Henry Awards: Big night for 'The Whipping Man,' Denver Center

by John Moore | Jul 21, 2014

This video gives you some of the sights and sounds from the year's 2014 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards ceremony on July 20, at the Arvada Center. Video by John Moore and Brian Landis Folkins. 
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Curious Theatre Company’s staging of the remarkable Civil War drama
The Whipping Man swept the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards on Monday, while the Denver Center Theatre Company was honored for Outstanding Season for the fourth time in the past seven years.

The Denver Center’s Animal Crackers, the most nominated production in Henry Awards history (13), won three awards, including Outstanding Musical. It’s a lighthearted re-enactment of a famous 1928 Marx Brothers Broadway musical.

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The Denver Center Theatre Company again was honored for Outstanding season. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


Curious’ production not only was named Outstanding Production of a Play for 2013-14, Cajardo Lindsey was named Outstanding Actor despite joining the cast as a replacement just a few days before opening night. Lindsey also appeared last year in the Denver Center Theatre Company's Just Like Us.

The Whipping Man also won Henry Awards for Direction (Kate Folkins and Chip Walton), Supporting Actor (Laurence Curry), Ensemble (Lindsey, Curry and Sean Scrutchins), Scenic Design (Markas Henry), Lighting (Shannon McKinney) and Sound (Brian Freeland).

"The Whipping Man is an incredibly rich, complex, and surprising play, and this production was an exciting opportunity for Curious to illuminate an important chapter in American history while also exploring a fascinating intersection of religions and cultures," Walton said. “It is precisely the kind of provocative and adventurous play that Denver audiences have come to expect from Curious Theatre Company.”

The Whipping Man was written by Matthew Lopez, who also penned the Denver Center Theatre Company’s world-premiere comedy, The Legend of Georgia McBride, which was named Outstanding New Play. It is the story of an Elvis impersonator who must conquer his fears and preconceptions by entering the vulnerable world of drag performance. It also won the Henry for Costuming (Dane Laffrey).

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Curious Theatre's "The Whipping Man," with, from left, Laurence Curry, Cajardo Lindsey and Sean Scrutchins, won Outstanding Drama and Ensemble among its eight Henry Awards.  Photo by Michael Ensminger.

The Whipping Man
, set in the immediate aftermath of emancipation, focuses on an injured Jewish Confederate landowner who finds himself in desperate need of medical help from two of his family’s former slaves.

The Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to Billie McBride, whose seminal acting performances have spanned cancer patient Vivian Bearing in "Wit" to an illiterate old crank in "Grace and Glorie." Her directing credits include everything from the Arvada Center's "The House of Blue Leaves" to children's theater. McBride, a veteran of three soaps, appeared on Broadway in Safe Sex in 1987, and was Production Supervisor for Torch Song Trilogy, starring Harvey Fierstein.

"I use her as an example to a lot of actors, actually, of somebody who did the right thing," Fierstein said of McBride. “She saw what her career and life would be in New York, which would be not getting to do enough of what gives her great joy. And so she went off to Denver, where she has been unbelievably busy ever since.  She acts, she directs, she does everything, and she has a very full life doing it.”

In all, eight Colorado theatre companies and 11 productions won at least one Henry Award on Monday. The Aurora Fox won four, two each for Painted Bread (including Outstanding Actress Karen Slack, reprising her role as Frida Kahlo), and two for Metamorphoses, the retelling of Greek and Roman myths in an actual pool of water.

The host Arvada Center won three awards, including Tari Kelly for Outstanding Actress in a Musical (End of the Rainbow) for her portrayal of Judy Garland in her final, drug-crazed days.

 The Denver Center Theatre Company earned a record 28 Henry Award nominations from the Colorado Theatre Guild. Christine Rowan was named Outstanding Actress in a Musical for Animal Crackers.

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Emma Messenger, above, in The Edge’s "The Beauty Queen of Leenane." Photo by Rachel D Graham.

It was a breakthrough year for Emma Messenger, who played Big Mamma in The Edge’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and won a True West Award for her comic performance in Illumination Theatre’s Sordid Lives. On Monday, she was named Outstanding Actress in a Play for her portrayal of a cripplingly cruel Irish mum in The Edge’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

TJ Hogle was named Outstanding Actor in a musical for the evergreen musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, earning Breckenridge Backstage Theatre its first Henry Award.

The Henrys last year expanded eligibility to statewide after seven years of limiting consideration to the seven-country metro area. This year, that push resulted in six nominations each for LPC and Midtown Arts Center’s remarkable Les Miserables in Fort Collins. Non-metro companies earned two Henry Awards on Monday – Hogle’s and Rebecca Spafford’s Outstanding Costuming nod for OpenStage’s Dangerous Liaisons in Fort Collins.

