Here are your 2013 True West Award Winners: Spread out … or spread thin?

By John Moore
Dec. 29, 2013

The Curious Theatre Company, a whopping seven-time winner of the prestigious “best year by a company” Ovation/True West Award, wasn’t even a finalist in that category this year. That’s largely because Denver’s most vital artery to the pulse of the New York theater got mired in a redundant pattern of stories about unpleasant family squabbles.

But one of them stood starkly apart: “The Brothers Size” took the ordinary premise of two bickering African-American brothers and transported audiences not only inside their percussive, modern-day world on the Louisiana bayou, but all the way down the rabbit hole of their ancestral culture and mythology.  This wasn’t just the story of two  iconic brothers, one struggling to stay the straight course while the other seeks the shortest of short cuts. This was Cain and Abel. A black “True West” — which makes it an all-the-more fitting selection for the True West Awards’ best drama of 2013.

Dee Covington’s rough and lyrical staging, impeccably performed by the trio of Laurence Curry, Cajardo Lindsey and Damion Hoover  (each of whom were individually nominated for their performances), also has won for best director and actor (Curry). This was the Curious we’ve always known, at its best.

For the first time, the best-musical award goes to Fort Collins’ Midtown Arts Center for its stirring production of “Les Misérables.” Longtime Denver actor David Ambroson (best actor in a musical) delivered the performance of his life as Valjean. After 19 years, the MAC has moved ever closer to reaching artistic parity with the Arvada Center when it comes to making big, Broadway musicals.

The True West Awards, which began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001, are the longest-running continuously administered awards program in Colorado theater. And in this, their 13th year, the results reflect a theater community in major transition. Theater is growing at a rate that seems wholly unsustainable for the long run. There were far more total productions offered on Colorado stages in 2013 than in any previous year.  That resulted in a busy, busy year  that will be remembered for its sheer volume, if not for its overall artistic achievement. The year was marked by small starbursts of brilliance, many of which are reflected in these awards. But the year is ending without a detectable, community-wide groundswell of forward artistic momentum.

While it is never the intent of the True West Awards to spread its largess around like Field Day participation ribbons, it is telling that no single theater company received more than three awards for its work in 2013. That 19 companies won at least one award is a record. And a telling one.

Plenty of theater companies are doing good work, and selling a lot of tickets. But overall, The bar for what is considered “good enough” seems to have slipped a rung. The collective vision for the future seems uncertain. While Buntport continues to produce the kind of original, fanciful new creations we’ve become accustomed to for more than a decade, only few small companies  seem poised to make significant growth gains in the coming year — the kind that a decade ago vaulted Curious Theatre from an upstart to its present place as Denver’s only true, mid-sized professional theater.

The scrappy Edge Theatre had a season filled with creative fits and starts that portend a possible breakout year in 2014. Boulder’s The Catamounts and Local Theatre seem to be moving full-forward, and the handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company  ventured into new territory. Mountain companies like Lake Dillon and Breckenridge Backstage are growing by leaps and bounds, but the only Denver company that seems clearly poised to become “the next Curious” is the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. This is a company on a documented, sustained growth trajectory over eight years now. Co-founder Stephen Weitz recorded a 42 percent attendance gain last year, with similar upticks in both budget size and donations. And this growth is clearly, directly attributable to the company’s commitment to building the quality of the work on the stage. That, and given that all of the  solid work presented in its smartly chosen 2013 lineup, made BETC (it goes by “Betsy”) the easy choice for the True West “best year by a company” award.

Elsewhere,  ours seems to be a community in a whole lot of flux. Some of it for the better. Some not.

Several of our most reliable and successful companies are now in the midst of varying leadership, personnel, mission or programming transitions, including the Arvada Center, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, the Miners Alley Playhouse, Vintage Theatre, the Aurora Fox, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre, and even the Denver Center. Many of these companies seem to be re-evaluating who they are, and who they want to be moving forward. That could all be for the better.

