1998-99 B. Iden Payne Award Winners

The year's best work on Austin stages.

On Monday, September 13, the Austin Circle of Theatres gave out its 25th Annual B. Iden Payne Awards in a ceremony at the State Theater. The awards recognized outstanding work on local stages from the period August 1998 through July 1999. ACoT members voted on 23 awards, in categories covering musicals, non-musical plays, plays for children, and design and technical areas, and the ACoT committee that assembled the ballot of nominees presented four special awards to individual companies that it felt displayed exceptional qualities in the season of eligibility. And the ACoT Board of Directors bestowed the highest honor of the annual ceremony, the Individual Recognition Award for extraordinary support of theatre in Austin, to Greg and Mari Marchbanks.

Let's not pretend that this is an objective report. I served on the Nominating Committee, I was a nominee (as was my wife), I chaired the committee that put together this year's ceremony, and I emceed the dad-gum thing for, I think, the ninth time. However, I think I can at least say that the roughly three-hour ceremony came off without a disaster. And that the featured entertainment ­ which included Boyd Vance and Scott Schroeder performing a duet of "Wilkommen" from Cabaret; Tamara Beland and Lyova Rosanoff of Esther's Follies performing an ode to self-pleasure; Jeff Ellinger performing a mock Shakespearean soliloquy; Mick D'Arcy and Jo Beth Henderson relating a brief history of VORTEX Repertory Company in song; Lowell Bartholomee, Kara Bliss, John Howrey, and Shirley Reynolds singing "Old Friends" from Merrily We Roll Along; and Rob Nash performing an excerpt from Junior Blues ­ were well-received.

The evening was most rewarding for two companies: VORTEX, which shared in honors for five awards, plus a Nominating Committee Special Award for its production of The X & Y Trilogy; and Zilker Theatre Productions, which saw its production of Big River win five awards ­ a big comeback for the Summer Musical after several seasons of living in the shadow of two local musical powerhouses, Austin Musical Theatre and the Zachary Scott Theatre Center. The evening also saw a trio of double winners: actress Sharron Bower, honored for her work in AMT's Fiddler on the Roof and UT's Misalliance; actor Martin Burke, recognized for his work in Zach's Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika and Sneck Up!'s Twelfth Night; and departing ACoT Executive Director Ann Ciccolella for her direction of Austin Theatreworks' Tales From Shakespeare and First Stage's My Children! My Africa!

Outstanding Production of a Play for Children

Machinal (Vortex Summer Youth Theatre)

Outstanding Director of a Play for Children

Ann Ciccolella (Tales From Shakespeare)

Outstanding Actor in a Play for Children

Michael Stuart (Jeeves, Igor, the Monster, Pigman vs. Frankenstein)

Outstanding Actress in a Play for Children

Dora Lanier (Mrs. Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank)

Outstanding Production of a Musical

Big River (Zilker Theatre Productions)

Outstanding Director of a Musical

Rod Caspers (Big River)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical

Mike Bradecich (Big River)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical

Felicia Dinwiddie (Ain't Misbehavin' )

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Scott Schroeder (Big River)

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Sharron Bower (Fiddler on the Roof)

Outstanding Production of a Play

Twelfth Night (Sneck Up! Productions & Vortex Repertory Company)

Outstanding Director of a Play

Ann Ciccolella (My Children, My Africa!)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play

Martin Burke (Angels in America: Part 2, Perestroika)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play

Helen Merino (My Children, My Africa!)

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Martin Burke (Twelfth Night)

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Sharron Bower (Misalliance)

Outstanding Set Design

Christopher McCollum (Gypsy)

J. Richard Smith (Big River)

Outstanding Lighting Design

Tony Tucci (Gypsy)

Outstanding Sound Design

Chad Salvata (Machinal)

Outstanding Costume Design

Brian Gaston & Winter Street Design Studio of Houston (Liu, the Dragon King)

Outstanding Music Director

Fred Barton & Allen Robertson (Fiddler on the Roof)

Outstanding Choreographer

Scott Thompson & Richard Byron (Gypsy)

Outstanding Original Script

Rob Nash (Sophomore Slump)

Nominating Committee Special Awards

Alpha Omega Award to VORTEX Repertory Company, for its support of The X & Y Trilogy, an epic series of cynbernetic operas, from their first productions to a staging of all three at the Paramount Theatre;

Quintessential Austin Production Award for Refraction Arts Project's staging of The Visit, for its integration of theatrical elements ­ from masks and puppetry to original music and bravura acting to an environmental presentation in an outdoor setting ­ that mark a kind of theatre in sync with the city's adventuresome character;

O Brave New World Award to both Salvage Vanguard Theater and Rude Mechanicals, for their ventures, in previous years but especially in this season, into new theatrical territory, discovering subjects, artists, and methods of theatrical expression that expand our sense of the possibilities in our art, its continued relevance in our world, and its meaning in our lives.

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b. iden payne awards, austin circle of theatres, acot

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