The evening included performances from Phamaly Theatre's "Fiddler on the Roof," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" and Midtown Arts Center of Fort Collins' "Les Miserables" (including an assist from the Arvada Center's Javert, Stephen Day), along with a song from the Bobby G Awards' Outstanding Musical, "Joseph..." by Cherry Creek High School.

For the second year, the Colorado Theatre Guild split its technical awards into two categories: Those of larger and smaller scale budgets. Shannon McKinney swept the lighting awards – for Curious’ The Whipping Man (larger scale) and the Aurora Fox’s Painted Bread (smaller scale).

 To be eligible for a Henry Award, a show must be presented by a Colorado Theatre Guild member company and be seen by at least six Henry Award judges. This year, there were 213 eligible shows, and 174 were seen by at least six judges and were therefore eligible. 

Henry Award judges attend shows and complete a scorecard evaluating every facet of a production according to a point scale of 1 to 50. Ballots completed by judges who are considered professional critics automatically count. A team of about 40 “citizen judges” make up the difference. A total of six ballots are counted toward each show's scores. Any over that total are discarded.

 That system will change slightly for next year with the June 1 start of a new judging period. Going forward, there will no distinction between professional and citizen judges. If more than six scorecards are received, the six that make up each show's actual total will be chosen at random.

The nominees and winner of Outstanding Season, the Henrys’ signature award, are not determined by judges but rather by the discretion of Colorado Theatre Guild staff.

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Henry Award winner TJ Hogle recently appeared at a fundraiser for the Denver Actors Fund. Photo by John Moore.

 

2013-14 COLORADO THEATRE GUILD HENRY AWARDS

Click here for the complete list of all nominations

OUTSTANDING SEASON FOR A THEATRE COMPANY
Denver Center Theatre Company

 

PLAY AND DIRECTOR CATEGORIES

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A PLAY
The Whipping Man
Curious Theatre Company
Kate Folkins and Chip Walton, Directors

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Kate Folkins and Chip Walton
The Whipping Man
Curious Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL
Animal Crackers
Denver Center Theatre Company
Bruce K. Sevy, Director; Gregg Coffin, Musical Director

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Bruce K. Sevy
Animal Crackers
Denver Center Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING MUSICAL DIRECTION
David Nehls End of the Rainbow
Arvada Center

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY
Kelly Van Oosbree
Hairspray
Performance Now Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING NEW PLAY
The Legend of Georgia McBride
Matthew Lopez
Denver Center Theatre Company

 

ACTING CATEGORIES

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Cajardo Lindsey, The Whipping Man, Curious Theatre Company Photo by Michael Ensminger.

 

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
TJ Hogle
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Tari Kelly
End Of The Rainbow
Arvada Center

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY
Cajardo Lindsey
The Whipping Man
Curious Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Karen Slack
Painted Bread
Aurora Fox Theatre

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Colin Alexander
Curtains
Arvada Center

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Christine Rowan
Animal Crackers
Denver Center Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Laurence Curry
The Whipping Man
Curious Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Emma Messenger
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Edge Theater Company

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
The Whipping Man
Curious Theatre Company
Kate Folkins and Chip Walton, Directors

 

DESIGN CATEGORIES
OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN. LARGER SCALE
Dane Laffrey
The Legend of Georgia McBride
Denver Center Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN, SMALLER SCALE
Rebecca Spafford
Dangerous Liaisons
Openstage Theatre & Company

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN, LARGER SCALE
Shannon McKinney
The Whipping Man
Curious Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN, SMALLER SCALE
Shannon McKinney
Painted Bread
Aurora Fox Theatre

OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN. LARGER SCALE
Markas Henry
The Whipping Man
Curious Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN, SMALLER SCALE
Charles Dean Packard
Metamorphoses
Aurora Fox TheatrE

OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN, LARGER SCALE
Brian Freeland
The Whipping Man
Curious Theatre Company

OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN, SMALLER SCALE
William Burns
Metamorphoses
Aurora Fox Theatre

 

SPECIAL AWARDS

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Director and actor Billie McBride, shown in Miners Alley Playhouse's "Grace and Glorie" with  Kendra Crain, will be given the Colorado Theatre Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award at tonight's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photo by Sarah Roshan/Trulife Photography

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Billie McBride

OUTSTANDING REGIONAL THEATRE
Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre (Grand Lake)

EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATIONAL THEATRE
Rosey Waters/Imagination Makers

PUPPET ARTISTRY
Cory Gilstrap

 

imageChristy Montour-Larson announces the Denver Center Theatre Company's selection for  Outstanding Season. Montour-Larson directed "Shadowlands."

 

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John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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