• Cristee Cook

Even in a global pandemic, the show must go on.

By Cristee Cook


Two summers ago, I sat alone in my car, excited and contemplative, after seeing a fascinating play in Dallas. I was hungry to talk to someone about what I’d just experienced. After a long personal hiatus from theatre, I had been reminded of what makes it such a magical and transportive art form, and I wanted to carry that energy with me after I left the performance space. That’s when the idea of Dallas Art Beat was born. I ultimately launched the blog in late July 2019, and let’s just say Dallas Art Beat’s first year has been a hell of a ride.

When the pandemic hit and all the shutdowns started, I went through the same process that everyone did. I had the same questions. What do we do now? How will we get through this? What is Dallas Art Beat’s place in this experience, and how can I make something positive out of an upending global crisis? Dallas Art Beat was welcomed by the D/FW theatre community with open arms, so I decided to keep going and be as supportive as possible – despite so much uncertainty.

When Mark Lowry from TheaterJones invited Dallas Art Beat to take part in this year’s Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards, I embraced the opportunity. Because even out of all the devastation that Covid19 has caused, an enduring truth has emerged: creative people will find a way to create, no matter the circumstances. Here was a chance to honor that determination and grit in a tangible way.


McClendon "Mickey" Giles as Mlima in MLIMA'S TALE at Second Thought Theatre | Photo Credit: Evan Michael Woods

Being a part of the critic’s forum was a great experience. We laughed, reminisced about being in a theatre space with other human beings, and enjoyed discussing the wonderful theatre in D/FW. In past years, the forum has gathered for lunch and cocktails at a member’s home, but of course this year, it was all virtual. Still, it was stimulating and nurturing to chat about art with new colleagues. (Thanks, everyone!)

And even though we lost half of the theatre season, we still had a large list of productions to go through – another testament to the lively and diverse theatre scene in D/FW. In that spirit, Dallas Art Beat is excited to announce the winners of the 2019-2020 Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards. The awards include live and virtual theatrical productions in D/FW that opened between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR


Jeffrey Colangelo and Kwame David Lilly | Everything Will Be Fine | Prism Movement Theater

Marianne Galloway | The Lifespan of a Fact | Stage West

Sorany Gutiérrez | Villa | Teatro Dallas

Tina Parker | a love offering | Kitchen Dog Theater

Susan Sargeant | Two by Beckett: Footfalls and Not I | WingSpan Theatre Company

Kara-Lynn Vaeni

  • Noises Off | Theatre Three

  • The Children | Stage West

Illana Stein | Hans & Sophie | Amphibian Stage

James Vasquez | In the Heights | Dallas Theater Center

Ashley H. White | Lizzie | Imprint Theatreworks

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR

Bill Bolender | Mrs. Haggardly | Ochre House Theatre

Michael Federico

  • Noises Off | Theatre Three

  • Romeo and Juliet | Fair Assembly

McClendon “Mickey” Giles | Mlima’s Tale | Second Thought Theatre

Bob Hess

  • The Children | Stage West

  • I Am My Own Wife | WaterTower Theatre

Sean Hudock | Hans & Sophie | Amphibian Stage

Nick Leos | The Bippy Bobby Boo Show | Danielle Georgiou Dance Group in partnership with Theatre Three

Justin Locklear | The Bippy Bobby Boo Show | Danielle Georgiou Dance Group in partnership with Theatre Three

Tadeo Martinez | Noises Off | Theatre Three

Zander Pryor | Andi Boi | Dallas Children’s Theater

Christopher Llewyn Ramirez | In the Heights | Dallas Theater Center

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS


Devin Berg | Lizzie | Imprint Theatreworks

Rhonda Boutté | a love offering | Kitchen Dog Theater

Rebekah Brockman | Hans & Sophie | Amphibian Stage


Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso

  • Queen of Basel | Kitchen Dog Theater

  • Madame Bovary | Undermain Theatre

Jennifer Kuenzer | Footfalls | WingSpan Theatre Company


Kelsey Milbourn

  • Ada and the Engine | Stage West

  • Everything Will Be Fine | Prism Movement Company

  • The Thanksgiving Play | Undermain Theatre

Susan Sargeant | Not I | WingSpan Theatre Company

Jaquai Wade Pearson | Romeo and Juliet | Fair Assembly

Catherine Whiteman | Dot | Soul Rep Theatre Company


Jennifer Kuenzer in FOOTFALLS at WingSpan Theatre Company | Photo credit: Lowell Sargeant

