Former Syracuse New Times publisher Art Zimmer, who created the SALT Awards, was not present, but speaker after speaker heaped praise on his vision. Incoming New Times publisher Bill Brod never skipped a beat. Appearing with his wife Lisette and their children Kelsey and Hannah, along with family friends Melissa Cady, Jillian Cady and Katelyn Parella, the tuxedoed Brod pledged his support to the continuation of the awards and to the theater community of Central New York.
As in other years, people tended to cluster around different companies and certain shows. Tamaralee Shutt and many of the cast of Appleseed Productions’ Della’s Diner: Blue Plate Special seemed to be having the most fun in their Alabama polyester costumes, even for a show that wasn’t nominated. Talent Company diva Christine Lightcap knocked ’em dead with her hot pink meringue gown designed by Eugene Taddeo, who incidentally won for the best costumes in White Christmas.
SALT voters rewarded a number of favorites, like Anthony Salatino of Syracuse Stage’s Little Women as best director of a professional production, and two perennial community theater directors, Dan Tursi for musical and John Nara for drama. They competed against each other in both categories, and both were busy all year in a number of shows. But breakaway newcomers still won the supporting performance trophies, Erin Race for Bash and Chad Healy for West Side Story.
Academy members also appeared to be making up for lost time in recognizing performers who had achieved much success before the initiation of the SALT Awards in 2004. Aubry Ludington Panek’s radiant Gretta from James Joyce’s The Dead would have been a winner in any event, but voters surely remembered her string of hits in the 1990s. Similarly, out-of-towner Gary Troy wowed audiences as Phil in White Christmas, especially the dance numbers with Brandi Ozark Weston, but who knows how many voters were remembering his many daredevil appearances (dancing on the old Salt City Center’s balcony railing) in Me and My Gal?
Tops among the emotional highlights was Bob Brown’s tribute to the late Joe Lotito of Salt City Center for the Performing Arts. It was a great night for that company as Brown was later given the Lifetime Achievement Award. And Lotito was inducted into the SALT Hall of Fame. Joe’s children, Joe Jr. and Mary Esposito, accepted for him, quoting Steve Nicholas’ eulogy from last fall’s funeral, “Not just a dreamer but the cause of others achieving their dreams.”
Presenting the Hall of Fame award was veteran player Shirley Fenner, widow of Gerald F. Reidenbaugh. Starting more than a half-century ago, the Reidenbaughs were present at the creation of several local traditions, including Salt City Center. Fenner mused that after leaving town for greener climes in the Adirondacks and warmer ones in North Carolina, she has learned that you can indeed go home again and was pleased to be back on the boards.
Other presenters included Karin Franklin King, who adopted an operatic style to sing the names for leading actor in a musical. Earlier in the evening Jimmie Wachter as Barbra Streisand presented three People’s Choice Awards. Wachter’s Barbra won an award last year, but this year when he suffered a poke from a microphone mishap only his maleness spoke.
As with the better-known Oscars and Tonys, lengthy acceptance speeches still provided more gratitude than many audiences wanted to hear. Perhaps we can designate yet another trophy for people with short, modest acceptance speeches.
SYRACUSE AREA LIVE THEATER 2010 AWARD WINNERS
Play of the Year: Little Women (Syracuse Stage/Syracuse University Drama Department).
Other nominees: Crowns, The Diary of Anne Frank, Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Syracuse Stage); Gutenberg: The Musical (Kitchen Theatre Company).
Director of the Year: Anthony Salatino.
Other nominees: Timothy Bond, Rachel Lampert, Patdro Harris.
Play of the Year: The Pillowman (Simply New).
Other nominees: Glengarry Glen Ross (Wit’s End Players); My Name is Rachel Corrie, 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).
Other nominees: Ruthless! The Musical, West Side Story, White Christmas (Talent Company), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Wit’s End).
Leading Actress in a Musical: Aubry Ludington Panek, James Joyce’s The Dead (Simply New).
Other nominees: Julia Berger, Julia Goodwin, Ruthless! (Talent Company), Danielle Nash, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End), Brandi Ozark Weston, White Christmas (Talent Company).
Supporting Actress in a Musical: Carmen Viviano-Crafts, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Wit’s End).
Other nominees: Susan Blumer, Lorraine Grande, The Dead (Simply New); Christine Lightcap, White Christmas (Talent Company); Maria Pedro, West Side Story (Talent Company).
Leading Actor in a Musical: Gary Troy, White Christmas (Talent Company).
Other nominees: 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); Dan Williams, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End).