But the venerable Heritage Square Music Hall closes on Tuesday.  Germinal Stage-Denver and the LIDA Project have entered periods of dormancy — and we all know companies that enter dormancy often never wake up from it. Those three troupes alone represent 85 years of Colorado theater history.

There is a lot on the line in 2014.

One thing is certain: The local theater landscape almost certainly will look vastly  different a year from now than it does today.

But while we wait for all of that to play out, let’s take a moment to look back on some of the brightest moments in Colorado theater 2013:

CULTURE WEST’s 2013 TRUE WEST AWARD WINNERS:

Note: The “Readers’ choice” designees below are not the official True West Award winners. Those are chosen by John Moore, who saw about 150 productions in 2013. Readers’ choice results are determined by 1,044 unique respondents to an online survey.

THEATER PERSON OF THE YEAR:
Shelly Bordas

(Click here to read our separate story on Shelly Bordas)
3 BORDASReaders’ choice voting:
1. Shelly Bordas: 13.2 percent
1. Rick Yaconis: 13.2 percent
3. Edith Weiss: 13.0 percent
4. John Ashton: 11.4 percent
5. Brian Freeland: 7.5 percent
5. Erin Rollman: 7.5 percent
Also nominated: Ed Baierlein, Linda Morken, Stephen Weitz, Christopher Willard
Write-ins: 10.2 percent
Leading write-in: Deb Flomberg, 4 votes

BEST YEAR BY A COMPANY:
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

13 BETCReaders’ choice voting:
1. Arvada Center: 23.9 percent
2. Phamaly Theatre Company: 22.9 percent
3. Colorado Shakespeare Festival: 15.7 percent
4. Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: 13.3 percent
5. Boulder’s Dinner Theatre: 11.3 percent
Write-ins: 13.1 percent
Leading write-ins: Edge Theatre (16 votes) and Midtown Arts Center (14)

BEST DRAMA:
Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”

16 BROTHERSReaders’ choice voting:
1. Aurora Fox’s “Metamorphoses”: 25.9 percent
2. Ashton Entertainment’s “The Seafarer”: 24.2 percent
3. Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”: 19.8 percent
4. Boulder Ensemble’s “Ghost-Writer”: 15.6 percent
5. Springs Ensemble Theatre’s “A Steady Rain”: 8.8 percent
Write-ins: 6.1 percent
Leading write-in: Edge Theatre’s “Newark Violenta,” 3 votes

BEST MUSICAL:
Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”

24 LES MISReaders’ choice voting:
1. Phamaly Theatre Company’s “Fiddler on the Roof”: 21.4 percent
2. Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”: 20.2 percent
3. Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”: 19.8 percent
4. Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”: 17.4 percent
4. Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”: 17.4 percent
Write-ins: 3.2 percent
Leading write-in: Vintage Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein,” 4 votes

BEST COMEDY:
Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
28 midsummerReaders’ choice voting:
1. Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: 43 percent
2. Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”: 17.7 percent
3. The Avenue’s “Motherhood Out Loud”: 14.9 percent
4. Boulder Ensemble’s “Bach at Leipzig”: 14.6 percent
5. OpenStage’s “Bullshot Crummond”: 6.5 percent
Write-ins: 3.8 percent
Leading write-in: Phamaly Theatre Company’s “The Foreigner,” 2 votes

31 WAKE

BEST NEW PLAY:
Buntport Theater’s “Wake”
Other nominees:
LIDA Project’s “R.U.R/lol”
Buntport Theater’s “Electra Onion Eater”
The Edge’s “Newark Violenta”
(Note: This was not a readers’ choice category)

BEST YEAR BY AN ACTOR:
Sam Gregory

Readers’ choice voting:
36 GREGORY1. Sam Gregory: 15.6 percent
2. James O’Hagan-Murphy: 15.2 percent
3. Matt LaFontaine: 13.1 percent
4. Jeremy Palmer: 11.9 percent
5. Seth Caikowski: 10.2 percent
Also nominated: Wayne Kennedy, Seth Maisel, Eric Mather, Tyrell D. Rae and Sean Scrutchins
Write-ins: 0.8 percent
Leading write-in: Four with one vote each

