Welcome to DCTS’ second annual
Audience Choice Awards
All season long we’ve raved, ranted, fulminated, and broken out into song over the shows and performances we’ve loved the most, and also over those which violated our delicate, artistic sensibilities.
Now it’s your turn.
We’ve asked our writers to select the best things they’ve seen among regularly-scheduled productions on the Washington-area professional stage this past theatrical year*. We recognize that it is not the judgment of our reviewers, no matter how good-looking and well-dressed they are, which matters in the end. It is your judgment.
Nominating and Voting
This year we have added new categories. You will be voting for your favorite Play, Musical, favorite Family production, favorite Touring production and favorite performances by Actresses and Actors in both Plays and Musicals.
Voting is open to everyone. You can only vote once per category, but you can encourage fellow audiences members to vote too. The polls are to your right. Scroll down to cast your ballot in all 8 polls.
Balloting will be open until Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 6 pm , at which point the polls will close with the suddenness and decisiveness of the Big Bang itself. No objections to hanging chads; no challenges to the eligibility of voters will be entertained. The balloting, like the season itself, will move into history.
Joel and Tim have been moved to rhapsodize about the best theater they’ve seen this year; their columns are on the Audience Choice 2008 page. And, of course, as always, you’re welcome to throw flowers or fruit at them.
The final nominations were comprised of each nominator’s top 3 our of 5 choices. We’re included their actual nominations to show how they voted.
Once those polls close – Tues, Sept 2nd at 6 pm – you’ll want to listen in to our Audience Choice Awards show to hear the winners. More on that later.
* Our season was Aug 17th, 2007 – Aug 16th, 2008. Longacre Lea’s mid-August production defines the opening and closing dates of the season.
Carlo Magno C. Domingo says
I vote for Ron Curameng ….. A GREAT ACTOR – It runs in the Blood
Elizabeth Robles says
I vote for Ron Curameng……all around great actor.
Ruben Curameng says
Please correct the name of Rob Curameng to read “Ron Curameng.” I fully believe he is a great musical actor.
I saw Ace on Thursday night and was prepared for the worst based on several of the above comments. Actually, I thought it was pretty good, maybe not Broadway good, but I enjoyed it and didn’t “drift off” once during the show. There were a few times when the orchestra over powered the voices but I believe that can be solved with some microphone adjustments. The young girl who played Emily, the friend of Danny, was so good I actually thought she might have been an adult in a small body. She was perfectly cast. There were other good performances of note. Signature did a good job with the set and the costumes also. I thought it was enjoyable and definitely worth seeing.
I suffered through Ace last night too and it’s a real clunker. Boring, idiotic lyrics and unmemorable score. I know it’s in previews and they have time to make some changes, but is this the best they can do after several workshops? I’m not the only one who suffered through it last night. Check the thread in http://www.broadwayworld.com called “The Official Ace Musical Thread” in the Broadway message room. Others were not too happy either.
Janet – I am not an actor, so the chances of me being offered a role in The Visit are slim to none. Gotta play the lotto to win, right? However, if I were an actor, I would hope that I would research my potential job opportunities, as I do here in the non-artistic world. Having read the script, yes, I probably would never have gone to the audition. I admit, the appeal of working with Chita Rivera would be fairly tempting, but in the end, I just don’t think it was a good show. Good that you enjoyed it though, I realize I’m probably in the minority in finding it more than a little lacking. To each their own.
As to the out of town casting, knowing some of the details about the rehearsal makes more sense to me. I didn’t realize it was rehearsed in NY as well. In that case, I agree with Local Actor. This production shouldn’t be listed as a Resident production, should it be nominated for Helen Hayes awards. If it’s rehearsed out of town, using an entirely out of town cast, with the intent of delivering it straight to Broadway, it should have a non-resident listing.
And thanks to others for pointing out the other productions in the season. I’m not of the mind that Signature is doing a disservice to their company members on a regular basis. On the contrary, I think they’ve been exceptional in going through the grown process while still maintaining loyalty to their colaborators. I just thought it’d be nice for some of our locals to get the chance to share the stage with Chita.
