Memory Awards: Are You Serious?
WOW! I really can't believe what I read in the August issue of SB Magazine.
Thanks to those of you who have posted comments on the last entry, but I am now giving you an actual Memory Awards post upon which to comment.
In reading the list of award winners, I was struck by the fact that maybe the problems these awards have are not the fault of the judges. It strikes me that maybe, in fact, the judges are not trained in what to look for when viewing a production. It also strikes me that some of the "rules" (I use that term for lack of a better one) governing the awards are not fair to performers and technicians. Don't get me wrong, someone will ALWAYS find fault with awards, but if SB Magazine actually wants their theatre awards to be credible in the opinions of many in the theatre community, perhaps they will rethink some of the "rules" and maybe train the judges.
Criteria--Are there actual criteria judges look for when viewing a production? Case in point...even though Fiddler on the Roof was surprisingly better than I thought it was going to be, how did it win Best Musical over Singin' in the Rain or even Beauty and the Beast? What are the criteria when choosing nominees? I know that Peter Pan Players used some of the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse summer set for Aladdin, but Aladdin did have a set. Jamie Sanders' set for FOTR worked very well for that production. Due to what reason(s) were the SITR and B&B sets the only two nominated?
Categories of Awards--How can one person win two awards for one role? That really does not make any sense to me. Gretchen Edwards-Page's performance of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker was truly wonderful. I found her honest and subtle with a very nuanced performance. Yet, she is a juvenile actress. Nominate her in the Juvenile category, not both. How could Ansley Hughes be nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her performance in FOTR (a principal role) and also be nominated for Most Memorable Performance for an Actor or Actress in a Non-Principal Role? Again, I am clueless.
Nominees--Oh, my, where to even begin on this one? First of all, some notable omissions from the list of nominees. Patrick Kirton as Macbeth and John Bogan as Banquo in Macbeth. How in the world were these two actors left off the list? Where was Destin Bass as Aladdin in Aladdin? Did we only have three lead actors in musical this season? According to SB Magazine we did? What about Henry Walker in To Kill a Mockingbird? Granted, he is not Gregory Peck, but come on!!! It's Atticus Finch for God's sake. Courtney Gaston's lights in B & B were quite good, but were there no lights in SITR or Are We There Yet? or Honky Tonk Angels ? Why were there only two musicals nominated in this category? I could go on, but I'm not. Now, for nominees that shouldn't have been...Bedroom Farce was an ENSEMBLE show if ever I have seen one. How did Michael Blake Powell pull a nomination as Lead Actor? I've already discussed the Gretchen Edwards-Page and Ansley Hughes issue. Haley Evans in TKAM. She is a juvenile. Nominate her as such.
The awards that shouldn't have been and other questions--Someone PLEASE tell me how a professional costume rental service can be awarded Best Costume Design in a Drama!!! This is what that company does. They get paid incredibly well for it, too. This has happened before, too. Patric McWilliams received this award two years ago for 1776. Most, if not all, of those costumes were rented. McWilliams, at least, selected the costumes which were used in the production. I was under the impression that these awards were for achievements in local, amateur theatre. I guess I was wrong. SITR should have been awarded Best Musical over FOTR. I wonder if Cynthia Whitaker was awarded the Best Director award because she didn't kill a child in her cast of thousands. If the old expression that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" holds true, maybe we can change it to "the loudest actor gets the awards". The night I saw FOTR Mike Martindale was very off-pitch but definitely loud. Maybe he was better the performances the judges saw. Although, the award should have gone to Patrick Kirton for his role as the Beast in B&B. What happened to Trey Jackson? His Cosmo in SITR was one of the best supporting performances seen in recent memory. Although the costumes in SITR were good and appropriate, I am not sure they should have won. Mary Joris--In my book, you win the award for Best Director in a Drama for The Miracle Worker.
A few other comments on the matter--
1. Why were Fiddler on the Roof and Little Women not reviewed? Granted, SB Magazine does not review shows, but I think that should be a pre-requisite for being eligible for awards.
2. Who are the judges, anyway? There was never a question of who they were when The Times gave out awards.
3. Perhaps we should just have a "Special Recognition" issue of the magazine instead of awards. The judges (or whoever) would just cite performances and productions, etc. that were worthy of mentioning.
4. If the magazine continues the tradition of awards, they need to be handled fairly, and the most deserving performers/directors/technicians/productions should be awarded. It seems in looking at the list of winners, the goal was to make sure each theatre had their share of awards regardless of quality.
I'm sure some of you will agree with these observations. I'm sure others of you will take issue with many of the comments/questions/suggestions I have made. That's fine.
Remember, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.