Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Connecticut Critics Circle Awards

'Next to Normal' and 'Invisible Hand' Take Home Top Honors

Riley and Ella Briggs present the award for
best choreography. All photos by Mara Lavitt

Westport Country Playhouse’s “The Invisible Hand” and TheaterWorks’ “Next to Normal” took top honors at the Connecticut Critics Circle Awards Monday night for best play and musical production of the 2016-17 season.

The event, which honors the work of the state’s professional theaters, was held at Sacred Heart University’s Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts. Three-time Tony Award-nominee Terrence Mann was master of ceremonies. Performing was Bobby Conte Thornton, star of Broadway’s “A Bronx Tale.”

Awards for outstanding actors in a musical went to Christiane Noll (“Next to Normal”) and Zach Schanne (“West Side Story,” Summer Theatre of New Canaan).

Awards for outstanding actors in a play went to Eric Bryant (“The Invisible Hand”) and Vanessa R. Butler (“Queens for a Year,” Hartford Stage).

Top directing awards went to Rob Ruggiero (“Next to Normal”) and David Kennedy (“The Invisible Hand”).

Outstanding ensemble award went to the cast of Long Wharf Theatre’s production of Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower;” debut award, Maya Keleher (“Next to Normal”); solo award, Jon Peterson (“He Wrote Good Songs” at Seven Angels Theatre); and choreography, Doug Shankman (“West Side Story,” Summer Theatre of New Canaan).

Paulette Haupt, who is ending her 40-year run this summer as artistic director of the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, received the Tom Killen Award for lifetime service to the theater.

Receiving special awards were actor Paxton Whitehead and actor-writer-gay youth advocate James Lecesne.

Outstanding featured actors in a musical went to Rhett Guter for Goodspeed Musicals’ “Bye Bye Birdie” and Kate Simone (“Gypsy,” Music Theatre of Connecticut.

Outstanding featured actors in a play honors went to Mia Dillon (“Cloud 9” at Hartford Stage) and Cleavant Derricks (“The Piano Lesson,” Hartford Stage).

 Design awards went to Jane Shaw for sound (“The Comedy of Errors,” Hartford Stage), Darko Tresnjak for sets (“The Comedy of Errors”), Fabio Toblini (costumes, “The Comedy of Errors”) and John Lasiter for lighting, (“Next to Normal”).

Among the presenters were Obie-winning composer Kirsten Childs, actor-director-producer Jerry Adler, O’Neill Theater Center founder George White, former Goodspeed Musicals exec Michael Price, editor-in-chief Paul Wontorek, SiriusXM Broadway radio host Julie James and Tony Award-winning designer Michael Yeargan.

Photo Gallery
Paulette Haupt accepts the Tom Killen Award

Paxton Whitehead accepts a Special Award

Mara Keleher accepting the award for Outstanding Debut

Billy Bivona on guitar, Adam Souza on piano, and Broadway's
Bobby Conte Thornton

Kate Simone accepts the award for Outstanding
Featured Actress in a Musical

Erika Rolfsrud takes a selfie before announcing
the winners for Outstanding Actors in a Play

Zach Schanne accepts the award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical

Christiane Noll accepts the award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical

The cast of 'Next to Normal' and director Rob Ruggiero accept the award for Best Musical

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