Oklahoma!, A Macbeth, and Art were the big winners at the 27th Annual B. Iden Payne Awards.
Payne Pleasures 2001
On Monday, Sept. 24, the Austin Circle of Theatres (ACoT) hosted the 27th annual B. Iden Payne Awards ceremony, honoring outstanding achievements in local theatre from August 2000 through July 2001. This year, the Payne Awards returned to the State Theater, site of the 25th Payne Awards ceremony, and while this year's event beat the clock on last year's three and a half-hour affair, the shorter program was not without its stumbles. The evening was notable for the presence of actor Howard Hesseman, best known for his work in television sitcoms, but an actor with extensive experience in theatre -- his recent work includes productions of Arthur Miller's Broken Glass and Douglas Wright's Quills -- as well as a long run with the legendary improv troupe The Committee, which is where he met and befriended ACoT Executive Director Latifah Taormina. As special guest emcee, Hesseman acquitted himself well, speaking from the heart about the need for theatre to continue in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedies. "The lights will not be dimmed," he said. "The show must go on." Sharing the podium with Hesseman was the divine Karen Kuykendall, who engaged her co-emcee in one of her trademark battles of wits. (He parried her thrusts deftly, for the most part.)
Still, as entertaining as the hosts were, the event itself suffered from numerous awkward pauses, confusion among presenters over order and introductions, and, most regrettably, the absence of at least half the announced winners. It was one "on behalf of" acceptance speech after another, with poor Ann Ciccolella, representing the Zachary Scott Theatre Center, taking the stage seven times to accept on behalf of Zach winners who weren't present.
As for those winners: Well, in a dramatic switch from last year, when VORTEX Repertory Company, dirigo group, and Frontera@Hyde Park Theatre dominated the win column, almost all the winners came from three major companies: Zach, State Theater Company, and Austin Musical Theatre. AMT took home six awards for its lush revival of Oklahoma!, plus one for Oliver! and a pair for its Performing Arts Academy production of Once Upon a Mattress. The State was honored with four awards for Guy Roberts' minimalist Shakespeare, A Macbeth, as well as for Roberts' performance in The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Zach left with three awards for the three-man comedy Art and a pair each for the drama Master Class and the comedy Circumference of a Squirrel, plus a special ensemble award to the chorus of Evita. That one came from the Nominations Committee, which also dispensed Special Recognition to Refraction Arts Project for outstanding use of cinematography in The Metamorphosis and to Zilker Theatre Productions for outstanding production by an orchestra in The Will Rogers Follies. The retiring chair of that committee, Larry McGonigal, was honored for his significant service in that capacity, and for her contributions to Austin theatre, former Frontera artistic director Vicky Boone was honored. In recognition of her exceptional support of the theatre community, ACoT acknowledged Angela Topfer.
Here are the winners:
Production, Comedy: Art (Zachary Scott Theatre Center, Actors Repertory of Texas, & DBA Productions)
Production, Drama: Master Class (Zachary Scott Theatre Center & Actors Repertory of Texas)
Production, Musical: Oklahoma! (Austin Musical Theatre)
Production, Play for Youth: Once Upon a Mattress (Austin Musical Theatre Performing Arts Academy)
Director, Comedy: Sarah Richardson, Art
Director, Drama: Guy Chandler Roberts, A Macbeth
Director, Musical: Scott Thompson & Richard Byron, Oklahoma!
Director, Play for Youth: G'ann Boyd, Alice in Wonderland
Actor & Actress, Comedy:
Martin Burke, Circumference of a Squirrel
Katherine Catmull, Body & Soul
Lead Actor & Actress, Drama:
(tie) Paul Norton, King Lear & Marco Noyola, Roosters
Lisa Bansavage, Master Class
Actor & Actress, Musical: (tie) Kevin Earley, Oklahoma! & Noah Racey, Oklahoma!
Jacqui Cross, Mahalia
Actor & Actress, Play for Youth:
Barrett Davis, The Emperor's New Shows
Marlow Moore, Once Upon a Mattress
Featured Actor & Actress, Drama:
Guy Chandler Roberts, The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Janis Stinson, A Streetcar Named Desire
Outstanding Cast Performance:
Chris Doubek/David Stahl/Jon Watson, Art
Scott Thompson & Richard Byron, Oklahoma!
Musical Direction (tie):
Fred Barton, Oklahoma!
Allen Robertson, Jelly's Last Jam
Original Score: Allen Robertson, Jouét
Original Script: John Walch, Circumference of a Squirrel
Costume Design: Dawn Allee, Oliver!
Lighting Design: Tony Tucci, A Macbeth
Set Design: Christopher McCollum, A Macbeth
Sound Design: Gunn Bros., A Macbeth