BEST YEAR BY AN ACTRESS:
Megan Van De Hey

54 van de heyReaders’ choice voting:
1. Megan Van De Hey: 20 percent
2. Jamie Ann Romero: 13.7 percent
3. Emma Messenger: 12.1 percent
4. Sarah Grover: 11.5 percent
5. Haley Johnson: 9.4 percent
Also nominated: Rhonda Brown, Rachel Fowler, Devon James, Missy Moore, Anne Oberbroeckling
Write-ins: 2.3 percent
Leading write-in: Jennifer DeDominici, 2 votes

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA:
Laurence Curry, Oshoosi Size, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”

56 CURRYReaders’ choice voting:
1. Cajardo Lindsey, Ogun Size, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”: 24.2 percent
2. Laurence Curry, Oshoosi Size, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”: 22.9 percent
3. Steve Emily, Denny, Springs Ensemble Theatre’s “A Steady Rain”: 19.9 percent
4. Lorenzo Sarinana, Yank, LIDA Project’s “The Hairy Ape”: 16.3 percent
5. Patrick Call, Rico, Dangerous Theatre’s “Dark Wood”: 11.4 percent
Write-ins: 5.2 percent
Leading write-in: Brian Landis Folkins, Edge Theatre’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” 3 votes

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA:
Erica Sarzin-Borrillo, Mary Tyrone, Germinal Stage-Denver’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

63 sarzinReaders’ choice voting:
1. Maggy Stacy, Maggie, The Edge’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”: 33.1 percent
2. Anne Oberbroeckling, Sister Aloysius, Cherry Creek Theatre’s “Doubt”: 22.7 percent
3. Adrienne Martin-Fullwood, Martha, Athena Project’s “Tell Martha Not to Moan”: 18.3 percent
4. Laura Norman, Myra Babbage, Boulder Ensemble’s “Ghost-Writer”: 14.1 percent
5. Erica Sarzin-Borrillo, Mary Tyrone, Germinal Stage-Denver’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”: 9.9 percent
Write-ins: 2.0 percent
Leading write-in: Lyndsay Palmer, Phamaly Theatre Company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 3 votes

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA:
Joe Von Bokern, Billy Bibbitt, Edge Theatre’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
69 VBReaders’ choice voting:
1. Joe Von Bokern, Billy Bibbitt, Edge Theatre’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”: 34.8 percent
2. Nathan Stith, MacDuff, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Macbeth”: 23.4 percent
3. Brian Colonna, Caliban, Buntport’s “Wake”: 15.5 percent
4. Damion Hoover, Elegba, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”: 15.1 percent
5. Andrew Uhlenhopp, Michael, 11 Minutes Theatre’s “Dancing at Lughnasa”: 10.6 percent
Write-ins: 0.6 percent
Leading write-in: Two with 1 vote

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA:
Rachel Fowler, M’Lynn, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”

71 fowlerReaders’ choice voting:
1. Emma Messenger, Big Mama, The Edge’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”: 34.5 percent
2. Rachel Fowler, M’Lynn, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”: 23.9 percent
3. Rachel D. Graham, Sister James, Cherry Creek Theatre’s “Doubt”: 19.5 percent
4. C. Kelly Leo, Ellen/Jenna, Curious Theatre’s “Maple & Vine”: 11.2 percent
5. Adrian Egolf, Shelby, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”: 10.6 percent
Write-ins: 0.3 percent
Leading write-in: One with 1 vote

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
David Ambroson, Valjean, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
75 AMBROSENReaders’ choice voting:
1. David Ambroson, Valjean, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”: 27.3 percent
2. Mark Dissette, Tevye, Phamaly’s “Fiddler on the Roof”: 22.3 percent
3. John Arp, Tevye, Lamont School of Music’s “Fiddler on the Roof” 19.6 percent
4. Casey Andree, Claude, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”: 15.3 percent
5. Charlie Schmidt, Princeton/Rod, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s “Avenue Q”: 11 percent
Write-ins: 4.5 percent
Leading write-in: Three with 2 each

ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
SuCh, Celie, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”
83 SUCH 2Readers’ choice voting:
1. SuCh, Celie, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”: 31.4 percent
2. Jennifer DeDominici, Aldonza, Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”: 21.7 percent
3. Alisha Winter, Maria, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s “The Sound of Music”: 16.6 percent
4. Norrell Moore, Sheila, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”: 13.6 percent
5. Lisa Finnerty, Judy, Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 To 5,” The Musical”: 12.6 percent
Write-ins: 4.1 percent
Leading write-in: Megan Van De Hey, Starkey Theatrix’s “Always, Patsy Cline,” 4 votes. (Note: That production was ineligible for consideration because True West Awards founder John Moore directed it).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
Colin Alexander, Christopher Belling, Arvada Center’s “Curtains”
Readers’ choice voting:
85 alexander1. Nigel Huckle, Marius, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”: 23.1 percent
2. Colin Alexander, Christopher Belling, Arvada Center’s “Curtains”: 22.9 percent
3. Cory Wendling, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s “Avenue Q”: 21.9 percent
4. Mark Shonsey, Igor, Vintage Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein”: 20.2 percent
5. William Thomas Evans, Merlyn, King Pellinore, Arvada Center’s “Camelot”: 9.5 percent
Write-ins: 2.4 percent
Leading write-in: Ben Hilzer, Up in Lights’ “Fiddler on the Roof,” 3 votes

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
Anna High, Sofia, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”

92 HIGHReaders’ choice voting:
1. Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Madame Thenardier, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”: 29.1 percent
2. Ashlie-Amber Harris, Shug Avery, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”: 22.7 percent
3. Shannan Steele, Pam, Cherry Creek Theatre’s “Baby”: 18.3 percent
4. Jona Alonzo, Roz, Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5, The Musical”: 15.5 percent
5. Anna High, Sofia, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”: 11.9 percent
Write-ins: 2.7 percent
Leading write-in: Samantha Cooley, Up In Lights’ “Fiddler on the Roof,” 3 votes

BEST ACTOR IN A COMIC ROLE:
Larry Hecht, Puck, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
97 HECHT Readers’ voting:
1. Larry Hecht, Puck, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: 31.7 percent
2. Steef Sealy, Richard, Ashton Entertainment’s “The Seafarer”: 25.3 percent
3. Tom Auclair, Artie, The Edge’s “The House of Blue Leaves”: 18.6 percent
4. Sam Gregory, Johann Friedrich Fasch, Boulder Ensemble’s “Bach at Leipzig”: 16 percent
5. Matthew Stalker, Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond, OpenStage’s “Bullshot Crummond”: 7 percent
Write-ins: 1.4 percent
Leading write-in: 5 with 1 vote each

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMIC ROLE:
Sharon Kay White, Mary Jo, Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”

104 whiteReaders’ choice voting:
1. Jenna Bainbridge, Hermia, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: 34.7 percent
2. Sharon Kay White, Mary Jo, Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”: 18.3 percent
3. Erin Rollman, Electra, Buntport’s “Electra Onion Eater”: 17.4 percent
4. Leslie O’Carroll, Madame Arcati, Arvada Center’s “Blithe Spirit”: 15.2 percent
5. Jane Shirley, various roles, The Avenue’s “Motherhood Out Loud”: 13.2 percent
Write-ins: 1.2 percent
Leading write-in: Four with 1 vote each

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMIC ROLE:
Sean Scrutchins, Lysander, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

109 scrutchinsReaders’ choice voting:
1. Eric Mather, Clown, Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”: 30.7 percent
2. Sean Scrutchins, Lysander, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: 22 percent
3. Nigel Gore, Bottom, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: 22.5 percent
4. Kevin Leonard, Brother Boy, Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”: 14.4 percent
5. Will Ferrie, seven roles, OpenStage’s “Bullshot Crummond”: 8.9 percent
Write-ins: 1.3 percent
Leading write-in: Four with 1 vote each

