The Winners at the 50th Annual 'LA Drama Critics Circle' Awards Ceremony Held at the Pasadena Playhouse

The 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards at the Pasadena Playhouse, Monday, April 8, 2019. (Photo by Better Lemons)

The LA Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) held their 50th Annual Awards ceremony at the landmark Pasadena Playhouse where Better Lemons was in attendance to live tweet the evening's festivities and entertainment, Monday, April 8, 2019.

Wenzel Jones presided over the festivities, and Christopher Raymond served as music director with musical performances by Kristin Towers Rowles, Constance Jewell Lopez, and Zachary Ford.

There were four recipients of the 2018 Production award: Cambodian Rock Band (South Coast Repertory), Come From Away (Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre), Cry It Out (Echo Theater Company), and Sell/Buy/Date (Geffen Playhouse / Los Angeles LGBT Center).

Better Lemons' Chief Operating Officer Stephen Box (Left,) Publisher Enci Box, and Playwright & Screenwriter Steven Vlasak at the 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards at the Pasadena Playhouse, Monday, April 8, 2019.

The Antaeus Theatre Company received the most awards, with three of its productions winning a combined seven trophies. Celebration Theatre's Cabaret took home six awards, the most awards for a single production, including one for Revival. Tom Hanks received a lead actor award for his performance as Falstaff in The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles production of Henry IV in a competitive category. 17 awards were presented in other categories with 17 productions taking home the honors.

In its inaugural this year, the Theater Angel award was presented to Yvonne Bell in recognition of her "long career devoted to fostering theater in Los Angeles ... [and] successful fundraising campaigns" to help open several cultural institutions, such as The Museum of Contemporary Art and the California Science Center.

Eight previously announced special awards were presented, including the Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theater to Sacred Fools Theater Company and the Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play to Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band.

The LADCC was established in 1969  “to foster and reward merit in the American Theater and encourage theater in Los Angeles,” the LADCC site quotes from an announcement in the L.A. Times of that year.

Here is the list of award recipients as announced during Better Lemons' live coverage on Twitter:

Featured photo by Enci Box - Theatre patrons in the courtyard of the Pasadena Playhouse for the 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, Pasadena, California, Monday, April 8, 2019. Enci Box contributed to this story and photos.


The Pasadena Playhouse To Host This Year's Drama Critics Circle Awards

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) has begun the celebration of its 50th anniversary by announcing its nominations for the year 2018 (Dec. 1, 2017 – Nov. 30, 2018). The Awards will take place on Monday, April 8, 2019, at the historic Pasadena Playhouse, in Pasadena's Playhouse District.

Although the Pasadena Playhouse will be hosting the LADCC Awards for the very first time, returning once again is onstage host Wenzel Jones of IMRU, the LGBTQI Radio News Magazine on KPFK 90.7, as well as local composer-conductor Christopher Raymond as musical director for his second consecutive year. The entire production will be in the hands of stage manager Heatherlynn Gonzalez, veteran of more than a decade's worth of LADCC service.

One or more plaques will be presented in each of 18 categories and seven special awards will also be presented. Topping the nominations, the Antaeus Theatre Company has a total of 12 in various categories, including for the McCulloh Award for Revival (plays written between 1920 and 1993) for their productions of both "The Hothouse" and "The Little Foxes."A Noise Within has 10 nominations, including for Production for "A Picture of Dorian Gray." The Center Theatre Group has a total of nine nominations, including for Production of "Come From Away." Both the South Coast Repertory and East WestPlayers have seven nominations each. And the Celebration Theatre and the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, each with seven and six nominations, respectively, are uniquely both up for the McCulloh Award for Revival for their individual productions of "Cabaret."

Sergio Trujillo, is nominated for Choreography for both "Ain't Too Proud," Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre and "On Your Feet," Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Allison Dillard, is nominated for her work in Costume Design for both "Bliss, Or Emily Post Is Dead," Moving Arts and "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," Celebration Theatre. Set Designer John Iacovelli, a winner of multiple LADCC awards for Scene Design, is nominated for "The Little Foxes", Antaeus Theatre Company.

The LADCC special award recipients are as follows:

  • The Polly Warfield Award for an excellent season in a small to mid-size theatre will be awarded to Echo Theater Company.
  • The Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play goes to Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band, originally produced by South Coast Repertory.
  • The Kinetic Lighting Award for distinguished achievement in theatrical design goes to sound designer Robert Oriol.
  • The Milton Katselas Award for distinguished achievement in direction goes to Cameron Watson.
  • The Gordon Davidson Award for distinguished contribution to the Los Angeles theatrical community will be presented to Native Voices at the Autry.

More of the complete list of nominees for the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for theatrical excellence in 2018 is here.

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969. It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles.

The Pasadena Playhouse is at 39 S El Molino Ave, in Pasadena. Standard general admission tickets (a small service fee applies) are $40 and are now available. All purchased tickets will be held at Will Call and tickets are also available at the door. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-show reception in the courtyard. The show will commence at 7:30 p.m. and nominees will receive instructions via email regarding how to claim complimentary tickets.

For all other inquiries, email: [email protected].


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – January 28 - February 3, 2019

Theatrical shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar.
For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

The Mountaintop

Garry Marshall Theatre presents the West End and Broadway play The Mountaintop by Katori Hall. The Mountaintop is directed by Gregg T. Daniel, who recently staged A Raisin in the Sun at A Noise Within (Ovation Award nomination for Best Director) and Her Portmanteau at Boston Court.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

HEISENBERG

Rubicon Theatre Company opens the 2019 season with HEISENBERG by playwright SIMON STEPHENS, a quirky romance starring Ovation Award-winner FALINE ENGLAND and Emmy and L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award-winner JOE SPANO. Sweet, sexy and full of surprises, the story follows two strangers whose lives intersect in a bustling London train station.

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Life Could Be A Dream

SH-BOOM! Meet fledgling doo-wop singing group Denny and the Dreamers as they prepare to enter the Big Whopper Radio contest and realize their dreams of making it to the big time. The '60s doo-wop songs in this award-winning jukebox musical say it all: “Fools Fall in Love,” “Tears on My Pillow,” “Runaround Sue,” “Earth Angel,” “Stay,” “Unchained Melody,” “Lonely Teardrops” and “The Glory of Love.

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THE ELEPHANT MAN

Thursday Night Theater Club Presents A Classic True-life Tale in THE ELEPHANT MAN By Bernard Pomerance -LOS ANGELES (January 28, 2019) – Thursday Night Theatre Club is proud to present a classic true-life tale and heart wrenching story that depicts the best and the worst of humanity.

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Rabbit Hole

Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously drifting apart. 2Cents Theatre Group begins its 2019 site-specific season with David Lindsay-Abaire's stunning journey through grief, the search for comfort, and the rebirth of hope.

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Hype Man

A hip-hop trio – frontman, hype man and beat maker – is on the verge of making it big on national TV when a police shooting of a black teen shakes the band to its core, forcing them to confront questions of race, gender, privilege and when to use artistic expression as an act of social protest. Winner, 2018 Elliot Norton Award. Feb. 23 – April 14; Fridays @ 8 p.m. / Saturdays @ 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

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S.O.S.

The Wallis Studio Ensemble presents S.O.S., an original multi-media physical theatre work about love and resilience in times of crisis, directed by Madeleine Dahm, from Thursday, January 31 through Sunday, February 10, 2019 at the Circle X Theatre (Please note: S.O.S. is not being performed at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, but at the Circle X Theatre in Atwater Village).

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THE POW AND THE GIRL

A new play based in part on true and personal experiences of writer Katrina Wood and her father British character actor Percy Herbert who was both in the Japanese POW camp and built the Bridge on the River Kwai and then went on to be cast in the movie with Alec Guinness at the start of his extensive film career.

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SWEENEY TODD - THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

In a barber shop above Mrs. Lovett's struggling pie shop, Sweeney Todd plots revenge on the lecherous judge who wronged him and his family. In the seedy underbelly of 19th-century London, desperate times lead to diabolical schemes—and strange alliances.

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HELLO DOLLY

Tony Award®-winning Broadway legend Betty Buckley stars in HELLO, DOLLY! – the universally acclaimed smash that NPR calls “the best show of the year!” and the Los Angeles Times says “distills the mood-elevating properties of the American musical at its giddy best.

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Love is Another Country

Gonee (Dee Dee Stephens), a highly educated African American woman, is driven to the edge of sanity by the death of her brother, left lying on the ground for hours by the police who apparently killed him. When Gonee shoots a policeman in a maddened rage, she is imprisoned with no hope of release.

