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As a New Year’s present to the theatre community, the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle announces the Craig Noel Award nominations for the previous calendar year (in this case, 2016), on January 1. The nominations themselves represent the collective view of the Critics Circle members as to the strongest productions, performances, and technical work in the past year – and as such represent a kind of “report card” on the theatre community. (Full disclosure: I am a voting member of the Critics Circle.)

I will analyze what hints these nominations provide to the critics’ thinking, but if you’re anxious to skip right to the list, click here.

The critics hint at the productions they thought were strongest by the number of nominations each received. Conveniently, there were ten productions that received four or more nominations. In alphabetical order, these ten were:

    • Seven Guitars
      Photo by Daren Sco

    August Wilson repertory of “Seven Guitars” and “King Hedley II,” produced by Cygnet Theatre.

  • “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” produced by The Old Globe.
  • “Manifest Destinitis,” produced by San Diego Repertory Theatre.
  • “The Normal Heart,” produced by ion theatre.
  • “October Sky,” produced by The Old Globe.
  • “Oklahoma!,” produced by New Village Arts.
  • “Ragtime,” produced by San Diego Musical Theatre
  • “Sunday in the Park with George,” produced by ion theatre.
  • “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” produced by Intrepid Theatre.

 

Oklahoma!
Photo by Daren Scott

Almost all of these productions were nominated for top awards in the production category, either Outstanding Dramatic Production, or Outstanding Resident Musical. “Manifest Destinitis,” was nominated for Outstanding New Play, and “Oklahoma!” was overlooked in the Outstanding Resident Musical category in favor of three other musical productions: “Gypsy,” produced by Cygnet Theatre; “Lizard Boy,” produced by Diversionary Theatre; and “Titanic: The Musical,” produced by Moonlight Stage Productions. The Outstanding Dramatic Production category also included “Disgraced,” produced by San Diego Repertory Theatre.

Nadia Guevarra and Jennifer Paredes in Lydia
Photo courtesy ion theatre

Only three actors were nominated for two different performances this past year. Two of them are well-known past Craig Noel Award recipients: Laurence Brown, who was nominated against himself for featured performances in ion theatre’s “Jesus Hates Me,” and the August Wilson repertory’s “Seven Guitars,” and Bets Malone, who was nominated for solo performance in the Broadway Theatres’ “Tell Me on a Sunday” and for featured performance in Cygnet’s “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show.” The third, Jennifer Paredes, has received her first nominations this year, for her leading role in ion theatre’s “Lydia,” and for her featured role in InnerMission Productions’ “Seven Spots on the Sun.” Ms. Paredes is surely a performer to watch in the year ahead.

The number of total nominations received provides a rough indicator of various degrees of ascendency of local theatre community companies. Of course, each year all eyes are on the two largest ones, The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse. The Globe received 21 nominations this year, as opposed to 15 last year, while the Playhouse received only 9 nominations, far fewer than for the 2015 season. Of course, the Playhouse presented a season of new work in 2016, while it garnered a large number of nominations for its 2015 critical and popular hit, “Come from Away.” The Globe, on the other hand, spent a couple of seasons receiving fewer than usual nominations, but this year their productions of “October Sky” and “Love’s Labor’s Lost” led the way, and several other productions picked up nominations. San Diego Repertory Theatre dropped to six nominations from the previous year’s fifteen, but the Rep was disrupted this season by a major renovation of its lobby area.

Other theatres that picked up strength in this year’s nominations were New Village Arts, with nine nominations (up from one in 2015), and Diversionary Theatre, with five nominations (up from zero in 2015).

The Boy Who Danced on Air
Photo by Simpatika

There was no Outstanding New Musical nomination category this year, though there is a robust Outstanding New Play set of nominations. Three, possibly four, world premiere musicals were presented. Diversionary Theatre’s “The Boy Who Danced on Air,” received three nominations, including Outstanding Original Score. La Jolla Playhouse’s “Miss You Like Hell” received one nod, for Erin McKeown’s score. The Old Globe’s production of “Rain,” received two nominations, both in technical categories, but Broadway composer Michael John LaChiusa’s score did not make the cut for an Outstanding Original Score nomination. The late-opening “Miracle on 34th Street – A Live Musical Radio Play” was a world premiere, but there was some question as to whether it was a musical or a play with music. Other new musicals, The Old Globe’s “October Sky” and “Sense and Sensibility” and Diversionary Theatre’s “Lizard Boy,” all had their world premiere productions elsewhere.

The Critics Circle will announce the recipients of the Craig Noel Awards on Monday, February 6. The ceremony will be held at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. More details are available on the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle website.

