Henry Awards spreads love from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins

Openstage, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, TheatreWorks and The Book of Will leave indelible marks

By John Moore
Senior Arts Journalist

The Colorado Theatre Guild’s 2017 Henry Awards was a night of open arms and poignant remembrance, culminating with OpenStage Theatre and Company winning the Guild’s highest honor for the first time, for Outstanding Season. The 44-year-old Fort Collins tradition also swept both outstanding actor and actress awards: Sydney Parks Smith for August: Osage County and Steven P. Sickles for Le Bête,

Until 2013, theatre companies outside the metro area were not eligible for Henry Awards, but on Monday night at the PACE Center in Parker, the Henrys rolled out the welcome mat for statewide companies.

Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ The Game of Love and Chance was named Outstanding Play. That was the final play directed by company founder Murray Ross, who died in January. Drew Martorella, Executive Director of UCCS Presents, dedicated the award to Ross’ considerable legacy.

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, in its final year before merging with Colorado College, tied with the DCPA Theatre Company for most wins for the evening with five, all for The Man of La Mancha. The DCPA won Outstanding New Play and four other awards for its world premiere of The Book of Will. DCPA CEO Janice Sinden announced to the crowd that the play, written by Lauren Gunderson about the creation of Shakespeare’s First Folio, already has four major stagings scheduled around the country. “Lauren Gunderson will be the first female playwright with an original play on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Elizabethan Stage in its 83-year history,” Sinden said to raucous cheers.

Thunder River Theatre Company of Carbondale won the first two Henrys in its history, both for four-time 2017 nominee Sean Jeffries. Carbondale is a mountain hamlet of 5,200 residents located between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Jeffries won for both sound (The Tempest) and scenic (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) awards among Tier II companies.

Just in: Check out all of our photos from the awards

The Lone Tree Arts Center, which won its first Henry Award just last year, broke through with three wins on Monday for its production of Evita. The show, which re-cast the guerilla Che as more of a tormenting artist, was the surprise winner of the Outstanding Musical award. Even the Backstage Breckenridge Theatre got in on the act with its irreverent Toxic Avenger musical winning both the Outstanding Actress (Colby Dunn) and Supporting Actress (Megan Van De Hey) awards.

Perhaps the emotional highlight of the evening was Tad Baierlein presenting the Life Achievement Award to his parents, Germinal Stage co-founders Ed Bairelein and Sallie Diamond Baierlein.

2017 Henry Award nominations make way for the new

While the annual Henry Awards often turn into landslides, 2017 will go down as the most widely spread in the 12-year history of the awards. The 25 competitive awards were distributed among 10 member companies.

That still left a number of the metro area’s most prestigious companies on the sidelines this year, including Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Buntport Theater, Phamaly Theatre Company and the Town Hall Arts Center.

The Catamounts, which earned nine nominations for its punk musical take on Beowulf, won none. The Aurora Fox, despite five nominations for a Porgy and Bess that in performance Monday brought the capacity crowd to its screaming feet, also went away empty-handed. Last year the Henry Awards’ darlings were Theatre Aspen and Vintage Theatre, winners of 12 awards. This year? None.

Despite 16 nominations, the Arvada Center, a perennial Henrys favorite, won only one award – and it was perhaps the most surprising of the night. Matt LaFontaine, who took on the role of Judas in the Arvada Center’s Jesus Christ Superstar just days before opening, was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical. A grateful and humble LaFontaine dedicated the award to actor Napoleon Kaufman, who was originally cast as Judas but had to drop out due to illness, and Daniel Langhoff, who is continuing to battle cancer.

“I shouldn’t be up here,” LaFontaine told the crowd.

Curious Theatre Company, second only to the DCPA and Arvada Center in total Henry Awards received since 2006, pulled out of consideration last July after the company was shut out of the Henry Awards for the second straight year. Managing Director Katie Maltais cited what she called the judges’ “limited knowledge of the theatre craft, especially with regard to technical design,” as well as the lack of diversity among last year’s winners. That complaint only stands to grow louder after last night, which produced only three apparent winners of color.

