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‘Ragtime’ triumph

Musical sweeps Ovations with 8 wins

In a brisk, boisterous ceremony that heralded the vitality of the Los Angeles theater scene, dozens of actors, producers and other lovers of the stage gathered Monday to honor their own at the 1997 Theatre L.A. Ovation Awards.

The night was a sweep for the musical “Ragtime,” which won eight of the 26 prizes and which loaned its Shubert Theater stage for the awards show. “Ragtime,” based on the E.L. Doctorow novel and premiering its U.S. run in Los Angeles, won for musical in a large theater as well as for lead actress in a musical (Marcia Mitzman Gaven), featured actress in a musical (Judy Kaye) and director of a musical (Frank Galati), among other awards. “Ragtime” had garnered a record-breaking 16 nominations.

Another strong finisher was the Stella Adler Theatre production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which won four Ovations, including play in a small theater and director of a play (Michael Michetti).

Palpable sense

With 250 productions eligible to compete out of about 1,200 staged, there was a palpable sense that times have never been better for the L.A. theater world.

“There’s no way you can say L.A. is not a theater town, certainly not tonight,” Joan Van Ark, one of the presenters, told the crowd. The remark was greeted by cheers. But many of the nominees did not show up for the awards show, in most cases because they were in that other theater town, New York. Time after time, a surrogate stood in, gamely reciting what the winner might have said. Some good-natured reproaching ensued.

“Hi, I’m Kathi O’Donohue — I’m actually here,” said the winner for lighting design in a smaller theater, for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Composer Stephen Sondheim, who received a lifetime achievement award, went one better. Striding to the lectern, he said, “I’m here to accept the award on behalf of Stephen Sondheim.”

Several musical numbers added spark, particularly a humorous song by the four-man cast of “Forever Plaid” that explained the procedure by which Theatre L.A. members vote for nominees and winners. The foursome won an Ovation for ensemble.

Hosted for the second consecutive year by Joanna Gleason and John Rubinstein — nominated but not a winner for his performance in “Ragtime” — the event included presenters Debbie Allen, Richard Benjamin, Beau Bridges, Danny Glover, Mariette Hartley, Garry Marshall, John Ritter and Anne Meara. Marshall said he was happy to be asked.

“I wasn’t that busy,” he said. “I was waiting for Disney Hall to open.”

A complete list of winners follows:

WRITING OF A WORLD

PREMIERE PLAY OR MUSICAL:

Kathy Buckley, “Don’t Buck With Me!” at the Tamarind Theatre

NEW

TRANSLATION/ADAPTATION

Robert Cornthwaite, “So It Is … If So It Seems to You,” at A Noise Within

NEW MUSICAL,

LARGE THEATER

“Ragtime,” at the Shubert

PLAY, LARGE THEATER

“The Heiress,” Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre

MUSICAL, SMALL THEATER

“Euphoria,” the Actors’ Gang

PLAY, SMALL THEATER

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the Stella Adler Theatre

LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Ned Beatty, “Show Boat,” CTG/Ahmanson

LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY

Bill Campbell, “Fortinbras,” the Howard Fine Theatre

LEAD ACTRESS

IN A MUSICAL

Marcia Mitzman Gaven, “Ragtime”

LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Suzanne Spoke, “David’s Mother,” Company of Angels

FEATURED ACTOR

IN A MUSICAL:

Michael Bell, “Show Boat”

FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY

Derek Smith, “Sylvia,” Dee Gee’s Coronet Theatre

FEATURED ACTRESS

IN A MUSICAL

Judy Kaye, “Ragtime”

FEATURED ACTRESS

IN A PLAY

Bonita Friedericy, “Our Country’s Good,” the Colony Studio Theatre

ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE

Cast of “Forever Plaid,” Canon Theatre

DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL

Frank Galati, “Ragtime”

DIRECTOR OF A PLAY

Michael Michetti, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

CHOREOGRAPHER

Graciela Daniele, “Ragtime”

LIGHTING DESIGN,

LARGER THEATER

Jules Fisher, Peggy Eisenhauer, “Ragtime”

LIGHTING DESIGN,

SMALLER THEATER

Kathi O’Donohue, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

SET DESIGN,

LARGER THEATER

Eugene Lee, “Ragtime”

SET DESIGN,

SMALLER THEATER

Scott Storey, “Steaming,” Ivy Substation

COSTUME DESIGN,

LARGER THEATER

Florence Klotz, “Show Boat”

COSTUME DESIGN,

SMALLER THEATER

Sherri Grider, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

SOUND DESIGN,

LARGER THEATER

Jonathan Deans, “Ragtime”

SOUND DESIGN,

SMALLER THEATER

Laurence O’Keefe, “Euphoria”

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