Someone mentioned Ace as an example of another production that hopes to hit Broadway. I would like to point out that Tracy Olivera is in the cast of Ace. This was my point about The Visit. I understand when 99% of the cast hails from NY, but I like when I see someone I recognize in the show, even if it’s just one cast member.
I understand that maybe I have a more fierce sense of loyalty to our local talent than some others. Perhaps it’s being burned by the throngs of lackluster Juliard graduates flying through the doors of Shakespeare theatre, or entire casts full of mediocre NY performers shipped into Arena, while our homegrown talent toils away admirably in our smaller, less lucrative theaters. I think it’s a testament to our local talent that they’ve chosen to be here. I’ve spoken to very few actors in Washington who’re ashamed or disappointed with the artistic lives they’ve made here. On the contrary, the folks I’ve spoken to understand that, while the work may not come as often as they might want, it comes a lot more often than their NY based peers enjoy. They know that DC is a great artistic home. The only frustration I’ve heard from them is the increasing trend of losing parts to folks who haven’t committed to this community. It’s doubly insulting when you hear what a poor opinion of our community some of those out-of-towners have.
Having seen a good portion of this outsourced talent in comparison to our own actors, I have to agree with their complaints.
Don’t worry about Ace being the next show Signature takes to Broadway. I saw it last night. Worse thing I have ever seen at Signature. Way worse then Glory Days (and to be honest I didn’t hate Glory Days.)
In The Know says
The Signature bashing is getting a bit ridiculous.
1) Whorehouse was selected for one actress. When Mr. Schaeffer asked what show she wanted to do she said Best Little Whorehouse and he put it in the season. Then that actress decided to pull out of the project and so he canned it for Ace which is a fully enhanced production. Pretty smart move if you ask me.
2) Regarding The Visit and a local cast. Look at who directed and choreographed. Look at the people behind it and what was riding on this show. No way would they ever cast local actors. How about the fact that some of the leads and production team had other commitments that required the rehearsals to be in New York. Would it make any more sense to house those local actors in New York for the rehearsal period? Assumptions can be made all around, but saying that Signature has broken its commitment to local actors is ridiculous. Merrily, Spiderwoman, and Happy Time were almost entirely cast in DC.
Jenny- I’m not quite sure what your problem is but there are reasons that Janet and I both suggested that one should think twice about the source of some of the Signature bashing comments. Next- My information about Signature choosing to do Best Little Whorehouse as a vehicle for a specific local actress came from one of the senior Signature staff. If that actress pulled out of the project as Also A Local Actor indicated then Signature may well have all lost interest in that project. It doesn’t sound ridiculous to me. It makes total sense to me. Its unfortunate if others actors lost a job as a result of that decision. I don’t blame them for being upset but sometimes in life things happen. Unfortunately the business of theater can be somewhat volatile. Every year I compile a list of by date of all of the shows that are being produced in the metro area. Over the last couple of days I’ve gone back and rechecked my list against the most current information. You’d be surprised at the number of theaters that had made changes to their schedules. Past experience tells me to expect additional changes as we begin to move through this new season. Its the nature of the beast.
Do you think they couldn’t find another local actress to play the lead in Whorehouse? So they cancelled the production because of that one actress?? It’s so ridiculous. There are plenty of great local actresses who could have played that role. If I had to guess,and this is just a guess because I don not have all the facts, they cancelled the show because the Ace opportunity came along, and since it’s been through several workshops and had a chance to go to NYC, they chose to go with Ace. I would have gone with Ace too. This makes alot of business sense to me,andif it goes to NYC and is a success, it wil help with the pain Glory Days caused. Maybe Roberta was one of the actresses who were contracted or promised or hired to be in Whorehouse and her complaint is legit. I don’t know all the facts, but I am hardly going to go in here like the three of you and make these kinds of attacks. How do you know that Roberta and the guy who posted on Broadway World are lying? This “consider the source” stuff is not fair. I know several other people who were told they would be in Whorehouse and when it was cancelled, they had a hard time finding other work. So, Janet and Cheryl and Local Actor, until we know all the facts, don’t judge so harshly and Janet, stop using the “three guesses where that rumor started.” You know how you spell “ass u me”
Also A Local Actor- what your saying makes perfect sense to me. I originally heard (from someone on Signature’s staff) that Best Little Whorehouse had been selected to be produced as a vehicle for a local actress. At the time I had been told this the show was still scheduled to go. Logic would tell me that if that actress pulled out of the production that Signature would pull the show.
