Newcomers and Veterans Honored by Connecticut Critics Circle

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Michael Price and Eli Baker
Michael Price and Eli Baker

The Connecticut Critics Circle’s awards ceremony on June 23 at Westport Country Playhouse honored not only the best of Connecticut theater in the 2013-14 season but also honored several theatrical veterans for their enormous contributions to Connecticut and theater.

The presentation by young Eli Baker of a plaque to Michael Price, executive director of Goodspeed Musicals who is stepping down this year after 40 plus years at the helm, was particularly touching.  Baker got his start in the profession when he cast as the young Patrick in the Goodspeed production of Mame in 2011.  He recently played the son in the short-lived TV comedy Growing Up Fisher.

Baker’s words were filled with humor but Price’s response drew many moist eyes; it was clear the bond he had with the young actor was tremendous.


But that wasn’t the only emotional moment in the evening.  Several of the winning performers mentioned their struggles and how being recognized by the critics meant so much to them.

It was an evening to celebrate veteran performers and promising young talent.

Frank Vlastnik who tied for outstanding performance by a male actor in a featured role started his remarks with “the last time I won anything it was hall monitor in third grade!”  He also thanked director Mark Lamos (his director in Westport’s Room Service) for encouraging him when he was struggling with the idea of playing three characters of completely different ages.

Your critic with Bill Nolte
Your critic with Bill Nolte

Bill Nolte who played the lead in Goodspeed’s Most Happy Fella and the winner for outstanding leading actor in a musical, mentioned his years as a stand by. He also thanked Michael Price for his integrity and kindness.

The big winners were Yale Rep’s production of These Paper Bullets!,  Hartford Stage’s MacBeth, and Goodspeed’s Most Happy Fella.


Darko Tresnjak and James Bundy
Darko Tresnjak and James Bundy

But the awards were also spread around with winners from South Pacific at the Summer Theater of New Canaan (Janelle Robinson as outstanding featured actress in a musical), Goodspeed’s Hello, Dolly! (Tony Sheldon as outstanding featured actor in a musical),  Hartford Stage’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Caryn West as outstanding featured actor in a play), Long Wharf/Hartford Stage’s The Underpants (Steve Routman as outstanding featured actor in a play in a tie),and  the ensemble of TheaterWork’s Love/Sick.

 MacBeth at Hartford Stage won awards for outstanding actor (Matthew Rauch), lighting and tied for outstanding production.

Kate Levy won the outstanding actress in a play for her portrayal of TheaterWork’s The Other Place and Katie Rose Clarke won outstanding actress in a musical for playing the wife in Long Wharf’s Last Five Years.

 Ivoryton Playhouse received multiple nominations for Dreamgirls and I Ought to be in Pictures. Sheniqua Denise Trotman received the outstanding debut award for her work in Dreamgirls.

 The Tom Killen award for outstanding contributions for Connecticut Theater went to playwright, director and actor Athol Fugard.  Though unable to be present since he was in native South Africa he sent a message of thanks calling Connecticut one of his artistic homes. The first American production of his work was at Long Wharf and many of his plays have premiered at either the Yale Rep or Long Wharf, most recently his latest play The Shadow of a Hummingbird.

 A Broken Umbrella Theater — the New Haven company that creates works about area history and presents them in unique and appropriate locales — was recognized with a special award for its innovative work.

Bille Jo Armstrong of Green Day also received a special award for composing the music for the premier of Yale Rep’s These Paper Bullets!.

 Theater lovers can see a complete list of nominees and winners as well theater reviews and theater information at the Connecticut Critics Circle website.

This content is courtesy of Shore Publishing/Zip06.con – find the original here.

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