Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards

'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' won seven Henry Awards in Monday night. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ won seven Henry Awards on Monday night. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

The DCPA Theatre Company was rewarded for its commitment to developing new work for the American theatre by judges of the Colorado Theatre Guild’s 10th annual Henry Awards on Monday night. The Theatre Company received 11 awards from among its 21 nominations, including Outstanding Season for the fifth time in the past eight years.

“We count ourselves lucky to work in such a powerful and vibrant community of artists, where new and exciting work happens all across the state,” new DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller said in accepting the award. “Thank you for this honor, for your warm welcome into this community, and for everything you do on a daily basis to support theatre in the Rocky Mountain Region.”

All of the DCPA’s awards were for new works: The 12, Benediction and its newly refreshed take on Broadway’S quintessential Colorado  musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Molly Brown won seven Henry Awards, making it the most honored production of the Colorado theatre season. The production featured a new book and a significantly revised score. Its awards on Monday included Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Actress Beth Malone and Director Kathleen Marshall. 

Malone, a Colorado native who recently was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in Fun Home the Musical, brought new layers to the woman most people outside Colorado only know as a brassy survivor of the USS Titanic disaster. “Malone plays Molly with tremendous energy, intelligence and verve,” Westword theatre critic Juliet Wittman wrote last fall. 

Kathleen MarshallMarshall (pictured right) is a  three-time Tony Award nominee and, now, a three-time Henry Award winner. She also was singled out for her Molly Brown choreography.

“Creating this show was a complete joy from beginning to end, and receiving an award on top of it is really an embarrassment of riches,” Marshall said through DCPA Associate Artistic Director Bruce Sevy. “It was a challenge and responsibility to bring the story of Margaret and JJ Brown, two legendary and iconic Colorado residents, to life. Our cast and creative team had a blast here in Denver.”

She also credited her cast and creative team, including writer Dick Scanlan, “a man whose vision, passion and dedication brought this entire reimagining of Meredith Willson’s classic American musical into being. He has an indomitable spirit, a generous nature and an infectious energy – just like Molly Brown.”

The Theatre Company’s staging of the world premiere rock musical The 12, written by Robert Schenkkan and Neil Berg, was named Outstanding New Play or Musical. The 12 wonders what might have happened when Jesus’ disciples went into hiding after his crucifixion.

“In our 36-year history, we have presented 412 productions, of which 138 were world premieres, 159 were readings of new works in development and 27 were commissions,” said Sevy. “When a world premiere wins an award, it makes us beyond proud.”

He read a message from Schenkkan, also the Puliter Prize-winning playwright of next season’s All the Way, which read: “From the moment we arrived in Denver, we were knocked out by the professionalism, the passion and the strong sense of community. Plus, you have a pretty good ballteam.”

Billie McBrideBillie McBride (pictured right), who last year was presented with the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, came back with a monster year that was rewarded with three more Henrys on Monday. McBride, whose Broadway acting and stage-managing credits include Safe Sex and Torch Song Trilogy, made her DCPA Theatre Company debut in February playing straight-talking Willa in the world-premiere staging of Benediction.

She also won a Henry Award Monday for directing the most honored play of the year: ‘Night, Mother, for Vintage Theatre. McBride offered an unsympathetic and uncompromising take on Marsha Norman’s tale of a middle-aged woman who calmly announces to her mother that she will commit suicide by night’s end. Both of her actors were nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Play, and as the mother, Emma Messenger won.

It was the second straight win for Messenger in that prestigious category, after having won in 2014 for her portrayal of a cripplingly cruel Irish mum in The Edge Theatre’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

Among the first-time Henry Award winners were Benjamin Cowhick and Annie Dwyer. Cowhick (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play)  was utterly raw as as a hyperactive meth addict in A&A Productions’ Good Television at the Aurora Fox. Dwyer performed for more than 20 years as a comic actor for the Heritage Square Music Hall, which was not a Colorado Theatre Guild member and thus, its actors were never eligible for Henry Awards. Since that famed venue closed last year, a wider audience is witnessing Dwyer’s comic gifts. Dwyer’s hilarious portrayal of Frau Bleucher earned her first Henry Award nomination and win, as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical.

In all, 10 local companies earned at least one Henry Award on Monday, with the Arvada Center, BDT Stage and Vintage Theatre winning three each.

The awards ceremony was again held at the Arvada Center and hosted by GerRee Hinshaw and Steven Burge, and directed by previous Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jim Hunt. That award this year went to educator Jo Bunton Keel.

