Pleasure of the Paynes 2015

Big wins for Am I White?, Heathers at the 2015 theatre awards

The cast of Por los Mojados with director Luis Armando Ordaz Gutiérrez (r)
The cast of Por los Mojados with director Luis Armando Ordaz Gutiérrez (r)

When your awards ceremony is being emceed by Zeus, you might expect the event to turn stormy at some point. But despite the presence of the bolt-throwing deity, the 41st annual B. Iden Payne Awards remained a sunny affair. Indeed, so much love poured down on local theatre companies and artists, it seemed like Aphrodite was running the show.

But it was indeed the paterfamilias of the Greek pantheon doing the honors, making his second appearance in the Rollins Studio Theatre this year, the first being in the world premiere of Whirligig Productions' Deus Ex Machina. In that show, Zeus (embodied there, as here, by the sharp and very funny Lowell Bartholomee) presided over the retelling of a Greek tragedy in which we mortals were allowed to play gods by voting on the fates of the characters. Votes figured prominently in this show, too, but they had been cast weeks before and only decided which local thespians contributed the most outstanding work onstage this past year, not whether ancient warriors and royals would live or die. Perhaps that's what allowed the normally tempestuous god to take it easy this time out. (And even working within the confines of his gruff character, Bartholomee proved a genial host and served up some hilarious material.)

Though His Thunderous Eminence drove the proceedings, the night really belonged to three companies: Salvage Vanguard Theater, which took home five awards for its world premiere production of Am I White?, by local playwright Adrienne Dawes, and another three, fittingly enough, for Thr3e Zisters, its zombified take on Chekhov; Doctuh Mistuh Productions, which received five awards for its staging of Heathers, the Musical and another two for its musical partner in rep this summer, The Rocky Horror Show; and Proyecto Teatro, which was honored with three awards for its production of Por los Mojados, one for its theatrical event Eros, and also the Distinguished Achievement Award. Among them, the trio collected almost half of this year's 46 awards.

Two other productions were graced with three prizes each: Cenicienta, the Zach Theatre/Teatro Vivo/Glass Half Full Theatre collaboration that put a contemporary bicultural spin on Cinderella, and the Present Company's immersive staging of Picasso at the Lapin Agile at the Museum of Human Achievement. Cenicienta star Gricelda Silva had a trifecta of her own, winning the Outstanding Actress in a Theatre for Youth Production for her performance in that show and the Lead Actress in a Comedy award for her performance in Changelings, as well as sharing in the Ensemble Performance award with fellow puppeteers Travis Bedard, Noel Gaulin, Jose Villareal, Zac Crofford, and Katy Taylor for their collective work on The Strange Case of Edward Hyde and Dr. Jekyll.

Scattered among all the honors handed out were performances from the past season, and they lifted the spirits of those present almost as much as winning a prize did. Ebony Stewart had the audience spellbound with a selection from her solo work Hunger, proving how richly deserving she was of the Lead Actress in a Drama award she received. Matt Shields and Tony Merriweather, colleagues in Tapestry Dance Company for several years, re-created the tap battle that was a highlight of Zach Theatre's Sophisticated Ladies this summer and brought the Payne Awards crowd to its feet. And Kim Stacy, clad in a swimsuit with an innertube that suggested a tutu, did a raucous, bawdy dance of summer from the Institution Theater sketch show Fuck, It's Hot that no description of mine would do justice to. Suffice to say that it was far from being godly, but it was divine comedy.

And here is the complete list of award winners:

THEATRE FOR YOUTH

Production
Por los Mojados, La Compañía Juvenil de Proyecto Teatro

Director
Luis Ormando Ordaz Gutiérrez, Por los Mojados

Actor
Chase Brewer, A Year With Frog and Toad

Actress
Gricelda Silva, Cenicienta

Young Performer
Lena Owens, Tortoise and Hare

IMPROV THEATRE

Production
Nothing and Everything, Hideout Theatre

Direction
Jon Bolden, Nothing and Everything

Rudy Kloptik Award for Outstanding Improvisational Troupe
The Knuckleball Now

COMEDY

Production
Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Present Company

Direction
Yuri Urnov, Thr3e Zisters

Lead Actor
Michael Ferstenfeld, Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Lead Actress
Gricelda Silva, Changelings

Featured Actor
Travis Bedard, Changelings

Featured Actress
Liz Beckham, Picasso at the Lapin Agile

DRAMA

Production
Am I White?, Salvage Vanguard Theater

Direction
Jenny Larson, Am I White?

