The crowd seemed smaller for the awards this year, but maybe it was the venue that made is appear so. If you were one of the folks who stayed home, I dare say you missed out. Ben Loewy, Max Lardent, and Anthony Barnaby of Poor Richard’s Players opened the show with another great parody. They certainly made up for the late start. I think, like it or not, these guys are destined to be the opening act even when they’re old and using walkers. That’s how good they are.
Overall, the evening moved at a good pace with Jim Sohre at the mic. Presenters came from a wide variety of arts related organizations, both public and private. But they aren’t given anything to do other than announce the winner and hand over the award. So, see, if you avoided attending because you thought it would be “just another long night of self-congratulatory aggrandizement” full of boring introductions, mangle pronunciations, and drawn-out acceptance speeches, you’d be wrong. With winners holding the award aloft and a quick wave to the crowd, the Valley awards run faster than pacers at the horse track.
And, there were some surprises along the way. At least there were for this critic and adjudicator with “The Wolves” capturing Supporting Actress (Valerie Carpenter-Bernstein) and Best Ensemble (Play).
Poor Richard’s Players ended up being the belles of the ball, taking home five of the evening’s honors: Best Ensemble Musical, Supporting Actor in a Musical (Anthony Barnaby), Actor in a Musical (Adam Dunson), Director (Musical) Benjamin Loewy) and Best Production (Musical) – all for “Young Frankenstein.” As Sohre quipped, “That pretty much solidifies they’ll be back next year for the opening act.”
Gary Lunn’s stunning performance in “The Father” at Cockroach Theatre garnered him the Best Actor. Alexia Chen added to the production’s wins for her incredible shrinking set. Both rounded out with “The Father” named Best Production (Play).
Best Actress (Play) went to Tina Rice for her stellar rip-your-heart-out performance as Vivian Bearing in A Public Fit’s production of “W;T.”