Best Costumes

Kate Bergh – A Little Night Music @ Pasadena Playhouse.

Costuming is so essential when it comes to a play or a musical. This is why costuming is not only a category in the awards but a specific metric we use to critique shows. How someone dresses, what they wear, and how they wear it tells us a lot about that person. It’s as essential as the set design with intricacies that go beyond what set designers do. In a way, the costume designers are making multiple sets that have to fit different people in every show. Stunning is the only correct word for Bergh’s wearable sets in A Little Night Music. This show’s costuming was glamorous but not too much. The designs have an excellent balance of elegance and simplicity.

Best Set

Rachel Myers -The Mountaintop @ Geffen Playhouse.

Best Set goes to Rachel Myers for The Mountaintop @ Geffen Playhouse. Rachel Myer’s design is practical. This well-constructed set for most of the play showcases the inside of a small but cozy motel room. As you watch the show, there is more to this room and the situation than we realize. Watch as the story and set combine to tell this reimagined story about King’s last days on earth. The set design was visually stunning and thematically brilliant.
photo credit: Jeff Lorch

Best Musical

A Little Night Music @ Pasadena Playhouse.

Best musical goes to A Little Night Music @ the Pasadena Playhouse. To say this show was impressive is an understatement. This was a masterpiece. After experiencing a show like this at such a high level, I wasn’t surprised when the Pasadena Playhouse received its Tony Award. People will notice when you put out material this good, and I was blown away. It is not only the best musical I’ve seen all year, but it’s also one of the best plays of the year, a high mark in quality the Pasadena Playhouse can be proud of.

Best Young Actress

Ciara Montemayor (Iris) Veil Theatre Presents: The Nether @ Hudson Theatres

Best Young Actress goes to Ciara Montemayor (Iris) for Veil Theatre Company’s The Nether @ The Hudson Theatre. The Nether was one of the shows I watched at the Hollywood Fringe this year. This was my second time watching The Nether. I enjoyed both productions of this show but for different reasons. The actors in this version were quite good, and Ciara Montemayor gave an outstanding performance. The character she played in this show was very challenging, and Montemayor did a fantastic job of channeling this character in many different ways. It was one of the better performances of the year for me.

Best Young Actor

Brendan Shannon (Homer Macauley) The Human Comedy @ Actors-Coop

Best Young Actor goes to Brendan Shannon for his portrayal of Homer Macauley in The Human Comedy at the Actors Co-op. Shannon plays Homer, a young kid who grows up in a small town during WW2. Shannon’s performance was not only well done but essential for this play. Homer’s journey and story are a big part of what ties this play together. Shannon was able to channel this character’s spirit and optimism.

Best Makeup

Tony Valdes – Much Ado About Nothing @ A Noise Within

This year, Best Makeup goes to Tony Valdes for Much Ado About Nothing @ A Noise Within. Congrats, Tony, the cast in this show looked phenomenal. The makeup and the wig work you did on this show were very impressive, era-appropriate, and stylistically consistent.
Photo by Michael Roud

Best Featured Actor

Stanley Andrew Jackson (Claudio) Much Ado About Nothing @ A Noise Within

This year, the Best Featured Actor goes to Stanley Andrew Jackson for his role as Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing at A Noise Within. Jackson’s performance as Claudio is an interesting balance of cool, absurdly naive, and topped off with being a hothead. Jackson brought these critical layers to the character. While keeping the show’s whimsy and fun, Jackson portrayal provides this character with the proper frustration, anger, and a gentle, kind heart.

Best Director

Guillermo Cienfuegos – Much Ado About Nothing @ Noise Within

This year’s Best Director goes to Guillermo Cienfuegos for Much Ado About Nothing @ A Noise Within. This is one of the most impressive shows I’ve seen all year. And to be frank (not that I’m Frank, I’m Patrick), it is one of the best Shakespearean plays I’ve ever seen. While there are other shows I enjoyed more for different reasons, when I thought about shows I had watched over this year with a solid and clear direction, Much Ado About Nothing @ A Noise Within kept popping up. The large cast and the moving parts in this show could have easily been a disaster, but everything was smooth, from the acting to the choreography. I only regret that I didn’t get to see it a second time.

