Cast from "The Secret Life of Bees" (287059)
Credit: Ahron R. Foster photo

I hope that one of the very important practices that you do throughout the year is to go and support Black theater. If you did that then you know that the offerings in the 2018-2019 theatre season were incredible. If you saw a production or productions that you loved, identified with and would love to see acknowledged then you should be extremely interested in the upcoming 47th Annual Vivian Robinson AUDELCO Awards, which will be held on Monday, November 18, 2019 at the BMCC/Tribeca Performing Arts Center at 199 Chambers Street at 7 p.m. This year’s theme is “The Legacy Continues.” Honorary chairs this year will be Keith David and Dee Dee Bridgewater; Rhonda Ross will be honorary co-host. One of the lovely qualities of AUDELCO is that it consistently pays homage to our elders and it is doing that again this year as it gives Micki Grant the Legacy Award; the phenomenally brilliant Kenny Leon will receive the Outstanding Achievement Award; pacesetter lead Broadway producers Stephen Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey and Oz Scott will be given the Special Pioneer Award; the extraordinary David D. Wright and playwright Ntozake Shange (posthumously) will receive the Board of Directors Award; veteran actress Barbara Montgomery and “Mr. Theatre” himself, Woodie King Jr. will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Raif-Henok Kendrick will be given the Rising Star Award.

This year 34 productions were nominated in the 23 categories. Leading the nominations with a record breaking 13 nominations is “The Secret Life Of Bees,” a new musical produced by Atlantic Theatre Company. The “buzz” is, it is nominated for best musical; director of a musical—Sam Gold; outstanding musical director—Jason Hart; choreography—Chris Walker; lead actress in a musical—LaChanze and Saycon Sengbloh; lead actor in a musical—Chris Stack; featured actress in a musical—Elizabeth Teeter and Eisa Davis; featured actor in a musical—Nathaniel Stampley; sound design—Dan Moses Schreier; costume design—Dede M. Ayite and lighting design—Jane Cox.

Coming in with a very distinctive 11 nominations is “Much Ado About Nothing,” the musical performed at the Delacorte Theater, part of The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. It’s nominations are for best musical; director of a musical—Kenny Leon; outstanding musical director—Jason Michael Webb; choreography—Camille A. Brown; lead actress in a musical—Danielle Brooks; lead actor in a musical—Grantham Coleman; featured actress in a musical—Olivia Washington and Margaret Odette; featured actor in a musical—Chuck Cooper and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson; costume design—Emilio Sosa.

Three productions that tied with seven nominations are “Ain’t No Mo,’ produced by The Public Theater, nominated for best play; director of a play—Steven Walker-Webb; playwright, Jordan E. Cooper, who is also up for featured actor in a play; lead actor in a play—Marchant Davis; sound design—Emily Auciello and lighting design—Adam Honore. “Toni Stone,” produced by the Roundabout Theatre received nominations for best play; playwright—Lydia Diamond; lead actress in a play—April Mathis; choreography, nomination number two for Camille A. Brown; featured actor in a play—Harvy Blanks; set design—Ricardo Hernandez; and lighting design—Allen Lee Hughes. “Native Son,” produced by The Acting Company is up for best play; playwright—Nambi E. Kelley; director of a play—Seret Scott; lead actor in a play—Galen Ryan Kane and Jason Bowen; featured actress in a play—Rosalyn Coleman; and lighting design—Alan

C. Edwards.

Five productions are

nominated in six categories. “Looking For Leroy” produced by New Federal Theatre is nominated for best play; playwright—Larry Muhammad; director of a play—Petronia Paley; outstanding ensemble performance; set design—Chris Cumberbatch; and lighting design—Antoinette Tynes. “Dot” produced by the Billie Holiday Theatre is nominated for best revival of a play; lead actress in a play—Denise Burse; featured actress in a play—Tinashe Kajese-Bolden; sound design—Matthew Head; costume design—Jarrod Barnes and lighting design—Andre C. Allen. “The Bacchae” produced by Classical Theatre of Harlem is nominated for best revival of a musical; director of a musical—Carl Cofield; outstanding musical director—Frederick Kennedy; choreography—Tiffany Rea-Fisher; lead actor in a musical—Jason B. Brown; and featured actor in a musical—R.J. Foster. “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” produced by the Signature Theatre Company is up for best revival of a play; director of a play—Kamilah Forbes; lead actress in a play—Jessica Frances Dukes; featured actress in a play—Heather Alicia Simms; costume design—Dede M. Ayite received her second nomination; and set design—Clint Ramos. “Caroline, Or Change” produced by the Astoria Performing Arts Center is nominated for best revival of a musical; director of a musical—Dev Bondarin; lead actress in a musical—LaDonna Burns; featured actress in a musical—Sharae Moultrie and Nattalyee Randall; and featured actor in a musical—Tony Perry.

