For 50 years the AUDELCO Awards have been the awards that are made especially to recognize the best in Black theater and Black performances and they are coming up on Monday, Nov. 28 and will be held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at 190 West St. Please make plans to attend and cheer on your favorites. The nominations are out and they are proof that this past season was nothing less than extraordinary. There are 30 productions that are up for VIV Awards, named after AUDELCO founder, the late Vivian Robinson.

Five productions are tied with eight nominations apiece. Classical Theatre of Harlem’s production of “Twelfth Night” is up for best revival of a play; director of a play—Carl Cofield; lead actress—Kara Young; lead actor—J’Laney Allen; featured actor—Allen Gilmore; choreographer—Tiffany Rea-Fisher; costume design—Mika Edwards; and lighting design—Alan C. Edwards. “Dreaming Zenzile” from New York Theatre Workshop is nominated for best musical; director of a musical—Lileana Blain-Cruz; outstanding musical director—Herve Samb; lead actress—Somi Kakoma; lead actor—Aaron Marcellus; featured actress—Naledi Masilo; featured actor—Phumzile Sojola; and choreographer—Marjani Forte-Saunders. Another New York Theatre Workshop production, “On Sugarland” is up for best play; director of a play—Whitney White; playwright—Aleshea Harris; lead actor—Billy Eugene Jones; featured actor—Caleb Eberhardt; featured actress—Stephanie Berry; choreographer—Raja Feather Kelly; and sound design—Mikaal Sulaiman. The New Group’s “Black No More” is nominated for best musical; director of a musical—Scott Elliot; lead actress—Tamika Lawrence; lead actor—Brandon Victor Dixon; featured actress—Lillias White; featured actors—Tariq Trotter and Ephraim Sykes; and choreographer—Bill T. Jones. “Cullud Wattah in all places” presented by The Public Theater is nominated for best play; director of a play—Candis C. Jones; playwright—Erika Dickerson-Despenza; lead actress—Crystal Dickinson; featured actresses—Alicia Pilgrim and Lizan Mitchell; set design—Adam Rigg; and lighting design—Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew.

“Confederates” the Dominique Morisseau play presented by Signature Theatre received seven nominations for best play; director of a play—Stori Ayers; playwright—Morisseau; outstanding ensemble—Elijah Jones, Kristolyn Lloyd, Andrea Patterson, Kenzie Ross and Michelle Wilson; set design—Rachel Hauck; sound design—Curtis Craig and Jimmy Keys; and lighting design—Amith ChandraShaker/Emma Deane. Theatre for a New Audience’s production of the late Alice Childress’ play “Wedding Band” tied with seven nominations. It is up for best revival of a play; director of a play—Awoye Timpo; lead actress—Brittany Bradford; featured actress—Elizabeth Van Dyke; set design—Jason Ardizzone-West; costume design—Qween Jean; and lighting design—Stacey Derosier.

Tying with six nominations was The Madison Theatre’s presentation of “Ella: First Lady of Song,” with nominations for best musical; director of a musical—Lee Summers; outstanding musical director—Dionne Hendricks; lead actress—Freda Payne; and featured actress nominations for both Harriett D. Foy and Debra Walton. “Fat Ham” from The Public Theater/National Black Theatre carved up nominations for outstanding ensemble—Billy Eugene Jones, Marcel Spears, Adrianna Mitchell, Calvin Leon Smith, Benja Kay Thomas, Chris Herbie Holland and Nikki Crawford; playwright—James I James; director of a play—Saheem Ali; set design—Maruti Evans; sound design—Mikaal Sulaiman; and lighting design—Stacey Derosier.

Seven productions garnered four nominations each. New Federal Theatre’s “Gong Lum’s Legacy” received nominations for best play; outstanding ensemble—Anthony Goss, Alinca Hamilton, DeShawn White, Eric Yang and Henry Yuk; set design—Chris Cumberbatch; and sound design—David Wright. “Intimate Apparel” presented by Lincoln Center received nominations for best musical; lead actress—Kearstin Piper Brown; lead actor—Justin Austin; and featured actress—Adrienne Danrich. MCC’s production of “soft” is nominated for best play; playwright—Donja Love; lead actor—Biko Eisen-Martin; and featured actor Leon Addison Brown. MCC’s “Nollywood Dreams” is nominated for best play; outstanding ensemble—Abena Mensah Bonsu; Charlie Hudson III, Nana Mensah; Sandra Okuboyejo, Ade Otukoya, Emana Rachelle; playwright—Jocelyn Bioh; and set design—Arnulfo Maldonado. “What will the end be” presented by Roundabout Theatre is nominated for best play; lead actor—Keith Randolph Smith; featured actor—Ryan Jamaal Swain; and set design—Reid Thompson. The Public Theater’s “Richard III” is nominated for best revival of a play; lead actress—Danai Gurira; featured actress—Sharon Washington; and costume design—DeDe Ayite. “Little Girl Blue” presented by World Stages has earned nominations for solo performance—Laiona Michelle; director of a musical—Davanand Janki; outstanding musical director—Michael Fifer; and sound design—Twi McCallum and Jamie Tippett.

Black Spectrum Theatre’s production of “Oya” received three nominations for best revival of a play; choreographer—Dyane Harvey Salaam; and costume design—Rhonda Lucas. East Harlem Repertory’s production of “Mandela” also has three nominations including lead actor in a play—Robert Greene; featured actress—Malika Nzinga; and featured actor—James Garrett. “Superhero” presented by House on the Moon is up for outstanding ensemble—Jeorge Bennett Watson, Bryce Michael Wood, S. J. Hannah, Valisa Lekae; playwright—Ian Eaton; and lighting design—Amina Alexander. “Tambo and Bones” from Playwright’s Horizon is nominated for outstanding ensemble—W. Tre Davis, Tyler Fauntleroy, Brendan Dalton and Dean Linnard; costume design—Dominique Fawn Hill; and sound design—Mikhail Fiksel.

Black Spectrum Theatre’s “Black Love” has garnered two nominations for best revival and outstanding musical director—Jerome Brooks Jr. Negro Ensemble Company’s “Lambs to Slaughter” is up for two VIVs as well for outstanding ensemble—Adiagha Faizah, Shaquila Gooden, Terayle Hill and Khalil Kain; and musical director—Keith Johnston. “Kimberly Akimbo” from Atlantic Theater Company is nominated for lead actor in a musical—Justin Cooley; and featured actor in a musical—Fernell Hogan II (by the way, these young men are starring in the musical which is on Broadway as we speak).

Several productions earned a single nomination. “Queens Girl Around the World” from Abingdon Theatre Company is nominated for Solo performance—Felicia Curry. “Heart” presented by Audible is also nominated for solo performance for Jade Anouka. “The Last of the Love Letters” from Atlantic Theater Company has Daniel Watts nominated for lead actor. “Ain’t Misbehavin: The Fats Waller Musical” from Gallery Players is nominated for lead actor in a musical—Alexander Jay Brown. “I Just Want To Tell Somebody” from Theater for the New City is up for solo performance—Ronald “Smokey” Stevens. “Lessons In Survival, 1971” from Vineyard Theatre is up for lead actor—Carl Clemons-Hopkins. “Your Negro Tour Guide” from Astoria Performing Arts Center is nominated for solo performance—Torie Wiggins.

The AUDELCO Awards are all about us! In addition to rewarding Black excellence in theater, AUDELCO honors its people with special awards. For the 50th anniversary the recipients are known and loved members of the theater community and those who support theater. Lifetime Achievement Awards will be given to the much deserving Rome Neal, producer, director and actor; Elizabeth Van Dyke, producing artistic director of New Federal Theatre, director and actress; playwright Richard Wesley; and producer, director and actor Count Stovall. Pioneer Awards will be bestowed upon Ben Harney—director, actor and original “Dream Girls” cast member; Peggy Alston, executive director of Brooklyn Restoration Youth Academy, and an actress; and Jamal Joseph who is with New Heritage Theatre Co. Impact Repertory Theatre. Recognizing the importance of its 25th anniversary, the cast of “The Five Heartbeats” will be given outstanding achievement awards—Carla Brothers, Harry Lennix, Leon, Tico Wells and Michael Wright will be on-hand. Board of Directors Pioneer Awards will go to Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, radio host extraordinaire Jeanne Parnell of WHCR Radio, Marcia Pendelton founder of Walk Tall Girl Productions and Don Thomas A&E editor of the New York Beacon Newspaper. Special Achievement Awards will be presented to Eric Lockley of The Movement Theatre Company; Linda Stewart of It is Done Communication and To Go Girl for Public Relations, marketing, promotions; and Anthony Wayne, actor, singer, activist. The first-ever Humanitarian Civil Rights Award will be posthumously presented to Sidney Poitier! And there will be some surprises as well!

Tickets are $75, with VIP tickets for $125. For more information please visit info@audelco.org. There is nothing on earth like the AUDELCO Awards. It is a Black theater-family reunion not to be missed. For so long with COVID we could not be together to support and hold each other up into the limelight and now we can. Come and shine lights on those who too often are left in the shadows. This is our Black Theater Family. It is a place where there is much love, appreciation and spiritual renewal to be gathered, come to this gathering and let it feed your very soul! See you there, dress to impress!

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