Nominations for this year’s AUDELCO Awards, the “VIVs” as they are affectionately called, after late founder Vivian Robinson, were recently announced. This year is the 44th Annual Vivian Robinson AUDELCO Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black theater, acknowledging productions from the 2015-2016 theater season.
Thirty-five productions are nominated in 19 categories.
Leading the nominations is “Skeleton Crew,” with nine nominations. The Atlantic Theater Company production is nominated for Dramatic Production of the Year; Playwright, Dominique Morisseau; Director/Dramatic Production, Ruben Santiago-Hudson; Lead Actor, Wendell B. Franklin; Lead Actress, Lynda Gravatt; Supporting Actor, Jason Dirden; Supporting Actress, Nikiya Mathis; Set Design, Michael Camahan; and Sound Design, Rob Kaplowitz.
Right behind “Skeleton Crew,” with eight nominations is “Familiar” from Playwrights Horizon and “The Total Bent” from The Public Theater. “Familiar” is up for Dramatic Production of the Year; Playwright, Danai Gurira; Lead Actress, Tamara Tunie; Supporting Actress, Myra Lucretia; Sound Design, Darron L. West; Lighting Design, Tyler Micoleau; Costume Design, Susan Hilferty; and Set Design, Clint Ramos. “The Total Bent” is nominated for Musical Production of the Year; Director/Musical Production, Joanna Settle; Choreography, David Neumann; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Male, Vondie Curtis-Hall and Ato Blankson-Wood; Sound Design, Obadiah Eaves/Sten Severson; Costume Design, Gabriel Berry; and Lighting Design, Thom Weaver.
Seven nominations were received for “The First Noel,” a Classical Theater of Harlem musical production. Those nominations included Musical Production of the Year; Director/Musical Production, Steve H. Broadmax; Choreography, Brian Harlan Brooks; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Male, Nathaniel Stampley; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Female, Tina Fabrique and Ashley Ware Jenkins; and Set Design, Daniel Robinson.
“The Royale” from Lincoln Center Theater has six nominations. It is nominated for Dramatic Production of the Year; Playwright, Marco Ramirez; Lead Actor, Khris Davis; Supporting Actress, Montego Glover; Costume Design, Dede M. Ayite; and Lighting Design, Austin R. Smith. Tied with six nominations is “Cherchez La Femme: A Musical Excuse,” a La Mama production. It is up for Musical Production of the Year; Director/Musical Production, Angie Kristic; Choreography, Kyndra “Binkie” Reevey; Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Female, Traci Michelle; and Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Male, C.B. Murray and Isaac Gay.
There are four shows that tie with five nominations each. “Smart People,” a Second Stage Theater play is up for Dramatic Production of the Year; Playwright, Lydia Diamond; Director/Dramatic Production, Kenny Leon; Lead Actress, Tessa Thompson; and Lead Actor, Mahershala Ali. “Head of Passes” from The Public Theater is nominated for Lead actress, Phylicia Rashad; Supporting Actress, Alana Arenas; Supporting Actor, Francois Battiste; Costume Design, Toni-Leslie James; and Set Design, G.W. Mercier. “Macbeth” from the Classical Theater of Harlem is up for Best Revival; Director/Dramatic Production, Carl Cofield; Choreography, Tiffany Rea-Fisher; Sound Design, John Mckenna; and Costume Design, Rachel Dozier-Ezell. “Dead and Breathing,” a production of the National Black Theater is nominated for Dramatic Production of the Year; Outstanding Ensemble Performance; Playwright, Chisa Hutchinson; Director/Dramatic Production, Jonathan McCrory; and Set Design, Maruti Evans.
“Maurice Hines Tappin’ Thru Life” from New World Stages is up for four VIVs—Musical Production of the Year; Director/Musical Production, Jeff Calhoun; and two nominations for Maurice Hines for Choreography and Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Male.
Three productions are tied with three nominations. “DOT” a Vineyard Theater production is up for Production of the Year; Playwright, Colman Domingo and Lead Actress, Marjorie Johnson. “The Piano Lesson” from the Gallery Players is up for Best Revival; Lead Actor, Jahi Kassa Taquara; and Supporting Actor, Kim Sullivan. “Mother Courage and Her Children” from Classic Stage Company is up for Best Revival; Lead Actress, Kecia Lewis; and Supporting Actor, Michael Potts.
Three dramas are tied with two nominations each and they are “Proof,” “Eclipsed” and “Blood at the Root.” “Proof,” a production of Quick Silver Theater/Classics in Color Theater Company, is nominated for Best Revival and Outstanding Ensemble Performance. “Eclipsed” is nominated for Outstanding Ensemble Performance and Director/Dramatic Production, Liesl Tommy. “Blood at the Root,” a production of the National Black Theater, is nominated for Lighting Design, Nathan Hawkins/William Kenyon and Sound Design, Liz Sokolak.
Eighteen shows have been nominated for one VIV. In the category of Solo Performances there are “Mabel Madness” starring Trezana Beverley, “Motherstruck!” starring Staceyann Chin, “The Diary of An Afro Goddess” starring Cherie Danielle, “Dare to Be Black: The Jack Johnson Story” starring Tommie J. Moore, “Pryor Truth” starring Khalil Muhammad and “Sugar Ray” starring Reginald L. Wilson. In the category of Best Revival, we have, “In the Heights” from Harlem Repertory Theater, “In White America” from New Federal Theater and “Walk Hard” from Metropolitan Playhouse. In Outstanding Ensemble Performance, the VIV nominees are “A Lovely Malfunction” from the Negro Ensemble Company, “Barbecue” from The Public Theater, “but I did only whisper” from The Flea and “Timeless: The Mystery of the Dark Water” from Black Spectrum Theater. In the Lead Actor category “Richard III” has R.J. Foster nominated, and “Turn Me Loose” has Joe Morton nominated. In the category of Supporting Actress, Vinie Burrows is nominated for “I Will Look Forward to This Later,” and Linda Powell is nominated for “The Christians.” Finally, “The Fall of Kings” got one nomination in the category of Supporting Actor for David Roberts.
The AUDELCO Awards will be held Nov. 21 at Symphony Space in Manhattan. Plan to come out and support these shows and theatrical professionals as they are recognized for their phenomenal work. The AUDELCO Awards have the feel of a family reunion. Come out and reunite with your theater family. It promises to be a marvelous evening.