Given the political climate, the evening was  remarkably civil in tone. Hosts Steven J.  Burge and GerRee Hinshaw teased the crowd at the top of the show to expect no holds barred political commentary throughout the evening, but it was all a ruse for keeping things light. The only variance came when Stephen Day accepted the Henry Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. Day, who plays the delusionally hopeful knight Cervantes in The Man of LaMancha, said, “I want to thank the current administration in Washington for giving me my subtext every night.”


More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

The Henry Awards honor outstanding achievements by member companies, and the event serves as the Coloado Theatre Guild’s annual fundraiser. The awards are named for longtime local theatre producer Henry Lowenstein. Nominations are determined through a judging process conducted by more than 45 theatre journalists, blogger critics and adjudicators from the community.

The Henry Awards split the four design categories into two tiers determined by member companies’ annual overall operating budgets. Only six companies have annual budgets above the $1.2 million threshold and therefore are considered Tier I: The DCPA, Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Theatre Aspen, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Colorado Springs TheatreWorks. The rest all compete in Tier II.

The Guild made great strides in expanding the eligible pool this year to a record 190 productions. But it also reduced the number of judges required to make each show eligible from six to five, which likely accounts for some of the pronounced clustering of nominations around certain shows.

It was announced at the show that Gloria Shanstrom, who has served the Colorado Theatre Guild for more than 20 years and has administered the Henry Awards since their inception, is retiring at the end of the month. Monday’s ceremony, which has been directed for the past 11 years by Jim Hunt, were led this year by Jonathan D. Allsup.

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


2017 Henry Awards video:

Video by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

 

2016-17 HENRY AWARDS

Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

  • OpenStage Theatre and Company, Fort Collins

Also nominated:

  • Arvada Center
  • OpenStage Theatre and Company
  • Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
  • DCPA Theatre Company
  • Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Thunder River Theatre Company

Outstanding Production of a Play


Game of Love and Chance

TheatreWorks
Murray Ross, Director

Also nominated:

  • “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company, Dulcie Willis, Director
  • “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company, Davis McCallum, Director
  • “Constellations,” TheatreWorks, Joye Cook-Levy, Director
  • “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” OpenStage Theatre & Company, Wendy S. Moore, Director”
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company, Corey Simpson, Director
  • “Tartuffe,” Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director


Outstanding Musical

Evita

Lone Tree Arts Center
Gina Rattan, Director; Max Mamon, Musical Director

Also nominated:

  • “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts, Meridith C. Grundei, Director; Gary Grundei, Musical Direction
  • “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company, Scott RC Levy, Director; Sharon Skidgel, Musical Direction
  • “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative, Kelly McAllister, Director; Tanner Kelly, Musical Direction
  • “Motones vs. Jerseys,” Midtown Arts Center, Kenny Moten, Director; Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Musical Direction
  • “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” Lone Tree Arts Center, Randal Myler, Director; Dan Wheetman, Musical Direction
  • “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center, donnie l. betts, Director; Jodel Charles, Musical Direction


Outstanding New Play

The Book of Will

DCPA Theatre Company
Written by Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Davis McCallum

Also nominated:

  • “The Firestorm,” by Meridith Friedman
  • “Full Code,” by David Valdes Greenwood
  • “The History Room,” by Charlie Thurston
  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Music and Lyrics by David Nehls, Book by Kenn McLaughlin
  • “Lost Creatures,” by Melissa Lucero McCarl
  • “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” by Randal Myler

Direction of a Play
Dulcie Willis
August: Osage County

OpenStage Theatre & Company

Also nominated:

  • Lynne Collins, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
  • Joye Cook-Levy, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
  • Davis McCallum, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Matt Radcliffe, “The Elephant Man,” Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
  • Murray Ross, “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks
  • Corey Simpson, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company

Direction of a Musical

FAC Theater “Man of La Mancha” Tuesday May 23, 2017.  Photos by Jeff Kearney.

