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    Posted June 10, 2010

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Boston's Elliot Norton Awards Shine At New Paramount Theatre

stage union - AEA

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The 28th annual Elliot Norton Awards, presented by the Boston Theater Critics Association, took place in the exquisitely renovated Paramount Theatre in downtown Boston on May 17, 2010, shining a deserving spotlight on the artistic achievements of Equity actors and theatres from the 2009-2010 New England theatrical season. Actor's Equity co-sponsored the awards as part of the unions' branding campaign geared towards the upcoming Centennial and was proudly represented by James Bodge and members of the Boston Area Liaison Committee, including Bill Mootos, Ellen Colton, Kippy Goldfarb, Emilly McMullen, Annette Miller, Dawn Schall, and Donna Sorbello. AEA staffers Melissa Colgan, Russell Lehrer and David Lotz also attended the event.

AEA members Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams (both currently starring in Broadway's LEND ME A TENOR) were guests of honor at the gala. "We are so delighted to be here," said Shalhoub, who performed for four seasons at the fledgling American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge and returned in 1997 to perform with Ms. Adams in Mamet's THEOLD NEIGHBORHOOD.

The awards were emceed by Emmy Award-winning journalist Joyce Kulhawik, who just concluded a 27-year stint as Arts & Entertainment critic for CBS. Kulhawik was warmly received by the audience and recognized for her ongoing dedication to the professional theatre and arts community. Other presenters included Boston Globe theatre critic Louise Kennedy, Boston Phoenix critic Carolyn Clay, journalists Terry Byrne, Iris Fanger and Sandy MacDonald, and WGBH-TV reporter Jared Bowen.

After an opening masquerade from "Phantom of the Oprah" (directed by AEA member Larry Coen), things quickly got down to business with the outstanding actor awards going to Sandra Shipley (ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE, Publick Theatre); Nigel Gore (WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, Publick Theatre), and Crystal Fox (FENCES, Huntington Theatre Company). Graciously acknowledging the challenges of the actors life, Ms. Shipley thanked her colleagues and said "May the God of Theatre watch over all of us."

The Outstanding Ensemble Award went to THE SAVANNAH DISPUTATION at the Speakeasy Stage, which also nabbed Outstanding Musical Production (ADDING MACHINE: A MUSICAL), Outstanding Director (AEA member Paul Melone) and Outstanding Design). ADDING MACHINE cast members Bob De Vivo, Leigh Barrett, Brendan McNab, Liz Hayes, David Krinitt, and Cheryl McMahon brought the house down with a scene from this critically-acclaimed production.

A special citation ("the theatrical jewel of our region") was presented to the Gamm Theatre by BTCA President Caldwell Titcomb to Artistic Director Tony Estrella, who described the hard work necessary to sustain a theatre for 25 years.

The Stage Source Theatre "Hero" Award was presented to the Huntington Theatre's Managing Director, Michael Maso, who acknowledged the financial sacrifice that artists make in pursuit of their craft. "Your work matters" he declared, urging the theatrical community to stand together and continue to make a difference in the lives of its audiences.

The evening's finale was the presentation of the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence to Karen MacDonald. A founding member of the American Repertory Theatre, Ms. MacDonald described her life in the theatre a "kind of accident, a happy accident (All My Sons)" and recalled some of her greatest mentors: her teacher Rose Schulman, Proposition, an early Boston theatrical company and the great Robert Brustein. "So why do we do we continue to do this?" she asked the audience. "We do it because we have to, because its in our blood and its our passion."

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