1. Winners for 1997
2. Nominees for 1997
3. Explanations of the Outer Critics Circle
"The Will Rogers Follies"
THE REAGLE PLAYERS
"When The World Was Green: A Chef's Tale"
A.R.T @ The Hasty Pudding Theatre
Jonathan Hammond in "Cabaret"
Scott Wakefield in "The Will Rogers Follies"
in "Having Our Say" @ TRINITY REP
in "Freedom of The City" for SUGAN THEATER @ BCA
"HUNGER" by Milton Coykendall @ JAVA THEATER
"Dirt" by Abe Rybeck @ THEATER OUTRAGE
"Jack The Ripper" by Steven Bergman & Christopher-Michael DiGrazia @ CENTASTAGE
"Alter Egos" by Jon McGovern @ BOSTON UNIVERSITY
"When The World Was Green: A Cook's Tale" by Joe Chaikin & Sam Shepard @ A.R.T.
"The Diary of Anne Frank" newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman @ THE COLONIAL THEATRE
"The Old Neighborhood" by David mamet @ A.R.T.
"VITA AND VIRGINIA" @ THRESHOLD THEATRE
"The Maids" @ PORTAL THEATRE, Boston Center for The Arts
"Brigadoon" @ REAGLE PLAYERS
"The Game of Love And Chance" @ THE HUNTINGTON THEATER
"A Moon for The Misbegotten" @ NEW REPERTORY THEATRE
"Entertaining Mr. Sloane" @ THE LYRIC STAGE
JULIEANN BOYD for "Cabaret"
Bob Eagle for "Brigadoon" "Will Rogers Follies" "ChristmasTime at Reagle" @ REAGLE PLAYERS
Rachel Rahiv Shatil for "The Maids" @ PORTAL THEATRE
Nancy Curran Willis for "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" @ VOKES PLAYERS
Russell R. Greene for "Falsettos" @ THE FOOTLIGHT CLUB
Stephen Wadsworth for "Game of Love and Chance" @ HUNTINGTON THEATER
Rick Lombardo for "A Moon for The Misbegotten" @ THE NEW REPERTORY THEATRE
Fran Weinberg for "The Eight: Reindeer Monologs" @ THEATREZONE
Bob Buffier for "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" @ LYRIC STAGE
David Wheeler for "Man And Superman" @ A.R.T.
Larry Carpenter for "Company" @ HUNTINGTON THEATER
JONATHAN HAMMOND in "Cabaret"
CHRISTOPHER YATES in "Cabaret"
SCOTT WAKEFIELD in "The Will Rogers Follies"
John FitzGibbon in "A Moon for The Misbegotten"
Michael Cecchi in "American Buffalo"
Davis Gaynes in "Company"
Jim Loutzenheizer in "The Forest" @ THE PERFORMANCE PLACE
Brad Crews in "The Forest"
PAULA PLUM in "Plum Pudding" "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" & "The Heiress"
CARMEL O'REILLY in "Freedom of The City"
BARBARA MEEK in "Having Our Say"
Anne Marie Cusson in "A Moon for The Misbegotten"
Lynn Moulton in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" @ DELVINA THEATRE COMPANY The BCA
Elizabeth Walsh in"Brigadoon"
Brooke Adams in "The Old Neighborhood"
WILL LEBOW in several A.R.T. shows & "Faith Healer" @ GLOUCESTER STAGE
Bob Jolly in "Patience" @ THE PUBLICK THEATRE
Neil A. Casey in "Guys And Dolls" @ THE PUBLICK THEATRE
Michael Bradshaw in several LYRIC STAGE shows, etc.