Lead Actor
J. Ben Wolfe, Am I White?

Lead Actress
Ebony Stewart, Hunger

Featured Actor
Michael Joplin, Am I White?

Featured Actress
Taylor Flanagan, When the Rain Stops Falling

MUSIC THEATRE

Production
Heathers, the Musical, Doctuh Mistuh Productions

Direction
Michael McKelvey, Heathers, the Musical

Musical Direction
Michael McKelvey and Adam Roberts, Heathers, the Musical

Lead Actor
Gray Randolph, The Rocky Horror Show

Lead Actress
Aline Mayagoitia, Heathers, the Musical

Featured Actor
Vincent Hooper, Hairspray

Featured Actress
Taylor Bryant, Heathers, the Musical

DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY AWARDS

Set Design
Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Ia Ensterä

Lighting Design
The Strange Case of Edward Hyde and Dr. Jekyll, Stephen Pruitt

Costume Design
The Rocky Horror Show, Glenda Barnes

Sound Design
Thr3e Zisters, Robert S. Fisher

Media Design
The Wars of Heaven, Part One, Chris Owen

Puppetry
Cenicienta, Zach Theatre, Teatro Vivo, and Glass Half Full Theatre

Stage Management
Stephanie Delk, Deus Ex Machina

GENERAL CATEGORY AWARDS

Original Script
Am I White?, Adrienne Dawes

Original Score
Cenicienta, Ammon Taylor

Theatrical Event
Eros, Proyecto Teatro

Fight Choreography
Erica Gionfriddo, Gusev

Dance Choreography
Juan Pablo Flores, Por los Mojados

Ensemble Performance
Jose Villarreal with Zac Crofford and Katy Taylor; Travis Bedard with Noel Gaulin and Gricelda Silva, The Strange Case of Edward Hyde and Dr. Jekyll

Cast Performance
Cock, Theatre en Bloc

Featured Music Performance
Michael Ferstenfeld, Now Then Again

DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Proyecto Teatro

SPECIAL RECOGNITION CERTIFICATES

Benjamin Bradley, Robert Matney & Tim Thomas: The Gods in the Machines
For outstanding technical achievement in Deus Ex Machina, Whirligig Productions, Fusebox Festival, and Shrewd Productions

Lacy Shawn
For programming for at-risk and special needs youth, Hideout Theatre

David Yeakle
For his outstanding legacy of movement theatre

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More B. Iden Payne Awards
2018 B. Iden Payne Award Winners
2018 B. Iden Payne Award Winners
Top honors go to Drowsy Chaperone and Fixing Troilus

Robert Faires, Nov. 7, 2018

2017 Payne Theatre Award Winners
2017 Payne Theatre Award Winners
Lotta love for Nevermore, Drowning Girls, Agent Andromeda

Robert Faires, Oct. 25, 2017

More by Robert Faires
Local Exhibitions Point to Ways People of Color Were Freed but Still Aren't Free
Local Exhibitions Point to Ways People of Color Were Freed but Still Aren't Free
The Carver Museum asks: Freedom when?

June 14, 2019

In Memoriam: Bill Wittliff
In Memoriam: Bill Wittliff
Legendary writer/photographer/collector/benefactor dead at 79

June 12, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

B. Iden Payne Awards, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Doctuh Mistuh Productions, Proyecto Teatro, Lowell Bartholomee, Ebony Stewart, Tony Merriwether, Matt Shields, Gricelda Silva, Kim Stacy

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle