By BTL Staff
Professional theaters from throughout Southeast and Mid Michigan will share the spotlight September 1 when the 2010 Wilde Awards are presented at Detroit’s Gem Theatre. Sponsored by Between The Lines, Michigan’s weekly newspaper serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied communities, EncoreMichigan.com and Comerica, the Wilde Awards were established in 2002 to honor the excellent work produced by Michigan’s professional theaters.
The awards symbolize the close relationship that exists between the LGBT and theater communities, explained Susan Horowitz, the newspaper’s co-publisher and editor-in-chief. “Gay people can be found at all levels of the theater community, from the executives to the performers, and from the designers to the customers in the seats. We’re inseparably intertwined, and that’s why Pride Source Media Group is the primary sponsor of this important event. It’s our way of getting together once a year and celebrating our unique connection.”
The awards also focus attention on a struggling industry that has been hit hard by the state’s depressed economy. “Yet despite the loss in grants, donations and – in many cases – paying customers, our professional theaters continue to produce top-quality work, and we want to thank them for staying and working in Michigan,” Horowitz said.
Nominations in 23 categories were based on reviews of 128 productions staged by 33 Southeast and Mid Michigan professional theater companies during the 2009-10 season, said BTL Theater and Arts Editor Donald V. Calamia. “My team of critics and I visited theaters from Detroit to Lansing and Jackson to Mount Clemens and many points in between, and what we found was a level of quality unsurpassed anywhere. It was a great season overall, which made it difficult for us to narrow the work we observed to only a handful of nominations.”
This year, 56 productions staged by 24 theaters are honored with at least one nomination. Top honorees include Ann Arbor’s Performance Network Theatre (with 21 nominations), Ferndale’s Who Wants Cake? Theatre at The Ringwald (14), West Bloomfield’s The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company and Chelsea’s The Purple Rose Theatre Company (tied with nine), and Detroit’s Hilberry Theatre (eight).
One show dominates the nominations, Calamia noted. “Every year there seems to be one show that generates all ‘the buzz’ from both within the theater community itself and among its patrons, and this year it circled around Performance Network’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ And as predicted, it walked away with more than twice the number of nominations than its nearest rivals.”
But also of importance, Calamia said, “Twenty-four shows received a single nomination, which proves, to me at least, that quality theater is happening in all of our theaters – not in just a select few or in those with the biggest budgets. And for theatergoers, that’s great!”
In all, 96 performers, directors, designers and playwrights are competing in 23 categories. Plus Calamia, said, there are a handful of additional awards that have not been announced. “We always like to shake things up a bit, and this year is no different.”
The awards show, Horowitz and Calamia promise, will once again be an unforgettable night. “The Wilde Awards is always a much-anticipated event, with good food, top-quality entertainment, special presenters and plenty of surprises. As always, attendees can expect it to be yet another Wilde Night!”
The doors of The Gem Theatre will open Sept. 1 at 6:30 p.m. with an hors d’oeuvre and cocktails reception. The awards show, hosted by Calamia with co-host Suzan M. Jacokes, will begin promptly at 8 p.m. and will be followed by a dessert afterglow.
Tickets to the 2010 Wilde Awards are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Seating is limited, so Horowitz encourages interested attendees to reserve their tickets early. Tickets may be purchased online at http://boxofficetickets.com or https://www.pridesource.com or by calling 888-615-7003, ext. 10. The Gem Theatre is located at 333 Madison St. in Downtown Detroit.
The Ninth Annual Wilde Awards