Back to the SALT mine: Among the attendees of the 2009 awards show were Kitchen Theatre Company’s artistic director Rachel Lampert (above right, with local thespian Frank Fiumano lurking in the background)
Closer to home there’s a cresting wave of all new names: Theresa Constantine for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Erin Race for Bash, Susan Blumer for James Joyce’s The Dead, Jimmy Curtin for Ruthless! The Musical, Jillian Dailey for My Name is Rachel Corrie and Alex Gherardi, Dan Williams, Danielle Nash and Carmen Viviano-Crafts for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The Talent Company’s 2009 gamble on very young performers paid off with four citations: Maria Pedro, Tim Quartier and Chad Healy for West Side Story and Julia Goodwin, the youngest nominee ever, for Ruthless! It’s not just the odds but the numbers. Some of the first-timers have to win.
In two categories, all the nominees are first-timers. For Leading Actress in a Community Theater Musical: Aubry Ludington Panek in The Dead, Julia Berger and Julia Goodwin in Ruthless!, Danielle Nash in Spelling Bee and Brandi Ozark Weston in White Christmas. So too for Supporting Actor in a Play: Wil Szczech, Phil Davoli and Josh Canfield, all in The Pillowman, and Keegan Lounsberry in Werewolf.
This does not mean perennial favorites have been shunned. For community musicals and dramas the leading contenders for Best Director are John Nara, Dan Tursi and David R. Witanowski, although Garrett Heater, director of Simply New’s Talking With. . . , elbowed his way into the Best Play category.
Previous winners Kevin McNamara, Dana Sovocool, Lorraine Grande, Shannon Tompkins, Christine Lightcap, Michael O’Neill, Navroz Dabu, Karen Procopio and Josh Smith are up again, as is Michael Spinoso for Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a role for which he owns the franchise. Two SALT Academy favorites enjoy multiple nominations. Binaifer Dabu is cited for a leading role in Talking With. . . , and twice for supporting roles, in Lend Me a Tenor and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, meaning she has to compete against herself in that category. Bill Molesky is up for the lead in Trumbo and as supporting actor in The Dead.
Dustin Charles, Crystal Rona Peterson, Mark Bader, Morgan Reis and Joshua Murphy in Cortland Repertory Theatre’s Unnecessary Farce.
Heartening in this year’s nominations is the recognition given to performers long on the scene, much admired for work they did before the launching of the SALT Awards. These would include Brandi Ozark Weston and Gary Troy for White Christmas, Aubry Ludington Panek for The Dead, Shaun Forster in Mid-Life!: The Crisis Musical and J. Brazill for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
An encouraging sign for the vitality in local theater culture is the strong competition for Best Original New Production, several of which were genuine box-office successes. These are Lauren Unbekant’s Woman in a Blue Dress with leading lady Kathleen Wrinn up for Best Actress, Len Fonte’s Werewolf with Keegan Lounsberry nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Mark Cole’s An Evening with Alan and Lawrence and Kyle Bass’ Spoons.
Stalwarts who are there when a director needs them but are not always given the merit they deserve are up for awards. These are Anne Fitzgerald for Poor Superman, Joe Pierce for The Dead and Rosemary Palladino-Leone for Talking With. . . .
SALT Academy members are still paying close attention to out-of-town companies. Ithaca’s year-round professional troupe, the 73-seat Kitchen Theatre Company, is recognized twice. Its deconstructionist comedy Gutenberg: The Musical is competing with Syracuse Stage offerings for Best Professional Production, with longtime artistic director Rachel Lampert also nominated for Best Director along with a crew from 820 E. Genesee St. Nominations are distributed fairly evenly among the three summer companies, Auburn’s Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Ithaca’s Hangar Theatre and Cortland Repertory Theatre. But Cortland Rep, the smallest of the three, snagged three out of four slots for Best Actor, with Dominic Varney for Damn Yankees, Brian Runbeck for Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and Dustin Charles for Unnecessary Farce.
Runbeck’s nomination, along with the Gross Indecency nod, are also interesting as they puncture the urban legend that Syracuse New Times coverage has an undue influence on Academy voting. Both Runbeck’s performance and the show were panned in these pages, perhaps unjustly. This never stopped SALT voters from making up their own minds about them.
Clockwise from above photo, the cast of The Talent Company’s West Side Story
The Syracuse New Times SALT Awards will be presented on Sunday, April 25, 7 p.m., at Eastwood’s Palace Theatre, 2384 James St. The theater’s lobby will hold a reception from 5 to 6:45 p.m., as well as an after-party at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door or $20 by mail using check or credit card to: New Times SALT Tickets, 1415 W. Genesee St., Syracuse 13204. For information, call
422-7011, Ext. 125.
All About SALT
The voting for most of the SALT Awards is done by the SALT Academy, which consists of various theater enthusiasts who attend a large number of productions all year long. The Academy has nearly 100 people whose identities are kept confidential to avoid pressures from any theater group.
