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Center Stage 

The Big Easy Theatre Awards honor achievement in local theater

The outrageously quick-witted, tart and entertaining Bianca Del Rio (aka Roy Haylock) hosted the Big Easy Theatre Awards on Monday, March 24, at Harrah's Theatre. Over the course of the evening honoring achievements in drama in 2007, however, it was the richness of the local theater community that stole the show. Playwright John Biguenet was honored as the Big Easy's first Theatre Person of the Year and also won the award for best original play for Rising Water. He discussed the importance of New Orleans in creating his Pulitzer Prize-nominated play after some colleagues suggested he make the Katrina play more universal.

'Instead, I pushed it to be more local, not universal. Shakespeare wrote for Londoners. Euripides wrote for Athenians," he told the audience. 'I wanted to provide a stage for an issue cities need to discuss. How can the greatest nation on Earth abandon one of its cities to death and destruction?"

On stage, the city's theater scene has dealt with tragedy in kind, with two original dramas about Katrina nominated for Best Original Play " and also with comedy. Becky Allen was honored for a lifetime in local theater. Having done everything from serious drama to musicals, comedy and cabaret, she encapsulated why she's stayed in the city. 'I'd rather work for New Orleans people than anyone else because they love me hard, hard, hard," she said.

The awards celebrated a rich year in theater " one which encompassed the testing of faith in Doubt, the legacy of racism in Purlie, the dark humor of The Lieutenant of Inishmore and the glitz of Sugar Babies. Doubt took home six awards including Best Drama, Best Director, Best Actor in a Drama and Best Actress in a Drama. The Lieutenant of Inishmore captured four honors, including Best Comedy, Best Director of a Comedy and Best Actor. Le Petit's Purlie won three awards including Best Actor, Actress and Supporting Actress in a Musical.

The evening also included a look forward; next year will see awards for cabaret performance. The Business Achievement Award went to Marc Fouchi for creating Stageclick.com, a Web site for theater community networking. It's been a useful tool locally and is growing in other cities with New Orleans as its central hub. The young theater company NOLA Project, which co-produced The Lieutenant of Inishmore, captured several awards. Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy winner James Bartelle shared his perspective on the future of local theater. 'We're in the middle of a renaissance," he said. 'Fill your life with art and your art with life and amazing things will happen."

The Big Easy Awards were sponsored by Gambit Weekly, Harrah's New Orleans Casino and Hotel, John Jay, and Coleman Adler & Sons. The event benefits the Foundation for Entertainment Development & Education.

2008 Big Easy Special Recognition Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award
Becky Allen

Business Recognition Award
Marc Fouchi - Stageclick.com

Theatre Person of the Year
John Biguenet

2008 Big Easy Theatre Awards Winners

Best Musical
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

Best Comedy
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
NOLA Project & Southern Repertory Theater

Best Drama
Doubt
All Kinds of Theater & Southern Repertory Theater

Best Director of a Musical
Gary Rucker
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Rivertown Repertory

Best Director of a Comedy
Noel Wilson
The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Best Director of a Drama
Carl Walker
Doubt

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Joan C. Spraggins
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Dane Rhodes
Purlie
Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

Best Actress in a Musical
Idella Johnson
Purlie

Best Actor in a Musical
Fenwick Broyard III
Purlie

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Cammie West
Valhalla
To Do Productions

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
James Bartelle
The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Best Actress in a Comedy
Angela Papale
Prelude to a Kiss
Actor's Theater of New Orleans

Best Actor in a Comedy
Peter McElligott
The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Andrea Frankle
Doubt

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Leon Contavesprie
The Pillowman
Dem Boys Productions and Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

Best Actress in a Drama
Claire Moncrief
Doubt

Best Actor in a Drama
Jamie Wax
Doubt

Best Original Play
Rising Water
John Biguenet

Best Musical Director
Jonne Dendinger
Tunes
Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

Best Choreography
Kelly Fouchi
The Pajama Game

Best Costume Design
R. Haylock, C. Casey-Covert, R. Schlotzhauer, C. Barrois and L. Fried
Sugar Babies
Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

Best Set Design
David Raphel
Doubt

Best Lighting Design
William Liotta
The Breach
Southern Repertory Theater

Best University Production
Dog Sees God
Gary Rucker, Director
Tulane University

Best Performance by a Child
Andy LaRocca
Ordinary People
Actor's Theater of New Orleans