Scott RC Levy
Man of La Mancha

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • donnie l. betts, “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
  • Meridith C. Grundei, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Kelly McAllister, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Randal Myler, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Gina Rattan, “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Nick Sugar, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company

Outstanding Musical Direction
Max Mamon
Evita

Lone Tree Arts Center

Also nominated:

  • Neal Dunfee, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
  • Gary Grundei, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Sharon Skidgel, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Jason Tyler Vaughn, “Murder Ballad,” The Edge Theater Company
  • Jalyn Courtenay Webb, “Motones vs. Jerseys,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Dan Wheetman, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” Lone Tree Arts Center

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Colby Dunn
The Toxic Avenger

Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

Also nominated:

  • Jacquie Jo Billings, “Little Shop of Horrors,” Miners Alley Playhouse
  • Sarah Groeke, “Cabaret,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Cecilia Iole, “The Little Mermaid,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Marissa Rudd, “Sister Act,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Tracy Warren, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
  • Danielle Hermon Wood, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center and Inspire Creative

 



Outstanding Actor in a Musical

FAC Theater “Man of La Mancha” Tuesday May 23, 2017.  Photos by Jeff Kearney.

Stephen Day
Man of La Mancha

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Leonard E. Barrett Jr. , “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
  • Joshua Blanchard, “Cabaret,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Miles Jacoby, “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • August Stoten, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center and Inspire Creative
  • Colin Summers, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Joe Von Bokern, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Sydney Parks Smith
August: Osage County

OpenStage Theatre & Company

Also nominated:

  • LuAnn Buckstein, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Carley Cornelius, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
  • Denise Burson Freestone, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Kathleen McCall, “The Glass Menagerie,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Emma Messenger, “Misery,” The Edge Theater Company
  • Caitlin Wise, “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks

Outstanding Actor in a Play

La Bete at OpenStage Theater Company

Steven P. Sickles
Le Bête

OpenStage Theatre & Company

Also nominated:

  • William Hahn, “Burn This,” The Edge Theater Company
  • Kevin Hart, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Sammie Joe Kinnett, “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks
  • Micah Speirs, “The Elephant Man,” Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
  • Dan Tschirhart, “The Flick,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Adam Verner, “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” OpenStage Theatre & Company


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

Miriam A. Laube
The Book of Will

DCPA Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Miriam A. Laube, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Carolyn Lohr, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Leslie O’Carroll, “Silent Sky,” Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
  • Amelia Pedlow, “The Glass Menagerie,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Christina Sajous, “Disgraced,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Linda Suttle, “A Time to Kill,” Vintage Theatre Productions
  • Edith Weiss, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play

Triney Sandoval
The Book of Will

DCPA Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Nathan Cox, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Rodney Lizcano, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Wesley Mann, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Owen O’Farrell, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Hunter Ringsmith, “Equivocaton,” Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • Corey Simpson, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

Megan Van De Hay
The Toxic Avenger

Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

Also nominated:

  • Jenna Bainbridge, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Joan Bruemmer-Holden, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Charlotte Campbell, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Anna High, “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
  • Rebecca Hoodwin, “Cabaret,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Carol Rose, “The Little Mermaid,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

Matt LaFontaine
Jesus Christ Superstar

Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

Also nominated:

  • Brandon Bill, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center and Inspire Creative
  • Ben Hilzer, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • John Jankow, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Bob Moore, “Cabaret,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Nicholas Park, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
  • Kyle Ashe Wilkinson, “Titanic,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre


Outstanding Ensemble Performance

The Book of Will

DCPA Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director
  • “The Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks
  • “Motones vs. Jerseys,” Midtown Arts Center
  • “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center

Outstanding Choreography

Matthew D. Peters
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

BDT Stage

Also nominated:

  • Mary Ripper Baker, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Joan Bruemmer-Holden & Amanda Berg Wilson, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Jeff Duke and Stephanie Hansen, “The Little Mermaid,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Kelly Kates, “The Robber Bridegroom,” Town Hall Arts Center
  • Michael Lasris, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
  • Kate Vallee, “42nd Street,” Candlelight Dinner Playhouse


DESIGN AWARDS

Outstanding Sound Design Tier 1

FAC Theater “Man of La Mancha” Tuesday May 23, 2017.  Photos by Jeff Kearney.