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 Nominees for the 2016 Craig Noel Awards:

MUSICAL CATEGORIES

Outstanding Music Direction

Charlie Alterman – “October Sky,” The Old Globe

Mark Danisovszky – “Sunday in the Park with George,” ion theatre

Tony Houck – Oklahoma!,” New Village Arts

Don LeMaster – “Ragtime,” San Diego Musical Theatre

Elan McMahan – “Titanic, the Musical,” Moonlight Stage Productions

 

Outstanding Choreography

Paul David Bryant – “Ragtime,” San Diego Musical Theatre

Jill Gorrie – “42nd Street,” San Diego Musical Theatre

Colleen Kollar Smith – “American Rhythm,” Lamb’s Players Theatre

Ray Limon – “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Welk Resort Theatre

Nejla Y. Yatkin – “The Boy Who Danced on Air,” Diversionary Theatre

 

Outstanding Original Score

Deborah Gilmour Smyth – “Equivocation,” Lamb’s Players Theatre

Peter Golub – “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” The Old Globe

Robert Grossman – “Way Downriver,” North Coast Repertory Theatre

Erin McKeown – “Miss You Like Hell,” La Jolla Playhouse

Tim Rosser & Charlie Sohne – “The Boy Who Danced on Air,” Diversionary Theatre

 

ACTING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Ensemble

“Manifest Destinitis,” San Diego Repertory Theatre

“Seminar,” InnerMission Productions

“Seven Guitars”/”King Hedley II,” Cygnet Theatre

“When the Rain Stops Falling,” Cygnet Theatre

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Intrepid Theatre

 

Outstanding Solo Performance

Mike Daisey – “The Trump Card,” La Jolla Playhouse

Bets Malone – “Tell Me on a Sunday,” The Broadway Theater

Rosina Reynolds – “Golda’s Balcony,” New Village Arts

Benjamin Scheuer – “The Lion,” The Old Globe

Keith A. Wallace – “The Bitter Game,” La Jolla Playhouse

 

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical, Male

Bryan Barbarin – “Big River,” New Village Arts

Jacob Brent – “The Drowsy Chaperone,” San Diego State University School of Theatre, Television & Film

Jack French – “Oklahoma!” New Village Arts

Justin Huertas – “Lizard Boy,” Diversionary Theatre

Reed Lievers – “Big River,” New Village Arts

 

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical, Female

Carolyn Agan – “Ragtime,” San Diego Musical Theatre

Melissa Fernandes – “Sunday in the Park with George,” ion theatre

Linda Libby – “Gypsy,” Cygnet Theatre

Daebreon Poiema – “Sister Act,” Moonlight Stage Productions

Sharon Rietkerk – “Sense and Sensibility,” The Old Globe

 

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical, Female

Bets Malone – “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show,” Cygnet Theatre

Nicole Pryor – “Ragtime,” San Diego Musical Theatre

Allison Spratt Pearce – “Gypsy,” Cygnet Theatre

Alexandra Slade – “Oklahoma!” New Village Arts

Wendy Waddell – “Fiddler on the Roof,” Welk Resort Theatre

 

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical, Male

Ron Bohmer – “October Sky,” The Old Globe

Cornelius Jones Jr. – “Sister Act,” Moonlight Stage Productions

Sean Allan Krill – “Sense and Sensibility,” The Old Globe

David McBean – “Ruthless! The Musical,” Moxie Theatre

Jonathan Sangster, “Oklahoma!” New Village Arts

 

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play, Male

Richard Baird – “Way Downriver,” North Coast Repertory Theatre

Ro Boddie – “Seven Guitars,” Cygnet Theatre

Ronobir Lahiri – “Disgraced,” San Diego Repertory Theatre

Claudio Raygoza – “The Normal Heart,” ion theatre

Robert Smyth – “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Intrepid Theatre

 

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play, Female

Deborah Gilmour Smyth – “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Intrepid Theatre

Jo Anne Glover – “The Kid Thing,” Moxie Theatre

Cashe Monya – “Our Lady of Kibeho,” Moxie Theatre

Jennifer Paredes – “Lydia,” ion theatre

M’Lafi Thompson – “Brownsville Song (b-side for Tray),” Moxie Theatre

 

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play, Male

Laurence Brown – “Jesus Hates Me,” ion theatre

Laurence Brown – “Seven Guitars,” Cygnet Theatre

Kevin Cahoon – “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” The Old Globe

Ross Hellwig – “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Intrepid Theatre

Antonio TJ Johnson – “Seven Guitars”/King Hedley II,” Cygnet Theatre

 

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play, Female

Dana Fares – “Airline Highway,” ion theatre

Jennifer Paredes – “Seven Spots on the Sun,” InnerMission Productions

Erin Petersen – “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Intrepid Theatre

Kim Strassburger – “The Normal Heart,” ion theatre

Jacque Wilke – “Stupid F**king Bird,” Cygnet Theatre
DESIGN CATEGORIES

Outstanding Scenic Design

John Lee Beatty – “Junk: The Golden Age of Debt,” La Jolla Playhouse

John Lee Beatty – “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” The Old Globe

