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:


Por los Mojados, La Compañía Juvenil de Proyecto Teatro

Luis Ormando Ordaz Gutiérrez, Por los Mojados

Chase Brewer, A Year With Frog and Toad

Gricelda Silva, Cenicienta

Young Performer
Lena Owens, Tortoise and Hare


Nothing and Everything, Hideout Theatre

Jon Bolden, Nothing and Everything

Rudy Kloptik Award for Outstanding Improvisational Troupe
The Knuckleball Now


Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Present Company

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


Am I White?, Salvage Vanguard Theater

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


Heathers, the Musical, Doctuh Mistuh Productions

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


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

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

Stage Management
Stephanie Delk, Deus Ex Machina


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

Proyecto Teatro


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

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More B. Iden Payne Awards
2019 B. Iden Payne Award Winners
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Five shows share top honors with four awards each

Robert Faires, Nov. 6, 2019

2018 B. Iden Payne Award Winners
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B. Iden Payne Awards, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Doctuh Mistuh Productions, Proyecto Teatro, Lowell Bartholomee, Ebony Stewart, Tony Merriwether, Matt Shields, Gricelda Silva, Kim Stacy

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