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMIC ROLE:
Emma Messenger, Noleta, Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”
112 messengerReaders’ choice voting:
1. Jamie Ann Romero, Titania, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: 33 percent
2. Rhonda Brown, Truvy, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”: 23 percent
3. Emma Messenger, Noleta, Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”: 21.5 percent
4. Hannah Duggan, Clytemnestra, Buntport’s “Electra Onion Eater”: 11.9 percent
5. Lindsey Pierce, Lois Coleman, Miners Alley Playhouse “Wonder of the World”: 9.7 percent
Write-ins: 0.9 percent
Leading write-in: 3 with 1 vote each

BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE:
Wendy Ishii, Joan Didion, Bas Bleu’s “The Year of Magical Thinking”
117 ishiiReaders’ choice voting:
James O’Hagan-Murphy, Robert Kennedy, Vintage Theatre’s “RFK: A Portrait of Robert Kennedy”: 57.2 percent
Michelle Hurtubise, Woman, Theatre Esprit Asia’s “Spirit and Sworded Treks”: 13.7 percent
Wendy Ishii, Joan Didion, Bas Bleu’s “The Year of Magical Thinking”: 25.3 percent
Write-ins: 1.4 percent percent
Leading write-in: Adrian Egolf, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “12 Dates of Christmas,” 3 votes
Note: Rhonda Brown first played Molly Ivins in the LIDA Project’s “Red Hot Patriot” in 2012 and won the readers’ choice award for best actress in a drama. Actors are not eligible for consideration for playing the same role a second time.

121 slaughter

BEST YOUNGER ACTOR:
August Slaughter, Rudy, Bas Bleu Theatre’s “Over the Tavern”

Other nominees:
Eli Brandt, Gavroche, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
Peter Cabrera, Rudy, Longmont Theatre Company’s “Over the Tavern”
Devon Erickson, Doody, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Grease”
Ella Tieze, Irene Ratliff, Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”
(Note: This was not a readers’ choice category)

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A PLAY:
Ashton Entertainment’s “The Seafarer”
126 SeafarerReaders’ voting:
Ashton Entertainment’s “The Seafarer”: 24.8 percent
Aurora Fox’s “Metamorphoses”: 24.3 percent
Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”: 18.5 percent
Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”: 17 percent
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Bach at Leipzig”: 11.3 percent
Write-ins: 4.1 percent
Leading write-in: Two with 2 votes each

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A MUSICAL:
Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”
130 LA MANCHAReaders’ choice voting:
1. Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”: 26.7 percent
2. Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”: 26.2 percent
3. Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”: 19.8 percent
4. Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”: 15 percent
5. Magic Moments’ “Spirit & Soul”: 6.8 percent
Write-ins: 5.5 percent
Leading write-in: Phamaly Theatre Company’s “Fiddler on the Roof,” 4 votes

BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY:
Dee Covington, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”
134 covingtonReaders’ choice voting:
1. Geoffrey Kent, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 33.1 percent
2. Bernie Cardell, Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives” 18.7 percent
3. Amanda Berg Wilson, The Catamounts’ “Failure: A Love Story”: 15 percent
4. Dee Covington, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size” 14.1 percent
4. Josh Hartwell, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Ghost-Writer” 14.1 percent
Write-ins: 5 percent
Leading write-in: Four with 2 votes each

BEST DIRECTORS OF A MUSICAL:
Nick Sugar and Donna Debreceni, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
140 sugar debReaders’ choice voting:
1. Nick Sugar and Donna Debreceni, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”: 24.3 percent
2. Kurt Terrio and Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”: 21.8 percent
3. donnie l. betts and David Wohl, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”: 19.2 percent
4. Rod Lansberry and David Nehls, Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”: 16.9 percent
5. Christopher Willard and Donna Debreceni, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s “Avenue Q”: 13.6 percent
Write-ins: 4.2 percent
Leading write-ins: Steve Wilson and Donna Debreceni, Phamaly Theatre Company’s “Fiddler on the Roof”; and Deb Flomberg and Hunter Hall, Vintage Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein,” 4 votes each