Again folks need to consider the source when they hear Signature bashing.
Also A Local Actor says
That’s the rumor that was spread, but from what I’ve heard from several actors that was not the case. From what I understand Mr. Schaffer placed a show in the season for a local actress. They even did a reading of the show. But because the lead actress felt she couldn’t handle the show, it was cancelled. Mr. Schaffer felt he would not be able to sell this show without this local actress and because frankly he didn’t want to do it without her he cancelled it. At that point the producers of Ace approached the theatre about producing it there. And I also heard that it was not fully cast with the exception of a few actors, some of the leads and some chorus girls. Sounds like a bitter chorus girl to me.
I don’t know who is telling the truth about another production being cancelled so Ace could go into that theatre, but here is what was posted on broadwayworld.com about this. I do feel Roberta sounds like a vengeful actress who didn’t get a role she wanted, and was too harsh. Here’s what was posted. I don’t know who is telling the truth, but you can decide for yourself.
Posted by musicalman2
Posted On: 5/8/08 at 12:22 PM
“I think the observations here are dead on. Since someone here mentioned Ace, let me just say that Eric Schaeffer cancelled a fully cast production of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, where the actors had already booked the show, so that he could direct Ace at Signature. Didn’t re-schedule it. Nothing. So those actors who had given up other shows had nothing to replace it.”
Well guys I went out with friends for a couple of hours during which time I gave all of this a bit more thought. I thought about Signature’s productions for 2007-08 -the casts for Merrily We Roll Along, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Happy Time were primarily all local actors. It seems to me that Signature maintained its commitment to local actors. I also agree with Also a Local Actor- it was thrilling to have had the opportunity to see Chita Rivera and George Hearn (and the rest of that wonderful cast) perform in such an intimate space. Also what a thrill it must have been for the local actors to have had the opportunity to have worked with Kanter in the productions of Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Happy Time.
I also agree with Janet…People need to consider the source when they hear bashing of Signature.
RE: “No show was cancelled in order to bring Ace in. I heard this rumor early on and was outraged, only to find out that it was bogus.”
Three guesses where that rumor started. People need to consider the source when they hear bashing of Signature.
Well Franco thought The Visit was such a piece of crap that I’m sure he would have been offended by being offered a role in it.
The entire cast of The Visit was fantastic. I consider it an honor to have seen them perform – not just once, but three times. Each time I saw the show, I was more impressed.
Also A Local Actor says
I think Roberta needs to get a life. I’m not in any way associated with Signature. I’ve never worked there, nor do I think I will as I am not of the musi-cal persuasion. I am close with several actors that work at Signature on a regular basis though. I wanted to say a couple things…
1) No show was cancelled in order to bring Ace in. I heard this rumor early on and was outraged, only to find out that it was bogus. Another show was scheduled at Signature but was cancelled because the actress in the lead role, a local actress mind you, decided that she could not handle the material. So in my view the only person to blame in that instance is the local actress.
2) I also don’t understand why The Visit ensemble was cast out of NYC. I think it could have been done with a local ensemble. But I am of the opinion, that if you’re a DC actor that hates your situation, get out of dodge. Go to New York for a while. Or create your own theater. I had a friend that said “Get out of line and stop bitching.” From what I’ve seen Signature has done a better job then most DC theaters in utilizing local actors. Look at Arena or Studio or Shakespeare. Half of the young men in History Boys were out of New York. Every lead at Shakespeare went to Julliard. Signature is not the only theatre in DC that uses NY actors. But many people feel the need to make certain theaters out to be villains. They are struggling in a terrible economy to make money. They are trying to excite audiences and offer something different that can’t be offered anywhere else. I think the opportunity to see Chita Rivera and George Hearn in an intimate space is amazing!