Michael Balcanoff in "Entertaining Mr. Sloane"
Jeremiah Kissel in "Romeo And Juliet" @ COMMONWEALTH SHAKESPEARE
Jared Reed in "Game of Love And Chance"
Chip Phillips in "Kiss Me Kate" @ WHEELOCK FAMILY THEATRE
John Davin in "Kiss Me Kate"
MARY KEARNEY in "Vita And Virginia"
Lizza Riley in "Vita And Virginia"
Donna Sorbello in "How The Other Half Loves" @ LYRIC STAGE
Karen Mason in "Company"
Bobbie Steinbach in "Romeo And Juliet"
Giuliana Lonigro in "Five Women Wearing The Same Dress" @ BEAU JEST
Maureen Keller in "Five Women Wearing The Same Dress"
Margaret Welsh in "Game of Love And Chance"
Laura Lee Shink in "Why We Have A Body" @ COYOTE THEATRE
SUSAN ZEEMAN ROGERS for "SubUrbia"
David Fortuna for "Chess" @ SPEAKEASY
Christiana Peppin for "The Zoo Story" @ THE NEW NEIGHBORHOOD PLAYHOUSE
Thomas Lynch for "Game of Love And Chance"
Loren Sherman for "Company"
Janie Fliegel for "American Buffalo" & "A Moon for The Misbegotten"
JOHN MALINOWSKI for "Fool for Love" & "A Moon for The Misbegotten"
Peter Kaczorowski for "Game of Love And Chance"
Karen Perlow for "Bed & Sofa" @ THE NORA THEATRE COMPANY
JEFFREY FENDER for "Cabaret"
Martin Pakledinaz for "A Game of Love and Chance" @ THE HUNTINGTON THEATER
Natalie L. Durkin & Gayle Sullivan for "Christmas Time at REAGLE"
YOU SHOULDA BEEN THERE
"HUNGER" @ JAVA THEATRE
"WILL ROGERS FOLLIES" @ REAGLE PLAYERS
"WHEN THE WORLD WAS GREEN: A CHEF'S TALE"@ A.R.T.
"Brigadoon" @ REAGLE PLAYERS
"Guys And Dolls" @ THE PUBLICK THEATRE
"Dirt" @ THEATER OUTRAGEOUS
"Alter Egos" @ BOSTON UNIVERSITY
"Jack The Ripper" @ CENTASTAGE
BOB JOLLY @ THE PUBLICK THEATRE, THE LYRIC STAGE etc
Bob Eagle Director @ REAGLE PLAYERS
Will Lebow @ GLOUCESTER STAGE, A.R.T.
MaryAnn Zschau @ REAGLE PLAYERS, PUBLICK THEATRE, 'Jack The Ripper" etc.
1) There are theatres and companies that never get reviewed by what you might think of as the "newspapers of record" in this area.
2) Many excellent productions every year are mounted by people whose budgets do not stretch to taking out advertising in news media, so they depend for wider awareness on the free advertising that reviews represent.
3) Many of us have had the strange experience of seeing an excellent play brilliantly acted and directed --- in auditoria that are less than one-third full.
4) Most of us see a lot of theater, and neither the size of the auditorium nor of the operating budget nor of the p/r work involved cuts much ice with us, but the effectiveness of the work displayed certainly does.
5) We are a collection of individuals interested in all sorts of theater, working in several media none of which reaches much beyond our loyal readers or listeners, but as a group our insights and awarenesses may bring deserved recognition to good work, consistent excellence, and innovative achievements that people who read only one critic or one source would never know anything about. There is more good theater in and around Boston, Horatio, than is dreamed of in your philosophies.
6) Certificates of excellence for New Play, Best Play, Best Actor & Actress, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, Best Sets, Lights, Costumes, and Direction, a special award for Consistent Achievement and a "You Shoulda Been There!" citation for shows neglected undeservedly will be mailed to those surviving nominating ballots and discussions and final votes, and the names of the finalists will be publicised as thoroughly as we can make possible.
7) Participation and input from any sincere theater-lovers or other practising reviewers will be welcomed and is solicited for what will become a much needed annual event.
Ballots were sent to:
The Theater Mirror
New England Entertainment Digest
The South End News
The Worcester Telegram
Back Bay Courant
The Brockton Enterprise
Subject: Third Time the Charm
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 15:33:35 EST
Larry, my computer keeps sending my mail with no message every time I make a paragraph, so you don't get any paragraphs this time. I am looking for information on the new Massachusetts Outer Circle Theatre Awards. I understand that Beverly Creasey is involved in them. Can you tell me where I can find more information, or who I should contact in order to do so? Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. Aurelie10@aol.com
P.S. I love your website!
LARRY STARK EXPLAINS:
About a year ago a few other reviewers in the Boston area tried to organize an "Outer Critics Circle" that could recognize excellent work by low-budget local companies, creators and performers. The idea was new, everyone had differing ideas about how it could work and what should be honored. Busy reviewers don't often run into one another except when working, each one needed lengthy explanations, and it was August before enough ballots could be assembled, and by then announcing that a handfull of critics had decided a list of Bests for 1996 seemed irrelevant.
