The Critics Table's Crème de la Crème

The winners of the 2017-18 Austin Critics Table Awards

The crowd could hardly compete with the one packed into the Erwin Center for Paul Simon Monday night, but the one at Cap City Comedy Club was large enough to fill the showroom as the Austin Critics Table gathered for the 26th time to honor outstanding work in the arts – and prove, perhaps, that its members are still crazy after all these years.

Veronica Williams accepts the award for Best Singer at the 2018 Austin Critics Table Awards (Photo by John Anderson)

Nine arts writers and editors who belong to the informal association spent three-plus hours handing out some 44 awards and special citations to creatives in the fields of theatre, dance, design, classical music, visual art, and improv. No single production, exhibition, or concert swept the field, though in a unique show of appreciation for an individual work, the Critics Table recognized the Vortex Repertory Company's expansive and immersive theatrical production/scavenger hunt Performance Park with four special citations. Texas State University's Musical Theatre Program received one award and a special citation for its production of Ragtime; Ben Toomer, who starred in the production, received a Deacon Crain Award for outstanding student work; and Kaitlin Hopkins, who heads the program, was honored with a special citation. Street Corner Arts' production of Grounded received three awards. Blue Lapis Light's aerial dance work Belonging, Part One received two awards, plus a special citation for its rigging team.

Two new categories were added this year, both under the heading of Theatre: Periphery Company, recognizing the theatrical body of work by companies outside of Austin proper, and Improvised Production, recognizing mainstage projects by area improv troupes. Wimberley Players received the inaugural Periphery Company award, while the first Improvised Production award was shared by the Hideout Theatre's improvised musical Orphans! and Golden's immersive silent work Speak No More.

Inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame at the ceremony were: Norman Blumensaadt (theatre), Kathy Dunn Hamrick (dance), Jeanne and Michael Klein (patronage), and Anuradha Naimpally (dance).

Taking part in the Critics Table award process this year were the Austin American-Statesman's Andrew J. Friedenthal (theatre) and Claire Canavan (theatre); the Chronicle's Elizabeth Cobbe (theatre), Melany Jean (visual arts), T. Lynn Mikeska (theatre), Robi Polgar (classical music), Jonelle Seitz (dance), Shanon Weaver (theatre), and Robert Faires (arts); Central Texas Live Theatre's Michael Meigs (theatre) and Dr. David Glen Robinson (theatre, dance); Arts & Culture Texas' Claire Spera (dance); Broadway World Austin's Lynn Beaver (theatre), Frank Benge (theatre), and Lacey Cannon (theatre); Austin Entertainment Weekly's Olin Meadows (theatre); and Conflict of Interest TX's Rebecca Marino (visual arts) and Thao Votang (visual arts). Note: Members of the Table refrained from voting on any project in which they or an immediate family member took part.

The 2017-18 Austin Critics Table Award Winners


Henry IV, The Hidden Room Theatre
Ragtime, Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance

Jason Phelps, The Brothers Size

David Mark Cohen New Play Award
Wild Horses, Allison Gregory

Performance by an Ensemble
The Wolves, Hyde Park Theatre

Performance by an Individual
John Christopher, The Brothers Size/Fixing Troilus and Cressida
Chanel, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
Jennifer Coy Jennings, Wild Horses
Sarah Danko, The Effect/Grounded
Judd Farris, Henry IV/The Repentance of Saint Joan
Joseph Garlock, The Immigrant

Periphery Company
Wimberley Players, Wimberley

Improvised Production
Orphans!, The Hideout Theatre
Speak No More, Golden

Norman Blumensaadt comments on his induction into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame at the 2018 Austin Critics Table Awards. (Photo by John Anderson)


Stephanie Busing, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Chris Conard & Zac Thomas, Pocatello

Buffy Manners, Shakespeare in Love

Rachel Atkinson, Scheherazade/TWENTYEIGHT/Catalina de Erauso/The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time/con flama

Lowell Bartholomee, Grounded

Lowell Bartholomee, The Effect/Wakey Wakey/The Repentance of Saint Joan/Grounded
Robert Mallin, ENRON

Jennifer Hart accepts the award for Best Choreographer at the 2018 Austin Critics Table Awards. (Photo by John Anderson)


(Re)current Unrest, Charles O. Anderson/Fusebox Festival

Short Work
“Four Mortal Men,” Ballet Austin

Jennifer Hart, “Fellow Travelers”/“Murmuration”

Anika Jones, Belonging, Part One
Rosalyn Nasky, “Come In!!!”/”Pod”/There’s No Such Thing as a Single Stripe
Jun Shen, Belonging, Part One

Exit Wounds/Masters of Dance, Ballet Austin


Southwest Voices, Chorus Austin

Chamber Performance
Golden Hornet Young Composers Concert, Golden Hornet

Original Composition/Score
i/we, Joseph V. Williams II

Invoke, Beerthoven/Golden Hornet Smackdown IV

Bruce Colson, It’s About Time: Companions
Artina McCain, Black Composers Concert: The Black Female Composer

Marina Costa-Jackson, La Traviata
Jenifer Thyssen, An Early Christmas/It’s About Time: Companions/Complaints Through the Ages
Veronica Williams, “Songs of Remembrance and Resistance”

Jenifer Thyssen accepts the award for Best Singer at the 2018 Austin Critics Table Awards. (Photo by John Anderson)


Solo Gallery Exhibition
“Claude van Lingen: Timekeeper,” Co-Lab Projects

Group Gallery Exhibition
“Yo soy aqui / I am here,” ICOSA

Museum Exhibition
“The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip,” Blanton Museum of Art

Independent Project
2017 Texas Biennial

Gallery, Body of Work
Co-Lab Projects

Michael Anthony Garcia


John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versaility
Mary Agen Cox, Jeff Mills

Deacon Crain Award for Outstanding Student Work
Connor Barr, Kat Lozano, University of Texas;
Ben Toomer, Texas State University

Outstanding Music Direction Award
Austin Haller for Ragtime

Outstanding Choreography Award
Natasha Davison for The Drowsy Chaperone

Horn of Plenty Award
Benjamin Taylor Ridgeway & Jennifer Rose Davis for the masks in Rhinoceros

Jurassic Spark Award
The Hatchery at the University of Texas for creating the raptors in ENRON

Dream Come True Award
Bonnie Cullum for conceiving Performance Park

Mt. Everest Award
Vortex Repertory Company for realizing Performance Park

Good Enough to Eat Award
Melissa Vogt for her portrayal of Baba Yaga in Performance Park

Future of Theatre Award
Bonnie Cullum and the Vortex Family for Performance Park

One Singular Sensation Award
Kaitlin Hopkins for the Texas State University Musical Theatre Program

Always a Safe Flight Award
Barry Wilson & Team for their rigging design and execution in Belonging, Part One

Outstanding Touring Show, Dance
Johnny Cruise Mercer and Fusebox Festival for plunge in/to 534

Architecture Is Art Award
Blanton Museum of Art for Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin

Flip the Table Award
David Wyatt & John Riedie for meritorious service to the Austin Critics Table Awards

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Austin Critics Table Awards, Austin Critics Table, Vortex Repertory Company, Performance Park, Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance, Kaitlin Hopkins, Street Corner Arts, Blue Lapis Light

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