Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Envelope Please: The Ostranders Must Go On

Posted By on Sun, Aug 30, 2020 at 8:00 PM

click to enlarge Crystal Brothers and Travis Bradley in the musical Cats at Theatre Memphis last year. Brothers won an Ostrander on Sunday for best featured performer and Bradley won along with Jordan Nichols for best choreography in a musical. - CARLA MCDONALD
  • Carla McDonald
  • Crystal Brothers and Travis Bradley in the musical Cats at Theatre Memphis last year. Brothers won an Ostrander on Sunday for best featured performer and Bradley won along with Jordan Nichols for best choreography in a musical.


The annual celebration of Memphis theater was Indecent several times, had lots of Cats, savored Jelly’s Last Jam, and though it had no direct Shakespeare, it made much ado over the Book of Will.

The 37th Ostrander Awards Sunday evening was like no other. That’s not hype, it’s just fact, thanks to 2020 being, well, 2020. The annual event was virtual, with attendees watching on Facebook or YouTube. Theater people were not crowding into the Orpheum Sunday evening, not thrilling to one energetic musical production number after another, not casting admiring/envious glances at gasp-worthy fashions and not participating in multiple toasts. Presumably some of that went on anyway, but with much diminished clusters and, one prays, appropriate social distancing.



Furthermore, there was not the usual quantity of productions to judge since the coronovirus shut down all stages mid-March, truncating seasons everywhere that would usually have run into the summer.

But the shows that did go on gave much to applaud, and the Ostrander Award judges gave particular love to Cats from Theatre Memphis (TM) with six awards, Indecent from Circuit Playhouse (CP) with five, and Jelly’s Last Jam from Hattiloo with four. Playhouse on the Square (POTS) earned three each for Book of Will and the musical Memphis.

Also winning were TM’s Next Stage (Next) with two awards for A Few Good Men, Germantown Community Theatre’s (GCT) double for Next to Normal, Hattiloo’s two for Eclipse, and single awards for Mamma Mia! at TM and On Golden Pond at POTS.

In the Collegiate Division, seven awards went to Hissifit at the McCoy Theatre at Rhodes College (Rhodes), four plaques to Inherit the Wind at the University of Memphis (U of M), and four awards to Raisin in the Sun at Southwest Tennessee Community College (SWTCC).

click to enlarge Dennis Whitehead Darling won for best direction the second year in a row. - JON W. SPARKS
  • Jon W. Sparks
  • Dennis Whitehead Darling won for best direction the second year in a row.

Dennis Whitehead Darling won the Ostrander for direction of a musical for 2019’s Jelly’s Last Jam, his third directing honor in two years. This time last year, he picked up two awards for directing, one in the community division, one in collegiate. 


Winning for best direction of a drama was Dave Landis for helming
Indecent. Supplementing that was a special award given this year for Seamless Integration of Direction, Choreography, and Music Direction. That went to the trio of Dave Landis, Daniel Stuart Nelson, and Tammy Holt for Indecent at Circuit Playhouse. 


click to enlarge Ann Marie Hall, winner of the 2020 Eugart Yerian Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Ann Marie Hall, winner of the 2020 Eugart Yerian Lifetime Achievement Award

Ann Marie Hall was this year’s recipient of the Eugart Yerian Lifetime Achievement Award. Hall got her start in theater in grade school when she was a frequent visitor to the principal’s office for talking too much and doing impressions from TV shows. The solution came when she got into a play in the eighth grade. “I realized I could be really silly and people would laugh at me and I wouldn't get in trouble,” she recently told Memphis magazine. Her devotion to the stage never stopped after that and she’s become, in her words, “the consummate community actor.”

Sunday’s event, despite being forced to be virtual, was pulled off with considerable energy as Elizabeth Perkins, Ostranders program director, determined several weeks ago that the show would go on, pandemic or no. Up until the end of June, the hope was to have it old style at the Orpheum, but when it became evident that was a no-go, it was decided to have it online and celebrate the truncated season with virtual gusto.


