Local theater artists and fans celebrated in full force at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater on Monday at the inaugural Theatre Bay Area Awards ceremony, a three-hour extravaganza with funny hosts Marga Gomez and Will Durst, and an appearance by Betty Buckley.
Best production honors went to Marin Theatre Company’s “Fences,” Contra Costa Civic Theatre’s “August Osage County,” and Stanford Repertory Theatre’s “Moby Dick-Rehearsed” for outstanding play. San Jose Stage Company’s “The Threepenny Opera,” Broadway By the Bay’s “In the Heights” and Altarena Playhouse’s “Always… Patsy Cline” won in the outstanding musical category.
Winners were chosen from dozens of nominees in three tiered categories representing the Bay area’s varied professional, regional and community theaters, large and small. More than 180 productions presented by some 80 theaters were considered by some 200 peer judges (including artists, administrators, avid patrons and critics).
Acting honors, for a principal role in a play, went to Danny Scheie for California Shakespeare Theater’s “The Comedy of Errors,” Donald Currie for Theatre Rhinoceros’ “The Habit of Art” and Dale Albright for Dragon Productions Theatre Company’s “Take Me Out.” For principal role in a musical, winners were Johnny Moreno for “Threepenny Opera,” Alex Rodriguez for Broadway By the Bay’s “Evita” (Rodriguez also won for a featured role in Ray of Light Theatre’s “Triassic Parq”) and Will Giammona for Pinole Community Players’ “Merrily We Roll Along.”
Actress awards for a principal role in a play went to Harriett D. Foy for Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s “The House That Will Not Stand,” “Leontyne Mbele-Mbong for African-American Shakespeare Company’s “Medea” and Maggie Mason for Town Hall Theatre Company’s “Candida.” Winning actresses in a musical were Sharon Rietkerk for TheatreWorks’ “Marry Me a Little,” Leslie Ivy for Hillbarn Theatre Company’s “The Color Purple” and Margaret Belton for “Always … Patsy Cline.”
Theatre Bay Area’s first Legacy Awards, acknowledging extraordinary contributions, went to clown-actor Joan Mankin, producer-patron Jill Matichak, and Steve Silver’s record-breaking San Francisco revue “Beach Blanket Babylon.” A previously unannounced honor, along with $10,000, went to actor Charles Dean, for whom the award is named.
According to Theatre Bay Area director Brad Erickson, the ceremony was years in the making, and. for many, long overdue in one of America’s major theater markets.
Creators of the award system fashioned it after checking out programs in Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto and Los Angeles. For some theatergoers and presenters, it represents a fresh alternative to awards given by the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, whose members are not affiliated with the region’s primary media outlets.
For the complete list of winners, visit www.theatrebayarea.org.