There are currently several openings for additional Academy members. If you would be interested in joining the Academy, e-mail to Art Zimmer, SALT President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cast of Wit’s End’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. (Michael Davis Photo)
Josh Mele and Michael O’Neill in Wit’s End Players’ Glengarry Glen Ross. (Michael Davis Photo)
Play of the Year: The Diary of Anne Frank, Crowns, Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Syracuse Stage); Gutenberg: The Musical (Kitchen Theatre Company), Little Women (Syracuse Stage/Syracuse University Drama Department).
Director of the Year: Timothy Bond, Rachel Lampert, Patdro Harris, Anthony Salatino.
Play of the Year: Glengarry Glen Ross (Wit’s End Players); My Name is Rachel Corrie, The Pillowman, Talking With. . . , Trumbo (Simply New Theatre); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Appleseed Productions).
Musical of the Year: James Joyce’s The Dead (Simply New); Ruthless! The Musical (Talent Company); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Wit’s End); West Side Story, White Christmas (Talent Company).
Leading Actress in a Musical: Julia Berger, Julia Goodwin, Ruthless! (Talent Company), Danielle Nash, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End), Aubry Ludington Panek, The Dead (Simply New), Brandi Ozark Weston, White Christmas (Talent Company).
Supporting Actress in a Musical: Susan Blumer, Lorraine Grande, The Dead (Simply New); Christine Lightcap, White Christmas (Talent Company); Maria Pedro, West Side Story (Talent Company); Carmen Viviano-Crafts, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End).
Leading Actor in a Musical: Jimmy Curtin, Ruthless! (Talent Company); Kevin McNamara, The Dead (Simply New); Tim Quartier, West Side Story (Talent Company); Dana Sovocool, A Christmas Survival Guide (Rarely Done Productions); Gary Troy, White Christmas (Talent Company); Dan Williams, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End).
Supporting Actor in a Musical: Shaun Forster, Mid-Life!: The Crisis Musical (Rarely Done); Alex Gherardi, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End); Chad Healy, West Side Story (Talent Company); Bill Molesky, Joe Pierce, The Dead (Simply New); Michael Spinoso, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Appleseed).
Leading Actress in a Play: Theresa Constantine, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Appleseed); Binaifer Dabu, Talking With. . . (Simply New); Jillian Dailey, My Name is Rachel Corrie (Simply New); Kathleen Wrinn, Woman in the Blue Dress (Syracuse Stage).
Supporting Actress in a Play: Binaifer Dabu, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Appleseed); Binaifer Dabu, Lend Me A Tenor (Appleseed); Anne Fitzgerald, Poor Superman (Rarely Done); Rosemary Palladino-Leone, Talking With. . . (Simply New); Erin Race, Bash (Rarely Done).
Leading Actor in a Play: J. Brazill, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Appleseed); Garrett Heater, The Pillowman (Simply New); Bill Molesky, Trumbo (Simply New); Michael O’Neill, Glengarry Glen Ross (Wit’s End).
Supporting Actor in a Play: Josh Canfield, Phil Davoli, Wil Szczech, The Pillowman (Simply New); Keegan Lounsberry, Werewolf (Rarely Done).
Director of the Year/Play: Garrett Heater, John Nara, Dan Tursi, David R. Witanowski.
Director of the Year/Musical: John Nara, Dan Tursi, David R. Witanowski.
Musical Director of the Year: Nadine Cole, Roy George, Catherine Rush Osinski, Josh Smith.
Choreographer of the Year: Jodi Bova, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End); Michael Groesbeck, White Christmas (Talent Company); Daniel Lake, West Side Story (Talent Company); Anthony Salatino, Little Women (Syracuse Stage/SU Drama); Shannon Tompkins, The Dead (Simply New).
Costumer of the Year: Garrett Heater, The Dead (Simply New); Jeanette Reyner, Ruthless! (Talent Company); Debra Ritchey, Valley of the Dolls (Rarely Done); Eugene Taddeo, White Christmas (Talent Company).
Best Original New Production: An Evening with Alan & Lawrence (Studio 24); Spoons (Appleseed); Werewolf (Rarely Done); Woman in the Blue Dress (Syracuse Stage).
Non-Performing Person of the Year: Navroz Dabu, Marguerite Hickernell, Patricia Marzola, Karen Procopio, Ian Walsh.
Production of the Season: A Chorus Line (Merry-Go-Round), Dirty Blonde (Hangar Theatre), Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (Cortland Repertory Theatre), Rent (Hangar), Unnecessary Farce (Cortland Rep).
Actress of the Season: Julia Cardia, No, No, Nanette (MGR); Elizabeth Earley, A Chorus Line (MGR); Emily Skinner, Dirty Blonde (Hangar); Catherine Stephani, Rent (Hangar).
Actor of the Season: Kevin Carolan, Dirty Blonde (Hangar); Dustin Charles, Unnecessary Farce (CRT); Brian Runbeck, Gross Indecency (CRT); Dominic Varney, Damn Yankees (CRT).
SANDRA HAASE AWARD
Patricia Catchouny, Barry Nicholas, Dan Randall, Jeanette Reynor, Emmett Van Slyke
Bob Brown, Brenda Neuss, Neil Novelli, Dan Tursi.
HALL OF FAME
(No Longer Active)
Earl Colvin, Dan Dossert, Joe Lotito, Millie Sovik, Arthur Storch.