Best Featured Actress

Photo by Brian Parillo-2023

Tasha Ames (Eva) Circle X Theatre Company Presents: Do you feel Anger? @ Atwater Village Theatre

Best Featured Actress goes to Tasha Ames for her performance as Eva in Do you feel anger? To me, what made Ames’s performance impressive is that even though the world Eva inhabits in this play is as extreme as it should be, this is satire. Ames’s ability to be hilarious even in the early minutes of the show with her manic, worried acting fit in well with the other characters, but she also made us feel for the character in this rare show. This was an incredible performance.
Photo credit: Aaron Gallegos

Best Original Los Angeles Show

Nothing, Nothing @ Hero Theatre

This year’s best Original LA Show goes to Hero Theatre Presents: Nothing, Nothing @ the Friendship Baptist Church in Pasadena. This play is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It’s set in an African-American church. Not only was the show set in a church, we were in an actual church for the show, a remarkable feature of this production. The play is its own thing, and it is a cute story. Still, I also liked how the playwright was able to speak about issues in our church communities that persist, and it felt loving since it’s coming from the community as opposed to some onlookers giving their two cents and walking away. Nothing, Nothing was well acted, and the details from the choir to the music was fantastic.

Best Lighting

Jared A. Sayeg – A Little Night Music @ Pasadena Playhouse

Best Lighting this year goes to Jared A. Sayeg for A Little Night Music @ the Pasadena Playhouse. The lighting in this show was brilliant and vibrant. The lighting made the set look larger than life. I stepped out of the show and was blown away. A Tony Nominated theatre, yes, that makes all the sense in the world when you are dropping bombs like this show. Sayeg’s lighting was beautifully applied and incredibly powerful in its delivery.

Best Sound Design

Cricket S. Meyers – The Mountaintop @ Geffen Playhouse

Best Sound Design this year goes to Cricket S. Meyers for The Mountaintop @ the Geffen Playhouse. Visually, this play was very impressive—definitely a highlight of the year. Meyers’s sound design in this show helped create suspense. You could feel it in your bones. The show felt suspenseful, massive, and the sound was compelling. I’m still reeling over it as I write this passage.

 

Best One-Person Show

The Attic Collective presents: Iphigenia in Splott @ The Broadwater

Best One Person Show goes to the Attic Collective Presents:  Iphigenia in Splott @ The Broadwater. I saw this one-person show at the Hollywood Fringe this year in one of the smaller rooms at the Broadwater off Santa Monica Blvd. I’ve walked into this specific theatre multiple times for shows, but this is one of the shows that really stood out to me. As I mentioned in the review, Hailey McAfee’s performance is dynamic. But it was also incredibly vulnerable. For such a small production, the lighting and sound design worked wonders.

Best Actor in a Musical

Michael Hayden (Fredrik Egerman) A Little Night Music @ Pasadena Playhouse

This year, Best Actor in a Musical goes to Michael Hayden for his performance as Fredrik Egerman in “A Little Night Music” at the Pasadena Playhouse. Hayden brought a great sense of humor and charisma to the character that can’t be understated. His performance, especially his acting in this production, made it such a fun experience whenever he was on stage. I could hear the emotion and the regret in his character’s voice throughout the performance.

Photo by Wes Klain – © 2019

Best Actress in a Musical

Merle Dandridge (Desiree Armfeldt) A Little Night Music @ Pasadena Playhouse

Best Actress in a Musical/Performer goes to Merle Dandridge for her performance as Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Pasadena Playhouse. The best performer is a category between all actors nominated. Out of this group of tremendous actors that graced the stage this year, we pick an actor or actress that we felt had the best performance out of anyone. While this was a tough decision, it wasn’t difficult to enjoy the moments we got to experience while sitting and watching Dandridge perform, sing, and light up the room with her voice. A Little Night Music at the Pasadena Playhouse is a show that will surely be remembered for a long time.

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Chase Ramsey (Hugh Hinkle) Come Get Maggie @ Rogue Machine Theatre Company

Chase Ramsey’s performance of Hugh Hinkle in Come Get Maggie was a tremendous display of musicality and comedy while also representing the deeply flawed human desire for control. It’s a layered performance, and he executed it all while making it look easy. A big round of applause for his work as a suitor from Hell!

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Ruby Lewis (Petra) A Little Night Music @ Pasadena Playhouse

This year’s Best Featured Musical Actress goes to Ruby Lewis as Petra in A Little Night Music @ the Pasadena Playhouse.  In my review I said, “Ruby Lewis proves there’s no such thing as a small part, and she made Petra one of my favorite characters in the show on her performance alone.  With the confidence, the delivery, and the sensual nature of the character, she hits all the right notes and hits them so well in the song, ‘The Miller’s Son.'”

