2014 True West Award: Tim Howard




How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is the musical that will never die – though it really should have, long ago. Yes, it was charming for its pre-Mad Men day – it won seven Tony Awards and, somehow, the freaking Pulitzer Prize for drama, after all. But its day (thankfully) was more than 50 years ago. The 1950s source book was meant to be a satire, showing how a self-invented window-washer short-cuts his way up the ranks at a corporation of major insignificance, showing how charisma and guile trump integrity and hard work. But since the world economic collapse, the story of a total fraud who lies, cheats and panders his way to the top just feels … not so funny. And to anyone watching since, say, 1972, Finch’s dismissive attitude toward women lands somewhere between patronizing and misogynistic. So when you don’t particularly want the protagonist in How to Succeed to, you know – succeed, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

And then along came Tim Howard to make poppycock of all that. Howard played Finch at the Town Hall Arts Center as a kind of accidental corporate climber, allowing the actor’s own casual likeability to trump Finch’s ugly, all-consuming ambition. He even seemed like not a total jerk in the way he jerked around poor, dumb Rosemary.

Howard has been steadily emerging these past few years into a bona fide leading man. Lately the Centennial native’s dance card has included con man Leo in The Producers, con man Freddie in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Prince Herbert in Spamalot and the Lost Boy Nibs in Peter Pan. Currently he’s in the ensemble of the Arvada Center’s throwback musical, She Loves Me. Whether it was Howard’s darkly mischievous performance as predatory German teen Hanschen in this year’s Spring Awakening at Town Hall, or carrying How to Succeed to the top like a determined groundhog, 2014 was clearly a breakout year for Howard. I just hope he avoids the fate of that Lost Boy Nibs. He grew up to work in an office that sounds a lot like the World Wide Wicket Company.  

1: Norrell Moore
2. Kate Gleason
3. Amanda Berg Wilson and Jeremy Make
4. Ben Cowhick
5. Robert Michael Sanders
6. David Nehls
7. Adrian Egolf
8. Emma Messenger
9. Buntport’s Naughty Bits
10. Tim Howard
11. Gleason Bauer
12. Daniel Traylor
13. Aisha Jackson and Jim Hogan
14. Cast of ‘The Whipping Man’
15. Rick Yaconis
16. Michael R. Duran
17. Laura Norman
18. Jacquie Jo Billings
19. Megan Van De Hey
20. Jeremy Palmer
21. Henry Lowenstein   
22. Sam Gregory
23. Wendy Ishii
24. J. Michael Finley
25. Kristen Samu and Denver Actors Fund volunteers
26. Matthew D. Peters
27. Shannan Steele
28. Ludlow, 1914
29. Spring Awakening and Annapurna
30 Theatre Person of the Year Steve Wilson

The True West Awards, which began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001, are the longest-running continuously administered awards program in Colorado theater. This year, the awards have been re-conceived to simply recognize 30 award-worthy achievements in local theatre, without categories or nominations. A different honoree will be singled out each day for 30 days.

The True West Awards are administered by arts journalist John Moore, who was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since founded The Denver Actors Fund and taken a groundbreaking position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist.

*For evident ethical reasons, the DCPA Theatre Company is not considered for True West Awards, which are instead intended as the DCPA’s celebration of the local theatre community.

Moore’s daily coverage of the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

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