And let me say that characterizing Beverly Creasey as "involved" is the understatement of the century. By mail and phone she has been the central coordinating force in this effort, keeping everyone on track and in touch. Kudos, Beverly!
But the idea persisted, people persevered, and the first annual awards have been announced! This letter from Geralyn Horton, a mover and a believer in this endeavor, --- She, Beverly Creasey, and the indefatigable Jules Becker made this dream a reality --- Geralyn's letter may explain things a little better:
Subject: Re: Third Time the Charm
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 11:55:13 -0500
From: Geralyn Horton email@example.com
To: "Larry Stark's Theater Mirror" firstname.lastname@example.org
At 05:54 PM 2/12/98 -0500, you wrote: >I am including Geralyn Horton (the AISLE-SAY critic) with this reply, because she knows more than I do and will correct my errors.
I don't think your errors -- or my errors-- or anybody else's errors-- CAN be corrected, at least not until next year! We're refining the process. I think your explanation of the purpose of the awards is wonderful. Too bad we didn't have it written up that way beforehand, when we were asking for nominations!
One big problem for us "Outers" seems to be defining eligibility. For instance, I never considered the 2 Sugan revivals of shows that were on my AisleSay "Best of 1996" list ("Freedom of the City" and "Gigli Concert") when voting for 1997 -- I considered them 1996 productions, even though they ran in 1997, too. Others did nominate them. Even more confusing is the "home town" angle. We mean to honor work specifically local to the Boston area, not shows whose originating impulse came from NYC or other wheres off the rim of the Hub. But we didn't have a consistant policy about what "local" is, and whether productions in Lowell, Providence, Worcester or the Berkshires are eligible. Some voters considered these, others eliminated them from consideration.
I believe that our original impulse was to model our awards on the Obies. I still think that the best and most useful model, but figuring out how to honor underfunded excellence ain't as simple as it seemed when we launched the project 2 1/2 years ago. (In 1996-7 we got all tangled up in a system of weighted voting that was supposed to compensate for the varying size of each critic's pool: how many shoestring productions has s/he actually seen this year, before selecting X as the best? However, the 1996 nominations exist: you have a copy, don't you, Larry? You could post those along with 1997's, if you think it appropriate and your readers would be interested.)
Also, not every critic "got it" about the "You should have been there" award. This award -- and there could be as many award recipients as there are productions that the nominators are willing to stake their critical reputations on -- is intended to honor a production so obscure that the critic who was astounded by its excellence was the ONLY critic to bother to see it -- or the only critic to appreciate it, in the instance that one other critic panned the show and everybody else took that (mistaken) critic's word for its poor quality and stayed away. The implication of "You should.." is that had more people seen the show, had it played to full houses and been reviewed by a bevy of critics, the majority would have judged it as the best production of the season. However, it can't win an award in the "best" category, because none of the other voters saw it.
I think this might be the most important award of all.
I'd be interested to hear if the Mirror's readers have their own
nominations for a "You should have been there" award. (Accompanied by a
declaration of objectivity, please: no fair nominating yourself, or
relatives, or people who are just so darned loveable that everything they
do looks good to you.)
Subject: Re: These are F I N A L
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 11:56:46 EST
I received the list of nominees and winners. Thank you for following up for me!
It was nice to see Bob Eagle receive recognition in the "Consistent Excellence" category. He works extremely hard all year long, and Reagle is truly a labor of love for him.
I'm off - I need to work a little in between my weekends of "California Suite"
at the Winthrop Playmakers.
Thank you again - Aurelie
Subject: Outer Critics Cricle
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 20:58:18 -0500
From: "edruss" email@example.com
I wanted to thank you and the other critics who took the time to put this together. So many of the theater companies that are recognized in the nomination list are so deserving, I don't know how you decided between them, I'm just glad to see that they are getting (at least some of) the credit they deserve.
I also want to thank the critics for their very kind nomination of me for my directorial efforts on FALSETTOS. As I have told you in the past, it is an honor that I share with the cast, crew, and staff. I always appreciate the herculean efforts that they all exert in trying to help me bring my vision of a show to life. It's also nice to see my name in print :)
Thank you, Larry, for all the support that you have given the local theater community, and I
hope that the Theater Mirror (and the OCC) lives on for a long time.