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ENSEMBLE CAST


Everything Will Be Fine | Prism Movement Theater

In the Heights | Dallas Theater Center

Lizzie | Imprint Theatreworks

Mrs. Haggardly | Ochre House Theatre

Noises Off | Theatre Three

Playwrights in the Newsroom | AT&T Performing Arts Center Elevator Project

The Children | Stage West

Villa | Teatro Dallas

OUTSTANDING DESIGN OR CREATIVE CONTRIBUTION


Nick Brethauer

  • Set Design | Villa | Teatro Dallas

  • Set Design | Two by Beckett: Footfalls and Not I | WingSpan Theatre Company

Design Team | Hans & Sophie | Amphibian Stage

Design Team | Red Chariot | Undermain Theatre

Tara Houston | Set Design | Swimming While Drowning | Cara Mia Theatre Company

Rebecca Lowrey | Music Direction | Lizzie | Imprint Theatreworks

Jeffrey Schmidt | Set Design | Noises Off | Theatre Three

Will Turbyne | Set Design | The Children | Stage West

Jessie Wallace | Costume Design | Lizzie | Imprint Theatreworks

Nigel Newton | Original Music and Music Performance | Mlima’s Tale | Second Thought Theatre

Mason York | Sound Design | Mlima’s Tale | Second Thought Theatre

Sara Bollinger, Devan Bell, Rachel Francis, Gilbert Glenn, Bree Hill and Rebecca Lowrey (onstage band) | Music Performance | Lizzie | Imprint Theatreworks


OUTSTANDING NEW PLAY OR MUSICAL


Alabaster | Audrey Cefaly | Kitchen Dog Theater (National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere)

Andi Boi | Bruce R. Coleman | Dallas Children’s Theater (Co-produced with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and in partnership with First Unitarian Church of Dallas)

Everything Will Be Fine | Zoe Kerr | Prism Movement Theater

Hans & Sophie | Deborah Yarchun, Sean Hudock, and Illana Stein | Amphibian Stage

a love offering | Jonathan Norton | Kitchen Dog Theater

Mrs. Haggardly | Matthew Posey | Ochre House Theater

OUTSTANDING TOURING PRODUCTIONS


The Band’s Visit | AT&T Performing Arts Center and Dallas Summer Musicals

Come from Away | Dallas Summer Musicals

Once on This Island | AT&T Performing Arts Center

SPECIAL CITATIONS


To Isa Zhanbolot, Brandon Coleman and the teams from Grob Technologies, Inc., and Dev-Team, Inc. that created the 3D Animation and Augmented Reality App used at the end of Bruce R. Coleman’s play Andi Boi at Dallas Children’s Theater, allowing the audience to play along with a fictional game played by the teenagers in the story.


To Amphibian Stage Productions and artistic director Kathleen Culebro, for their years-long commitment to the well-being of North Texas veterans and their families through the nationally recognized DE-CRUIT program founded by actor-veteran Stephan Wolfert. Using acting, stage work and other tools from the theater arts, DE-CRUIT group classes (and now online sessions) "treat trauma through Shakespeare and science" — and give veterans the life skills and self-awareness they need to begin the work of recovery, and to reconnect with the community around them.

To Jeffrey Schmidt, artistic director of Theatre Three, for filming the play The Immigrant with a technique no other theater company has used during the pandemic: The actors were filmed separately in front of a green screen at the theater, using social distancing and masks when other cast and crew members were in the space, and for creating the scenic illustrations and fusing it together for a seamless digital performance.

For many theatergoers, Prism Movement Theater’s drive-in show Everything Will Be Fine was our first live performance after the pandemic began. With a deeply present nonverbal narrative and beautiful choreography, the out-of-the-box play (performed at two venues in Dallas, and currently in Fort Worth) filled our hearts with the hope and magic that only live performance can bring.

The primitive paintings of animals in Kitchen Dog Theater’s Alabaster — a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere — lining the set helped create an authentic atmosphere for this play about a reclusive amateur folk artist whose work is made on shards of wood caused by a tornado that devastated her family. The paintings were a group project of the cast, crew and friends.

To Amy Stevenson for founding and hosting Mama’s Party, a live music staple in DFW since 2006. The cabaret has regularly showcased up-and-coming talent, established professionals, tour casts, and local favorites, occasionally with a fundraising component, and even transitioned to online during the pandemic.


__________________________

Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards Members in attendance:

Cristee Cook -- Dallas Art Beat

Janice L. Franklin -- TheaterJones

Jan Farrington -- TheaterJones

Martha Heimberg -- Dallas Weekly and TheaterJones

Arnold Wayne Jones -- Dallas Voice

Mark Lowry -- TheaterJones

Manny Mendoza -- Dallas Morning News

Jill Sweeney -- TheaterJones

Lindsey Wilson -- CultureMap and Arts & Culture Texas

Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum is an organization of professional, paid critics that recognizes outstanding theatrical contributions in North Texas. Members see 40 or more productions per season (Sept. 1-Aug. 31) and are not practicing theater artists.

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© 2019 by Christina Cook. All Right Reserved.