The 2018-2019 nominations are out for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, and on this year’s leader board, small companies vie with big.
Arden Theatre Company’s Gem of the Ocean is the production with the most nominations, with 11. Norristown-based Theatre Horizon’s dynamic small-space rethinking of The Color Purple is next, with 10.
Arden’s production of the musical Once and the Wilma Theater’s production of James Ijames’ Kill Move Paradise earned eight nominations apiece. The Azuka Theatre’s Boycott Esther got seven, as did the ensemble-driven, abortion-themed musical The Appointment by Lightning Rod Special. Inis Nua Theatre Company’s The Monster in the Hall, Passage Theatre Company’s Morir Sonyando, and Arden’s Indecent earned six nominations apiece.
Among the actors nominated for best performance in a play are former Barrymore winners Akeem Davis (in Arden’s Gem of the Ocean) and Jered McLenigan (in the Wilma’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play). New hopefuls nominated in this category include Jennifer Kidwell (in Pig Iron Theatre Company’s A Hard Time) and Chuja Seo (in Salt Pepper Ketchup, which played at InterAct Theatre Company and at Passage, in Trenton.)
Musical actors tabbed include Sarah Gliko (in Philadelphia Theatre Company’s The Bridges of Madison County), Claris Park (Monster in the Hall), and Jessica M. Johnson (The Color Purple).
The nominations were released Monday evening by Theatre Philadelphia, which administers the Barrymores, now celebrating their 25th anniversary. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony Oct. 14 at the Bok building in South Philadelphia. (Tickets and details at theatrephiladelphia.org.)
This year’s nominations recognize more women and a wider diversity of ethnicities and genders than ever, reflecting an intensive effort by Theatre Philadelphia to expand and diversify its corps of 76 nominators and 12 judges and to render its acting awards gender-neutral. (That means that two winners are selected from each acting category, regardless of gender.) Black directors led eight of the nominated productions. The judges liked both classics and new things, with 15 new works nominated.
“It’s really interesting to see the judges spreading around the recognition," said Leigh Goldenberg, executive director of Theatre Philadelphia. “It’s great to see the smaller companies coming so much to the fore.”
This year’s nominees for the coveted F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist are Jaylene Clark Owens, J Hernandez, Dan O’Neil, Gabriela Sanchez, and Maria Shaplin. The Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Ed Shockley, playwright, professor, and founding member of the Philadelphia Dramatists Center.
There’s a new award for Outstanding Outdoor Theater Production. Nominations will come out Oct. 1, once the outdoor season has finished.
Outstanding Overall Production of a Play
Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
Outstanding Direction of a Play
Outstanding Direction of a Musical
Award for Outstanding Leading Performance in a Play
Outstanding Leading Performance in a Musical
Outstanding Supporting Performance in a Play
Outstanding Supporting Performance in a Musical
Outstanding Choreography / Movement
Outstanding Scenic Design
Outstanding Costume Design
Award for Outstanding Lighting Design
Outstanding Media Design
Award for Outstanding Sound Design
Outstanding Original Music
Outstanding Music Direction
Outstanding Ensemble in a Play
Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical
Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play/Musical
Lifetime Achievement Award
F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist
Brown Martin Philadelphia Award
June and Steve Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company
Victory Foundation Award for Outstanding Theatre Education Program ASAP/After School Activities Partnerships