Best Choreography

Joyce Guy – Much Ado About Nothing @ Noise Within

Best Choreography goes to Joyce Guy for Much Ado About Nothing @ A Noise Within. As I mentioned in my review, “One of the most impressive things about Much Ado About Nothing was the dancing, the exceptional movement in this production. The show was alive and moving with brilliant transitions. Even between scenes, they left nothing stale, not one single moment.”

Best Actor

Samuel Garnett (Kevin) Heroes of the Fourth Turning @ Rogue Machine Theatre

This year’s Best Actor is Samuel Garnett for his portrayal of Kevin in Heroes of the Fourth Turning @ Rogue Machine Theatre. To everyone nominated on this list and those who just missed the cut, I’m blessed to have watched your acting and fantastic performances this year. Samuel Garnett’s performance was undoubtedly one of these performances. Garnett played the part of Kevin, this conflicted, awkward drunk, who among these former classmates is the group’s black sheep but with surprising intelligence in certain moments. What Garnett did so well was convincingly play foolish, confused or obtuse in one moment, and at other times he was perhaps the most insightful person on the stage, and it came out so naturally.

Best Immersive Theatre Show

Last Call Theatre Presents: The Collective @ The Three Clubs

Last Call Theatre Presents: The Collective at the Three Queens is this year’s Best Immersive show. Think about the complexities and difficulties of putting on a traditional stage show, and double it when you’re talking about an immersive theatre show. So many more elements come into play when you’re involving the audience. I felt thoroughly immersed in this gangster, murder mystery play. The play was well-acted, planned, and organized. The performances were very committed and convincing. No weak links in this large group, and I promise I looked. Congratulations to the Last Call Theatre for an exceptional show!

Best Actress

Paula Rebelo (Sofia) Circle X Theatre Company Presents: Do you feel Anger? @ Atwater Village Theatre

Best Actress goes to Paula Rebelo for her character Sofia in Circle X Theatre Presents: Do you feel anger? What I liked about Rebelo’s performance in this show was the various moods she displayed on stage. Even though the world around her was chaos, you felt she had a hold on it, at least for a while, and that is one of the reasons this show sings as the play propels towards the end.

Best Writing

Will Arbery – Heroes of the Fourth Turning @ Rogue Machine Theatre

Best Writing goes to Will Arbery for Heroes of the Fourth Turning @ Rogue Machine Theatre. Will Arbery wrote an intoxicating play with depth, honesty, and a poetic use of language that elevates the material. It takes more than a good script to make a good play, but it’s almost impossible to make lousy writing good even when all the other elements work. That’s why playwrights are so important. The characters in this are so well thoughtfully developed, and the playwright lets them be themselves without judgment. That was enough. It’s a powerful script and remains incredibly relevant since its debut in 2019.
Photo by Craig Schwartz

Best Ensemble

Much Ado About Nothing @ A Noise Within

Best Ensemble goes to Much Ado About Nothing @ A Noise Within. This cast was incredible. The show was incredible. If there were an award for the best Shakespearean performance in LA, this would be one of them. As a theatre reviewer, I’ve seen so much Shakespeare, but this is one of the best live Shakespearian shows I’ve seen, period. Given how large this cast was, seeing how well the ensemble kept it together was very impressive.

Best Performer

Merle Dandridge (Desiree Armfeldt) A Little Night Music @ Pasadena Playhouse

Best Actress in a Musical/Performer goes to Merle Dandridge for her performance as Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Pasadena Playhouse. The best performer is a category between all actors nominated. Out of this group of tremendous actors that graced the stage this year, we pick an actor or actress that we felt had the best performance out of anyone. While this was a tough decision, it wasn’t difficult to enjoy the moments we got to experience while sitting and watching Dandridge perform, sing, and light up the room with her voice. A Little Night Music at the Pasadena Playhouse is a show that will surely be remembered for a long time.
photo by Jeff Lorch

Best Show

Circle X Theatre Company Presents: Do You Feel Anger @ Atwater Village Theatre

This year’s Best Show goes to Circle X Theatre Company Presents: Do You Feel Anger @ Atwater Village Theatre. In the eight years I’ve been reviewing theatre, I rarely give Masterpiece ratings to shows. I’ve seen about six shows that I felt deserved that rating. This is the first comedy that I’ve given a masterpiece rating. I could not stop laughing. The comedy in this show is non-stop. It’s Hilarious. Mara Nelson-Greenberg has written a significant play in, “Do You Feel Anger.” This was theatre at its very best to me. I was transported for a little while. I was laughing, crying slightly, and worried all in the same night, all in the same show with an ending that blew my mind.

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