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    Posted April 26, 2007

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Independent Reviewers Honor Boston Area Theatres

By Donna Sorbello and Dawn Deslaurier
Boston Liaison Committee

The overhead lights may have been dim in the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for The Arts on the night of March l9th, but the hopes of the 2007 nominees for the annual Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) awards were high. The excitement in anticipation of the announcements of the IRNE winners added more than enough brightness. In l998, when I proudly won my Best Actress IRNE (to Jonathan Epstein's Best Actor win), we were gathered in a large classroom at a local college. Interest and attendance has so expanded that from the next year's move to a function room at the Lenox hotel, this year's event was held at the cavernous space of the BCA.

The IRNEs, the brain-child of Beverly Creasey (Journal Newspapers), Geralyn Horton and Larry Stark (Theatre Mirror), were initially meant to provide a voice for the opinions and appreciations of the smaller publications in the New England area. Creasey, Horton and Stark also were determined to appraise the offerings of small theatre companies that the major publications often didn't have the staff or space to cover. Over time this dedicated troop of reviewers has garnered the respect of the local AEA actors and companies because they somehow manage to cover every local professional production each season (with few exceptions). Their commitment and belief in the local professional talent pool may have spurred the original three to create the awards but since then, their steadfast faith in the Boston Theatre community has required the work of over fifteen IRNE reviewers, all of whom-even through the less than joyous reviews-are true theatre-lovers. Their dedication to getting out the word on the local theatre-scene, (which often includes companies with limited press and advertising due to small operating budgets) has no doubt been a factor in Boston's ongoing theatre development.

On this year's IRNE night, with all tables full and many having to stand at the back of the open space, the Huntington Theatre walked away with seven awards in the Large Production category, four of which went to (and included) Best New Play, "Mauritius" with a Best Design to Eugene Lee, Best Actress to Marin Ireland. Geneva Carr won for Supporting Actress for "Rabbit Hole". American Repertory Theater's Remo Airaldi won a best supporting actor for "Island of Slaves" with a Best Director to Jerry Mouawad ("No Exit"). Reagle Players garnered awards for Mary Ann Zschau (Best Supporting Actress/Musical) and Patty Lupone for solo performance ("Lady With A Torch"), while the Wilbur Theatre, also in the musical category captured a Best Actor award for Jared Gertner for "25th Annual Spelling Bee". North Shore Music Theatre, among other awards received a Best Supporting Actor win for Joe Wilson, Jr. for "Aint Misbehavin'. In the (Small Professional Theatre category, Bates Wilder (New Repertory Theatre) picked up a best Actor for "Frozen". Speakeasy Stage won eleven awards covering three productions; "Five By Tenn", "The Women" (both directed by award winner, Scott Edmiston) and "Caroline Or Change". Speakeasy AEA members also captured IRNEs for Best Supporting Actor and Actress for Bill Young and Maureen Keiller and in the Musical category, Best Actress to Jacqui ParkerMerle Perkins. Lyric Stage was handed four awards including a Best Actress for Paula Plum ("The Goat or Who is Sylvia?"). Various other awards in acting and design categories went to the above AEA theatres and several other AEA actors.

The successful evening, through the many efforts of Beverly Creasy with the assistance of Tony McLean and Backyard Productions, smoothly accommodated the three hundred plus in attendance. The lights were put out completely on the event only after forty awards had been, deservedly, accepted.

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