seating for the awards ceremonies and the Harrah's Celebration Bash afterwards. Call Lindsay Moylan at 486-5900, ext. 160 for reservations. The Big Easy Entertainment Awards is presented by Gambit Weekly, Harrah's New Orleans Casino, CC's Coffee, John Jay, Cox Communications, and Coleman E. Adler & Sons. The awards gala benefits the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education.
2002 THEATRE AWARDS NOMINEES (for accomplishment in calendar year 2001)
Will Rogers Follies, Tulane Summer Lyric
George M, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, All Kinds of Theatre, Running With Scissors, Glitter
A Lesson Before Dying, Southern Repertory Theatre
Jitney, The Cinque Group
Richard II, The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane
Spiritual Gifts, Dalt Wonk
As Bees in Honey Drown, Brava
Camille, Running With Scissors
When Ya Smilin', The Producers Circle
BEST DIRECTOR -- COMEDY/DRAMA
Ricky Graham, When Ya Smilin', The Producers Circle
David Hoover, As Bees in Honey Drown, Brava
Janet Shea, Lonesome West, Beefield Productions
BEST DIRECTOR -- MUSICAL
Derek Franklin & Sonny Borey, George M, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré
Alton Geno, Will Rogers Follies, Tulane Summer Lyric
Carl Walker and Richard Read, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, All Kinds of Theatre, Running With Scissors, Glitter
Diana Lala, Will Rogers Follies, Tulane Summer Lyric
Leo Jones, Purlie, NORD Theatre
Heidi P. Junius, Nighttime Naughties, The Producers Circle
BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Derek Franklin, George M, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré
Pamela LeGendre, My Fair Lady, Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre
Harry Mayronne Jr., Nighttime Naughties, The Producers Circle
BEST SET DESIGN
Keith Briggs, Morning's at Seven, Rivertown Repertory Theatre
Shawn Hall, Rumors of War, ArtSpot Productions and the UNO Women's Center
Chad Talkington, A Lesson Before Dying, Southern Repertory Theatre
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Joe Harris, Morning's at Seven, Rivertown Repertory Theatre
Bill Walker, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré
Daniel Zimmer, Tintypes, Rivertown Repertory Theatre
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Linda Fried, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre
Roy Haylock, Nighttime Naughties, The Producers Circle
Amanda Madden, Camille, Running With Scissors
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A CHILD
Rendell DeBose, Grease, NORD Theatre
Jennifer Marks, Annie, Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre
Gabrielle Porter, Grease, NORD Theatre
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS -- PLAY
Gwendolyn Foxworth, Two Trains Running, Anthony Bean Community Theatre
Mary Lee Gibbons, As Bees in Honey Drown, Brava
Carol Sutton, A Lesson Before Dying, Southern Repertory Theatre
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR -- PLAY
Bob Edes Jr., As Bees in Honey Drown, Brava, and Spiritual Gifts, Dalt Wonk
Ricky Graham, When Ya Smilin', The Producers Circle
Glen Gomez, Morning's at Seven, Rivertown Repertory Theatre
BEST ACTRESS -- PLAY
Mary Burns, An Evening With Betsy, Andrew Jackson Alumni Theatre Association & Nunez Community College
Charlotte Schully, Spiritual Gifts, Dalt Wonk
Francine Segal, As Bees in Honey Drown, Brava
BEST ACTOR -- PLAY
Jerry Lee Leighton, True West, Big Shoulders Theatre Company
Gavin Mahlie, Richard II, The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane
Sean Patterson, When Ya Smilin', The Producers Circle
BEST ACTRESS -- MUSICAL
Troi Bechet, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, Southern Repertory Theatre & Voices in the Dark
Cynthia Owen, Bells Are Ringing, Rivertown Repertory Theatre
Nori Pritchard, Little Shop of Horrors, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré
BEST ACTOR -- MUSICAL
Leo Jones -- Purlie, NORD Theatre
Flynn De Marco -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch, All Kinds of Theatre, Running With Scissors, Glitter
Patrick Mendelson -- George M, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR -- MUSICAL
John Grimsley, My Fair Lady, Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre
Russell Hodgkinson, Little Shop of Horrors, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré
Dane Rhodes, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS -- MUSICAL
Elizabeth Argus, Will Rogers Follies, Tulane Summer Lyric
Ann Casey, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre
Dorian Rush, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, All Kinds of Theatre, Running With Scissors, Glitter
BEST ORIGINAL PLAY
An Evening With Betsy, by Barry A. Lemoine
Spiritual Gifts, by Dalt Wonk
When Ya Smilin', by Ricky Graham
BEST UNIVERSITY PRODUCTION
Educating Rita, University of New Orleans
How I Learned to Drive, Loyola University
Troubled Waters, Dillard University
- Award-winning playwright, director and Loyola University professor Father. Ernest Ferlita will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in Theatre.
- Crescent City Pictures President and Louisiana Film Commission co-founder Al Salzer gets the nod as this year's Honorary Theatre Chairman.
- Gabrielle Porter, 2001 winner for Best Performance By a Child, earned the same nomination this year for her performance in Grease.
- When Ya Smilin', with (clockwise) Angela Mannino, Becky Allen, Sean Patterson, Gavin Mahlie, Heidi Junius and Ricky Graham, nabbed four of The Producers Circle's seven nominations.
- Flynn De Marco earned a nomination for Best Actor in a Musical in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, one of six nominations for Running With Scissors.
- Will Rogers Follies, starring Jimmy Murphy, scored one of Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre's three nominations.