All Things Entertaining and Cultural
I was present at the birth of regional theater in Philadelphia. I attended my first Philadelphia Theatre Company performance in 1973 (and must have looked like a waif walking in to buy my ticket because Edmund Bacon treated me to it). I saw plays at the Society Hill Playhouse, the Pocket Playhouse (where Tom Teti was in a cast, I believe), the Manning Street Theatre, and every nascent company. I remember telling people to pack a toothbrush when I headed to Westtown to see renegades from Hedgerow starting their own theater, which eventually became People’s Light. (The show was Christopher Fry’s “The Lady’s Not for Burning,” and its star was two-time Philadelphia Theater Critic’s Award recipient Janis Dardaris.)
The history of Philadelphia is a rich one to experience. From the era when PTC, Manning Street, People’s Light, and others pioneered the transition to what was a touring town, with the Philadelphia Drama, The Annenberg Center, and the Walnut Street Theatre bringing in bigger names. I was a contented member of the audience. Maturity and assurance are now the hallmarks of Philadelphia theater. We have grown from a fledgling, copycat town to a bright artistic haven where new work flourishes, and we see neophytes blossoming into veterans, the young and experienced sustaining the competitive quality of our community.
As always, choosing five among hundreds for nomination is a daunting task. There are names deep on the qualifiers’ list that were considered for nomination. The performers chosen were selected for a variety of reasons ranging from how affecting they were in their parts to how difficult the role was mentally and physically. The nominees all met challenges laid out for them by writers, directors, or both. Directors are nominated because of their vision or ability to bring out the best in a script. Productions were chosen according to the ones that moved and impressed the most.
When the recipients are announced later this week, their names will be accompanied by 30 or more qualifiers in each category. Believe me, the longer list was the harder to hone. Congratulations to anyone whose name was on the Qualifiers list. It means you were truly considered for nomination and placement on the Top 30. Congratulations, of course, to the 2015 nominees for the Philadelphia Theater Critic’s Award, which is based on 200 plays seen between New Brunswick, N.J. and Wilmington, Delaware.
The 2015 Nominees are:
FOR BEST PRODUCTION
FIVE MILE LAKE by Rachel Bonds, McCarter Theatre Company, Princeton, N.J.
HAMLET by William Shakespeare, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia
SIZWE BANZI IS DEAD by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona, McCarter Theatre Company
LA TRAVIATA by Giuseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? By Edward Albee, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
FOR BEST DIRECTOR
JOE CANUSO, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
PAUL CURRAN, La Traviata, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
EMILY MANN, Five Mile Lake and Baby Doll, McCarter Theatre Company, Princeton
STEPHEN WADSWORTH, A Comedy of Tenors, McCarter Theatre Company, Princeton
MATTHEW WARCHUS, Matilda, National Tour, Academy of Music, Philadelphia
FOR BEST ACTOR
PEARCE BUNTING, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
MICHAEL GENET, All My Sons, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
SCOTT GREER, The Whale, Theater Exile, and To the Moon, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia
DYLAN McDERMOTT, Baby Doll, McCarter Theatre Company, Princeton
MATTEO SCAMMELL, The Hairy Ape, EgoPo Classic Theatre, Philadelphia
FOR BEST ACTRESS
MELANYE FINISTER, All My Sons, People’s Light & Theater Company, Malvern
KRISTINE FRAELICH, Gypsy, Media Theatre, Media, Pa.
ZAINAB JAH, Hamlet, Wilma Theatre, Philadelphia
LISETTE OROPESA, La Traviata, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
CATHARINE SLUSAR, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
JAKE BLOUCH, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, and Unnecessary Farce, Act II Playhouse, Ambler, Pa.
AKEEM DAVIS, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa. (and other performances)
BRADLEY DEAN, A Comedy of Tenors, McCarter Theatre Company, Princeton
ED SWIDEY, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Wilma Theatre, Philadelphia
ZACH WOBENSMITH, Billy Elliot, Media Theatre, Media
FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
TAMARA ANDERSON, Ghost, Media Theatre, Media
JENNIFER BLOOD, Matilda, National Tour, Academy of Music, Philadelphia
ANNIE DOW, Song for the Disappeared, Passage Theatre, Trenton, N.J.
MARIEKE HEEBINK, After the Rehearsal and Persona, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Fringe Arts, Philadelphia
MAHIRA KAKKAR, Five Mile Lake, McCarter Theatre Company, Princeton