Kevin Depinet – “October Sky,” The Old Globe

Sean Fanning – “Manifest Destinitis,” San Diego Repertory Theatre

Sean Fannning – “Seven Guitars”/”King Hedley II,” Cygnet Theatre

Mark Wendland – “Rain,” The Old Globe

 

Outstanding Sound Design

Mark Bennett – “Junk: The Golden Age of Debt,” La Jolla Playhouse

Charles Coes & Nathan A. Roberts – “tokyo fish story,” The Old Globe

Emily Jankowski – “Brownsville Song (b-side for Tray),” Moxie Theatre

Bray Poor – “The Last Match,” The Old Globe

Ken Travis – “Rain,” The Old Globe

 

Outstanding Costume Design

Jennifer Brawn Gittings – “Manifest Destinitis,” San Diego Repertory Theatre

Jennifer Brawn Gittings – “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show,” Cygnet Theatre

Michael Krass – “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” The Old Globe

Janet Turner Pitcher – “Sunday in the Park with George,” ion theatre

Jeanne Reith – “American Rhythm,” Lamb’s Players Theatre

 

Outstanding Lighting Design

Howell Binkley – “Hollywood,” La Jolla Playhouse

Wen-Ling Liao – “The Boy Who Danced on Air,” Diversionary Theatre

Jason Lyons – “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” The Old Globe

Nathan Peirson – “The Miracle Worker,” Lamb’s Players Theatre

Ben Stanton – “Junk: The Golden Age of Debt,” La Jolla Playhouse

Japhy Weideman – “October Sky,” The Old Globe

 

Outstanding Projection Design

Jonathan Infante – “Titanic, The Musical,” Moonlight Stage Productions

Tara Knight – “Hollywood,” La Jolla Playhouse

Blake McCarty – “Sunday in the Park with George,” ion theatre

Michael McKeon – “Woody Guthrie’s American Song,” Intrepid Theatre

Shawn Sagady – “October Sky,” The Old Globe

 

DIRECTING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Direction of a Play

Rob Lutfy – “When the Rain Stops Falling,” Cygnet Theatre

Kathleen Marshall – “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” The Old Globe

Jennifer Nelson – “Seven Guitars”/”King Hedley II,” Cygnet Theatre

Glenn Paris & Claudio Raygoza – “The Normal Heart,” ion theatre

Christy Yael-Cox, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Intrepid Theatre

 

Outstanding Direction of a Musical

Stephen Brotebeck – “The Drowsy Chaperone,” SDSU School of Theatre, TV & Film

Barbara Gaines – “Sense and Sensibility,” The Old Globe

Colleen Kollar Smith – “Big River,” New Village Arts

Sean Murray – “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show,” Cygnet Theatre

Glenn Paris & Kim Strassburger – “Sunday in the Park with George,” ion theatre

                                             

PRODUCTION CATEGORIES

Outstanding New Play

“Damascus” by Bennett Fisher – Wagner New Play Festival, University of California, San Diego

“Junk: The Golden Age of Debt” by Ayad Akhtar, La Jolla Playhouse

“The Last Match” by Anna Ziegler, The Old Globe

“The Last Tiger in Haiti” by Jeff Augustin, La Jolla Playhouse

“Manifest Destinitis” by Herbert Siguenza, San Diego Repertory Theatre

 

Outstanding Touring Production

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” Broadway/San Diego

“Cabaret,” Broadway/San Diego

“Maestro,” 88 Entertainment at San Diego Repertory Theatre

“The Metromaniacs,” The Old Globe

“1918” – Le Moana, San Diego International Fringe Festival

 

Outstanding Dramatic Production

“Disgraced,” San Diego Repertory Theatre

“Love’s Labor’s Lost,” The Old Globe

“The Normal Heart,” Ion Theatre

“Seven Guitars”/”King Hedley II,” Cygnet Theatre

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Intrepid Theatre

 

Outstanding Resident Musical

“Gypsy,” Cygnet Theatre

“Lizard Boy,” Diversionary Theatre

“October Sky,” The Old Globe

“Ragtime,” San Diego Musical Theatre

“Sunday in the Park with George,” ion theatre

“Titanic: The Musical,” Moonlight Stage Productions

 

SPECIAL CATEGORIES winners to be announced from the stage

Outstanding Young Artist Award & Sandra Ellis-Troy Scholarship

Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work by a Small Theater

Actor of the Year, Male

Actor of the Year, Female

Designer of the Year

 

Bill Eadie

Bill Eadie

In addition to reviewing theatre for San Diego Story, Bill also reviews for TalkinBroadway.com. He is a member of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle and the American Theatre Critics Association. Bill is an emeritus professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University.

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