Receiving five nominations we have “Behind the Sheet” produced by the Ensemble Studio Theatre. It is nominated for best play; playwright—Charly Evon Simpson; director of a play—Colette Robert; lead actress in a play—Naomi Lorrain; and featured actress in a play—Cristina Pitter.

Receiving 4 nominations we have “Separate and Equal” presented by 59 E. 59 Street, The University of Alabama Birmingham Metro NAACP and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is nominated for lead actor in a play—Adrian Baidoo; lead actress in a play—Pamela Afesi; featured actor in a play—James Holloway and choreography—Lawrence M. Jackson

Three productions received three nominations. “The Haunting of Lin Manuel Miranda” produced by the Nuyorican Poets Café is nominated for featured actress in a play—Roz Fox; featured actor in a play—Robert Turner; and costume design—Carolyn Adams. “Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine” produced by Signature Theatre Company is nominated for best revival of a play; lead actress in a play—Cherise Boothe; and featured actor in a play—J. Bernard Calloway. “A Strange Loop” produced by Playwrights Horizons is nominated for outstanding musical director—Rona Siddiqui; lead actor in a musical—Larry Owens; and featured actor in a musical—John-Andrew Morrison.

Seven productions earned two nominations. “Boesman and Lena” produced by Signature Theatre Company is up for best revival of a play and outstanding ensemble performance. “The Rolling Stone” produced by Lincoln Center Theatre is nominated for best play and outstanding ensemble performance. “Fireflies” produced by the Atlantic Theatre Company is nominated for sound design—Justin Ellington and outstanding ensemble performance. “The Light” produced by MCC Theatre is nominated for outstanding ensemble performance and set design—Kimie Nishikawa. “The Savage Queen” produced by BulletProof Productions is nominated for sound design—David Wright and costume design—the second nomination this year for Carolyn Adams. “Daddy” produced by The New Group, featured actress in a play—Charlayne Woodard and Matt Saunders—set design. “Reunion in Bartersville” produced by Black Spectrum Theatre, best revival of a play and director of a play—Marjorie Moon; “Girl From The North Country” produced by The Public Theater is up for lead actress in a musical—Jeannette Bayardelle and lead actor in a musical—Sydney James Harcourt.

A multiple amount of plays received one nomination. In the category of solo performance, Richarda Abrams was nominated for “First by Faith: The Life of Mary McLeod Bethune” produced by RPR Productions; Helena D. Lewis was nominated for “SHEnanigans” produced by the Wild Project; Dierdra McDowell for “Down to Eartha” produced by MPTP Productions; Bill Posley for “The Day I Became Black”; Brenda Pressley for “Proof of Love” produced by Audible in association with New York Theatre Workshop and Malaika Uwamaboro for “Miracle in Rwanda” produced by Magis Theatre Company, Acuity Productions and Broadview Phoenix. Other singular nominations were given including “Fairview” produced by Theatre for a New Audience, in the category of playwright—Jackie Sibblies; “Coriolanus” produced by The Public Theater, for featured actor in a play—Teagle F. Bougere; “The B-Side: Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons” produced by the Wooster Group, outstanding musical director—Gareth Hubbs; “The Key Game” produced by Banana Boat Productions/New Perspective Theatre Co., outstanding ensemble performance; and “Lockdown” produced by the Rattlestick Theatre, lead actor in a play—Keith Randolph Smith.

To attend the AUDELCO Awards or see more information about it visit http://www.audelco.org or call 212-368-6906. Tickets can be purchased at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, box office hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. or you can call 212-220-1460. VIP tickets are $125, general admission tickets are $75.