As a result of some unfortunate scheduling, the ceremonies for both the Equity Jeff Awards and the Black Theater Alliance Awards (BTAA) were both held on Oct. 17. There was some overlap in the nominees and winners, too, but unlike the Jeffs, BTAA mixes Equity and non-Equity productions into a single “competition,” and focuses on African American talent alone, so there was plenty to differentiate the two events.
In two instances, actresses received awards from both organizations. They were Donica Lynn (who starred as Effie White in the Porchlight Music Theater production of “Dreamgirls,” and who brought the house down with her performances at the Jeff ceremony), and Jacqueline Williams (who starred in “The House That Will Not Stand,” a Victory Gardens Theater production).
In addition, two actresses who were particularly outstanding in dramatic roles during the past season – AnJi White (who starred in TimeLine Theatre’s production of “Sunset Baby”), and Kona N. Burks (who played Ma Joad in The Gift Theatre Company production of “The Grapes of Wrath”) – were winners at the BTAA ceremony.
Named best dramatic production of the season was the eta Creative Arts Foundation production of “Migration.” Named best ensemble by the BTAA was the Raven Theatre production of “Direct From Death Row The Scottsboro Boys (An Evening of Vaudeville and Sorrrow).”
Here is a complete list of the recipients of the 22nd annual Black Theater Alliance/Ira Aldridge Awards, which were announced Monday evening in a live presentation at eta Creative Arts Foundation:
+ The Negro Ensemble Company Award/Outstanding Stage Production: “Migration,” eta Creative Arts Foundation.
+ The Target Community Relations Award/Best Ensemble: “Direct From Death Row The Scottsboro Boys (An Evening of Vaudeville and Sorrrow),” Raven Theatre Company.
+ The Lloyd Richards Award/Best Direction of a Play: Monty Cole, “The Hairy Ape,” Oracle Theatre.
+ The Lorraine Hansberry Award/Best Writing of a Play: Kevin Douglas, “Thaddeus and Slocum A Vaudeville Adventure,” Lookingglass Theatre Company.
+ The Sidney Poitier Award/Best Leading Actor in a Play (Drama or Comedy): Eamonn Walker, “Between Riverside and Crazy,” Steppenwolf Theatre Co.
+ The Ossie Davis, Jr. Award/Best Featured Actor in a Play (Drama or Comedy): David Alan Anderson, “Gem Of The Ocean,” Court Theatre and Bernard Gilbert, “Our Lady of 121st Street,” Eclipse Theatre Company.
+ The Ben Vereen Award/Best Performance by an Actor in A Musical: Travis Turner, “Thaddeus and Slocum A Vaudeville Adventure,” Lookingglass Theatre Company.
+ The Ruby Dee Award/Best Leading Actress in a Play (Drama or Comedy): Anji White, “Sunset Baby,” TimeLine Theatre Company.
+ The Hattie McDaniel Award/Best Featured Actress in a Play (Drama or Comedy): Kona N. Burks, “The Grapes of Wrath,” The Gift Theatre Company and Jacqueline Williams, “The House That Will Not Stand,” Victory Gardens Theater.
+ The Diahann Carroll Award/Best Performance By an Actress In A Musical: Donica Lynn, “Dreamgirls,” Porchlight Music Theatre
+ The Denzel Washington Award/Most Promising Actor: Jeffery Owen Freelon, Jr.
+ The Phylicia Rashad Award/Most Promising Actress: Alexis Willis.
+ The Duke Ellington Award/Best Musical Direction: Robert Reddrick, “Dynamite Divas – A Tribute to Women Of Soul,” Black Ensemble.
+ The Ruth E. Carter Award/Best Costume Design: Andrea Washington-Brown, “Migration,” eta Creative Arts Foundation.
+ Best Lighting Design: Richard Norwood, “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red,” Congo Square Theatre Co.
+ Best Set Design: Justin Longnecker, “Maya’s Last Poem,” Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre.
+ Best Sound Design: Phyllis Curtwright, “Migration,” eta Creative Arts Foundation.
+ The Katherine Dunham Award/Best Choreography (Resident): Jumanne Taylor, “Supreme Love,” Jumanne Taylor and Tapman Productions.
+ The Alvin Ailey Award/Best Choreography (Non-Resident): Samantha Speis and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, “Walking With Trane,” Dance Center of Columbia College.