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And the AUDELCO nomination goes to ...

Linda Armstrong | 11/5/2015, 1:56 p.m.
In 2014 and 2015, Black theater has shined so brightly.
AUDELCO nominations Bill Moore photos

In 2014 and 2015, Black theater has shined so brightly. Well, it is near time to recognize the amazing and powerful works of African-Americans in Theater, which means that it’s time for the 43rd annual AUDELCO Awards, the Vivian Robinson AUDELCO Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black theater. The awards will take place at Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, Monday, Nov.16. The nominees for these prestigious honors were recently announced.

Leading the nominations is “Our Lady of Kibeho,” a Signature Theatre production, with 10 nominations: dramatic production of the year; playwright, Katori Hall; director/dramatic production, Michael Grelf; lead actress, Nneka Okafor; lead actor, Owiso Odera; supporting actress, Starla Benford; supporting actor, Brent Jennings; sound design, Matt Tierney; costume design, Emily Rebholz; and lighting design, Ben Stanton.

Coming in with nine nominations is “While I Yet Live” from Primary Stages. This incredible drama shared the powerful and difficult personal life story of Tony Award winner Billy Porter, as he showed what it was like to grow up a Black, gay young man. It is nominated in the categories of dramatic production of the year; playwright, Billy Porter; director/dramatic production, Sheryl Kaller; lead actress, S. Epatha Merkerson; supporting actress, Sheria Irving; sound design, Leon Rothenberg; costume design, Esosa; set design, James Noone; and lighting design, Kevin Adams. “While I Yet Live” was a moving production to watch and it demonstrated the inner strength that Porter possesses. I fervently hope that there is a time in the future when this production can be remounted.

Brooklyn’s own Billie Holiday Theatre has eight nominations for “Brothers From the Bottom.” The production is vying for best revival; lead actor, Wendell Pierce; supporting actress, Toccarra Cash; supporting actor, Kevin Mambo; sound design, Doug Forbes; costume design, Helen L. Simmons-Collen; set design, Felix E. Cochran; and lighting design, Joyce Liao. “Brothers From the Bottom” revealed to the audience the horrors of gentrification and the life that this practice took on in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The cast that performed in this revival definitely did the work justice.

Three productions tie with seven nominations. “Flambeaux” from the Obsidian Media Group/Braata Productions, “Carnaval” from the National Black Theatre and “Brownsville Song (b-side for Tray),” a Lincoln Center Theatre 3 production. “Flambeaux” is nominated for musical production of the year; director/musical production, Lawrence Floyd; outstanding musical director, Jeff Bolding; choreography, Juson Williams; outstanding performance in a musical-male, J. Bernard Calloway; and outstanding performance in a musical-female, Althea Alexis and Markita Prescott.

“Carnaval” is nominated for dramatic production of the year; outstanding ensemble performance; playwright, Nikkole Salter; director/dramatic production, Awoye Timpo; sound design, Eric Sluyter; costume design, Latoya Murray-Berry; and set design, Daniel Zimmerman.

“Brownsville Song (b-side for Tray)” was a stirringly poignant production that vividly depicted what can happen to a young life in the ghetto, how it can be snuffed out because a person is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every time a young man is killed, he is not a bad kid doing the wrong thing. This production was rendered with great passion by a talented cast. The show is up for dramatic production of the year; playwright, Kimber Lee; director/dramatic production, Patricia McGregor; lead actress, Lizan Mitchell (who started the production off with one of the most incredible, touching monologues you could have ever heard); sound design, Asa Weember; set design, Andromache Chalfant; and lighting design, Jiyoun Chang.