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We are family: The best in Michigan theater honored at The 2013 Wilde Awards

By John Quinn

Posted: Aug. 20, 2013 at 2:40 p.m.; updated Aug. 20, 2013 at 3:30 p.m.

WEST BLOOMFIELD In every writer's life, a little serendipity falls. For the case in point, a theme to sum up The 2013 Wilde Awards was handed me on a silver platter. Through coincidences and through recurring reference in thoughtful, cogent and brief acceptance speeches, the event that celebrates the best in Michigan theater was very much a "family affair."

Some 250 "family members" and their guests attended the ceremony Aug. 19 at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield. Now in its 12th year, The Wilde Awards honor the best productions, performances and technical work produced or presented by professional theaters across the state. Nominations are based on reviews written by's team of professional critics. During the 2012-13 season, reviewed 179 productions presented or staged by 47 theater producers and presenters throughout Michigan. Of those, 71 productions presented or staged by 27 theaters received at least one nomination.

Co-hosts for the night were's editorial director Don Calamia and actress Naz Edwards, who later in the evening won the award for Best Performance, Actress Musical. They were introduced following a rousing musical rendition of "Another Op'ning, Another Show" that featured about a dozen professional performers from all across the state, and a welcome address by Lesley Braden, executive director of the Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance, the non-profit service organization that produces The Wilde Awards.

A hint of family reunion was in the air, as old friends recalled how long it had been since they had trod the boards together. Perhaps it was Margaret Edwartowski, who is in a "family way," that got the ball rolling. In accepting the award for Best New Script ("Hamtown Races," a production of Planet Ant Theatre), she referred to the honor as her "second biggest surprise." Not to be outdone, new mom Frannie Shepherd-Bates accepted the Critics' Choice Award for her tireless work on behalf of the local theater community and remarked, "If I hadn't just had a baby," the award would be the most awesome thing that happened lately. The artistic director of the Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company has her priorities in good order.

Perennial favorite Paul Riopelle honored his parents, who were present, for their support as he accepted the award for Best Performance in a Shakespearean role as Antony in Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company's "Antony and Cleopatra." It was Keith Kalinowski, in arguably one of the best-received acceptance speeches of the evening, who extended the family to Family all the relentless artists who work in their industry. Kalinowski is the winner of Best Performance, Actor Drama for the remarkable "Faith Healer" at The Abreact.

Families change. Some changes are happy; some are sad. The Family lost the legendary performer Council Cargle earlier this year, but his legacy lives on. The first Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theater Community was presented to actor Harold Uriah Hogan by Maggie Porter, Cargle's widow.

But we were able to celebrate additions to the family, as well - above and beyond the infant thespians-to-be referenced above. Maryland native Jane MacFarlane moved to Michigan "for the theater." In accepting her award for Best Performance, Actress Drama, she may have coined our new motto: "Detroit, you've GOT it!" McFarlane won the award in her first professional appearance, the vindictive matriarch in The Ringwald's "August: Osage County."

Also saluted were three noted individuals chosen by popular vote through the newly created People's Choice Wilde Awards, and noting that "it's good to be king," Calamia reclaimed from past years his own award, which he bestowed upon what he called "his favorite comedy or drama of the year" "Superior Donuts" at The Purple Rose Theatre. And this year's Jim Posante Community Pride Award went to longtime stage manager and recently named artistic director at Matrix Theatre Company Megan Buckley-Ball.

In total, 29 nominated artists left The Berman with an award, representing 21 productions at 16 theaters statewide. Only one actor, John Seibert, walked away with two. And "A Little Night Music" at Performance Network Theatre was the most honored production with four.

If family get-togethers promote a renewed sense of unity, how could "One Wilde Night" be any different? Casual conversation in the lobby before and after the awards promise hints at great things yet to come this new season. Rest assured: The staff of Encore Michigan is along for your roller coaster ride. "See you at the theater!"

The 2013 Wilde Awards were sponsored by Pride Source Media Group, publishers of the weekly newspaper Between The Lines, and Actors' Equity Association.