Supporting Actor in a Musical: Chad Healy, West Side Story (Talent Company).
Other nominees: Shaun Forster, Mid-Life!: The Crisis Musical (Rarely Done); Alex Gherardi, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End); 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: Jillian Dailey, My Name is Rachel Corrie (Simply New).
Other nominees: Theresa Constantine, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Appleseed); Binaifer Dabu, Talking With. . . (Simply New); Kathleen Wrinn, Woman in the Blue Dress (Syracuse Stage).
Supporting Actress in a Play: Erin Race, Bash (Rarely Done).
Other nominees: 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).
Leading Actor in a Play: Garrett Heater, The Pillowman (Simply New).
Other nominees: J. Brazill, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Appleseed); Bill Molesky, Trumbo (Simply New); Michael O’Neill, Glengarry Glen Ross (Wit’s End).
Supporting Actor in a Play: Wil Szczech, The Pillowman (Simply New).
Other nominees: Josh Canfield, Phil Davoli, The Pillowman (Simply New); Keegan Lounsberry, Werewolf (Rarely Done).
Director of the Year/Play: John Nara.
Other nominees: Garrett Heater, Dan Tursi, David R. Witanowski.
Director of the Year/Musical: Dan Tursi.
Other nominees: John Nara, David R. Witanowski.
Musical Director of the Year:
Catherine Rush Osinski.
Other nominees: Nadine Cole, Roy George, Josh Smith.
Non-Performing Person of the Year: Karen Procopio.
Other nominees: Navroz Dabu, Marguerite Hickernell, Patricia Marzola, Ian Walsh.
Production of the Season: Rent (Hangar Theatre).
Other nominees: A Chorus Line (Merry-Go-Round Playhouse), Dirty Blonde (Hangar Theatre), Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Unnecessary Farce (Cortland Repertory Theatre).
Actress of the Season: Catherine Stefani, Rent (Hangar).
Other nominees: Julia Cardia, No, No, Nanette (MGR); Elizabeth Earley, A Chorus Line (MGR); Emily Skinner, Dirty Blonde (Hangar).
Actor of the Season: Brian Runbeck, Gross Indecency (Cortland Repertory).
Other nominees: Kevin Carolan, Dirty Blonde (Hangar); Dustin Charles, Unnecessary Farce (CRT); Dominic Varney, Damn Yankees (CRT).
Other nominees: Neil Novelli, Dan Tursi, Brenda Neuss.
HALL OF FAME
(No Longer Active)
Other nominees: Arthur Storch, Millie Sovik, Dan Dossert, Earl Colvin.
CHOREOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Michael Groesbeck, White Christmas (Talent Company).
Other nominees: Jodi Bova, Spelling Bee (Wit’s End); 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
Eugene Taddeo, White Christmas (Talent Company).
Other nominees: Garrett Heater, The Dead (Simply New); Jeanette Reyner, Ruthless!: The Musical (Talent Company); Debra Ritchey, Valley of the Dolls (Rarely Done).
BEST ORIGINAL NEW PRODUCTION
Werewolf (Rarely Done).
Other nominees: An Evening with Alan & Lawrence (Studio 24); Spoons (Appleseed); Woman in a Blue Dress (Syracuse Stage).
SANDRA C. HAASE AWARD
Other nominees: Patricia Catchouny, Dan Randall, Jeanette Reyner, Emmett Van Slyke.
2010 PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS
Production of the Year: Ruthless! The Musical (Talent Company)
Other nominees: A Chorus Line (Merry-Go-Round), Carrie: The Musical (Rarely Done), James Joyce’s The Dead (Simply New), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Appleseed), White Christmas (Talent Company).
Actress of the Year: Julia Goodwin
Other nominees: Theresa Constantine, Elizabeth Earley, Katie Gibson, Christine Lightcap, Aubry Ludington Panek.
Actor of the Year: Jimmy Curtin
Other nominees: Bob Brown, J. Brazill, David Simmons, Dana Sovocool, James Uva.
2010 SALT SCHOLARSHIP AWARD
Brian Scott, C.W. Baker High School, Musical Theater.
Jesse Pardee, West Genesee High School, Musical Theater.
Gabrielle Petrosino, Auburn High School, Playwriting.
Other nominees: Christine Cody, Jamesville-Dewitt High School; Gabrielle Gorman, Nottingham High School; Lauren Gruenberg, Manlius Pebble Hill; Danielle Lily Nash, Fayetteville-Manlius High School; Lauren Rose Puente, Tully High School; Ashley Squairs, C.W. Baker High School.