The Henry Awards are named for legendary producer Henry Lowenstein, who brought more than 400 productions to the old Bonfils Theatre on East Colfax Avenue. This was the first year of the Henry Awards without Henry, and a video tribute was played to open the service featuring Cleo Parker Robinson, Bob Wells and John Ashton. Robinson told the story of how her father was hired as the theatre janitor over the objections of Bonfils patrons, and he went on to perform in dozens of shows, including a starring role in A Raisin in the Sun.

It was a year of great loss in the theatre community, and a separate tribute video was played marking the passings of Shelly Bordas, Lloyd Norton, Kent Haruf, Bill Fancouer, Ray Viggiano, Michael (McKim) Daevid and DCPA President Randy Weeks. Those videos will be posted in the DCPA’s NewsCenter in the coming days.

The Henry Awards are a notoriously unpredictable affair from year to year. Last July, the DCPA Theatre Company earned a record 28 nominations and won three awards. This year’s winners included Mike Hartman, who starred in all three chapters of the Theatre Company’s adaptations of the Haruf’s Plainsong Trilogy. He was named Outstanding Actor in a Play for his portrayal of a man dying with unfixable regrets in Benediction.

“Thank you so much for this honor. I am incredibly blessed to have worked with Kent Haruf, (playwright) Eric Schmiedl, and Kent Thompson the cast and crew of all three of these wonderful rich Colorado stories,” he said through the DCPA’s Brianna Firestone.

Two students from Durango High School represented The Bobby G Awards’ 2014-15 Outstanding Musical by performing a medley from Les Misérables.

More NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards
The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
Photos: Our downloadable pictures from the Henry Awards ceremony
Video: Performances from the 2015 Henry Awards ceremony
Videos: Our memorial tributes to departed artists in 2014-15
Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards
Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn’t add up

Still to come: Video showing acceptance speech highlights

2014-2015 COLORADO THEATRE GUILD HENRY AWARDS

DCPA Theatre CompanyOUTSTANDING SEASON FOR A THEATRE COMPANY
Denver Center Theatre Company


OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
DCPA Theatre Company
Kathleen Marshall, Director; Michael Rafter, Musical Director


OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A PLAY
‘Night, Mother
Vintage Theatre Productions
Billie McBride, Director


'The 12.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

OUTSTANDING NEW PLAY OR MUSICAL
The 12
DCPA Theatre Company
Robert Schenkkan and Neil Berg


OUTSTANDING DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Kathleen Marshall
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
DCPA Theatre Company


OUTSTANDING MUSICAL DIRECTION
Michael Rafter
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
DCPA Theatre Company

 


OUTSTANDING DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Billie McBride
‘Night, Mother

Vintage Theatre Productions


Wayne Kennedy

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Wayne Kennedy
Fiddler on the Roof
BDT Stage


Beth Malone

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Beth Malone
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
DCPA Theatre Company


Mike Hartman

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY
Mike Hartman
Benediction
DCPA Theatre Company

 


Emma Messenger

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Emma Messenger
‘Night, Mother
Vintage Theatre Productions


Annie Dwyer

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Annie Dwyer
Young Frankenstein
Town Hall Arts Center


Michael Wordly

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Michael Wordly
Memphis
Midtown Arts Center, Fort Collins


Benjamin CowhickOUTSTANDING

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Benjamin Cowhick
Good TV
A & A Productions


Billie McBride

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Billie McBride
Benediction
DCPA Theatre Company


Buntport ensemble.

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
Middle Aged People Sitting in Boxes
Buntport Theater Company


OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY
Kathleen Marshall
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
DCPA Theatre Company


COSTUME DESIGN, TIER 1
Paul Tazewell
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
DCPA Theatre Company


OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN, TIER 2
Linda Morken
Mary Poppins
BDT Stage


OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN, TIER 1
Brian Mallgrave
She Loves Me
Arvada Center


OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN, TIER 2
Christopher Waller
Jerusalem
The Edge Theater


OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN, TIER 1
David Thomas
Memphis
Arvada Center


OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN, TIER 2
Ren Manley
Jerusalem
The Edge Theater


OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN, TIER 1
Don Holder
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
DCPA Theatre Company


OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN, TIER 2
Brett Maughan
Mary Poppins
BDT Stage


SPECIAL AWARDS:

Jo Bunton Keel

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THEATRE
Jo Bunton Keel



Creede Repertory Theatre

OUTSTANDING REGIONAL THEATRE
Creede Repertory Theatre



Lisa Cook

OUTSTANDING STAGE MANAGEMENT
Lisa Cook

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