I’d go easy on these guys, it was their first time out……” – Larry Murray
This past Sunday night at Mr. Finn’s Cabaret in Pittsfield, something wonderful happened. With just about every theatre company from miles around in attendance, the Berkshire theatre community honored its own at the Berkshire Theatre Awards. The event ran for some two hours, with plenty of socializing before and after the awards themselves. With just two brief moments on stage to welcome everyone and to present the Larry Murray Award to Julianne Boyd of Barrington Stage Company, I was able to watch what a committee of theatre critics, with a little help from their theatre friends, was able to throw together. It was pretty impressive.
Those in attendance laughed heartily as the emcees, Peter Bergman and Macey Levin made jokes and engaged in funny bits of stage business as they doled out their precious plaques to some 25+ recipients in record time. But it was the non-stop applause for all the nominees, each of whom was mentioned, that brought joy to my heart. So it is this brilliant collection of theatre people that get my first thanks, for giving us such a wonderful choice of great plays and musicals to choose from.
About half of the winners were able to attend, the others having other engagements somewhere between China (director John Rando) and London (actor Scarlett Strallen) both of whom won for The Pirates of Penzance. Traveling from Florida to accept his award for American Son was playwright Christopher Demos-Brown, who was delighted to be reunited with the lead actor in that show, Tamara Tunie, who was also recognized for her outstanding work in that production. Others who accepted their awards in person were Nehassaiu deGannes (Or,), Jess Goldstein (The Pirates of Penzance), John Hadden (Two Gentlemen of Verona), Dana Harrison (Holy Laughter) and Debra Jo Rupp (Kimberly Akimbo).
Taking photos during the ceremony was Stephen Sorokoff of Times Square Chronicles and Broadway World, who is the official photographer for the awards.
The awards had its own Spotlight Guests as Elizabeth Aspenlieder (Shakespeare & Company) did a remix/redux of some of her biggest “hits” with the help of nominee David Joseph (The Consul, the Tramp and America’s Sweetheart) which was both hilarious and touching.
Also providing several light moments was Bill Finn who, in picking up some awards for Broadway Bounty Hunter on behalf of Joe Iconis and his team was able to bring bursts of laughter and applause from his colleagues and peers.
Never far from the laughs was Debra Jo Rupp who allowed Peter Bergman to ask her some unusual interviewer-style questions. As Charles Guliano writes in his report:
Amusingly, she told us that she was wearing a jacket purchased five years ago to wear when accepting awards. But that didn’t happen until last night. Her pants a recent purchase, ending mid calf, were a fashion disaster. She plans to give them to her sister who lives in Vermont.
The pants riff was picked up by other presenters and milked for humor. Actor Mark Dold pranced around showing his spiffy pants. Ariel Bock and Jonathan Croy, co directors of S&Co. added to the fun. Bock modeled her pants. Croy brought down the house proclaiming that “I’m glad that I remembered to wear pants.”
– Charles Giuliano, Berkshire Fine Arts
Appreciated, if not singled out for an award, was the sumptuous array of snacks and finger food served up by critic Gloria Miller. She and her helpers constantly filled in the empties as the evening went on. Doing double duty as barkeeper and sound man was Tristan Wilson, Managing Director of Barrington Stage Company. Also busy with a dozen other important details was Rebecca Weiss, Executive Assistant to the Artistic Director/Literary Associate.
Working box office for the evening was Ed Sedarbaum who also coordinated the voting process for the Founder’s Committee of the Berkshire Theatre Awards. Rounding out the volunteers from the Founder’s Committee was critic Gail Burns who assembled the program and promotional materials for the event. Peter Bergman designed a slide show featuring images and details from some 50 shows around the region, and also acted as producer and writer for the event, along with the irrepressible Macey Levin.
So, the question remains, how many stars should we give this awards show?
I may be biased, but the correct answer is “More than there are in the heavens.”
And just wait until next year…