Monday, March 7, 2016

2015 NAACP Theatre Award Winners Announced

By Darlene Donloe

Black theater was celebrated at the 2015 Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Theatre Awards held  last night at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center/Ebony Repertory Theatre.  The show was hosted by four time NAACP Theatre Award-winning playwright and producer Kinnik Sky.

Stars from the world of theater, film and television lit up the auditorium as they came together to honor their colleagues, who make their living by honing their craft on the stage.

Awards were given to producers, directors, playwrights, actors, light designers, sound designers, set designers, costumers, choreographers and music directors, who were all lauded for their theatrical talents.

Award presenters included actors Obba Babatunde’ (The Bold and the Beautiful), Ella Joyce (Belle’s, Being Mary Jane), Renee Lawless (The Haves and Have Nots), Jason George (Grey’s Anatomy), Harold Bell (Raising Whitley), Richard Lawson (Saints & Sinners) and Margaret Avery (Being Mary Jane, The Color Purple).

Michael Colyar

Comedians Michael Colyar, Maija DiGiorgio and Raj Sharma opened the show and brought the funny.

After the comedy, it was time to get down to business.

“I love theater, so I’m honored to be here,” said Kinnik Sky, who hosted the awards show. “We can celebrate our own excellence.”

Some actors on hand applauded the theater and the NAACP’s efforts and commitment to the community and the arts.

Richard Lawson

“I was at the very first one of these they had,” said actor Richard Lawson. “It’s important to recognize and work in the theater. It’s a way for people to get an opportunity.”

Margaret Avery, who stars in the BET drama Being Mary Jane, was a presenter at the show.

Margaret Avery

“This was the first theater I worked at in 1968,” said Avery.  “It was the Ebony Showcase Theatre then with Nick Stewart.  “The theater launched my career. It’s where we hone our craft.  People have to realize that community theater is free.  We need people to come and support the theater. We can’t compete with the Ahmansons, but we can still do good work.”

Jason George, who can be seen as Dr. Ben Warren on Grey’s Anatomy every week, is a huge fan of theater.

Jason George

“Theater is how people communicate with themselves,” said George. “It holds the culture. It’s a way of celebrating the best of who and what we are.”

Tammi Mac, who won three awards for her show, Bag Lady, is an actress and a radio personality at KJLH radio in Los Angeles. 

Tammi Mac

“The NAACP is honoring black people’s stories,” said Mac. “We get to write, perform, produce and tell our own stories our way.”

Donald Welch

Director Donald Welch said black theater was important because it’s “an opportunity to honor our own work.  We’re celebrating our culture, while other cultures celebrate us.”

Ronald E. Hasson, president Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP and national board member, said theater creates opportunities for people of color to demonstrate their arts and to be honored.

President Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Ronald E. Hasson

“We’re very happy and pleased to do these awards for the actors who live here,” said Hasson. “It’s inspirational to keep theater alive for young people to see and enjoy. We encourage our community and ask for them to keep it alive.”

Nate Holden

(l-r) Richard Lawson, Margaret Avery, Kiki Shepard and Obba Babatunde'

Below is a complete list of winners:

Best Choreography – Equity
Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life – Maurice Hines - Winner!
The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess – Ronald K. Brown
Kiss Me Kate – Jeffrey Polk

Best Choreography – Local
The Brothers Size – Ameenah Kaplan - Winner!
The Magic Flute – Lungelo Ngamlana
Visionary Man – Ali North

Best Costumes – Equity
The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess – Emilio Sosa  - Winner!
Choir Boy – E.B. Brooks
Othello – Katherine Roth

Best Costumes – Local
Low Hanging Fruit – Wendell C. Carmichael - Winner!
The Magic Flute – Leigh Bishop
Knock Me A Kiss – Naila Aladdin Sanders

Best Director – Equity
Stop Kiss – Seema Sueko
Choir Boy – Trip Cullman - Winner!
The Tallest Tree in the Forest – Moises Kaufman

Vanessa Paul, Iona Morris, Elayn J Taylor and Denise Dowse of 
Sassy Mamas

Best Director – Local
Sassy Mamas – Iona Morris - Winner!
The Brothers Size – Shirley Jo Finney
Secrets – Wallace Demarria

Best Director of a Musical – Equity
The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess – Diane Paulus -Winner!
Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life – Jeff Calhoun
Kiss me Kate – Sheldon Epps

Best Director of a Musical – Local
The Magic Flute – Mark Dornford-May -Winner!
Visionary Man – Tom Coleman
The Gondoliers – Alison Eliel-Kalmus

Best Ensemble Cast – Equity
Stop Kiss
Flyin’ West - Winner!
Cast and crew of Sassy Mamas and Ella Joyce

Best Ensemble Cast – Local
Sassy Mamas - Winner!
The Brothers Size
Low Hanging Fruit

Best Lead Female - Equity
Above The Fold – Taraji P. Henson - Winner!
The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess – Alicia Hall Moran
Race – DeWanda Wise

Best Lead Female  – Local
Knock Me a Kiss – Toyin Moses - Winner!
Closely Related Keys – Diarra Kilpatrick
Going to St. Ives – Inger Tudor

Best Lead Male – Equity
Choir Boy – Jeremy Pope
The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess – Nathaniel Stampley
Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life – Maurice Hines - Winner!

