Wrap-up: The 2004 Wilde Awards
Fun-filled event was one for the record books
As you’ve probably read elsewhere this issue, it truly WAS ‘One Wilde Night.’
Not only was the 2004 Wilde Awards a fun-filled evening of accolades and entertainment, it was also an event that will go down in the record books.
For starters, more awards were presented last Wednesday night than ever before; a total of 18 productions, individual performers, ensemble casts and theater companies were honored for their work throughout the 2003/04 season.
A record number of votes were received this year, as well. Participation increased almost 50% over the year before – and that’s not counting the ballot stuffers who tried to rig the results.
It was also the first year that not one, but two theater critics determined the nominations – and Associate Theater Critic John Quinn was on hand to help co-host a portion of the evening.
Also new this year were four guest presenters – women known throughout the theater community, the LGBT community or both – who helped announce the winners at various times throughout the night. Longtime, award-winning actress Annette DePetris, now an instructor at the Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, started out the night, followed by director/actress/choreographer Deborah Lannen and playwright Sara Snyder. And when a last-minute opening became available, actress – and Wilde Award co-winner – Rhonda Freya English gladly and gleefully filled in.
It was also the year of the unexpected: Has a sitting governor EVER made an appearance at a media-sponsored theater awards ceremony in Michigan? It’s doubtful, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm offered well wishes and congratulations to the state’s arts community via a pre-taped video when a personal appearance became impossible due to schedule conflicts.
And speaking of video, it was the Los Angeles-based improv troupe, The ‘313’ – with Detroit connections, of course – that had the audience in hysterics with their videotaped plea for a new category in next year’s awards.
So yes, there WILL be a new category next year for improv shows or shows created through improvisation.
(There will be other changes, too, but more on that another time.)
And the winner is…
So who got the most acclaim? No, it wasn’t any of the winners. Nor was it any of the guest performers. And it certainly wasn’t the hosts.
Rather, it was BTL’s own Justin Gargis who added his own twist to the night’s theme of “Keep It Gay.”
Gargis, who handed each individual winner their award, decided to spice up the evening by changing outfits after each presentation. What started out slowly and almost unnoticeably gave way to elaborate switches that had the audience eagerly anticipating his every entrance.
It also gave palpitations to the cast members of “Menopause The Musical” who were seated directly in front of the stage – as well as to James Posante who followed the leather pants-clad cutie backstage before giving his acceptance speech for the favorite LGBT-themed production, “The Home Team.”
The arts community celebrates
The historic Gem Theatre was not only filled with Michigan’s top professional actors, directors, executives and crafts people, it was also a night where various segments of the community came together to celebrate their love of the art form.
Guests were treated to music performed by a talented jazz quartet from the School for the Performing Arts – Ann Arbor that played throughout the cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception. The youngsters, who range in age from 12 to 15, surprised and impressed the partiers with their polish and composure – but, more importantly, with their skills.
It was also a rare night where the separate worlds of community and professional theaters joined together ever so briefly.
A mixture of seasoned pros and talented amateurs opened the awards ceremony with an original compilation, “Keep It Gay.” Staged by The Actors’ Company under the direction of Michael A. Gravame, accompanist David Sherline and choreographer Shelley Fager, performers Judy Dery, Jamie Richards, Dianne Sievers, Michael Smith and Nicole Stacey wowed the audience with their rousing salute to gay theater.
Later, audiences were treated to an emotional musical preview of the Oscar Wilde-themed production, “A Man of No Importance,” that opens next month at Stagecrafters. The scene featured actors Steve Tadevic and Michael Ameloot, with accompanist Kevin Cristbrook. Jay Kaplan is directing the musical for Stagecrafters.
It was a rare night, indeed, leaving only one unanswered question: How do we top this NEXT year?
Department of Corrections: The Moshe Pit
Everything you wanted to know about ‘Laura’s Bush’ – but were afraid to ask
Sometimes – no matter how hard you try – things don’t work out quite the way you planned.
That’s what happened last week when a snafu rendered a portion of last week’s theater profile on Performance Network Theatre somewhat unintelligible.
So about that Moshe PitÉ
This month will see the addition of a second stage at the Network – a space Milarch calls an “hommage” to the troupe’s original location.
“We’ve taken our rehearsal hall and painted it black, and we figured out that with some strategically placed risers and light trees, we can put together a 40-seat performance venue there,” Milarch said.
Called The Moshe Pit, the space will be home to smaller, edgier shows. And you can’t get much edgier – or timelier – than its inaugural production, “Laura’s Bush.”
The show, described as an apocalyptic lesbian sex-farce that is profound and puerile in equal measure, was written by the mysterious, Jane Martin, Pulitzer Prize-finalist and author of such shows as “Talking WithÉ” and “Anton in Showbiz.” It’s a “raunchy and irreverent cabaret-style romp” that’s springing up all across the country just in time for the fall election.
The Moshe Pit’s first show features several of the Network’s popular performers: Melanie Bolen, Aral Gribble II. Laurel Huffano, Christine Kapuski and Annie Palmer; direction is by Issac Ellis.
“Laura’s Bush” officially opens Sept. 18 at the historic Kerrytown Farmer’s Market as part of OutFest 2004 and then moves to The Moshe Pit for a late night run beginning Sept. 30. It is scheduled to run Thursday through Saturday nights following “Humble Boy” through Oct. 9. Starting time is expected to be 11 p.m. Tickets are $10.
For complete information about “Laura’s Bush” – including updated information about the start time – call the box office at 734-663-0681 or go online to www.performancenetwork.org.