Roberta you certainly have made some interesting and thought provoking points in your comment(s) about using local actors in the “town folk” scenes in The Visit. I really enjoyed The Visit and saw it three times. But, I’m certain that certain local actors could have been excellently cast in Signature’s production of The Visit. I’m not an actor but I can certainly see your point of view.
Roberto- I do understand your frustration but signature always intended to try and take The Visit to Broadway. They even held most of the rehearsals for the show in NYC. It really may not have been a good financial decision for them to use local actors. I have to tell you another thing that a lot of folks complained about respective to Signature in the past is that they frequently used the same people over and over again. There’s certainly a good argument to be made for nurturing local talent and providing those actors with lots of opportunities- its a good thing. I guess that perhaps what is needed in this stage of Signature’s development is a m middle ground- provide opportunities for local talent and reach out to talent in other geographical areas. Signature did use local talent in both Spider Woman, Happy Times and in a number of cabarets. This seems to be what the other large theaters do in this area. I really do understand your frustration. I’d probably feel the same way if I was in your situation.
Local Actor says
I couldn’t agree more with Roberta and Franco. As more and more money comes into play at the equity houses, I feel like the artistic staff feel like they have to placate their board of directors and show how the money is being used. In this case, by hiring NYC actors, I suspect they are trying to show that they are a national presence. I understand the buisness side enough. Name actors bring in more audience. But what the hell are they doing hiring supporting and ensemble roles from NYC? That to me is a slap in the face to the talent in this community. Plus it angers me that most theatres have forgotten who helped make them become what they are. Signature started as a community theatre and it was thanks to the hard work, talent, and passion of D.C. theatre artists that made them possible. Also on a side note, I think the Helen Hayes should reconsider some rule changes. Right now, the rules state that in order to be a resident production, the show must be made for a D.C. audience. That couldn’t be further from the truth for the Visit. That show was assembled on the basis that it would play New York as is the upcoming production of ACE. These show are being produced for New York and the future, not for the benefit of this community. That being said, these theatre do have the right to choose to use the New York talent, but in the end the younger generation of D.C. artists will grow and replace the old guard. Hopefully when that happens, a return to pride in our local resources will once again emerge.
There is nothing wrong about taking shows to Broadway. My point is when you bust your ass for many years to help a theatre earn its reputation, and then you are not being hired at that theatre because they are now only hiring New York actors, it’s frustrating. Franco is right. Why couldn’t we local actors been hired to be the town folk in The Visit? Did those NYC actors contribute so much more than we would have? Where is the loyalty in this theatre community? How would you feel Cheryl if you and your friends were hired to do a show, and you gave up other better paying opportunities to be in that show, and with little notice, the director decides to cancel that show, so he could bring in another of his Broadway Bound productions, and cast it with NYC actors? I have had one hell of a time trying to get work because by the time I was notified, most of the shows for this year were already cast. And all my friends have had the same problems. Was that fair?
Roberta- So what is wrong with Signature wanting to take shows to Broadway????
As an actress who has worked at this theatre for many years and was one of many actors and actresses passed over for NYC actors for their recent productions, I agree with Franco that it’s a shame that me and my friends have not been chosen to be in their shows. We were good enough to win Helen Hayes Awards though. But what do you expect Franco? Their theme is “from Broadway to Arlington.” I’m sure when they announce their holiday show, they might need us to die at the barracade. I’m sure they’ll bring in actors from NYC to play Jean Valjean, Fantine, Eponine and Javert because we just don’t have any talented singers and actors in this town.
