Throughout the past theater season, Black actors, playwrights, directors and technical professionals have done amazing work, and there is one time of the year and one major event in New York City that acknowledges their work. It’s been going on for over four decades. Make plans to support Black theater and be proud of our achievements at the 41st annual Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black Theatre, being held Monday, Nov. 25 at Symphony Space’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater, located at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street. The AUDELCO Awards are always a Black theater reunion, and they are something wonderful to be experienced.
This year’s event co-chairs are thespians Aduke Aremu, Carmen de Lavallade, Jerome Preston Bates and Roscoe Orman. A special Pioneer Award will be presented to Lorna Littleway, and special achievement awards will be presented to Bishop Nathaniel Townsley and Lenora Fulani. The Rising Star Award will be presented to Andre “Chez” Lewis. This is an award that truly recognizes new talent. This is evident when you reflect on its first winner—actress Kerry Washington.
The nominations are out for this year’s AUDELCO Awards, and leading the pack is the late August Wilson’s production of “The Piano Lesson,” presented by Signature Theatre. It has 10 nominations, including Best Revival; Director/Dramatic Production—Ruben Santiago-Hudson; Lead Actress—Roslyn Ruff; Lead Actor—Brandon J. Dirden; two Supporting Actor nominations for Chuck Cooper and Jason Dirden; Lighting Design; Set Design; Costume Design; and Sound Design.
Four productions are tied with eight nominations each.
- “Iced Out, Shackled and Chained” from National Black Theatre is up for Dramatic Production of the Year; Outstanding Ensemble Performance; Playwrights—Kisha T. Spence and Mo Beasley; Director/Dramatic Production—Jeffrey V. Thompson; Choreography; Sound Design; Set Design; and Lighting Design.
- “Detroit ’67,” a collaboration between the Classical Theatre of Harlem, the National Black Theatre and the Public Theater, is nominated for Dramatic Production of the Year; Outstanding Ensemble; Playwright Dominique Morisseau; Director/Dramatic Production—Kwame Kwei-Armah; Sound Design; Set Design; Costume Design; and Lighting Design.
- “Storyville,” from the York Theatre Company, is nominated for Musical Production of the Year; Outstanding Musical Director—William Foster McDaniel; Director/Musical Production—Bill Castellino; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Male—Michael Leonard James; has two nominations for Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Female—Debra Walton and Zakiya Young; and is nominated for Choreography and Costume Design.
- “Dreamgirls,” presented by the Gallery Players, is up for Musical Production of the Year; Outstanding Musical Director—Ryan Touhey; Director/Musical Production—Mark Harborth; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Male—Caliaf St. Aubyn; Choreography; Lighting Design; Set Design; and Costume Design.
Coming in with six nominations is Harlem Repertory Theatre’s production of “Dreamgirls.” It is nominated for Musical Production of the Year; Outstanding Musical Director—Andrew Arango; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Male—Oscar Aguirre; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Female—Dion Millington; Director/Musical Production—Keith Lee Grant; and Choreography.
Five nominations were the magic number for four productions.
- “Choir Boy,” presented by Manhattan Theatre Club, is nominated for Dramatic Production of the Year; Outstanding Ensemble Performance; Playwright—Tarell Alvin McCraney; Director/Dramatic Production—Trip Cullman; and Sound Design.
- “Wild With Happy,” from the Public Theater, is up for Dramatic Production of the Year; Colman Domingo is nominated for both Lead Actor and Playwright; Director/Dramatic production—Robert O’Hara; and Supporting Actress—Sharon Washington.
- “The Importance of Being Earnest,” from Take Wing and Soar and New Heritage Theatre Group, is up for Best Revival; Lead Actress—Debra Debra Ann Byrd; Sound Design; Costume Design; and Lighting Design.
- “Pearl,” by Suite Roots LLC, is nominated for Musical Production of the Year; Outstanding Musical Director—Charles Czarnecki; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Female—Jennie Harney; Director/Musical Production—Ben Harney; and Choreography.
Two productions have four nominations.
- “The Great MacDaddy,” from Korner Theatricals and the Negro Ensemble Company, is up for Best Revival; Lead Actor—J. Kyle Manzay; Supporting Actress—Araba Brown; and Supporting Actor—Charles Weldon. “Shida,” presented by Shida Productions LLC, is up for Solo Performance—Jeannette Bayardelle; Musical Production of the Year; Outstanding Musical Director—Jesse Vargas; and Director/Musical Production—Andy Sandberg.
- “Sowa’s Red Gravy,” from New Federal Theatre, and “Not About Eve,” from Braata Theatre Workshop, each have three nominations. “Sowa’s Red Gravy” is nominated for Lead Actress—Lonette McKee; Supporting Actress—Toni Seawright; and Supporting Actor—Gary E. Vincent. “Not About Eve” is up for Dramatic Production of the Year; Ensemble Performance; and Playwright—Karl O’Brian Williams.
For a complete list of nominees and for more info, visit www.audelco.net.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the awards begin at 7 p.m. This will be followed by a meet-and-greet from 10-11 p.m.
Tickets range from $50-$100. For information, call the box office at 212-864-5400. Go support the nominees and enjoy!