Subject: Let The Carping Commence!!!!!!!!!
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 03:13:29 -0500
From: Larry Stark of firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms. Horton:
Now that there Are awards, the fun starts!
I mean the media-mash. Unlike any normal election, in this case every voter got to make nominations, and now every voter will publish the results along with a lengthy diatribe about how the vote got it all wrong! I haven't done any real work all day just contemplating what I'd say!
How many of us will point out, for instance, that when one woman in a two-character play is voted Best SUPPORTING Actress yet the other is not voted Best Actress, both of them really lose, don't they? Has anyone been worse damned by fainter praise?
Frankly, I've never understood the concept of Supporting anything very clearly. I remember way back when Daniel Seltzer walked on in the last eight minutes of a Moliere farce playing The Bailiff I referrred to the play (the name of which I can never remember) as "starring Daniel Seltzer in a minor role". Still, "Vita And Virginia" was awarded, by everyone else who voted with me, as Best Production; in my book that means it got the Best Ensemble Playing award.
Why Isn't there a Best Ensemble Playing award, by the way? The other aspects of a show might conspire to keep it from being Best Production and still the interactions between all the characters could make such a category inevitable. I think both the Delvena "Who's Afraid..." and the Footlight Club "Falsettos" would both get my nomination in that category --- along with the Vokes Players' "Lips Together, Teeth Apart", and maybe a couple more if I set my mind to it.
For mine, Anne Marie Cusson and John FitzGibbon in "A Moon for The Misbegotten" out at The New Rep were superb in incredibly difficult roles, and Ms. Cusson would have been the perfect choice for Best Actress considering the range of subtle emotional subtexts she had to get across. Still, I also understand the impulses that focused people's attentions elsewhere. They are both Equity people who don't live and work in this area so much. The New Repertory Theatre has made itself a major player in the local theater scene and has the notice of the major newspapers in town, so in that sense recognition for excellence in places more often overlooked should carry more weight. But Ghod that woman was astonishing! (And he's no slouch either!)
I guess I see a difference in nominating Rick Lombardo, all but one of whose efforts out at the New Rep have looked great, and David Wheeler for one show at the American Repertory Theater, as Best Director. Wheeler took a company whose work I have rarely liked, and made them shine. Fran Weinberg did exactly the same thing for the TheatreZone. In that sense, those two directors coming in cold were probably more noticeable to me than the generally high level of Lombardo's work. I mean whereas Rick surprises me when his company's work doesn't please, Fran and David surprised me when their work did.
In that regard, perhaps we ought to declare a "Surprisingly Worth The Money!" award for a show like "Chicago" at the Colonial, which needed absolutely nothing from any Outer Critic except an admission that doing it all right, in front of that many people, eight times a week may be much harder than wowwing under a hundred of them in the Little Flags. I think I'd have voted "Barrymore" a Worth-It award too, and as long as we all realized that ought to be a hard-to earn sideshow award, maybe it ought to be considered. (And another minor sideshow might be a "Worth The Trip" award honoring some show in Providence or Worcester or Portsmouth or Orono that really knocks our socks off!)
And that brings up the controversial problem of "objectivity". I was thrilled to see Milton Coykendall's "Hunger" voted Best New Play because it meant other people voted with me. I thought it an imaginitive and carefully crafted exploration of difficult material with a definite point of view and appliations to the real world. And seeing such good work , by everyone involved, in the company of so few people tended to make me lobby for it all the harder. But I think I could say just about the same things about Abe Rybeck's "Dirt". The style of each was wildly different, and maybe it was style rather than excellence that swayed me in one direction rather than another. Sometimes, getting nominated means even more than winning. Maybe this is one of those cases...
In my early years reviewing plays I worked for a newspaper that Samuel Hirsch insisted no one took seriously. Now that very newspaper is accepted as the equal of those for which, back then, Kevin Kelly and Eliot Norton wrote --- and now Sam Hirsch's paper doesn't even exist anymore. I thought of myself as "an Outer Critic" back then, and I think of myself as that now. But, standing in a Circle with a lot of other writers who love theater so much they're eager to go anywhere to see it, somehow I don't feel quite as alone now as I did then.
But I still see a lot of damn good shows every year.
( a k a larry stark )