Center Theatre Group Collects 12 Awards at L.A. Stage Alliance's 24th Ovation Awards

Ryan Miller, Capture Imaging
Sharon Lawrence and Amy Brenneman

Sunday night's awards ceremony honored the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, which received the award for best season, including productions of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Spring Awakening."

At the L.A. Stage Alliance’s  24th annual Ovation Awards on Sunday, Nov. 3, downtown Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group swept 12 of 31 awards, while Orange County made a strong showing with Anaheim’s Chance Theater nabbing three statues for its transgender dinosaur musical Triassic Parq and Fullerton’s 3D Theatricals taking home four for its restaging of Parade.

The awards, held in San Gabriel at the historic 1927 San Gabriel Playhouse, are the area’s most prestigious honors. Another big winner was the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts – located in the 48,000-resident town of La Mirada which borders Orange County --  which was given the award for best season, which included productions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Spring Awakening.

Guests entering the theater wondered at the long strings running from the balcony down to the stage, which turned out to be one giant “harp rigged for the evening and played by one of the members of hot ensemble String Theory (which recently played the opening of the new Breguet store in Beverly Hills.)

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Host Michael McKean – whose acting career spans from Laverne & Shirley and SNL to Spinal Tap and The Dark Knight Returns – opened the show, lauding the crowd for their commitment to live theater and the community and camaraderie it provides, despite the lack of money. “I made my debut on the stage of the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, playing Troilus — in Troilus and Cressida, duh. And they paid me 70 dollars a week. I spent this last summer on the stage at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, Massachusets, playing J. Edgar Hoover to Bryan Cranston’s LBJ in this amazing new play called All the Way — for newly twice the money. Anyway we decided we don’t do this for the money.”

Presenters at the peer-judged show, which recognized 13 Southern California theater companies, included Wendie Malick, Steven Weber, Val Kilmer (who brought his Citizen Twain to the Pasadena Playhouse earlier this year), Roxanne Hart, Erich Bergen, Jason Ritter, Anna Ortiz, Ed Begley Jr., Sharon Lawrence, Susan Sullivan, Amy Brenneman and Cathy Rigby, whose Mccoy Rigby Entertainment with husband Tom McCoy makes its creative home base at La Mirada Theatre.

Gigi Bermingham, who won lead actress in a play for her portrayal of Maria Callas in Master Class at the International City Theatre, drew laughs in her acceptance speech by playing a diva herself: “The Ovation voters, my fellow nominees, I want to say, you’re welcome.” A clearly surprised and overcome Kellie Spill, who took home the Ovation Award for featured actress in a musical in Triassic Parq, told the crowd: “I told my mom not to come.”

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The nonprofit L.A. Stage Alliance has more than 300 dues-paying member organizations in the performing arts world of the greater Los Angeles area. The Alliance’s CEO Terence McFarland gave the audience a report on strides the group has made in the last year, including finding a new home in Atwater Village that includes a warehouse co-op for 30 companies to share sets, costumes and props; receiving the largest grants in its  history from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts; and helping facilitate the launch of the Theatrical Producers League of Los Angeles. He urged the crowd to “make ephemeral magic as only you can by sharing your gift of stories.”

The full list of winners is below:

Best season: La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts: Boeing Boeing, Jekyll & Hyde, Next to Normal, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Spring Awakening

Best production of a play (intimate theater): Dying City, Rogue Machine

Best production of a play (large theater): Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Center Theatre Group

Best production of a musical (intimate theater): Triassic Parq: The Musical, The Chance Theater

Best production of a musical (large theater): Parade, 3-D Theatricals

Best presented production: The Scottsboro Boys, Center Theatre Group

Acting ensemble for a play: The cast of Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Center Theatre Group

Playwrighting for an original play: Jennifer Haley The Nether, Center Theatre Group

Director of a musical: Brian Kite, Spring Awakening, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Director of a play: Shirley Jo Finney, In the Red and Brown Water, Fountain Theatre

Lead actor in a musical: Jeff Skowron as Leo Frank, Parade, 3-D Theatricals

Lead actress in a musical: Beth Malone as Milly, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Lead actor in a play: Glynn Turman as Bynum Walker, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Center Theatre Group

Lead actress in a play: Gigi Bermingham as Maria Callas, Master Class, International City Theatre

Featured actor in a musical: Rufus Bonds Jr. as Jim Conley, Parade, 3-D Theatricals

Featured actress in a musical: Kellie Spill as T-Rex 2, Triassic Parq: The Musical The Chance Theater

Featured actor in a play: Dakin Matthews as Doyle, The Nether, Center Theatre Group

Featured actress in a play: Brighid Fleming as Iris, The Nether, Center Theatre Group

Acting ensemble of a musical: The cast of Parade, 3-D Theatricals

Choreography: Ameenah Kaplan, The Royale, Center Theatre Group

Music direction: Taylor Stephenson, Triassic Parq: The Musical, The Chance Theater

Book for an original musical: Jim Leonard, Bad Apples, Circle X Theatre Company

Lyrics/music for an original musical: Rob Cairns, Jim Leonard and Beth Thornley, Bad Apples, Circle X Theatre Company

Lighting design (intimate theater): Jeremy Pivnick, Cassiopeia The Theatre @ Boston Court

Lighting design (large theater): Christopher Kuhl, The Nether, Center Theatre Group

Scenic design (intimate theater): Tom Walsh, Annapurna, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Scenic design (large theater): Adrian Jones, The Nether, Center Theatre Group

Sound design (intimate theater): John Zalewski, Theatre in the Dark, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Sound design (large theater): John Zalewski, The Nether, Center Theatre Group

Costume design (intimate theater): Michael Mullen, Dreamgirls, DOMA Theatre Company

Costume design (large theater): Alex Jaeger, The Nether, Center Theatre Group

Composition for a play: Michael Redfield, Walking the Tightrope, 24th Street Theatre

Fight Choreography: Ken Merckx, Cymbeline, A Noise Within

Puppet design: Derek Lux and Christian Anderson, Shrek the Musical, 3-D Theatricals

Video design: Jeffrey Elias Teeter, On the Spectrum, Fountain Theatre