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2015 Philadelphia Theater Critic’s Awards — THE RECIPIENTS

matteoTheatergoing is a pleasant and relatively safe gamble.

You never know when you’re going to see a special production or performance that is extraordinary beyond expectation. I didn’t know the name Kingsley Ibeneche before I entered Theatre Horizon to see “Black Nativity,” but now that I know of Mr. Ibeneche’s abundant talent, I will seek out dance programs in which he participates.

I rank productions, directors, and performers because it’s interesting to me to see who, in particular, excelled in a given year. The recipient of the Philadelphia Theater Critic’s Award, given since 1969, is one person’s choice, my choice as the best in a given theatrical year. You want to know the irony? If I announced that Number 20 or Number 50 from my rankings earned the Award, most theater fans would regard the recipient as a logical choice. That’s how good theater is in Philadelphia. It makes room for a lot of excellence.

Narrowing any year’s list from more than 100 qualifiers to 30 cited positions and from 30 outstanding efforts to five, then, finally, one, is more daunting and arduous than you can think. And heartbreaking. I want to congratulate everyone. That’s why I publish the Qualifiers, so all whose names were considered can see that his or her performance is noted and appreciated. I don’t want to whine like Mandy Patinkin at a keyboard, but I find it worth the exercise to go over each production of a year and think about who had a breakthrough performance, who led and guided a production, who went beyond being a triple threat in creating a role, and who created a meaningful character that goes beyond any scribbles on a page to be the essence of live performance.

I am given to hyperbole, and it may sound as if I’m overstating, but on a given night at a given show, more than the usual magic can happen. The recipients, the nominees, and the Top 30 in each category personify magic that only occurs when one live person exudes humanity by enlightening and entertaining others grandly.

 

The Recipients of the 2015 Philadelphia Theater Critic’s Awards are:

 

Best Production —

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? By Edward Albee, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia

 

Best Director —

JOE CANUSO, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia

 

Best Actor —

MATTEO SCAMMELL, The Hairy Ape, EgoPo Classic Theatre, Philadelphia

 

Best Actress —

ZAINAB JAH, Hamlet, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia

 

Best Supporting Actor —

JAKE BLOUCH, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, and Unnecessary Farce, Act II Playhouse, Ambler, Pa.

 

Best Supporting Actress —

MARIEKE HEEBINK, After the Rehearsal and Persona, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Fringe Arts, Philadelphia

 

 

zainabCongratulations to Mr. Canuso, Mr. Scammell, Ms. Jah, Mr. Blouch, and Ms. Heebink. Four of you showed new depth beyond the fine work you’ve all revealed in the past. The fifth, Marieke Heebink displayed extraordinary intensity that filled the 23rd Street Armory stage with emotion and human sensibility. Jake Blouch showed great range as he maintained cool urbanity and uncrackable imperturbability as Nick in Exile’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” then sported de rigueur kilts and a Scottish burr, along with a combination of nonchalance and perfectionism, as the comic assassin in Act II’s “Unnecessary Farce.” Mr. Blouch also scored as the disillusioned jaded soldier in James J. Christy, Jr.’s “A Great War” for Iron Pig.

 

Matteo Scammell embodied the angst and resentment of Yank, the merchant seaman spurned by a debutante because of his class. It looked as if veins would burst in Mr. Scammell’s neck as he roared his rage at an unfair world. By contrast, Mr. Scammell can play both the mild, conciliatory child in Whit MacLaughlin’s “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates” for the Arden while also portraying a supercilious administrative assistant who almost causes the Brinkers more years of suffering by keeping the doctor he serves from the family. Zainab Jah is a wonder in general. Her performance as Prudence in the Wilma’s “The Convert” continues to reverberate in my memory, and her Hamlet brimmed with thoughtfulness and intelligence. Ms. Zah was even magnificent is a small part in “Antony and Cleopatra” at McCarter Theatre.

 

Joe Canuso, a director who always infuses his productions with precision and detail showed how well he understood Albee’s George and Martha and directed his cast to remain on an emotionally human scale while being aware of their superiority at gamesmanship. The wit and sophistication of the production comes through as well as the daunting viciousness cultivated by the bored and idle inteligensia. Mr. Canuso and his company, all of whom are cited, showed how intensity and cunning can be hilariously entertaining and piercingly ugly at once.

