Broadway has its Tonys. Memphis has the Ostranders Awards. (Or "rewards," as they are affectionately known within the local theater community.) And this year the competition for top honors is especially fierce.
Can lightning strike twice for triple-threat performer Courtney Oliver who won an Ossie for her performance as Hairspray's Tracy Turnblad in 2010? She was good the first time but even better in the revival. And what about Ken Zimmerman who was snubbed the last time he played Tracy's mom Edna? Is this his year?
Was Mark Guirguis' scenic design for Les Miserables really any more epic than the intimate ghost-and-lightning bug-infested space Chris Sterling created for Justin Asher's original play Haint? And what about the Ostrander for Best Actor in a Drama? Will Tony Isbell take it for his performance as Mark Rothko in Red? Or will it go to Jerry Chipman for his star turn in Other Desert Cities? Or will Sam Weakly take the prize for his less flashy performance as a deceased mathematician in Proof?
It's been an especially good year for theater in Memphis. That means this year's Ostrander Awards, sponsored by Memphis magazine and ArtsMemphis, will be a nail-biter when they go down Sunday, August 24th, at the Orpheum Theatre. Those who haven't attended the Ossies in a while may not even recognize the ever-expanding event in its perfectly matched new venue. The annual ceremony, named for beloved local actor Jim Ostrander, has grown from an intimate party for theater insiders into a gala evening for players and fans alike, featuring comedy courtesy of Sister Myotis and musical performances showcasing the very best of the 2013-14 theater season.