I didn’t vote for Chita or George because I saw the Visit, and it sucked big time. George was the only relatively positive thing in the entire show, too bad he was given such a hollow character to work with. Still, he managed to infuse it with some life, and give him a marvelous voice. Chita however, was just okay. She had some amazing dance moves for her age, but her voice has long since gone south. But at least I can say I saw the great Chita Rivera on stage, too bad it wasn’t in a better production. The rest of the cast was the most wooden thing I’ve ever seen. Overly loud singing, phony performances, boring energy, and oh my god the eunuch song still haunts my nightmares.
It’s a shame that Signature, a theater prized for doing wonderful things with less than wonderful musicals, didn’t trust their company to bring more life into the play. I’d rather have seen Sheri Edelen, Stephen Gregory, Tracy O or any number of other Signature regulars in those parts. At least there would have been some real acting in that play.
I also found it incredibly insulting that not a single local performer was used in the play. Not. One. In a town as wealthy as ours in local talent, it’s a travesty to job that many people in. As we’ve seen time and time again, a NY area code does not necessarily equate to a quality performance. This has to be the most glaring reminder in recent memory. With all the money Sig wasted on actor housing, they could’ve really boosted the ego (What musical actor wouldn’t die for the chance to be on stage with Chita Rivera?) and wallets of some local actors.
James Duffin says
Just a suggestion. Next year you should include best director, choreographer, set design, etc. There are many people behind the scenes that do a great deal of work on the creative side to make sure the show is smashing!
I want to thank Lorraine Treanor for posting these FAVORITE polls! It is certainly a lot of fun. I’d also like to suggest more categories to include costumes and sets. One area that is woefully neglected in recognition are the cabarets. I don’t know of any other venues that do them except for Signature. Back in July, Signature put on the Sizzlin Summer series. I attended several, and my favorites was The Revenge of the Understudies (the full version). From last year, my favorite cabaret was Stephen Gregory Smith’s “Use what you got” show (the full version).
Clearly, some people come to these polls with agendas. If you want to know to whom I am referring, feel free to email me. I just hope that when the real awards are given that the best are chosen.
I agree with Ted. Big names don’t always mean great performances. I also think that there were many performers left off the list. Why do people get nominated multiple times? It’s not just this, it’s the Oscars, Grammy’s, Tony’s, Helen Hayes, etc. I think they should take the highest rated performance and go with that one. It hurts the performer’s chance on winning because most of the time, their votes are split. And, it keeps other deserving nominees off the ballot. Just my 2 cents…
I saw many of the performances on the list. While I respect Chita Rivera and George Hearns as the top notch stars that they are, I voted for others. Why? Well, despite the the fact that they are extremely talented, I thought that other performances were stronger. This is not a measure of their talent, but a measure of what I thought of the overall performances given. THE VISIT was one of my favorite shows of the season, in large part because of Ms. Rivera and Mr. Hearns. However, my voting was based on what I considered the best individual performances of the season.
Whether you think that makes my views or votes ridiculous is not my concern. I do not know any of the performers that I voted for personally. I have spoken to them only in audience feedback post show talks. Yes, some people may vote for the actor rather than the performance, but some people here may also be voting for the reputation rather than the performance.
As mentioned before, this is a local theater crowd and many people have watched some of the local top talent grow over the years and really enjoy their journeys. If that helps us to appreciate theater in this town and makes us appreciate their performances, so be it. It doesn’t make the voting ridiculous, it supports local DC theater. And it definitely doesn’t detract or diminish the Broadway stars.
Stephen Gregory Smith says
Chris Sizemore says
Hahaha Awe Steven I voted for you buddy. 🙂
Stephen Gregory Smith says
Whatever, Mister 111 votes and counting..LOL!
Chris Sizemore says
I also wanted to chime in. I agree with with everyone and we have a right to express our opinions. I agree with you Steven it is nice to see the support of LOCAL talent. Just as you said Chita and George have Tony awards, this I’m sure is no big deal to them. Let me be cheezy for a second and say “Why So Serious” (thank you Heath Ledger). This whole thing should be FUN that is the way it was designed. So get out and vote for your friend, cousin, brother, sister, whatever…SUPPORT THEM. That is what helps us as sctors survive in this cutthroat business. So bottom line Thank you for the DC Theatre Scene in doing something like this. I personally appreciate the fact that I am associated with SO MANY TALENTED PEOPLE. And on behalf of all the local talent involved in these awards I think it is safe to say THANK YOU WE APPRECIATE YOU!!!