 

The Top 30 is each category are:

 

Best Production (Expanded to the Top 40)

 

  • 1. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? By Edward Albee, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 2. La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 3. Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Wilma Theatre, Philadelphia
  •  4. Five Mile Lake by Rachel Bonds, McCarter Theatre, Princeton, N.J.
  •  5. Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  •  6. Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia
  •  7. Kinky Boots by Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper, National Tour, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia
  •  8. Ragtime by Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol, Pa.
  •  9. In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.
  • 10. A Comedy of Tenors by Ken Ludwig, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 11. Oscar by Theodore Morrison and John Cox, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 12. Company by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pa.
  • 13. The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, National Tour, Forrest Theatre , Philadelphia
  • 14. Baby Doll by Tennessee Williams (adapted by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann), McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 15. The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane by Jen Silverman, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 16. Private Lives by Noel Coward, Walnut Street Theatre
  • 17. All My Sons by Arthur Miller, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
  • 18. Michael & Edie by Rachel Bonds, Villanova Theatre, Villanova, Pa.
  • 19. The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia
  • 20. The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 21. Black Nativity by Langston Hughes, Theatre Horizon, Norristown
  • 22. Matilda by Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly (after Roald Dahl), National Tour, Academy of Music, Philadelphia
  • 23. Shipwrecked! By Donald Margulies, Walnut Independence Studio on 3, Philadelphia
  •  24. A Christmas Carol by David Thompson, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 25. The Metamorphosis by Steven Berkoff (after Franz Kafka), Quintessence Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 26. Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Theatre Horizon, Norristown
  • 27. After the Rehearsal by Ingmar Bergman, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Fringe Arts, Philadelphia
  • 28. Nora by Ingmar Bergman (after Henrik Ibsen), Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington, Delaware
  • 29. The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill, EgoPo Classic Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 30. All in the Timing by David Ives, Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, Philadelphia
  • 31. Equivocation by Bill Cain, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 32. Milk Like Sugar by Kirsten Greenidge, Simpatico Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 33. To the Moon by Jennifer Childs, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia
  • 34. Oslo by J.T. Rogers, Playpenn New Play Festival, Philadelphia
  • 35. Becoming Dr. Ruth by Mark St. Germain, Walnut Independence Studio on 3, Philadelphia
  • 36. The Second Mrs. Wilson by Joe DiPietro, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick, N.J.
  • 37. Stella and Lou by Bruce Graham, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 38. Persona by Ingmar Bergman, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Fringe Arts, Philadelphia
  • 39. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, Wilma Theatre
  • 40. Kiss of the Spider Woman by Terrence McNally, John Kander, and Fred Ebb, 11th Hour Productions

 

 

Best Director

 

  • 1. JOE CANUSO, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 2. Paul Curran, La Traviata, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 3. Emily Mann, Five Mile Lake and Baby Doll, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 4. Matthew Warchus, Matilda, National Tour, Academy of Music, Philadelphia
  • 5. Stephen Wadsworth, A Comedy of Tenors, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 6. Blanka Zizka, Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Wilma Theatre, Philadelphia
  •  7. Keith Baker, Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol
  • 8. John Kani, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  •  9. Kamilah Forbes, All My Sons, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 10. Ivo von Hove, After the Rehearsal and Persona, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Fringe Arts, Philadelphia
  • 11. Pirronne Yousefzadeh, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, and The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 12. Kevin Newbury, Oscar, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 13. Brenna Geffers, The Hairy Ape, EgoPo Classic Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 14. Matt Pfeiffer, The Whale, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia and To the Moon, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia
  • 15. Gordon Edelstein, The Second Mrs. Wilson, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick, N.J.
  • 16. Joe Brancato, Playing the Assassin, Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington, Delaware
  • 17. Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon, National Tour, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 18. Matthew Decker, Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon, Norristown
  • 19. Rebecca Wright, The Metamorphosis, Quintessence Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 20. James Ijames, Michael & Edie and Eurydice, Villanova Theatre, Villanova
  • 21. Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots, National Tour, Forrest Theatre
  • 22. Douglas C. Wager, The Matchmaker, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia
  • 23. Hunter Foster, Company and National Pastime, Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pa.
  • 24. Jesse Bernstein, Shipwrecked!, Walnut Independence Studo on 3, Philadelphia
  • 25. Samantha Bellomo, Biloxi Blues, People’s Light & Theatre Festival and The Taming the Shrew, Delaware Shakespeare, Company, Wilmington, N.J.
  • 26. Lisa Peterson, Ernest Shackelton Loves Me, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick, N.J.
  • 27. Kathryn MacMillian, Doubt: A Parable, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia
  • 28. Michael Mastro, Nora, Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington, Delaware
  • 29. Michael Unger, A Christmas Carol, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 30. Ozzie Jones, Black Nativity, Theatre Horizon, Norristown

