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Posted October 18, 2005

The Black Theatre Ira Aldridge Alliance Awards

by Bridget A. Stegall, Central Region Business Representative

September 26, 2005

The 11th Annual Black Theater Alliance Awards (BTAA) took place on the beautiful evening of September 26 at the Hyatt Regency at McCormick Place in Chicago. BTAA, created in 1995, is a not-for-profit entity, founded to “honor African Americans who achieve excellence in theater, dance and all areas of the performing and technical arts in the Chicagoland area.”


Andre De Shields, BTA Award of Merit Recipient and Actors’ Equity Councilor, along with Business Representative Bridget A. Stegall and Contract Associate Joel Reamer

Actors’ Equity Councilor Andre De Shields was honored with the BTA Award of Merit, recognizing his lifetime of achievements in the theatre community. During his acceptance speech, Mr. De Shields warmed the audience’s hearts when he mentioned his pleasure in being able to take part in such a beautiful event, relishing in the fact that he could substitute Chicago for New York as the center of the universe that evening. He told the audience that he was proud that Chicago has laid claim to him, and that he has very fond memories of the city. He surprised and delighted the audience during his speech with an a cappella rendition of “If You Believe” from THE WIZ.

Also in attendance were performers, designers, directors, board members, and producers from the African American theatre community, coming together to celebrate Chicago theatre. Enlightening and energetic performances representing the most recent seasons from the nominated theatres sprinkled throughout the evening enhanced the beautiful event.

Recipients included Equity members and theatres from Chicago’s African American Theatre community (for more information, please visit www.btaawards.org):


2004-2005 Black Theater Alliance Awards

 denotes recipient, * denotes Equity member, ** denotes Equity theatre, + denotes EMC

The Negro Ensemble Company Award
Best Play (Drama or Comedy)
Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 – MPAACT
Runaway Home – eta Creative Arts Foundation
Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**


Best Play (Musical or Revue)
At Last: A Tribute To Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**
Black Nativity – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Somebody Say Amen: Great Women of Gospel – The Black Ensemble Theater**


The Lorraine Hansberry Award
Best Writing of a Play
David Barr lll – The Upper Room – Pegasus Players
Gloria Bond Clunie – Shoes – Victory Gardens Theater**
Shepsu Aakhu and Mignon McPherson Nance – Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 - MPAACT
Carla Stillwell – The Divine Order of Becoming - MPAACT
*Jackie Taylor – Somebody Say Amen: Great Women of Gospel – The Black Ensemble Theater**


The Lloyd Richards Award
Best Direction of a Play
Andrea J. Dymond – Shoes – Victory Gardens Theater**
Mike Malone – Black Nativity – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Mignon McPherson Nance – Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 – MPAACT
Derrick Sanders – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company** *Jackie Taylor – Somebody Say Amen: Great Women of Gospel – The Black Ensemble Theater**


The Sammy Davis Jr. Award
Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical
*Nikkieli DeMone – Black Nativity – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Rueben Echols – At Last: A Tribute To Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**
*Gregory Porter – It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues – Northlight Theatre**
Jesse Dean Stanford – Black Nativity – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Dereque Whiturs- Black Nativity – Congo Square Theater Company**


The Ossie Davis Award
Best Featured Actor in a Play (Drama or Comedy)
Cecil Burroughs – The Upper Room – Pegasus Players
Amos Ellis – Runaway Home – eta Creative Arts Foundation
Reggie Glover – The Break of Day – eta Creative Arts Foundation
*Warren Jackson – Shoes – Victory Gardens Theater**
Osiris Khepera – Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 – MPAACT
Andre’ Teamer – The Upper Room – Pegasus Players
Sati Word – The Bluest Eye – Steppenwolf Theatre**


Best Ensemble
At Last:A Tribute To Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**
Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 – MPAACT
Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**


The Sidney Poitier Award
Best Leading Actor in a Play (Drama or Comedy)
Abu Ansari – Since Africa – Chicago Dramatists**
Vincent DeJan – The Break of Day – eta Creative Arts Foundation
*Kenn E. Head – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**
*Derrick Nelson – Take Me Out – About Face Theatre**
Merl Sanders – Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil - eta Creative Arts Foundation
Will Sims ll – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**


The Hattie McDaniel Award
Best Featured Actress in a Play (Drama or Comedy)
*Ann Joseph – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Tanya Renee Lane – Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 – MPAACT
TaRon Patton – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Alexis J. Rogers – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Carla Stillwell – Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 – MPAACT
*Jacqueline Williams – Shoes – Victory Gardens Theater**