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Fighting Shadows with Richard Cabral - Special Engagement

The Rosenthal Theater at Inner-City Arts and Lineage Entertainment Group in association with Jami Gertz presents Fighting Shadows Written by Richard Cabral with Robert Egan Directed by Diane Rodriguez. Fighting Shadows is a passionate and poignant one-man show celebrating the power of human redemption and transformation.

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Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and events and lot of them have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorites and when you click on a title, you will see all the critics' and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your adventures this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!


Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and events and lot of them have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorites and when you click on a title, you will see all the critics' and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your adventures this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

Special

Wink

Gray People (2019 Extension)

Desert Rats

Delusion: The Blue Blade

Show Up, Kids! Interactive Family Comedy

CULTURE CLASH (STILL) IN AMERICA

A Misunderstanding

Sisters Three


Now Registered This Week on the Better Lemons Calendar - September 10 through September 16, 2018

NEW! Theatrical shows, Musical Concerts, and Film Festivals registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

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Visit our Wakelet for more shareable stories on registered shows and festivals!


KEMP POWERS AND THE PLIGHT OF THE AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHT (LA Version)

It's become a given that "you can't make a living in the theater," at least not in this country.

And for the most part it's true, especially for playwrights.

Playwrights typically receive 5% or 6% of ticket sales for a full-scale production, which in a six week run of 7-8 shows a week in a 1000 seat house can amount to as much as $15,000.  But only a handful of playwrights ever experience such a windfall in their careers, much less count on it as a yearly yield.  And of course that's before taxes.  The resulting amount would still be well under the poverty level.  And, as I said, most playwrights only dream about receiving such a return on their investment of time and talent.  More typical is the $500-$1,000 that playwrights receive for a four-six week run at a 99 seat theater - an event, again, that seldom happens more than once or twice a year (if at all) for most playwrights.  There used to be subsidies and grants that playwrights could hope would give them some breathing room (and writing time).  But most of these have gone away in the new century (and it's sure to get worse under Trump with this new tax plan).  The ones that still exist are largely tied to production grants to specific non-profit theaters, which playwrights only receive when their plays get produced at those theaters.  So, again, not development grants, and only received by those few playwrights who already have been fortunate enough to have their plays chosen for major productions.

Dael Orlandersmith

And even then... I am reminded of a chance encounter I had a few years ago with the highly successful playwright/performer Dael Orlandersmith.  Her one-woman show Forever was then playing at the Center Theater Group's Kirk Douglas Theater before going to New York Theatre Workshop for a full run, and then on to Long Wharf in New Haven.  This was a trifecta of productions that, again, most playwrights can only dream about.  I congratulated her on this remarkable achievement.  She shook her head, saying, "Yeah, and I've never been poorer."  (And that's with her also getting paid as the only actor!)

To the actors out there who are reading this, yes, it's true that most of you receive even less than the playwrights  - in many cases, much less.  And that's not fair.  But your performances are also your best way of promoting your talent.  This enables you to invite casting directors, agents and producers and increases your opportunity for paying work.  This is especially true in the SoCal area, where two actors from my first production here booked national commercials based on their performances (or so they told me).  Just a few months ago, an actor from a reading of a screenplay I co-wrote was signed by an agent based on that reading and ended up being cast in a new pilot. While such good fortune can also befall playwrights, my experience is that it's far less likely.  The few industry folk who do attend theater here mostly come to scout actors, not writers, directors or designers.

"I love theater here, but it's very actor-driven," Kemp Powers told me over lunch at Hugo's in West Hollyood. "There's no other reason to be doing it except passion.  That is, if a writer has something that needs to be expressed - and can only be expressed as a play - then go ahead and write it.  And don't let anyone dissuade you from doing so.  Any other reason and you're just setting yourself up for disappointment."

Kemp's passion project (and first play), One Night In Miami,  has been anything but disappointing.  After premiering to great acclaim at Rogue Machine in 2013, the play has gone to hugely successful runs at Center Stage in Baltimore and at the Donmar Warehouse in London, where it was nominated for the Olivier play for Best Play.  The play has been optioned for the movies, and Kemp is currently writing the screenplay.

