'River,' 'Napoli' nab L.A. theater kudos

See winnersTwo productions from North Hollywood, the Deaf West Theater staging of “Big River” and the Road Theater Co.’s “Napoli Milionaria,” tied for top honors at the 2002 Ovation Awards, with both shows receiving six awards.

“Big River” was named best musical in an intimate theater and Jeff Calhoun took home the director trophy at ceremonies held at the freshly renovated Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The Theater League Alliance of Southern California bestowed 46 production, performance and technical awards honoring the best in L.A. area stage work.

Multiple winners included the Fountain Theater’s revival of Arthur Miller’s “After the Fall” (four), the Colony Theater Co.’s production of “The Laramie Project” (three) and the Center Theater Group/Mark Taper Forum staging of “Flower Drum Song” (three). Two awards each went to the Colony’s “Side Show,” Oasis Theater Co.’s “Steel: John Henry and the Shaker,” Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities’ “Crazy for You” (including large theater best musical), Alliance Repertory’s “Coyote on a Fence” and Playwrights’ Arena’s “Street Stories.”

Ten categories saw more than one winner each, based on new rules established by this year’s awards committee. Three thesps, for example, shared actor in a play, lead actress in a play and lead actor in a musical.

Awards are for productions mounted between Sept. 1, 2001, and Aug. 31, 2002.

Recipients of the 2002 Ovation Awards are:

WORLD PREMIERE PLAY

Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, “The Exonerated,” Actors’ Gang

WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL

Jillian Armenante, Alice Dodd and Chris Jeffries; “Laura Comstock’s Bag-Punching Dog,” Circle X Theater Co.

MUSICAL (LARGE THEATER)

“Crazy for You,” Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities

PLAY (LARGE THEATER)

“The Laramie Project,” Colony Theater Co.

MUSICAL (INTIMATE THEATER)

“Big River,” Ed Waterstreet, executive producer; Bill O’Brien, producer; Suzanne Tara, associate producer; Deaf West Theater

PLAY (INTIMATE THEATER)

“After the Fall,” Simon Levy, producer; Fountain Theater

LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

David Engel, “Crazy for You,” Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities

Michael A. Shepperd, “Steel: John Henry and the Shaker,” Oasis Theater Co.

R. Christofer Sands, “Pinafore!” Celebration Theater

LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY

Joe Mellis, “Coyote on a Fence,” Alliance Repertory Co.

Morlan Higgins, “After the Fall,” Fountain Theater

Sam Anderson, “Napoli Milionaria,” the Road Theater Co.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Julie Dixon Jackson/Misty Cotton, “Side Show,” Colony Theater Co.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Jeanne Sakata, “Red,” East West Players

Suanne Spoke, “Napoli Milionaria,” the Road Theater Co.

Tracy Middendorf, “After the Fall,” Fountain Theater

FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Rod Keller, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Colony Theater Co.

FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY

Al Mancini, “Time of Your Life,” Camelot Artists

FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Jodi Long, “Flower Drum Song,” Center Theater Group/Mark Taper Forum

FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Carol Kane, “He Hunts,” Geffen Playhouse

SOLO PERFORMANCE

Ann Randolph, “Squeeze Box,” Court Theater

ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE

Cast of “Swing,” Musical Theater West

Cast of “The Laramie Project,” Colony Theater Co.

DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL

Jeff Calhoun, “Big River,” Deaf West Theater

DIRECTOR OF A PLAY

Deborah LaVine, “Napoli Milionaria,” Road Theater Co.

Nick DeGruccio, “The Laramie Project,” Colony Theater Co.

Stephen Sachs, “After the Fall,” Fountain Theater

CHOREOGRAPHER

Jeff Calhoun, “Big River,” Deaf West Theater

MUSICAL DIRECTION

Steven Landau, “Big River,” Deaf West Theater

TOURING PRODUCTION

“The Full Monty,” Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller, Albert Nocciolino, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Lindsay Law, Thomas Hall, producers; Center Theater Group/Ahmanson Theater

LIGHTING DESIGN (LARGER THEATER)

Tad Shannon, “Do Jump!,” Geffen Playhouse

LIGHTING DESIGN (INTIMATE THEATER)

Jerry Browning, “Steel: John Henry and the Shaker,” Oasis Theater Co.

Michael Gilliam, “Big River,” Deaf West Theater

Robert Fromer, “Street Stories,” Playwrights’ Arena

SET DESIGN (LARGER THEATER)

Don Llewellyn, “Master Harold and the Boys,” International City Theater

Douglas Schmidt, “Into the Woods,” Center Theater Group/Ahmanson Theater

John Lee Beatty, “My Old Lady,” Center Theater Group/Mark Taper Forum

SET DESIGN (INTIMATE THEATER)

Desma Murphy, “Napoli Milionaria,” Road Theater Co.

Joel Stoffer, “Coyote on a Fence,” Alliance Repertory Co.

Ray Klausen, “Big River,” Deaf West Theater

COSTUME DESIGN (LARGER THEATER)

A. Jeffrey Schoenberg, “Side Show,” the Colony Theater Co.

Gregg Barnes, “Flower Drum Song,” Center Theater Group/Mark Taper Forum

COSTUME DESIGN (INTIMATE THEATER)

Marci Hill, “Napoli Milionaria,” the Road Theater Co.

SOUND DESIGN (LARGER THEATER)

Jon Gottlieb and Philip G. Allen, “Flower Drum Song,” Center Theater Group/Mark Taper Forum

SOUND DESIGN (INTIMATE THEATER)

Bob Blackburn, “Street Stories,” Playwrights’ Arena

Dave Marling of Wav Magic, “Napoli Milionaria,” Road Theater Co.

SPECIAL AWARDS

James A. Doolittle Award for Outstanding Leadership

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Career Achievement

Carole Cook & Tom Troupe

Community Outreach Award

Joan Boyett

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