Barrymore Awards 2017: Honoring Excellence in Theatre with glamour and glitz

Tony Heald, perhaps best known for his role as Hannibal Lecter’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Frederick Chilton, in “The Silence of the Lambs” congratulates Penelope Reed after the Barrymore Award Ceremony. They worked together at the Milwaukee Repertory Company.

By Margie Royal

On October 30, I attended my first “theatre prom” aka The Barrymore Awards, held in the elegance of the Merriam Theatre. Presented by Theatre Philadelphia, the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre declares its mission is to “honor local artists and theatre companies in the greater Philadelphia region while increasing public awareness of the richness and diversity of our city’s thriving theatre community.”
I have to give the Theatre Philadelphia a big round of applause; the show was entertaining, poignant at times, and full of the glamour and happiness you’d expect to see at an awards ceremony. The nominators and committee members also did a great job celebrating the diversity of race and age of Philly artists, and spotlighting the greater Philadelphia region. Creativity and talent may be helped by a big budget and a center city location, but certainly doesn’t necessarily require it. It was nice to see that inventive work and stellar performances that took place on smaller stages outside of the city also got recognition.
One award was not a suprise. The Lifetime Achievement Award is announced when the nominees are announced. This year the award went to Penelope Reed, Director Emeritius of Hedgerow Theatre. A photo montage gave a brief glimpse into Ms. Reed career: from her family’s theatrical roots to studying with Hedgerow founder Jasper Deeter when she was a teen, to years as a leading actess at Milwaukee Repertory and McCarter Theatres. From there her career took her back to Hedgerow Theatre in 1990 where she inherited a struggling, gutted shell of theatre that had just reopened its doors after five long years following an arson fire in 1985. She worked tirelessly to rebuild both the physical structure of the Hedgerow Theatre and to restore its artistic reputation. That many in the audience were students or former Hedgerow Company members (some of whom took home trophies themselves) is a testament to how much Ms. Reed deserved The Lifetime Achievement Award she took home, honoring her work as a Philadelphia actress, director and teacher.

2017 Barrymore Winners

Outstanding Overall Production of a Play: The Seagull, EgoPo Classic Theatre
Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical: Lizzie, 11th Hour Theatre Company
Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play/Musical: How to Use a Knife by Will Snider, InterAct Theatre Company
Outstanding Direction of a Play: Blanka Zizka, When the Rain Stops Falling, The Wilma Theater
Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Kate Galvin, Lizzie, 11th Hour Theatre Company
Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play: (tie) Jered McLenigan, Constellations, The Wilma Theater; and Matteo Scammell, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Arden Theatre Company
Charlotte Cushman Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play: Patrese D. McLain, The Mountaintop, People’s Light
Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical: Alex Bechtel, The Light Princess, Arden Theatre Company
Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical: Alex Keiper, Lizzie, 11th Hour Theatre Company
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play: David Bardeen, Grand Concourse, Theatre Horizon
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play: Hillary Parker, You for Me for You, InterAct Theatre Company
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Caroline Dooner, Gypsy, Arden Theatre Company
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Doug Hara, A New Brain, Theatre Horizon
Outstanding Scenic Design: Thom Weaver, The Seagull, EgoPo Classic Theatre
Outstanding Costume Design: Rebecca Kanach, Peaceable Kingdom, Orbiter 3
Earl Girls Award for Outstanding Lighting Design: Yi Zhao, When the Rain Stops Falling, WThe Wilma Theate

Clear Sound Award for Outstanding Sound Design: Christopher Colucci, When the Rain Stops Falling, The Wilma Theater
Outstanding Original Musi: Alex Bechtel and Anthony Lawton, The Light Princess, Arden Theatre Company

Outstanding Choreography/Movement: Michael Cosenza, Antihero, Tribe of Fools
Outstanding Music Direction: Dan Kazemi, Lizzie, 11th Hour Theatre Company
Temple University Award for Outstanding Ensemble a Play: When the Rain Stops Falling, The Wilma Theater
Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical: Lizzie, 11th Hour Theatre Company
Lifetime Achievement Award: Penelope Reed, Director Emeritus, Hedgerow Theatre Company
Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award ($25,000): Peaceable Kingdom by Mary Tuomanen, Orbiter 3
F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist ($15,000): Mary Tuomanen. Five other finalists received $2,000.
June and Steve Wolfson Award for Evolving Theatre Company ($10,000): EgoPo Classic Theatre
Victory Foundation Award for Outstanding Theatre Education Program ($7,500): Curio Theatre Company. Four finalists received $2,000.