Here are the winners of the 2020 Ostrander Awards:

COMMUNITY DIVISION

  • Excellence in Set Design for a Drama: Tim McMath, On Golden Pond, POTS
  • Excellence in Set Design for a Musical: Jack Yates, Cats, TM
  • Excellence in Costume Design for a Drama: Lindsay Schmeling, Indecent, CP
  • Excellence in Costume Design for a Musical: Amie Eoff and André Bruce Ward, Cats, TM
  • Excellence in Hair, Wig, and Makeup Design for a Musical: Karen Reeves and Brooklyn Reeves, Cats, TM
  • Excellence in Props Design for a Drama: Eli Grant, Book of Will, POTS
  • Excellence in Props Design for a Musical: Eli Grant, Memphis, POTS
  • Excellence in Sound Design for a Drama: Carter McHann, Indecent, CP
  • Excellence in Sound Design for a Musical: Carter McHann, Memphis, POTS
  • Excellence in Lighting Design for a Drama: Mandy Kay Heath, A Few Good Men, Next
  • Excellence in Lighting Design for a Musical: Mandy Kay Heath, Mamma Mia!, TM
  • Excellence in Music Direction: Tammy Holt, Jelly’s Last Jam, Hattiloo
  • Excellence in Choreography for a Musical: Travis Bradley and Jordan Nichols, Cats, TM
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Raven Martin, Eclipsed, Hattiloo
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Musical: Katy Cotten, Next to Normal, GCT
  • Best Leading Actress in a Drama: Donita Johnson, Eclipsed, Hattiloo
  • Best Leading Actress in a Musical: Dawn Bradley, Memphis, POTS
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: John Maness, Book of Will, POTS
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Musical: Willis Green, Jelly’s Last Jam, Hattiloo
  • Best Leading Actor in a Drama: Stephen Garrett, A Few Good Men, Next
  • Best Leading Actor in a Musical: Johann Robert Wood, Jelly’s Last Jam, Hattiloo
  • Best Featured Performer: Crystal Brothers, Cats, TM
  • Best Ensemble in a Drama: Indecent, CP
  • Best Ensemble in a Musical: Next to Normal, GCT
  • Best Production of a Drama: Book of Will, POTS
  • Best Production of a Musical: Cats, TM
  • Excellence in Direction of a Drama: Dave Landis, Indecent, CP
  • Excellence in Direction of a Musical: Dennis Whitehead Darling, Jelly’s Last Jam, Hattiloo
  • Best Original Script: When We Get Good Again, POTS@TheWorks
  • Special Award — Seamless Integration of Direction, Choreography, and Music Direction: Dave Landis, Daniel Stuart Nelson, and Tammy Holt, Indecent, CP
  • Best Original Script: When We Get Good Again, POTS@TheWorks

  • Otis Smith Legacy Dance Award: Jared Johnson
  • Larry Riley Rising Star Award: Jason Eschhofen
  • Behind the Scenes Award: Christina Hendricks
  • Eugart Yerian Lifetime Achievement Award: Ann Marie Hall


COLLEGIATE DIVISION


  • Excellence in Set Design: Brian Ruggaber, Inherit the Wind, U of M
  • Excellence in Costume Design: Bruce Bui, Hissifit, Rhodes
  • Excellence in Hair, Wig, and Makeup Design: Juliet Mace, Hissifit, Rhodes
  • Excellence in Sound Design: John Phillians, Inherit the Wind, U of M
  • Excellence in Lighting Design: Jameson Gresens, Inherit the Wind, U of M
  • Excellence in Music Direction: Eileen Kuo, Hissifit, Rhodes
  • Best Supporting Actress: Raina Williams, Hissifit, Rhodes
  • Best Leading Actress: Mary Ann Washington, A Raisin in the Sun, SWTCC
  • Best Supporting Actor: Joshua Payne, A Raisin in the Sun, SWTCC
  • Best Leading Actor: Toby Davis, Inherit the Wind, U of M
  • Best Featured Performer: Syndei Sutton, A Raisin in the Sun, SWTCC
  • Best Ensemble in a Musical: Hissifit, Rhodes
  • Best Ensemble in a Drama: A Raisin in the Sun, SWTCC
  • Best Production: Hissifit, Rhodes
  • Excellence in Direction: Joy Brooke Fairfield, Hissifit, Rhodes

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