Winners: The 2013 Wilde Awards:

Best Comedy
Williamston Theatre
Tony Caselli, director

Best Drama
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestWhat A Do Theatre
Randy Wolfe, director

Best Musical
A Little Night Music
Performance Network Theatre
Phil Simmons, director

Best Musical
Next to Normal
Meadow Brook Theatre
Travis W. Walter, director

Best of The Bard
Love's Labour's Lost
Michigan Shakespeare Festival
Robert Kauzlaric, director

Best Opera
Julius CaesarMichigan Opera Theatre
Michael Shell, director

Best Original One-Act or Solo Performance
White Elephant
Go Comedy! Improv Theater
Bryan Lark, director

Best Touring Production
The Book of Mormon
Broadway in Detroit

Best Performance, Actor Comedy
John Manfredi
End Days
Williamston Theatre & The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Performance, Actor - Comedy
John Seibert
In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play
Performance Network Theatre

Best Performance, Actor - Drama
Keith Kalinowski
Faith Healer
The Abreact

Best Performance, Actor - Musical
John Seibert
A Little Night Music
Performance Network Theatre

Best Performance, Actor - Original One-Act or Solo Performance
RJ Cach
Planet Ant Theatre

Best Performance, Actress - Comedy
Carmen Decker
Lansing Community College Performing Arts

Best Performance, Actress - Drama
Jane MacFarlane
August:Osage County
The Ringwald Theatre

Best Performance, Actress - Musical
Naz Edwards
A Little Night Music
Performance Network Theatre

Best Performance, Actress - Original One-Act or Solo Performance
Lauren Bickers
Go Comedy! Improv Theater

Best Performance - Opera
Anthony Ross Costanzo
Julius Caesar
Michigan Opera Theatre

Best Performance - The Bard
Paul Riopelle
Antony and Cleopatra
Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company

Best Ensemble
Mary Bremer, Joel Mitchell, Wayne David Parker & Glen Allen Pruett
Moonlight and Magnolias
The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Choreography
Kevin Halpin
Tibbits Summer Theatre

Best Design - Costumes
Renae Pedersen Skoog
Love's Labour's Lost
Michigan Shakespeare Festival

Best Design - Lights
Lanford J. Potts
The Light in the Piazza
Farmers Alley Theatre

Best Design - Props
Bruce Bennett
Williamston Theatre

Best Design - Sets
Eric W. Maher
The Weir
The Abreact

Best Design - Sound or Video
Jason Painter Price
End Days
Williamston Theatre & The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Music Direction
R. MacKenzie Lewis
A Little Night Music
Performance Network Theatre

Best New Script
Margaret Edwartowski
Hamtown Races
Planet Ant Theatre

Special Awards:

Critics' Choice Award
Frannie Shepherd-Bates
Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company

Critic's Choice Award
Superior Donuts
The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Guy Sanville, director

Jim Posante Community Pride Award
Megan Buckley-Ball

The Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theater Community
Harold Uriah Hogan

People's Choice Wilde Awards:

Best Stage Manager
Nan Luchini

Best Scene Partner
Ashlyn Nicole Shawver

Best Mentor
Tracy Spada

The 2013 WILDE-r Awards:

The Who the Hell IS That Stud and Why Have We Never Seen Him Before Award
Michael Brian Ogden
Superior Donuts
The Purple Rose Theatre Company

Best Right-Side-Upstairs, Upside-Downstairs Award
Jessica Tiernan
The Maids
Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company

Best Bloody Punching Bag Award
Chris Jakob
The Empire Builders
UDM Theatre Company

Best Coming Attraction Award
The Young Cosette cameo
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The Encore Musical Theatre Company

The Get Me the Heck Outta Here Award
Patrons in the front row at
The Box Theater

Best Added Bonus for the Price of Admission Award
Molly McMahon & Kelly Rossi
BoxFest Detroit

Best Stand-out Stand-in Award
James Quesada
The Best of Go Comedy!
Go Comedy! Improv Theater

Best Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall Award
Brenda Lane
Steel Magnolias
Two Muses Theatre

Best Reversal of Fortune Award
Phil Powers
Performance Network Theatre

Best Skating Through a Performance Award
Joel Mitchell
The Homosexuals
The Ringwald

Best Use of Barbies Ever Award
The creators of Ahoy
Go Comedy! Improv Theater

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