Ty Jones, Matt Jones, Kevin Daniels (photo: John Flynn)

Kemp described how he came up with the idea for the play in an article he wrote for the online magazine This Stage.  "I was reading a copy of Mike Marqusee's excellent Muhammed Ali book Redemption Song when I came across this paragraph: "On 25 February 1964, Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion of the world. After the fight, Clay chose to forgo the usual festivities at one of Miami's luxury hotels and headed instead for the black ghetto, where he had made camp during training. He spent a quiet evening in private conversation with Malcolm X, the singer Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown, the great Cleveland Browns running back and an early champion of black right in sports. The next morning, after breakfast with Malcolm, Clay met the press to confirm the rumors that he was involved with the Nation of Islam."   Boom. There you had it. My four most inspirational people were friends. Bigger still, they spent the night of Cassius Clay's victory alone, together, in a hotel room. And the very next morning, Clay made the most important announcement of his life.  My imagination went wild as I started connecting the dots."

Kemp Powers grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, where he was an Honors student at Edward R. Murrow high school, raised by a single mother.  He was on course for worldly success when something shocking happened, something completely out of context with the rest of his life: at 14 years old, while goofing around with one of his mom's handguns, he accidentally shot and killed his best friend, Henry. Henry's parents refused to press charges, and Kemp went on with his life, going to the University of Michigan, where he received a Knight Journalism Fellowship. He became a respected journalist, a Business writer for the Reuters chain, but he was haunted by this tragic event. Then 9/11 happened, and it roused him from his personal hell and prompted him to write an article for Esquire about his friend's death.  The article got him a book contract, and in 2004 The Shooting: A Memoir was published.

But none of this explains how Kemp became an award-winning playwright.  As he told me, "There were two main passions on the soundtrack of my growing up in Brooklyn: Hip-Hop and Theater".  But while Hip-Hop was something that he and his friends felt comfortable fooling around with, "no part of me ever saw myself being involved in theater."  Edward R. Murrow High School had an excellent Theater Department, and Kemp loved the productions of musicals like Cabaret and West Side Story that they presented.  But he wasn't an actor, and how else did anyone find a place in the theater?  Kemp ended up getting a job with the Guthrie Theatre in Minnesota as a Public Relations assistant, where one of his tasks was driving around August Wilson when the Guthrie produced Fences.  Kemp said that he was too in awe of Wilson to have any meaningful conversations with him, though he does treasure the memory.

As Kemp made clear to me, it wasn't until he came to Los Angeles for a business-related job that he saw a place for himself in the art form he loved so much. "The only reason I'm a playwright is because I happen to live in Los Angeles, where there are no rules about making theater."  He explained that this is a result of a lot of people coming here to do TV and film, but bringing with them "a certain maturity and understanding" about how theater is made.  Kemp stressed that because theater is something that these "practitioners" love but not something that they have any expectation of making a living from, it removes a lot of the pressure to "be perfect" and allows the creativity to "flow more freely."  Kemp's gratitude to Rogue Machine and its Artistic Director John Perrin Flynn is enormous.  "I've been nurtured within that community, and this born-and-bred New Yorker would never have become a playwright if not for the opportunities I found here to experiment and discover my own comfort level.  I'm very militant about that."

Kemp with Star Trek's George Takei

While Kemp has moved on to writing several new scripts - his play Little Black Shadows will receive its premiere at South Coast Repertory in April - he has also found a new day job as a staff writer for Star Trek Discovery on CBS All-Access, where he was credited with story and teleplay for last season's fifth episode, "Choose Your Pain."

I first met Kemp at the final performance of his friend John Pollono's play, Rule Of Seconds, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center - a show by the way which will be on my TEN BEST List, coming out next week.  Kemp was the lead producer on Pollono's play, which was, in turn, the first production of The Temblors, a 7-member self-producing playwrights group emulating other groups such as The Welders in Washington DC.  By all means, check out their website for future productions.

"There's no part of me that believes that sometime in the near future people will be saying that one of the top three reasons they've come to LA is to see theater, as it often is when people visit New York or London.  This is not a diss, it's just the reality of living in Hollywood, which casts a long shadow. But if we in the LA Theater could develop a real infrastructure, then we could maybe become a Seattle or even a Minneapolis.  That is something worth aspiring to, and I for one am prepared to do whatever it takes to help make it happen."