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY:
Danny Harrigan, Ignite Theatre’s “Cabaret”
145 harriganReaders’ choice voting:
1. Nick Sugar, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”: 28.1 percent
2. Janice Guy-Sayles, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”: 19.6 percent
3. Matt LaFontaine, Vintage Theatre’s “In the Heights”: 17.4 percent
4. Danny Harrigan, Ignite Theatre’s “Cabaret”: 15.8 percent
5. Alicia Dunfee, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”: 14.8 percent
Write-ins: 4.3 percent
Leading write-in: Jamie Horton, Vintage Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein,” 4 votes

BEST SCENIC DESIGN:
Buntport ensemble, “Wake”
148 WAKEReaders’ choice voting:
Buntport ensemble, “Wake”: 17.4 percent
Steven J. Deidel, LIDA Project’s “RUR/lol”: 7.3 percent
Brian Mallgrave, Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”: 37.2 percent
Shannon McKinney and Chip Walton, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”: 23.3 percent
Adam Stone, Screw Tooth’s “Some Kind of Fun”: 14.9 percent
Write-ins: None

BEST SOUND DESIGN:
Adam Stone, Buntport Theater’s “Wake”
152 stoneReaders’ choice voting:
1. Wayne Kennedy, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”: 34 percent
2. John Rivera, Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”: 21.5 percent
3. Adam Stone, Buntport Theater’s “Wake”: 16.6 percent
4. Andrew Metzroth, Boulder Ensemble’s “Bach at Leipzig”: 15.2 percent
5. Dustin Lacy, LIDA Project’s “R.U.R/lol”: 11.7 percent
Write-ins: 1 percent
Leading write-in: Three with 1 vote each

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN:
Steven J. Deidel, LIDA Project’s “R.U.R./lol”
161 DEIDELReaders’ choice voting:
Shannon McKinney, Aurora Fox’s “Metamorphoses”: 28.3 percent
Benjamin Danielowski, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”: 26.7 percent
Kerry Cripe, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Ghost-Writer”: 20.9 percent
Seth Alison, Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”: 15.2 percent
Steven J. Deidel, LIDA Project’s “R.U.R./lol”: 7.5 percent
Write-ins: 1.4 percent
Leading write-in: Four with 1 vote each

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Kiana Coney, Su Teatro/The Source’s “The Gospel at Colonus”
163 gospelReaders’ choice voting:
1. Linda Morken, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”: 26.8 percent
2. Linda Morken, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”: 25.5 percent
3. Clare Henkel, Arvada Center’s “Curtains”: 23.9 percent
4. Cinde Franke, Performance Now’s “Once Upon a Mattress”: 16 percent
5. Kiana Coney, Su Teatro/The Source’s “The Gospel at Colonus”: 7.8 percent
Write-ins: None

BEST MULTIMEDIA INTEGRATION:
Steven J. Deidel, Kenrick Fischer, Kevin Zegan, Max Peterson and Brian Freeland, LIDA Project’s “R.U.R./lol”
165 MULTI DEIDELReaders’ choice voting:
El Armstrong, Phamaly Theatre Company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”: 29.5 percent
Deb Flomberg, Equinox’s “Carrie: The Musical”: 16.6 percent
Brian Freeland, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”: 25.6 percent
Brian Freeland, LIDA Project’s “The Hairy Ape”: 17.9 percentSteven J. Deidel, Kenrick Fischer, Kevin Zegan, Max Peterson and Brian Freeland, LIDA Project’s “R.U.R./lol”: 9.7 percent
Write-ins: 0.7 percent
Leading write-in: Two with 1 vote each

SPECIAL ACCOMPLISHMENT AWARDS:

SA BaierleinEd Baierlein: Since 1974, the founder of Germinal Stage-Denver has been presenting plays of substance in an intimate setting. This year, after more than 200 productions, Baierlein sold his longtime home in northwest Denver and went on “active hiatus.” But not before staging a nostalgic and sentimental (for Germinal) soiree: Baierlein brought more than 40 familiar faces back for a reprise of the anything-goes theatrical rumination “Offending the Audience,” which in the 1970s incited an on-stage rebellion that brought the police. Baierlein says of his future: “Licking our wounds, we now contemplate a pro-cannibalism-themed season in a new location for 2014.”

