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Sonoma County Theater honored for Excellence and Achievement

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Sonoma County Theater honored for Excellence and Achievement

The San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle celebrated theater excellence at its annual gala awards ceremony March 9, 2015 in San Francisco. Actor/comedian/playwright Reed Martin and dancer/choreographer/playwright Robert Henry Johnson served as hosts. Bryn Carlson, the reigning Miss Golden Gate, served as hostess for the event held at the Victoria Theatre, said to be the oldest continually operating theater in the city. More than 350 theater people attended the celebration, sponsored by the Actors' Equity Association.

The SFBATCC, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and recognizing excellence in theater arts in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, celebrated its 39th consecutive year presenting awards to Bay Area theater companies for dramas, comedies and musicals. This year's awards program included 22 separate categories representing excellence in production, performance, music, choreography, design and technical and creative specialties for stage productions presented in 2014. Critics Circle awards are presented in three tiers, determined by size of theater.

There were 64 award recipients including awards for Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theatre for “Ensemble” for Of Mice and Men, a choreography award for Joseph Favalora for Fiddler on the Roof and a Music Direction Award for Mary Chun’s work on The Marriage of Figaro.  Rohnert Park’s Spreckels Theatre Company took home four awards, including Performance Awards for Jeff Cote’ as the title character in The Book of Matthew (Leibowitz), Mary Gannon Graham for her featured role in Bell, Book and Candle, and Denise Elia–Yen for the lead role in Annie Get Your Gun. Janis Wilson received a Musical Direction Award for the same show.

Sebastopol’s Main Stage West had three productions recognized with Vanya & Sonya & Masha & Spike’s Tyler Costin receiving a featured performance award. Albert Casselhoff’s Sound Design work on T.I.C. Trenchcoat in Common and Si Kahn’s Original Music for Mother Jones in Heaven also received Awards.

Joseph Favalora, choreographer at 6th Street PlayhouseSanta Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse’s Thoroughly Modern Millie was the most recognized Sonoma County production with four awards including awards for Joseph Favalora’s choreography, Evan Attwood’s featured performance, and principal actors Anthony Guzman and Rebekah Pearson. Other 6th Street artists recognized included Nathan Riebli’s Music Direction for Grease, Jesse Dreikosen for The Glass Menagerie’s Set Design, and Abbey Lee for her featured performance in Victor/Victoria

The SFBATCC also presented special achievement awards to the Pear Avenue Theatre of Mountain View; performance artist/playwright Marga Gomez of San Francisco; and playwright/actor/director Dezi Gallegos of Petaluma. Gallegos was honored with the Circle’s inaugural Annette Lust Award, in recognition of his “promise and potential” in theatre. Margie Belrose of San Rafael received a two-minute standing ovation when she accepted a lifetime achievement award honoring her contributions as dance and drama teacher, actress, director, producer and as owner and operator of The Belrose Theatre, located at 5th Avenue in San Rafael since 1962.

"This year's awards gala prompted nearly-universal praise from hundreds of attendees," said SFBATCC President Barry Willis. "We owe a huge debt to Critics Circle member (and Sonoma County Gazette Reviewer) Harry Duke, who put in an ungodly number of hours organizing and promoting the event. Circle VP Linda Ayers-Frederick also went above and beyond with securing the theater and necessary licenses, and arranging the feast. The entire theater community is eager to see what we'll do next year, our 40th anniversary."

The SFBATCC has approximately two dozen members dedicated to promoting and recognizing excellence in theater arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sonoma County-based members of the Critics Circle include the afore-mentioned Harry Duke, Greg and Suzanne Angeo, Ken Bullock and David Templeton.   

For more about the SFBATCC and to read the entire list of 2014 nominations and award recipients, visit www.sfbatcc.org

Photos by Colin Hussey

REVIEWS by Harry Duke

REVIEWS by Greg and Suzanne Angeo