 

 

Best Actor

 

  • 1. MATTEO SCAMMELL, The Hairy Ape, EgoPo Classic Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 2. Dylan McDermott, Baby Doll, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 3. Michael Genet, All My Sons, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 4. Pearce Bunting, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 5. Scott Greer, The Whale and Rizzo, Theatre Exile, and To the Moon, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia
  • 6. Justin Guarini, Company, Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope
  • 7. Christopher Sutton, Memphis, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 8. Atandwa Kani, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 9. Keith Baker, Mountain, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol
  • 10. David Daniels, Oscar, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 11. Ezra Knight, Playing the Assassin, Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington
  • 12. Garrett Lee Hendricks, Playing the Assassin, Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington
  • 13. Derrick Cobey, Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol
  • 14. Tobias Segal, Five Mile Lake, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 15. Jeffrey Coon, Catch Me if You Can, Eagle Theatre, Hammonton, N.J. and The Three Maries, No Attytude Productions at Prince Music Theater, Philadelphia
  • 16. Robert Jason Jackson, The Matchmaker, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia
  • 17. Robert Hager, Kiss of the Spider Woman, 11th Hour Productions, Philadelphia
  • 18. David Larsen, The Book of Mormon, National Tour, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 19. Mike Eldred, Les Misérables, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley, Pa.
  • 20. Lawrence Brownlee, Yardbird, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 21. Tom Teti, Stella and Lou, People’s Light & Theatre Company, and Mark Twain Unplugged, Act II Playhouse, Ambler, and Tommy and Me, Theatre Exile
  • 22. J Hernandez, The Taming of the Shrew, Lantern Theatre, Philadelphia, and Dracula, Hedgerow Theatre, Rose Valley, Pa., and The Castle of Otranto, New City Stages, Philadelphia
  • 23. Christopher Patrick Mullen, Pericles, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley
  • 24. Steven Booth, Kinky Boots, National Tour, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 25. Mitchell Bloom, Michael & Edie, Villanova Theatre, Villanova
  • 26. Adam Hoyak, Catch Me if You Can, Eagle Theatre, Hammonton
  • 27. Greg Wood, Shipwrecked!, Walnut Independence Studio on 3, and Private Lives, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 28. Ben Dibble, Doubt: A Parable, Lantern Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 29. Curtiss Cook, Jr., Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia
  • 30. George Hartpence, My Favorite Year, ActorsNET, Morrisville, Pa.

 

 

Best Actress

 

  • 1. Zainab Jah, Hamlet, Wilma Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 2. Lisette Oropesa, La Traviata, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 3. Melanye Finister, All My Sons, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 4. Kristine Fraelich, Gypsy, Media Theatre, Media, Pa. and Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon, Norristown
  • 5. Catharine Slusar, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 6. Laila Robins, The Second Mrs. Wilson, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick, N.J.
  • 7. Kristen Bush, Five Mile Lake, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 8. Ashley Everage, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.
  • 9. Jane Ridley, Becoming Dr. Ruth, Walnut Independence Studio on 3 and The Foreigner, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley
  • 10. Rebecca Jane Cureton, Eurydice, Villanova Theatre, Villanova
  • 11. Liz Filios, Passion, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, and Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon, Norristown
  • 12. Mary Martello, Doubt: A Parable, Lantern Theatre. Philadelphia and The Shoplifters, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia
  • 13. Anne Connors, Billy Elliot, Media Theatre, Media
  • 14. Jessica Wagner, Always…Patsy Cline and Bus Stop, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol
  • 15. Jennie Eisenhower, Field Hockey Hot, 11th Hour Productions, Philadelphia and The Miracle Worker, Media Theatre, Media
  • 16. Julie Czarnecki, The Matchmaker, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia
  • 17. Kathleen Wallace, Private Lives, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 18. Catrina Ganey, Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia
  • 19. Aimé Donna Kelly, The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia and Moon Man Walk, Orbiter 3, Philadelphia
  • 20. Kimber Sprawl, Memphis, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 21. Kim Carson, Nora, Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington and Marry Me a Little, Montgomery Theatre, Souderton, Pa.
  • 22. Kristen Bailey, The Metamorphosis, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia
  • 23. Felicia Leicht, The Taming of the Shrew, Delaware Shakespeare Festival, Wilmington
  • 24. Gaite Jansen, Persona and After the Rehearsal, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Fringe Arts, Philadelphia
  • 25. Anna Giordano, Ghost and Gypsy, Media Theatre, Media
  • 26. Kathy Deitch, The Three Maries, No Attytude Productions at Prince Music Theater
  • 27. Lyn Philistine, A Christmas Story, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 28. Marcia Saunders, Stella and Lou, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 29. Sophia Barrett, Michael & Edie, Villanova Theatre, Villanova
  • 30. Valerie Vigoda, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick

 

 

Best Supporting Actor

 

  • 1. JAKE BLOUCH, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia and Unnecessary Farce, Act II Playhouse, Ambler, and Kiss of the Spider Woman, 11th Hour Productions, Philadelphia, and A Great War, Iron Pig, Philadelphia
  • 2. Akeem Davis, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown and Rizzo, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia and Unnecessary Farce, Act II Playhouse, Ambler and The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 3. Bradley Dean, A Comedy of Tenors, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 4. Zach Wobensmith, Billy Elliot, Media Theatre, Media
  • 5. Ed Swidey, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Wilma Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 6. Stanley Bahorek, Baskerville, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 7. Pete Pryor, Biloxi Blues, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 8. Jeremiah James, Les Misérables, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley
  • 9. Christopher Sutton, A Christmas Story, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 10. Sherman Howard, The Second Mrs. Wilson, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick
  • 11. Stephen Powell, La Traviata, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 12. Kingsley Ibeneche, Black Nativity, Theatre Horizon, Philadelphia
  • 13. Dan Hodge, The Fair Maid of the West, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Philadelphia and Equivocation, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, and The Three Christs of Manhattan, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 14. Quinn Mattfeld, Matilda, National Tour, Academy of Music, Philadelphia
  • 15. Mncedisi Shabangu, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 16. Robert Joy, Baby Doll, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 17. Troy Cook, Don Carlo, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 18. Brandon Pierce, The Fair Maid of the West, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Philadelphia and Metamorphoses, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia and Milk Like Sugar, Simpatico Theatre, Philadelphia and The Bald Soprano, Curio Theatre, Philadelphia and Hands Up, Flashpoint Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 19. Anthony Lawton, To the Moon, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia and The Foreigner and Henry V, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley and Equivocation, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 20. Graham Smith, The Cherry Orchard, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 21. Forrest McClendon, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown
  • 22. Derek Klena, Diner, Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington
  • 23. Bobby Thornton Conte, A Comedy of Tenors, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 24. Richmond Hoxie, The Second Mrs. Wilson, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick
  • 25. Brad Greer, Les Misérables, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley
  • 26. Paul L. Nolan, Rizzo, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 27. Trevor William Fayle, The Whale, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia and Photograph 51, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia
  • 28. Ian Merrill Peakes, Equivocation, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 29. Michael Kiliany, Merrily We Roll Along, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia
  • 30. Aaron Bell, Hands Up, Flashpoint Theatre, Philadelphia

 

Best Supporting Actress

 

  • 1. MARIEKE HEEBINK, After the Rehearsal and Persona, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Fringe Arts, Philadelphia
  • 2. Jennifer Blood, Matilda, National Tour, Academy of Music, Philadelphia
  • 3. Annie Dow, Song for the Disappeared, Passage Theatre, Trenton, N.J.
  • 4. Tamara Anderson, Ghost, Media Theatre, Media
  • 5. Mahira Kakkar, Five Mile Lake, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 6. Lynnette R. Freeman, The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 7. Sun Yun Cho, Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia
  • 8. Emilie Krause, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 9. Cathy Simpson, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown
  • 10. Jennie Eisenhower, Passion, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia and Gypsy, Media Theatre, Media
  • 11. Jo Twiss, Always…Patsy Cline, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol
  • 12. Clare Mahoney, Doubt: A Parable, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia and Biloxi Blues, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 13. Candace Quarrels, The Book of Mormon, National Tour, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 14. Mary Martello, Memphis, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia and The Three Maries, No Attytude Productions, Prince Music Theater, Philadelphia
  • 15. Sanchel Brown, Black Nativity, Theatre Horizon, Norristown
  • 16. Aimé Donna Kelly, Disgraced, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia and Macbeth, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, and This Is the Week That Is, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia
  • 17. Angela Brown, Yardbird, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 18. Antoinette LaVecchia, The Comedy of Tenors, McCarter Theatre, Princeton
  • 19. Alda Cortese, How to Write a New Book for the Bible, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 20. Susan Riley Stevens, According to Goldman, Act II Playhouse, Ambler and Pericles, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley and Nora, Delawar3 Theatre Company, Wilmington
  • 21. Kate Czajkowski, The Whale, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 22. Joilet Harris, Because of Winn-Dixie, Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington and All My Sons, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern
  • 23. Ciji Prosser, Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol and Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 24. Stephanie Berry, Autumn, Crossroads Theatre, New Brunswick, N.J.
  • 25. Heidi Stober, Oscar, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia
  • 26. Sarah Ochocki, Michael & Edie, Villanova Theatre, Villanova
  • 27. Campbell O’Hare, The Whale, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia
  • 28. Melissa Dunphy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, Philadelphia
  • 29. Ellie Mooney, A Christmas Story, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia and I Love a Piano, Walnut Independence Studio on 3, Philadelphia
  • 30. E. Ashley Izard, Romeo and Juliet and The Mandrake, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia

 

Special Mentions

To Jeff Coon, Fran Prisco, J.P. Dunphy, and the various guests who joined them in 2015 as they continued Jeff’s magnificent entertainment invention, The Cape May Summer Club. Long may they wave!!!

 

To Bruce Graham, whose craft and versatility, as well as his prolific output, were demonstrated in 2015 in a fresh look at a past work. According to Goldman, showed brightly in new works, Stella and Lou and Rizzo, and offer promise in scripts heard at readings, Funnyman and White Guy on the Bus, which will be produced in 2016 by Arden Theatre and Passage Theatre respectively.

 

To both the performers cited for exciting multiple performances — Jake Blouch, Akeem Davis, Dan Hodge, Mary Martello, Scott Greer, Anthony Lawton, Brandon Pierce, Aimé Donna Kelly, Jennie Eisenhower, Krissy Fraelich, Christopher Patrick Mullen, Susan Riley Stevens, Greg Wood, Liz Filios, Adam Hoyak, Ellie Mooney, and Anna Giordano — and equally outstanding performers who turned in excellent performance after excellent performance and deserve recognition the range of these lists did not allow — Zoran Kovcic, Stephen Tornetta, Leah Walton, Brock D. Vickers, Kirsten Quinn, Joel Guerrero, Daniel Fredrick, Kristen Norine, Damon Bonetti, Rachel Camp, Luke Brahdt, Brian Anthony Wilson, Connor Hammond, Alan Brincks, Keith Conallen, Sarah Gliko, Garrison Carpenter, Josh Carpenter, Susan Wefel, Kelly Briggs, Jon Mulhearn, Ross Beschler, David Bradley Johnson, Bi Jean Ngo, Meghan Winch, Mark Swift, Kyle Fennie, Brian Ratcliffe, Peter DeLaurier, Harry Smith, J.P. Dunphy, Andrew Carroll, Isabella Fehlandt, Jacob Dresch, Leonard C. Haas, Lindsay Smiling, Julianna Zinkel, Charlie DelMarcelle, and Leigha Kato.

 

To Sheldon K. Jackson, who had never appeared on a stage in any semblance of a major role and riveted audiences in a classic role associated with Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington, no less than Walter Lee Younger in the ActorsNET production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.

 

To the remarkable child actress billed as Lexy Gwynn when she astounded with her naturalness in the unnatural part of Helen Keller in the Media Theatre’s The Miracle Worker, and became Alexis Gwynn when she gave a poised, comic turn that outshined most of the experience adult actors sharing the stage with her in the Walnut Street Theatre’s High Society. Ms. Gwynn next plays Scout Finch in the Media’s To Kill a Mockingbird. If she continues performing on the level she has, we’ll have a formidable ingénue and future lead actress in our midst.

 

To four other remarkable young performers, J.D. Triolo, already in his fourth season that shows professional development, prodigious talent, and a strong ability to complete an ensemble, and his fellow child stars — Brandon Ranalli, Gunar Daniels, and Nathan Esser — who showed moxie and more in the Media Theatre production of Billy Elliot. Daniels was giving his first performance on a professional stage. Esser had made a previous impression in performance, and rehearsal, of Bristol Riverside’s An Enemy of the People, and Ranalli displayed depth in a difficult role. The hope is all four of these young men will continue and have wonderful adult careers on theater and dance stages.

 

To Paul Meshejian for his sincere pioneering effort to help fledgling works find their way to completion and grace national stages. Meshejian’s incubator, Playpenn, showed remarkable catholicity of range in the works it chose to showcase in 2015. One plays, Oslo, by J.T. Rogers, was cited among the Philadelphia Theater Critic’s Awards Top 40, and is eagerly awaited in finished form and full production.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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