Stephen Gregory Smith says
I just wanted to add my 2 cents here. John B has a valid point, and everyone should be free to have their own opinions out in the open. That is what these awards are all about. I just wanted to add mine as well. I think that the reason that perhaps local actors are beating NYC legends Chita and George is because these are local awards. While Chita and George are amazing and extremely talented legends in their own right, I think local actors are being voted for more because they have more supporters here. Don’t begrudge us this. Many of us have worked for many years building this up, wrecking our bank accounts and credit in the process to try to “make” something of a career here in DC. Chita and George have Tony Awards. This ain’t no skin off of their nose. I’m happy to see so many of this theatre community coming out to support our homegrown talent here. And above all else…this isn’t so serious…you know?
Compose Yourself says
I think we’re all savvy enough to know that this is not a real contest about talent or even quality of performance…it’s more of a ‘get out and support your friend’ type deal. There’s nothing wrong with that. If anything, have fun. Vote for your cousin. It’s really not a big deal.
John B says
I never said any show was a shit show! I said the awards were a shit show. I think Chris and Tracy are extremely talented. But it just proves how ridiculous these awards are based on the fact that they are leading by double digits. I would have no problem with either of them winning, but by double digits? Come on! It’s clear that theatre groups/cast members/family and friends are voting, not the “DC audience.” If you want a fair and balanced assessment of the audiences opinion, DCTheaterScene should create a listserv of visitors to the site and e-mail those people and get their votes. Not people who have never visited the site before and are just logging on to vote for their second cousin because their Aunt Jemima sent them an email to vote for their cousin who they never saw in the show! It’s a joke. And I agree the Helen Hayes are a joke as well.
Craig Workman says
John all I have to say is you are SAD. The fact that you are calling shows “shit shows” and saying these actors don’t deserve to be where they are in the rankings is rediculous. You sir are a hypocrit. This is audience choice. And if they all have many people to support them then good for them. That is what these awards are about the fans and audience members. This just goes to show that they have many fans and a lot of support. The fact that you are tracking this says that you have little to do in your pathetic life. Let it play out and whoever gets the most votes wins. Let the other awards shows do the more intricate voting. Chill out dude you are making a fool of yourself.
Karen Schmigel says
John You need to get a life. There were many great performances and I love the fact that Tracy, Steven and Chris are on top of the lists. Local talent needs to be recognized. Just because you have a big broadway name does not mean you are God’s gift to theatre. Yes George and Chita did good, but so did Tracy, Chris and Steven. They deserve their just do as well. And their family and friends are saying the same thing as well as their fans. It is about time to see Local Talent rising above the rest.
John B says
And now Chris Sizemore is beating all the actors in Best Actor in a Musical by double digits. What a shit show!
It just makes me laugh. This is so silly. Don’t worry John B I’m sure Chita Rivera and George Hearn for some ridiculous reason won’t win the Helen Hayes Awards either. Chita Rivera and George Hearn gave the best performances this entire year anywhere (including Broadway, let alone DC.) Well you know at least that Chita’s family isn’t on here voting and she’s still in 2nd place. For now.
John B says
These awards are a joke! This has nothing to do with the quality of the work, it’s a popularity contest. Stephen Gregory Smith and Tracy Olivera are beating George Hearn and Chita Rivera by double digits. Give me a break! It’s clear that family members and friends and possible even the actors themselves are trying to get as many votes as possible. Sad folks. Really sad.
lorraine treanor says
If you see green bars reporting vote totals instead of radio buttons for the polls, that means that someone else from your ISP address has already voted in that category. For example, if this happened at work, you will be able to vote from your computer at home.
David l says
This was not working very well when I tried to vote. I got a message that I had already voted in a category when in fact I had not voted in that category.