click to enlarge Le Chat Noir owner Barbara Motley and Theatre Person of the Year John Biguenet. - JOS L. GARCIA II
  • Jos L. Garcia II
  • Le Chat Noir owner Barbara Motley and Theatre Person of the Year John Biguenet.
click to enlarge Editor Clancy DuBos, Publisher Margo DuBos, Best Choreographer winner Kelly Fouchi and Business Recognition Award winner Marc Fouchi - JOS L. GARCIA II
  • Jos L. Garcia II
  • Editor Clancy DuBos, Publisher Margo DuBos, Best Choreographer winner Kelly Fouchi and Business Recognition Award winner Marc Fouchi
click to enlarge Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Cammie West and presenter Sean Patterson - JOS L. GARCIA II
  • Jos L. Garcia II
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Cammie West and presenter Sean Patterson
click to enlarge Best Actor in a Comedy nominee Tim Bellow and Best Actress in a Comedy Angela Papale - JOS L. GARCIA II
  • Jos L. Garcia II
  • Best Actor in a Comedy nominee Tim Bellow and Best Actress in a Comedy Angela Papale
click to enlarge Broadway, TV and Madmen star Bryan Batt presented several awards. - JOS L, GARCIA II
  • Jos L, Garcia II
  • Broadway, TV and Madmen star Bryan Batt presented several awards.
click to enlarge The cast of Best Comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore includes (l-r) A.J. Allegra, George Sanchez, director Noel Wilson, Kathlyn Tarwater, Andrew Larimer and James Bartelle - JOS L, GARCIA II
  • Jos L, Garcia II
  • The cast of Best Comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore includes (l-r) A.J. Allegra, George Sanchez, director Noel Wilson, Kathlyn Tarwater, Andrew Larimer and James Bartelle
click to enlarge Best Actress in a Musical winner Idella Johnson with Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Dane Rhodes - JOS L, GARCIA II
  • Jos L, Garcia II
  • Best Actress in a Musical winner Idella Johnson with Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Dane Rhodes
click to enlarge The cast of Best Drama winner Doubt includes (l-r) director Carl Walker, co-producer Carol Wright, Donna Duplantier, Jamie Wax, Southern Rep Artistic Director Aimee Hayes and co-producer Jacquee Carvin - JOS L, GARCIA II
  • Jos L, Garcia II
  • The cast of Best Drama winner Doubt includes (l-r) director Carl Walker, co-producer Carol Wright, Donna Duplantier, Jamie Wax, Southern Rep Artistic Director Aimee Hayes and co-producer Jacquee Carvin
click to enlarge Playwright Jim Fitzmorris, presenter Janet Shea and Best Director of a Comedy winner Noel Wilson Photo by Cheryl Gerber (Karen_Hebert ) The evening included a performance by Janet Hebert and Joan Spraggins from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Playwright Jim Fitzmorris, presenter Janet Shea and Best Director of a Comedy winner Noel Wilson Photo by Cheryl Gerber (Karen_Hebert ) The evening included a performance by Janet Hebert and Joan Spraggins from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
click to enlarge The evening included a performance by Janet Hebert and Joan Spraggins from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • The evening included a performance by Janet Hebert and Joan Spraggins from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
click to enlarge Becky Allen received the Lifetime Achievement Award. - JOS L. GARCIA II
click to enlarge Maureen and John "Spud" McConnell presented several awards. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Maureen and John "Spud" McConnell presented several awards.
click to enlarge Best Set Design nominee Chad Talkington, Best Choreographer nominee Karen Hebert and film producer Al Salzer - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Best Set Design nominee Chad Talkington, Best Choreographer nominee Karen Hebert and film producer Al Salzer
click to enlarge One Mo' Time creator Vernel Bagneris with Best Director of a Drama winner Carl Walker - JOS L. GARCIA II
  • Jos L. Garcia II
  • One Mo' Time creator Vernel Bagneris with Best Director of a Drama winner Carl Walker
click to enlarge Le Petit Theatre Artistic Director Sonny Borey with Bob Edes Jr. (left), who performed in a scene from The Titanic Adventures of the Loveboat Poseidon - JOS L. GARCIA II
  • Jos L. Garcia II
  • Le Petit Theatre Artistic Director Sonny Borey with Bob Edes Jr. (left), who performed in a scene from The Titanic Adventures of the Loveboat Poseidon
click to enlarge Best Actress in a Musical winner Idella Johnson performed a song from Purlie.  - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Best Actress in a Musical winner Idella Johnson performed a song from Purlie.
click to enlarge Bianca Del Rio (aka Roy Haylock) was the master of ceremonies. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Bianca Del Rio (aka Roy Haylock) was the master of ceremonies.
click to enlarge Previous Lifetime Achievement Award winner Bob Bruce, salon owner John Jay, Becky Allen and 2007 Entertainer of the Year Ricky Graham - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Previous Lifetime Achievement Award winner Bob Bruce, salon owner John Jay, Becky Allen and 2007 Entertainer of the Year Ricky Graham
click to enlarge Southern Rep Artistic Director Aimee Hayes, Best Set Design winner David Raphel and Best Actor in a Drama Jamie Wax - JOS L. GARCIA II
  • Jos L. Garcia II
  • Southern Rep Artistic Director Aimee Hayes, Best Set Design winner David Raphel and Best Actor in a Drama Jamie Wax
click to enlarge Best Costume Design team and Sugar Babies dancers include (l-r) Nicole Eckrich, Cecile Casey Covert, Carolyn Barrois, Trina Beck, Regina Schlotzhauer, Linda Fried and Angela Papale. - JOS L. GARCIA II
  • Jos L. Garcia II
  • Best Costume Design team and Sugar Babies dancers include (l-r) Nicole Eckrich, Cecile Casey Covert, Carolyn Barrois, Trina Beck, Regina Schlotzhauer, Linda Fried and Angela Papale.
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