ANN ARBOR, Mich – It was yet another Wilde night at West Bloomfield’s Berman Center for the Performing Arts, as Michigan’s professional theater community gathered for The 14th Annual Wilde Awards presented by EncoreMichigan.com. Established in 2002, The 2015 Wilde Awards honored the best productions, performances and technical accomplishments of the recently concluded 2014-15 season.
In all, 28 artists and 19 productions produced or presented by 16 theaters across the state earned an award. In a rare feat, no single show, artist or production dominated the awards – something almost unheard of in Wilde Awards history.
“This year’s winners come from all over the state, and they represent theaters both large and small – and one just opened its doors this year,” said co-founder and editor-at-large Donald V. Calamia. “That to me indicates that great work is happening in all our theaters regardless of their sizes, budgets or locations.”
Standing out from the crowd, The Purple Rose Theatre and Michigan Opera Theatre each took home three awards.
“Annapurna” from The Purple Rose Theatre took home the most awards for a single show, winning Best Drama (Guy Sanville, director); Best Design for Sets (Bartley H. Bauer); and Best Design for Props (Danna Segrest.)
The awards were determined by EncoreMichigan.com’s team of professional critics who reviewed 168 productions produced or presented by 49 professional theater companies located in 25 communities across the state. The critics included Calamia, Carolyn Hayes Harmer, (owner and editor-in-chief) David Kiley, Martin F. Kohn, Jenn McKee, Sue Merrell, Amy J. Parrent, Frank Anthony Polito, John Quinn, Bridgette M. Redman, Judith Cookis Rubens and guest critic Jennifer Knightstep.
Representatives from theaters around the state attended the event that began at 6:30 p.m. with a social hour of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres; the awards presentation began at 8 p.m.
Hosted by Calamia and popular actress and improviser Jamie Moyer, the evening mixed entertainment with announcements of the awards.
“This year was especially fun with the return of Jaime as my co-host,” said Calamia. “Her dance card is quite full in Los Angeles these days where she relocated a few years back, and her celebrated comedic genius helped ensure our guests had one ‘Wilde’ night indeed!”
Other top winners were the Michigan Opera Theatre’s “Elektra,” which won Best Opera for Nicholas Muni, director, and Best Performance, Opera, for Christine Goerke. MOT also took home a Best Design -- Costumes for Monika Essen for the opera “Frida.”
Best Comedy went to Beth Torrey, the director of Tipping Point’s “Leaving Iowa.” Best Musical went to Steve DeBruyne, director of “Violet” at The Dio – Dining and Entertainment.
Other theaters that took home two awards were The Dio – Dining and Entertainment (Best Musical and Best Performance Actress in a Musical), Shakespeare in Detroit (Best of the Bard, Best Performance – The Bard), PuppetArt (Best Theatre for Young Audiences, Best Choreography), Williamston Theater (Best Performance Actress – Comedy, Best Teamwork) and The Jewish Ensemble Theatre (Best Performance Actress – Drama, Best New Script).
Special awards went out to Farmers Alley Theatre; the Detroit Improv Collective; Kurt Stamm of Mason Street Warehouse; Bailey Boudreau of Slipstream Theatre Initiative; and Kristine Thatcher, former artistic director of Lansing’s BoarsHead and Stormfield Theatres.
The night also featured an announcement by David Kiley of New Roads Media, the new owner of EncoreMichigan.com and The Wilde Awards, which detailed his many plans for the company. “I love this community,” he told the audience – after which he earned thunderous applause when he pledged to work hard at keeping this vital resource alive and successful for generations to come.
Only shows that are produced or presented by Michigan’s professional theaters and opera companies—both union and non-union—and reviewed by EncoreMichigan.com’s theater critics during the 2014-2015 season were eligible for a 2015 Wilde Awards nomination. Shows had to be performed for four consecutive days or more or over two weekends or more to be eligible for a review.
The 2015 Wilde Awards were sponsored by Detroit Public TV, Pride Source Media Group and Actors’ Equity Association. The Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theatre Community was sponsored by Little Bill’s Trophies.
EncoreMichigan.com is web-based publication established in 2008 that is focused on Michigan's professional theater industry. Designed as a one-stop shop for consumers, industry professionals and others with an interest in the performing arts, EncoreMichigan.com is updated daily and packed with informative interviews, insightful reviews, comprehensive show listings, thoughtful commentary, audition notices, podcasts and much, much more. Original content is created by a dedicated team of veteran freelance journalists and theater professionals. For more information about EncoreMichigan.com, log onto www.encoremichigan.com.
WINNERS: The 2015 Wilde Awards
Leaving Iowa, Beth Torrey, director; Tipping Point Theatre
Annapurna, Guy Sanville, director; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Violet, Steve DeBruyne, director; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment
Elektra, Nicholas Muni, director; Michigan Opera Theatre
Best of the Bard
King Lear, Frannie Shepherd-Bates, director; Shakespeare in Detroit
Best Theatre for Young Audiences
Sleeping Beauty, Igor Gozman, director; PuppetART
Best Touring Production
Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell, director; Broadway in Detroit: Fisher Theatre
Best Performance, Actress - Comedy
Emily Sutton-Smith, Miracle on South Division Street; Williamston Theatre
Best Performance, Actress - Drama
Inga R. Wilson, Sugarhill; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company
Best Performance, Actress – Musical
Mahalia Greenway, Violet; The Dio - Dining & Entertainment
Best Performance, Actor - Comedy
Brandy Joe Plambeck, Boeing Boeing; Hilberry Theatre
Best Performance, Actor - Drama
Mike McGettigan, Buried Child; The Abreact
Best Performance, Actor – Musical
Sebastian Gerstner, Spamalot; The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Best Performance – Opera
Christine Goerke, Elektra; Michigan Opera Theatre
Best Performance – The Bard
Julia Garlotte, King Lear; Shakespeare in Detroit
Best Performance – Theater for Young Audiences
Sam Carter, The Diary of Anne Frank; Flint Youth Theatre
Tony Caselli and John Lepard, The Best Brothers; Williamston Theatre
Best New Script
Linda Ramsay-Detherage, Sugarhill; The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company
Best Music Direction
Brian E. Buckner, The Ugly Duckling; Wild Swan Theater
Irina Baranovskaya and Igor Gozman, The Crane Maiden; PuppetART
Best Design – Sound or Video
Tim Culver, Cameron Lake and Lauri Rowe, It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play; Great Escape Stage Company
Best Design - Sets
Bartley H. Bauer, Annapurna; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Best Design - Props
Danna Segrest, Annapurna; The Purple Rose Theatre Company
Best Design - Lights
Harley Miah, Red; Open Book Theatre Company
Best Design - Costumes
Monika Essen, Frida; Michigan Opera Theatre
Critics’ Choice Award:
Farmers Alley Theatre
Critic’s Choice Award
Detroit Improv Collective
Founders Award for Excellence
Kurt Stamm, Mason Street Warehouse
Jim Posante Community Pride Award
Bailey Boudreau, Slipstream Theatre Initiative
Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theatre Community