`L!v!c!', `Cabaret' Each Take 5 Barrymores

Posted: October 22, 1996

The Philadelphia Theatre Company's Love! Valour! Compassion! and the Walnut Street Theatre's Cabaret were the big winners last night in the second annual Barrymore Awards, presented before a sold-out house in the Annenberg Center's Zellerbach Theatre. The awards honored achievements by Philadelphia-area professional, nonprofit theaters during the 1995-96 season.

L!V!C!, Terrence McNally's touching comedy about seven gay men who gather in a lakeside house over three holiday weekends, won five awards including best production of a play. It also was honored as the season's best ensemble production and for its direction by Charles Karchmer; its supporting performance by Edward Hibbert as a pair of diametrically different twin brothers; and its lighting.

Cabaret, the caustic musical that played the Walnut as last year's holiday show, was named best production of a musical. It also received five awards, honored for its direction by Bruce Lumpkin; its leading performance by Charles Abbott as the grinning emcee of the Kit Kat Klub; its supporting performance by Taina Elg as a lonely landlady; and its costumes.

The two plays' producers, the Philadelphia Theatre Company and the Walnut Street Theatre, led all companies with six awards apiece. Ironically, the two companies' final awards were the result of a tie in the voting for outstanding actress in a play.

That award was given jointly to Scotty Bloch, who played an adorable widow in the Philadelphia Theatre Company's Three Viewings, and Kathleen Doyle, for her role as an embittered mother in the Walnut Studio Theatre's production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. The prize for outstanding actor in a play went to veteran Philadelphia performer Frank X, who played a gay man with a curious chair fixation in the InterAct Theatre Company production of Lonely Planet.

The award for leading actress in a musical went to a performer in a show presented by a now-defunct company - Deborah Jean Templin in the Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre production of Nite Club Confidential. The show, which played several months in a basement theater in the Bourse, won critical applause but failed to attract an audience; the company went out of business soon afterward.

A major winner in the evening was Mum Puppettheatre, the tiny Manayunk company that won two Barrymores in last year's ceremonies. It captured three more prizes this year for its production of From the Ashes - one to artistic director Robert Smythe for choreography and the others to Adam Wernick for sound and original score. Accepting his award, Smythe thanked the Barrymore electors for ``recognizing the work of small theaters that do not fit into traditional categories.''

In all, 12 productions by 10 companies received awards for production, acting, direction and design, presented in 19 categories. The winners received medallions.

The awards ceremony also included the presentation of cash awards totaling $25,500. The major cash award, the $10,000 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist, was given to Philadelphia playwright Michael Hollinger, whose comedy Incorruptible was presented at the Arden Theatre Company last season. Judging from the applause that greeted his name, the choice was exceedingly popular.

The $5,000 CoreStates Award for Outstanding Community Service went to the Point Breeze Performing Arts Center, honored for its theater pieces dealing with social issues in the Point Breeze commu-nity. The $2,500 Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News Award for Excellence in Theater Education was conferred on Venture Theatre's Theatre for Learning, which brings an appreciation of theater to students in area public schools.

The Advanta Award for Outstanding New Play, which includes awards of $2,000 to both the playwright and the presenting theater company, went to Ernest Joselovitz's Vilna's Got a Golem, presented by the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays.

The recipient of the new-play award was chosen by the 40 electors who picked the rest of the Barrymore winners. Recipients of the other three cash awards were chosen by special panels.

The Barrymore steering committee also voted a special recognition award to Katharine ``Kitty'' Minehart, actress, director, teacher, and artistic director of the Germantown Theatre Guild. She was honored as ``a pioneer in the concept of creating interracial theater.''

As they did last year, the awards attracted a well-dressed crowd of theater professionals. The ceremony ran almost an hour longer than last year's two hours and, overall, was talkier and more serious. Midway through, however, it was considerably enlivened by excerpts from the five productions nominated as the season's best musical.