Benjamin Heston
Man of La Mancha

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Jason Ducat, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
  • Jason Ducat, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
  • Morgan McCauley, “Tartuffe,” Arvada Center
  • Stowe Nelson, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • David Thomas, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Zach Williamson, “The Secret Garden, “ DCPA Theatre Company

Outstanding Sound Design Tier 2
Sean Jeffries
The Tempest

Thunder River Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Travis Duncan and Jeremiah Walter, “The Elephant Man,” Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
  • Carlos Flores, “Misery,” The Edge Theater Company
  • Allen Noftall, “Evita,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Allen Noftall, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You Theatre,” Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Jon Northridge, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
  • Tom Quinn and Kenny Storms, “Murder Ballad,” The Edge Theater Company

Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 1

FAC Theater “Man of La Mancha” Saturday June 3, 2017.  Photos by Jeff Kearney.

Holly Anne Rawls
Man of La Mancha

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Charles R. MacLeod, “The Glass Menagerie,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Shannon McKinney, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Jon Olson, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
  • Paul Toben, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Brian Tovar, “Frankenstein,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Mike Wood, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks


Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 2

Jen Kiser
Evita

Lone Tree Arts Center

Also nominated

  • Seth Alison, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Brandon Ingold, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Mallary, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts
  • Brett Maughan, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage

Outstanding Costume Design Tier 1
12 Camille_AssafCamille Assaf
The Book of Will

DCPA Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Stephanie Bradley, “Game of Love and Chance,” TheatreWorks
  • Janson J. Fangio, “Enchanted April,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Sydney Gallas, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
  • Clare Henkel, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Clare Henkel, “Tartuffe,” Arvada Center
  • Lex Liang, “Shrek,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company


Outstanding Costume Design Tier 2

Jesus Perez
The Little Mermaid

Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

Also nominated:

  • Kari Armstrong, “The Snow Queen,” Bas Bleu Theatre Company
  • Buntport Theater, “The Crud,” Buntport Theater
  • Pamela Clifton, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Judith Ernst, “The Wizard of Oz,” Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
  • Tricia Music, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Annabel Reader, “Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,” The Catamounts


Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 1

FAC Theater “Man of La Mancha” Saturday June 3, 2017.  Photos by Jeff Kearney.

Christopher L. Sheley
Man of La Mancha

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Lisa Orzolek, “Disgraced,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Brian Mallgrave, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
  • Brian Mallgrave, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Arvada Center
  • Sandra Goldmark, “The Book of Will,” DCPA Theatre Company
  • Paul Black, “Mamma Mia,” Theatre Aspen
  • Jason Sherwood, “Frankenstein,” DCPA Theatre Company


Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 2

FAC Theater “Man of La Mancha” Saturday June 3, 2017.  Photos by Jeff Kearney.

Sean Jeffries
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Thunder River Theatre Company

Also nominated:

  • Shaun Albrechtson, “Steel Magnolias,” PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • James Brookman, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • M. Curtis Grittner, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
  • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Lori Rosedahl, “The Flick,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Kyle Scoggins, “Little Shop of Horrors,” Miners Alley Playhouse


SPECIAL AWARDS:

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THEATRE
Ed Baierlein and Sallie Diamond Baierlein, Germinal Stage Denver

EXCELLENCE IN SPECIAL MAKEUP EFFECTS
Todd Debreceni

OUTSTANDING IMPROVISATIONAL THEATRE
ScriptProv

OUTSTANDING THEATRE BENEFACTORS
Les Crispelle
Glenn Tiedt

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