2014 Wilde Award Winners
The 2013-14 professional theater season was a tempestuous one, an even more unsettled year than usual for the state’s theaters. So perhaps it was appropriate that this year’s Wilde Awards were the 13th annual edition.
It was the kind of year that elicited a “Holy crap” or “WTF!” from many Michigan theater people – the same thoughts, but in a happy context, from some of this year’s award winners. The event, recognizing the best in Michigan professional theater, took place Sept. 22 at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield. The event was sponsored by Pride Source Media Group.
Theater companies as diverse as the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Williamston Theatre, Farmers Alley, Performance Network and Planet Ant were represented by multiple winners. And, appropriately for the crazy year, several categories ended in a tie with co-winners.
Those winners ranged from novices picking up an award for their first pro production to those who’ve trod the boards a few years.
In all, 28 productions produced or presented by 17 theaters across the state earned an award this year, along with 34 artists. Jackson’s Michigan Shakespeare Festival dominated the night with the most wins with four (tied with Farmers Alley Theater of Kalamazoo), three of which were for the top-winning comedy of the season, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” And only one artist in the competitive categories walked out with more than one award: John Manfredi.
The evening was hosted by Encore Michigan editor Donald V. Calamia, assisted by some of the nine Encore critics who had reviewed 225 productions at 49 professional theaters. According to Calamia, they had “converged on a super-secret place” to whittle out the list of nominees in 27 categories and vote the winners.
The evening was co-hosted by the wonderful Naz Edwards, also one of the able performers in the evening’s musical entertainments, which also included songs from two of the nominated Best Musicals. Music director R. MacKenzie Lewis provided a never-a-wrong-note accompaniment.
The “second act” also moved along, thanks to surprise guest-host Jaime “Wallflower” Moyer, a Detroit native who now lives in Los Angeles.
And as usual, when you get creative people together, the winning reactions ranged from hilarious to emotional.
Winners: The 2014 Wilde Awards
Best Comedy: The Importance of Being Earnest; Michigan Shakespeare Festival; Janice L. Blixt, director
Best Drama: Old Wicked Songs; Farmers Alley Theatre; D. Terry Williams, director
Best Musical: Lysistrata Jones; Meadow Brook Theatre; Travis W. Walter, director
Best Opera: Turandot; Michigan Opera Theatre; Garnett Bruce, director
Best Original One-Act or Solo Performance: Fast Times at Nazareth High; Planet Ant Theatre; Mike McGettigan, director
Best of The Bard: (Tie); Cymbeline; Michigan Shakespeare Festival; Robert Kauzlaric, director/Romeo and Juliet; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre; Curt L. Tofteland, director.
Best Theater for Young Audiences: The Summer Circle; Summer Circle Theatre; Rob Roznowski, director
Best Tour: War Horse; Broadway in Detroit-Fisher Theatre
Best Performance Opera; Rudy Park; Turandot; Michigan Opera Theatre
Best Performance – The Bard: Darnell Pierre Benjamin; Romeo and Juliet; Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
Best Performance, Actor Comedy (Tie); Seth Amadei; November; Planet Ant Theatre/David Blixt; The Importance of Being Earnest; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
Best Performance, Actor – Drama (Tie): John Manfredi; An Iliad; Performance Network Theatre/Travis Reiff; Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches; The Ringwald Theatre
Best Performance, Actor – Musical: Steve DeBruyne; Company; The Encore Musical Theatre
Best Performance, Actor – Original One-Act or Solo Performance; Jamen Spitzer; Bringing Up Baby New Year; Planet Ant Theatre
Best Performance, Actress – Comedy: Maggie Meyer; Venus in Fur; Performance Network Theatre
Best Performance, Actress – Drama (Tie): Linda Rabin Hammell; Collected Stories; Matrix Theatre Company/Sharon Williams, Collected Stories; Farmers Alley Theatre
Best Performance, Actress – Musical (Tie); Michelle Duffy; Next to Normal; Farmers Alley Theatre/Mahalia Greenway; Oliver!;The Encore Musical Theatre
Best Performance, Actress – Original One-Act or Solo Performance: Julia Marsh; Please Give Me Your Money So I Can Buy a Vagina; The Ringwald Theatre
Best Teamwork (Tie): Sandra Birch and John Manfredi; The Lion in Winter; Williamston Theatre/Dave Davies, Wayne David Parker and Cheryl Turski; Murder at the Howard Johnson’s; Tipping Point Theatre
Best Choreography: Genevieve Lally-Knuth; The Tempest; What A Do Theatre
Best Design – Costumes: Suzanne Young; The Importance of Being Earnest; Michigan Shakespeare Festival
Best Design – Lights: Alex Gay; The Big Bang; Williamston Theatre
Best Design – Props: Carson Killmar; Visiting Mr. Green; Matrix Theatre Company
Best Design – Sets: Bartley Bauer; Williamston Theatre
Best Design – Sound or Video: Derek Menchinger; Old Wicked Songs; Farmers Alley Theatre
Best Music Direction: Warren Puffer Jones; The Sound of Music; Arbor Opera Theater
Best New Script: Joseph Zettelmaier; The Scullery Maid; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company
Critic’s Choice Award: Dennis Wickline; Dennis Wickline Productions & Broadway Onstage Live Theatre
Critics’ Choice Award: Samantha White; Shakespeare in Detroit
Founders Award for Excellence: Julia Marsh; Please Give Me Your Money So I Can Buy a Vagina
Jim Posante Community Pride Award: Kim Clark and David Fink; The Acorn Theater
The Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theater Community: Bruce E. Millan, Barbara Busby and Dee Andrus; Detroit Repertory Theatre
The 2014 WILDE-r Awards
The Tough Luck Award: The Just Because You Have a Critic In Your Show, It Doesn’t Mean You’ll Get Nominated for Anything Award; Dustin Gardner; Dustin’s After Show; Planet Ant Theatre
The Some Boots Were Made For Stripping Award: Joe Bailey; Snow Girls; The Ringwald Theatre
The Best Improvised Lighting During Lightning Award: The cast and crew; Detroit; Summer Circle Theatre
The Creepiest Post-Show Prop Award: Michelle Raymond; The Woman in Black; Williamston Theatre
The Best Low Flight Patterns Award: The Cast and Crew; The Tempest; What A Do Theatre
The Best Worst First Award: Rusty Mewha and Rhiannon Ragland; Miles & Ellie; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
The “My Character Would Never” Award: Dave Davies; Murder at the Howard Johnson’s; Tipping Point Theatre
The When Life Gives You an Obstructive Support Beam Award: Aral Gribble and Wayne David Parker; Tuna Does Vegas; Williamston Theatre
The Best Real Talk Curtain Speeches Award: Shawn Handlon; Planet Ant Theatre
The It’s Little Kids Getting Their Necks Broken, For Heaven’s Sake Award: Sara Borsodi, Madison Miller, Jonathan Piggott, Natalie Wilson; Fight choreographers Alec Barbour and David Sterritt; Macbeth; Hilberry Theatre
The Best Rogue Award: Carolyn Hayes Harmer