Also effective were the use of slides to illustrate nominations in many categories and, most especially, filmed interviews with the five nominees for the Haas Award. These vignettes, more than most of the acceptance speeches, best conveyed the artistic impulses that the evening was designed to celebrate.

Serving as emcees for the ceremonies were Philadelphia actors Grace Gonglewski, winner of last year's F. Otto Haas Award to an emerging theater artist, and Johnnie Hobbs Jr. Among the presenters were Zoe Caldwell, named best actress in a play last year for her performance in Master Class, and Charles Busch, the actor-playwright seen at the Wilma Theater two seasons ago in his own play You Should Be So Lucky.

Busch, best known for his roles in drag, appeared as a society matron miffed because her monetary support of Philadelphia theaters had not been acknowledged by the offer of a part in a production.

Honoring the theatrical Barrymore family and its associations with Philadelphia, the Barrymore Awards are presented by the Performing Arts League of Philadelphia, an umbrella group of more than 60 producing and presenting organizations. Winners are selected by a 40-member committee of theater professionals and theatergoers.

During the 1995-96 season, 95 productions by 31 theater companies were eligible for awards. To determine whether any element of a production merited consideration for an award, each eligible show was visited by a screening panel of seven electors. The full 40-member committee then visited all productions that survived this preliminary cut.

The Walnut Street Theatre musical Cabaret received the most nominations, nine, followed by the Arden Theatre Company's Falsettos and the Philadelphia Theatre Company's I Am a Man with seven apiece. The Philadelphia Theatre Company outdistanced all producing organizations with 19 nominations.

Seventeen of the 31 eligible theaters were nominated at least once.

Here is a list of Barrymore Award winners:

OVERALL PRODUCTION OF A PLAY: Love! Valour! Compassion!, Philadelphia Theatre Company.

OVERALL PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL: Cabaret, Walnut Street Theatre.

DIRECTION OF A PLAY: Charles Karchmer, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Philadelphia Theatre Company.

HAROLD PRINCE AWARD FOR DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL: Bruce Lumpkin, Cabaret, Walnut Street Theatre.

PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY: Frank X, Lonely Planet, InterAct Theatre Company.

PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY: A tie between Scotty Bloch, Three Viewings, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Kathleen Doyle, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Walnut Street Theatre Studio 3.

PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL: Charles Abbott, Cabaret, Walnut Street Theatre.

PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: Deborah Jean Templin, Nite Club Confidential, Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre.

PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY: Edward Hibbert, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Philadelphia Theatre Company.

PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY: Jennifer Childs, Escape From Happiness, Wilma Theater.

PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL: Stephen De Rosa, Falsettos, Arden Theatre.

PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: Taina Eng, Cabaret, Walnut Street Theatre.

CHOREOGRAPHY: Robert Smythe, From the Ashes, Mum Puppettheatre.

SET DESIGN: James F. Pyne Jr., The Life of Galileo, People's Light & Theatre Company.

LIGHTING DESIGN: Jeff Davis, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Philadelphia Theatre Company.

COSTUME DESIGN: Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, Cabaret, Walnut Street Theatre.

SOUND DESIGN: Adam Wernick, From the Ashes, Mum Puppettheatre.

ORIGINAL MUSIC: Adam Wernick, From the Ashes, Mum Puppettheatre.

ADVANTA AWARD FOR NEW PLAY: Vilna's Got a Golem, Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, by playwright Ernest Joselovitz.

ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE: Love! Valour! Compassion!, Philadelphia Theatre Company.

F. OTTO HAAS AWARD FOR AN EMERGING ARTIST: Playwright Michael Hollinger.

CORESTATES COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Point Breeze Performing Arts Center.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER AND DAILY NEWS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN THEATER EDUCATION: Venture Theatre's Theatre for Learning.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: Katharine Minehart, for running the Germantown Theatre Guild and other support of the theater.

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