The scoop on the 2000-01 Austin Critics Table awards ceremony
The Night of 1,000 Awards
You might have thought that with critics handing out awards in a comedy club, it would have been impossible for folks to resist making the wisecrack that such honors naturally belong in such a place since they're just a big joke. But any wags who had that line in mind during this year's Austin Critics Table Awards ceremony at the Bad Dog Comedy Theater must have kept it to themselves. The crowd that turned out last Sunday, June 10 -- and it was a crowd, almost filling the 300-seat auditorium -- was as polite as any seen at past ceremonies, and the award recipients who were on hand were sincere and generous in their acceptance speeches. The whole affair was rather sweet, actually -- and surprisingly brief given the circumstances. The critics had once again beefed up the number of awards to recognize outstanding work in dance, classical music, and the visual arts, but though they had more than 60 honors to hand out, they managed to get it done in less than two hours. Unlike the Tonys the week before, the Critics Table had no one show like The Producers that swept the awards. As can be seen by a glance at the full list of awards on page 40, the theatre honors were pretty widely distributed. No show took home more than four awards, and three productions were able to do that, all of them musicals: the Austin Musical Theatre production of Oklahoma!, which shared the award for Production of a Musical with the Zachary Scott Theatre Center production of Jouét; and Evita, also a Zach Scott production. A handful of straight plays were awarded three honors each: Zach's Art and Circumference of a Squirrel; the Rude Mechs' Requiem for Tesla, which received a special citation for Overall Atmosphere; and the State Theater Company's A Macbeth. Still, when you add up all the honors that went to Zach productions, the theatre comes close to being the juggernaut of the evening. Its shows received 16 honors, among them all three of the awards for production: Comedy for Art; Drama for Circumference of a Squirrel; and the shared award for Musical for Jouét.
With the boost in awards beyond theatre, the critics hoped for a big turnout from the classical music, dance, and visual arts communities. And we got it. It was gratifying to have artists such as Stephen Mills of Ballet Austin, site-specific artist Sally Jacques, pianist Sophia Gilmson, Sylvia Orozco of Mexic-Arte Museum, singer Stephanie Prewitt, and dancers Theresa Hardy and Nicholas Young on hand to share in the fun. An especially welcome presence was Austin Symphony Orchestra Music Director Peter Bay -- in jeans, no less -- fresh from extending his contract with the ASO another three years. Guess that means the critics can look forward to conferring more honors on him for at least three more years.
The evening was relatively free of flubs and groaners. Perhaps the most memorable thing about this year's ceremony was the presence of cell phones during acceptance speeches. When Ellie McBride accepted Babs George's award for Actress in a Comedy, she called Babs' voicemail to get her pre-recorded acceptance speech. And when Madge Darlington accepted Shawn Sides' directing award for Tesla, she had Sides and fellow Rudes Kirk Lynn, Sarah Richardson, and Lana Lesley on the line from New York, where they had just closed Lipstick Traces. It was so 21st century but it made the room feel that much bigger.
Thanks to everyone who joined us, and congratulations to all the winners and nominees for this year's awards.