Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"The Age of Innocence" and “Rags" Top Connecticut Critics Awards

MC Jenn Harris with Goodspeed Music Director Michael O'Flaherty, winner of the Tom Killen
Award for outstanding work in theater.  Donna Lynn Hilton presented the award.
Photo by Mara Lavitt

 The world premiere of Hartford Stage’s “The Age of Innocence” and a revised version of the musical “Rags” from Goodspeed Musicals took top honors at the Connecticut Critics Circle Awards Monday.

The event, which celebrated the work from the state’s professional theaters during the 2017-2018 season, was held at Westport Country Playhouse.

Awards for outstanding actors in a musical went to Samantha Massell as Rebecca in Goodspeed’s “Rags” and Jamie LaVerdiere as John Adams in  Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s production of “1776." 

Awards for outstanding actors in a play went to Reg Rogers in Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of “An Enemy of the People” and Isabelle Barbier in Playhouse on Park’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Isabelle was an astonishing Anne.

Top directing awards went to Terrence Mann for CRT’s “1776” and Ezra Barnes for Playhouse on Park’s “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Outstanding ensemble award went to TheaterWorks’ production of “The Wolves,” a play about a competitive girls' sports team. The debut award went to Megan O’Callaghan  for “The Bridges of Madison County” and "Fun Home,” both at Music Theatre of Connecticut. The outstanding solo honor was awarded to Elizabeth Stahlmann for Westport Country Playhouse's “Grounded.” Kelli Barclay won for her choreography for Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Will Rogers Follies.”

Michael O’Flaherty, longtime music director for Goodspeed Musicals, received the Tom Killen Award for lifetime service to the theater from Donna Lynn Cooper Hilton, a producer at Goodspeed. This was, in my opinion, the highlight of the evening.

Receiving special awards were New London’s Flock Theatre for its production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at the Monte Cristo Cottage; the Broadway Method Academy of Fairfield; and Billy Bivona, who composed and performed original music for TheaterWork’s production of “Constellations.

The outstanding featured actress award in a musical award went to Jodi Stevensfor Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s “Singin’ in the Rain.” There was a tie for outstanding featured actor in a musical, with honors going to Matt Faucher as Jud for Goodspeed Musicals’ “Oklahoma!” and to Cory Candelet for playing the Wall at Ivoryton Playhouse’s “The Fantasticks.”

The award for outstanding featured actors in a play went to Peter Francis James as the Friar for Westport Country Playhouse’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” and to Judith Ivey as the nosey neighbor for Long Wharf Theatre’s world premiere of “Fireflies.”

Design awards went to Fitz Patton for sound and Matthew Richards for lighting for Westport Country Playhouse’s “Appropriate;” Linda Cho for costumes for Hartford Stage’s “The Age of Innocence;” Yana Birykova for projections for Westport Country Playhouse’s “Grounded” and David Lewis,for set design for Playhouse on Park’s “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas, stars of TheaterWorks’ “Christmas on the Rocks,” presided over the event.

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