Best Lead Male – Local
Bus Stops – Leonard Thomas - Winner!
Knock me a Kiss – Keir Thirus
The Whipping Man – Kirk Kellykahn

Best Lighting – Equity
The Tallest Tree in the Forest – David Lander - Winner!
Above The Fold – Adam Blumenthal
Race – Josh Epstein

Best Lighting - Local
Low Hanging Fruit – Rebecca Raines
Bag Lady – Tom Meleck and Iona Morris
The Magic Flute – Mannie Manim - Winner!

Best Music Director – Equity
Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life – Sherrie Maricle
Kiss Me Kate – Rahn Coleman - Winner!
The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess – Dale Rieling

 Best Music Director – Local
Visionary Man – Jeffrey Bonhiver
The Gondoliers – Leonardo Sciolis
The Magic Flute – Pauline Malefane & Mandisi Dyantyis -Winner!

Best One Person Show - Equity
The Tallest Tree in the Forest – Daniel Beaty - Winner!
Forever – Dael Orlandersmith
Paul Robeson – Keith David

Best One Person Show - Local
Bird Lives! – Montae Russell
The Devil and Billy Markham – Tony Winters
Bag Lady – Tammi Mac - Winner!

Best Playwright – Equity
The Tallest Tree in the Forest – Daniel Beaty - Winner!
Above The Fold – Bernard Weinraub
Stop Kiss – Diane Son

Best Playwright – Local
Sassy Mamas – Celeste Bedford Walker
Bag Lady – Tammi Mac - Winner!
The Brothers Size – Tarell Alvin McCraney

Best Producer – Equity
Above The Fold – The Pasadena Playhouse - Winner!
Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life – Willis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, Arena Stage, Alliance Theatre and Cleveland Play House
The Tallest Tree In The House – Center Theatre Group

Best Producer – Local
Bus Stops – Jaimyon Parker
Sassy Mamas – Vanessa Paul & Alex Morris
Bag Lady – Tammi Mac & Jackson Brown - Winner!

Best Set Design – Equity
Choir Boy – David Zinn - Winner!
Above the Fold – Jeffery P. Eisenmann
Flyin’ West – JR Bruce

Award winner Vanessa Paul

Best Set Design – Local
The Magnificent Dunbar Hotel – Michael D. Ricks
Knock Me a Kiss – Tom Meleck
Sassy Mamas – Vanessa Paul & Jeff Murray - Winner!

Best Sound – Equity
Othello – Acme Sound Partners with Jason Crystal - Winner!
Choir Boy – Fritz Patton
Above the Fold – Cricket S. Meyers

Best Sound – Local
Bus Stops – Jaimyon Parker - Winner!
Bag Lady – Don Amiche, Tammi Mac, DJ Malski
Low Hanging Fruit – Norman Kern
Closely Related Keys – Norman Kern

Best Supporting Female – Equity
Above the Fold – Kristy Johnson - Winner!
The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess – Danielle Lee Greaves
The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess – Sumayya Ali

Best Supporting Female – Local
Closely Related Keys – Yvonne Huff
Knock Me A Kiss – Rosie Lee Hooks
Knock Me A Kiss – Ashlee Olivia - Winner!

Best Supporting Male – Equity
The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess – Kingsley Leggs
Choir Boy – Caleb Eberhardt - Winner!
Choir Boy – Grantham Coleman

Brent Jennings

Best Supporting Male – Local
The Magnificent Dunbar Hotel – Kyle Connor McDuffie
Closely Related Keys – Brent Jennings - Winner!
Bus Stops – Jaimyon Parker

The NAACP Theatre Awards is produced for the purpose of honoring the best thespians in the field of entertainment. The branch also celebrates a four-day theatre festival, which provides a platform for thespians to express their craft and share their contributions with an audience of their peers, the community and other individuals who celebrate live theatre in Los Angeles.

The NAACP Theatre Awards is presented by the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP branch. Ronald E. Hasson is branch president and Tia Boyd is the executive producer for the NAACP Theatre Awards show. 

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