Thursday, June 21, 2007

2006-07 Spokies

published today in The Inlander
(the third paragraph in the story below [ "In the actor categories ..." ] does not appear in the printed version)

awards by theater:
Best of Broadway (1): touring musical
Interplayers (3): lighting, supporting actor, actor-play
CdA Summer Theatre (4): choreography, costumes-musical, actress-musical, director-musical
Civic (5): set-musical, supporting actress, actor-musical, ensemble, musical
Actors Rep (6): set-play, costumes-play, actress-play, director-play, comedy, drama

Imagine examining one particular Academy member's ballot for the Oscars. Some votes would coincide with the consensus; some would not. Bobo reread all his reviews, made lots of lists, was himself surprised by some of the choices he eventually made. (Explanation: In a few categories, and off the top of my bald head -- sure, I was thinking in a preliminary way that Actor Y or Production Z would win. BUT ... when I started considering front-runners carefully and trying to articulate to myself just why it is that I think this was a better performance or that was a better show ... well, surprising things happen. In other words: Keep asking yourself WHY. Why exactly do I think that this performance was superior? "How do I know that?" is always a good question in such circumstances.)
So the Spokies are really just intended to get conversations started, to keep us all focused on doing the best work possible. I'm thankful to all the performers and backstage personnel who continue to keep Spokane theater functioning at a high level.

Oh, We’re So Dramatic

The 2007 Spokies honor the year’s best in local theater

“I won a Spokie in 2007.” OK, so maybe there are lines on your resumé that will do a better job of helping you get hired. But theaters put last year’s Spokies on their Websites, and more than one local actor wrote in to kvetch, so at least they’re conversation-starters.
This time around, we’re considering productions that opened in the past year (June 2006-May 2007) at the following theaters: Actors Repertory Theatre of the Inland Northwest, Best of Broadway Spokane, CenterStage, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, Spokane Civic Theatre (both Main Stage and Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre) and Spokane Interplayers Ensemble. (I regret to say that I didn’t see any productions this season at either Lake City Playhouse or Ignite! Community Theatre.)
In the actor categories and for Best Set Design, I had lists of several “nominees” each. And there were two-way battles at least for nearly all these awards. But the feeling at Inlander HQ was: Don’t dilute the winners’ impact by listing lots of also-rans. So this year, I’m naming only the winners. (My hope is that if you’re outraged — “What does he mean, ‘C won’? D did a much better job!” — you’ll eventually realize that I was considering D all along … along with A and B and probably E.)
So here they are, the 2007 Spokie Awards for the best in Spokane-area theater (with the major awards withheld until the end — just like they do at the Oscars and the Tonys!).

Best Choreography: Michael Wasileski for A Chorus Line, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre
As spectacular as Chorus Line’s final, glorious, self-assertive chorus line is, that’s not what earned this award. That distinction goes to how Wasileski guided Megan Bayha’s shoulder rolls and kicks and glides in “The Music and the Mirror.”

Best Lighting Design: Dan Heggem for Woman in Black, Spokane Interplayers Ensemble
Lights angled slant-wise, making everyday objects appear creepy, sudden blackouts, gauzy half-light obscuring figures creeping in the darkness — Heggem intensified this Halloween ghost story.

Best Set Design, Musical: David Baker, Singin’ in the Rain, Spokane Civic Theatre
For a stage production based on the many locales of a beloved movie musical, the effort involved in creating Baker’s multiple sets — from sound stages to the rain-drenched streets — sometimes overwhelmed the action. But the technical effort has to be applauded.

Best Set Design, Play: John Hofland, The Shape of Things, Actors Rep
For Neil LaBute’s power-trip drama about a woman domineering over a timid male college student, Hofland’s set merged the Greek columns of campus architecture with a circular pit for the exchange of sometimes-vicious ideas.

Best Costumes, Musical: Hilary Winkworth, Pippin, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre
From the decadent look of the Fosse “amoeba” to the psychedelic colors of ‘70s optimism to the anachronistic Vikings and doughboys of the battle sequences, Winkworth’s numerous designs exemplified how costumes can support a show’s themes.

Best Costumes, Play: Jan Wanless and Dee Finan, “The Tuna Project,” Actors Rep
Going beyond beefy guys in drag, Wanless and Finan provided boots and earflaps for the clueless animal lover and a torn T-shirt and red mohawk for the smart-mouthed delinquent.

Best Supporting Actress: Kathie Doyle-Lipe as Vera Charles in Mame, Civic
Popping up from behind beds like a prairie dog, Doyle-Lipe played the martini-swilling actress with large dollops of physical shtick.

Best Supporting Actor: Jack Bannon as Dr. Gerald Lyman in Bus Stop, Interplayers
The dirty old man grew drunker and drunker, and more and more disgusted with himself — yet still able to laugh at himself throughout his dark night of the soul.

Best Actor, Musical: Patrick McHenry-Kroetch as John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, Civic
Dashing yet defeated, a tempter of others who knew how badly he’d dealt with his own temptations, McHenry-Kroetch’s assassin strutted in full voice, embodying the primal America sin: taking the shortcut to “fame” by killing somebody famous.

Best Actor, Play: Reed McColm as Gregory Solomon in The Price, Interplayers
With palsied hands shaking, McColm played a master manipulator who turned out to feel manipulated (unfairly) by life itself.

Best Actress, Musical: Haley New Ostrander in the title role of Peter Pan, CdA Summer Theatre
Scampering, roistering and flying over our heads, Ostrander brought swagger to the Lost Boys’ king while still showing us his loneliness and vulnerability.

Best Actress, Play: Patty Duke as Flora Humble in Humble Boy, Actors Rep
With girlish smiles and butt-wiggles, Duke flirted with her fiancé; around her son, however, she bit off heads.

Best Director, Play: Patrick Treadway, “The Tuna Project,” Actors Rep
Steering the Marlowe-Weaver tornado through dozens of characters in alternating plays, Treadway not only directed traffic — he enlivened the offstage action while slowing the pace so that even the quiet moments could register.

Best Director, Musical: Roger Welch, Pippin, CdA Summer Theater
For creating a sense of reckless cynicism in a small space, Troy Nickerson’s achievement in Assassins was remarkable. But Welch took a larger cast and by deploying roles (three Leading Players), was able to sharpen the contemporary parallels (anti-war satire aimed at Iraq instead of Vietnam) and add a sense of ongoing evil (in that haunting finale).

Best Ensemble: Assassins, Civic
Despite strong competition from the cast of Humble Boy, this group — Crawford, Dawson, Gigler, Green, Harget, Heppler, McHenry-Kroetch, McLaughlin, Pierce, Smith, Ware-Lewis — gets the nod because they sang together, hung out onstage together, and even engaged in target practice together.

Best Touring Musical: Hairspray, Best of Broadway Spokane, INB Center
Doo-wop exuberance and finger-snappin’ fun with a political (anti-segregation) and personal (don’t let the popular bastards get you down) message.

Best Comedy: “The Tuna Project”: Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas, Actors Rep
By cramming 41 characters into two actors’ bodies, William Marlowe and Michael Weaver exemplified universality: Those Tuna people, they’re not that different from us.

Best Drama: Humble Boy, Actors Rep
As the misfit astrophysicist, Carter J. Davis tried to find himself amid a garden party tinged with mortality and self-disgust.

Best Local Musical: Assassins, Civic Studio
In their antics and songs, their faces lit from below like ghouls, these presidential killers harped on a single theme: Americans are taught to desire fame so much, they’ll commit just about any crime to get it.


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