And the Winners Are! DFW Theater Critics Forum Names This Year’s Faves

There was some yelling but nobody got punched at this year’s DFW Theater Critics Forum luncheon. Nobody left angry either, which might be a first.

Every September the print and online theater critics of Dallas and Fort Worth eat chicken and brownies together and hash over the previous year’s productions on local stages. (The “season” for voting purposes runs from September 1 to August 31.) We think it’s a nice thing to do, recognizing the best individual and ensemble performances, direction, design and writing. Winners get nothing but their names in print and our gratitude for making live theater a joy.

Among this year’s recipients’ list, note that for the first time we’ve combined men and women in the performance category. If 17 winners in that group seems excessive – imagine the acceptance speeches if we did this as a real ceremony – keep in mind that many of us critics see about 200 shows a year and that doesn’t even include every production at universities, community theaters, children’s theaters and other small companies. That’s a lot of great acting to winnow down to one list. Several actors on the final vote were nominated for roles in more than one show, so that carried weight. If there is one standout among all the acting winners, it has to be busy Dallas actor Jenny Ledel, who had a spectacular year of great work in wildly different roles in comedies, contemporary dramas and Shakespeare at Kitchen Dog Theater and Second Thought.

All the best new plays and musicals chosen this year were by local writers, which is exciting. There were lots more in contention for that category, indicating that DFW is rich with theatrical writing talent right now.

And here are the winners. Hold your applause till the end, please.
Outstanding Direction:

Akín Babatundé, Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope and The Color Purple, both at Jubilee Theatre

Bruce R. Coleman, The Nance, Uptown Players

Cheryl Denson, Catch Me if You Can, Uptown Players

Jeremy Dumont, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Uptown Players

Blake Hackler, The Flick, Undermain Theatre

Katherine Owens, Tomorrow Come Today and The Testament of Mary, Undermain Theatre

Matthew Posey, The Egg Salesman, Ochre House

vickie washington, Mississippi Goddamn, South Dallas Cultural Center

Outstanding New Plays/Musicals:

Mississippi Goddamn by Jonathan Norton, South Dallas Cultural Center

The Show about Men by Danielle Georgiou, Justin Locklear and Trey Pendergrass, DGDG, Festival of Independent Theatres

Standing Eight Count by Van Quattro, Rite of Passage Theatre Company, Out of the Loop Fringe Festival and Dallas Solo Fest

Outstanding Acting Performances (in alphabetical order):

B.J. Cleveland, The Nance, Uptown Players

David Coffee, King Lear, Trinity Shakespeare Festival

Hassan El-Amin, Radio Golf and A Soldier's Play, African American Repertory Theater

Anthony Fortino, Catch Me if You Can, Uptown Players

Kyle Igneczi, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Uptown Players

Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso, Lydia, Cara Mía Theatre Company

Shannon Kearns, The Testament of Mary, Undermain Theatre

Jenny Ledel, The Arsonists and Wilde/Earnest, Kitchen Dog Theater; Belleville and Othello, Second Thought Theatre

David Lugo, Catch Me if You Can, Uptown Players

Janelle Lutz, Lady in the Dark and South Pacific, Lyric Stage

Ebony Marshall Oliver, In Real Life and The Color Purple, Jubilee Theatre

Sally Nystuen Vahle, Medea, Dallas Theater Center

Allison Pistorius, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, Stage West

Paul Taylor, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Stage West; and The Hot Mikado, Theatre

Lulu Ward, The Two-Character Play, WingSpan Theatre Company

Sherry Jo Ward, Precious Little, Echo Theatre

Pat Watson, Streamers, L.I.P. Service

Outstanding Performances by Ensembles:

The Brothers Size, Jubilee Theatre

The Egg Salesman, The Ochre House

The Flick, Undermain Theatre

Hands on a Hardbody, Theatre Three

Mississippi Goddamn, South Dallas Cultural Center

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Stage West

The Nance, Uptown Players

Outstanding Achievement in Design or Creative Contribution:

Robin Armstrong, fight choreography, Lovers and Executioners, Circle Theatre

Clare Floyd DeVries, set design, The Explorers Club, Stage West and WaterTower Theatre

Danielle Georgiou, choreography, NICE (Elevator Project, Wyly Theatre) and The Show about Men, FIT

Bob Lavallee, set design, The Rocky Horror Show, Dallas Theater Center

Joshua L. Peugh, choreography/movement, Colossal, Dallas Theater Center

Adam C. Wright, original musical score, The Nance, Uptown Players

Outstanding touring productions:

Buyer & Cellar, AT&T Performing Arts Center

Endurance, Split Knuckle Theatre, The Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts

The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville, The Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts

Once, AT&T Performing Arts Center and Performing Arts Fort Worth

Pippin, Dallas Summer Musicals and Performing Arts Fort Worth

Special Citations:

To Lyric Stage and musical director Jay Dias for their contributions to the musical restorations of The Golden Apple and Lady in the Dark, and for the first-ever cast recording of the complete score of The Golden Apple.

To Audacity Theatre Lab and founding producer Brad McEntire for bringing quality local and national performances to the second annual Dallas Solo Fest at the Margo Jones Theatre, and for advancing the art of solo performance in North Texas.

To the producers of Shakespeare in the Bar for attracting new and large audiences to non-traditional spaces and for reminding us that Shakespeare can be unexpected and fun.

Participating Critics:

Alexandra Bonifield,
Nancy Churnin, The Dallas Morning News
Jan Farrington,
Martha Heimberg, The Dallas Weekly and
Arnold Wayne Jones, Dallas Voice
Elaine Liner, Dallas Observer
Mark Lowry, and Fort Worth Star-Telegram
David Novinski,
Punch Shaw, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Lauren Smart, Dallas Observer
Lindsey Wilson, CultureMap
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Elaine Liner
Contact: Elaine Liner