SA SUGARNick Sugar:The longtime director, actor and choreographer did something extraordinary this year when he volunteered to step in and help the cast of Equinox Theatre’s “Bat Boy, the Musical” to complete their run after young star Adam Perkes died a few days after the opening performance. Sugar had performed in the show before, and without him, the entire production might have died along with Perkes. Instead, he created a memory for audiences and cast members that will last forever.

SA ROLLMANErin Rollman: She helps to keep the Buntport Theater rolling along — collaborating on and performing  in three original plays; not to mention running essential  mid-week live programming such as “The Great Debate” and “Third Tuesday.” But Rollman does that every year. In 2013, she also gave her pal Adam Stone’s new Screw Tooth Theatre Company not only a creative home, but a prayer of truly establishing itself. In her spare time, Rollman worked on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s year-long Imagine 2020 campaign, which created a blueprint for the future of arts and culture in Denver. All that, and a kidney, too: Rollman gave up one of hers to a complete stranger in Virginia, starting a donation chain that saved nine lives. And her story has inspired at least one other altruistic donor to start another chain. He donates his kidney next week.

SA RUNGENicki Lepetite Runge: She’s an actor who founded the Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre as a home for both actors with hearing impairment and without. She staged “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” earlier in 2013, then  then upped the stakes with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” in which the actors playing patients were all hearing-impaired, while all of the actors playing characters in positions of authority were not.

SA CHENGMaria Cheng: She launched Theatre Esprit Asia, Colorado’s first Asian-American Theatre Company. At one point, there were three shows a day running at the Vintage Theatre — a combination of two solo shows that were being performed in rotation by five different actors. Of “Dust Storm,” Denver Post theater critic Lisa Kennedy wrote: “Theatre Esprit Asia gets its inaugural gambit just right, delivering a work that is modest and ambitious, spare and emotionally textured.”

SA BALLS“Balls”! For the fifth straight year, local actors Mare Trevathan, GerRee Hinshaw; singer Melanie Owen Padilla and bassist Jim Ruberto staged their annual rollicking holiday variety show with the help of rotating guest performers — all to raise money for local charities. The fun includes audience sock-puppet sing-alongs, spontaneous haikus and worthless prizes. The primary trio are now spread from Wheat Ridge to Longmont to Seattle, but they still somehow manage to make time to help a needy organization. This year’s beneficiary is the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

About the Denver Center, and other persnickety rules:
Because John Moore now works for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, for the first time there is not a “Best of the Denver Center” category of awards, for objective and ethical reasons. Likewise, shows he was involved in creatively are ineligible. (He directed “Always, Patsy Cline for Starkey Theatrix and performed in Germinal Stage-Denver’s “Offending the Audience.”) Actors are not eligible for reconsideration after having played a role previously.

About John Moore and the True West Awards: Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as an in-house, multimedia storyteller for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. His writings, photos and videos covering the entire Colorado theater community now can be found at Denver Center Stage, www.denvercenterblog.tumblr.com. Before that, John was a reporter and editor at The Denver Post for more than 20 years, prompting American Theatre Magazine to name him one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States in 2011. John started the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001 and continued to administer them as the True West Awards after he left the newspaper in 2011. Since 2001, John has seen more than 2,000 theater productions in Colorado and around the nation. In July 2012, John created the local arts-and-culture website www.CultureWest.Org. And in May 2013, he founded the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. For information, email denveractorsfund@gmail.com. Address theater listings and general correspondence to culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

 

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):