The Lena Horne Award
Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical
Tina Brown – Somebody Say Amen: Great Women of Gospel – The Black Ensemble Theater**
+ Dawn Mitchell – At Last: A TributeTo Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**
Rhonda Preston – Somebody Say Amen: Great Women of Gospel – The Black Ensemble Theater**
Yahdina U’Deen – Somebody Say Amen: Great Women of Gospel – The Black Ensemble Theater
*Laura Walls – Black Nativity – Congo Square Theatre Company**


The Ruby Dee Award
Best Leading Actress in a Play (Drama or Comedy)
Alana Arenas – The Bluest Eye – Steppenwolf Theatre Company**
*Velma Austin – Intimate Apparel – Steppenwolf Theatre Company**
Daryl Charisse – Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 – MPAACT
+ Monifa Days – Layla’s Dream – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Demetria Thomas – The Divine Order of Becoming – MPAACT
*Linara Washington – Shoes – Victory Gardens Theater**


Best Performance in a Music/Dance Program
Triple Blak – Cute Girls from Tell It Like It Is – Najwa Dance Corps
Dan Harris lll – One Flight Up – Dance Chicago 2004
Armen Ra – Chains and Whips from Tell It Like it Is – Najwa Dance Corps
Mr. Taps – The Man from Precious Memories – Najwa Dance Corps


Best Performance in a Play (Non-Resident)
*Lawrence Clayton – Jesus Christ Superstar – Really Useful Superstar Company, Inc., Nederlander Presentations, Inc. and McCoy Rigby Entertainment in association with Terry Allen Kramer and La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
Ramone Diggs – Three Mo’ Tenors – Willette Klausner
*Gugwana Dlamini – The Lion King – Disney
Nova Y. Patton – Smokey Joe’s Café – Theatre Dreams Chicago and Phoenix Productions in association with CJ Entertainment Korea
*DeWayne L. Woods– Sing Hallelujah! – Passion Productions


The Duke Ellington Award
Best Musical Direction
Red Clay – Relevant Hearsay…Stories from 57 – MPAACT
Robert Reddrick – At Last: A Tribute To Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**
Jimmy Tillman – Somebody Say Amen: Great Women of Gospel – The Black Ensemble Theater**
Xavier Treadwell – Black Nativity – Congo Square Theatre Company**


The Katherine Dunham Award
Best Choreography
Malong Bayo – Bugarabu from Tell It Like It Is – Najwa Dance Corps
Harry Detry – Evening Tide from Sopaly – Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago
Martin “Tre” Dumas lll – Glorious from Dance Chicago 2004 - John Schmitz and Fred Solari
Mike Malone – Black Nativity – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Amaniyea Payne – Nuff Respect. Grounation from Sopaly – Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago


The Alvin Ailey Award
Best Choreography (Non-Resident)
Ronald K. Brown – Come Ye – Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
Ulysses Dove (Posthumously) – Vespers – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Robert Battle, Rennie Harris and Judith Jamison – Love Stories – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


Best Sound Design
Eminence Front – The Divine Order of Becoming – MPAACT
*Ron O. J. Parson – Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil – eta Creative Arts Foundation
*Joseph Plummer – Black Nativity – Congo Square Theater Company**
Ron White – At Last: A Tribute To Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**


Best Lighting Design
Regina Marie Davis and Darryl Goodman Sr. – The Break of Day – eta Creative Arts Foundation
Benny Gomes – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Denise Karczewski – At Last: A Tribute To Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**
*Kathy Perkins – Black Nativity – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Justin Stone – Layla’s Dream – Congo Square Theatre Company**


Best Set Design
Jack Magaw – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Robert C. Martin –Woman From The Town – eta Creative Arts Foundation
Carl Ulaczek – At Last:A Tribute To Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**
Reginald Wilson – Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil – eta Creative Arts Foundation


Best Costume Design
Moustapha Bangoura – Sopaly – Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago
Sorhna Muhammad and Suquan Diop – Precious Memories – Najwa Dance Corps
Christine Pascual – Seven Guitars – Congo Square Theatre Company**
Reggie Ray – Black Nativity –Congo Square Theatre Company**
Kanika Sago – At Last: A Tribute To Etta James – The Black Ensemble Theater**





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