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Craig Noel Awards Honor San Diego Theater

A 2017 photo from Moonlight Amphitheatre's production of "In the Heights."
John Howard
A 2017 photo from Moonlight Amphitheatre's production of "In the Heights."
Craig Noel Awards Honor San Diego Theater
Craig Noel Awards Honor San Diego Theater GUEST:Nina Garin, arts editor/producer, KPBS News

>>> Red carpets are popping up everywhere this time of year as awards shows honor actors. Last night, San Diego actors and supporters -- performance were in the spotlight for the Craig Noel Awards. APS arts calendar Nina has the winners. >> Hello. >> Tell us about the Craig Noel Awards. >> The Craig Noel Awards are named after the founding artistic director of the old Globe. People credit him for making San Diego the theater town that it is. He was there for more than 70 years, directed 200 place. He established the MFA program at USD. He won the 2007 national medal of arts. What he did for San Diego also is introduce us to people like Beckett and Albee and other contemporary works. Craig Noel is why we are a theater town. The awards are by the San Diego Theatre Critics. They pick the best performances and technical aspects of the 2017 theater season. >> They are like our version of the Tony's? >> Yes. >> What shows were the big winners? >> What I like about the award show is they are evenly spread between big and small theaters. If I was to say there was a big winner, it would be n the Heights. It one outstanding musical, best direction of a musical, best choreography and musical direction. >> Remind us about that musical? That was Lynn when Mel Lynn one well? >> It is mostly Latino. It is about the struggles about what goes on. That won a Tony. It was put on at Moonlight amphitheater. It was so beautiful. Everybody loved it. It is not a surprise that it one. >> On the dramatic side, there was a split, is that right? >> Yes there were a lot of awards going back and forth between ion theater, they did he Battle of Emmett Till. which is out -- about a crime that helped ignite the civil rights movement. That won a best ensemble award. Intrepid theater -- theater did ather Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3. . That got best direction. That is a show that is set in the Civil War that explores racial privilege. Those 2 went back and forth between top honors. >> What local actors were singled out? >> The San Diego theater critic announce best actors from the stage. Everyone was surprised. The winners this year were Cortez L Johnson who was in he Battle of Emmett Till. . And Jennifer Carreras was in 12th night. The best young artist was given to Scotty Atienza. He was in Cabaret. >> What were the other surprises? >> I will say the biggest surprise and one of the nicest moments at the ceremony was when on stage Playhouse from Chula Vista got best small theater. No one was expecting that. They were really surprised and honored. That is a very small theater in Chula Vista. They are all volunteer. The person who is the artistic director works as a construction manager during the day. They have been doing really innovative's an important work. It was nice to see them recognize. >> Are the Craig Noel Awards recognize outside of San Diego? >> Not really. If you are an actor and you have an award next your name, it means something but it does not have the same weight as say a Tony. The funny thing is they are in pop culture. You can see them mentioned in things. I watch a cartoon called the horseman on Netflix. They named the Craig Noel awards. Also Grace and Frankie kind of do a parody of the Craig Noel Awards. They are recognized and people realize we have a theater thing happening here. >> What about San Diego's theater establishments? The old Globe, the La Jolla Playhouse? >> That was a surprise. Those were nominated for several awards. They each took home 1 award. One was for wild goose dreams. The old Globe got one for the absolute brightness of Leonard Pelkey for a solo performance. >> When you watch the Oscars, you can go and see those pictures -- actors that when the big prizes. That is not the case for these, is a? >> Unless you go to the -- New York, you can see but this is your one chance while that is playing to see it. It is important to say that because San Diego theaters need support. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see it. It out there and see theater and be part of the awards and excitement next year. >> They are performing that run, the play that might when next year. You can see a complete list of winners at kpbs.org. I have been speaking with Nina Garin. Thank you. >> Thank you. [ Music ]

On Monday night, the Craig Noel Awards honored the best plays and musicals performed on San Diego stages. Selected by the San Diego Theatre Critics, the ceremony celebrated productions from the 2017 season.

Top honors went to Moonlight Stage Productions’ "In the Heights," the musical by Lin Manuel Miranda about the lives of Latin characters in New York’s Washington Heights. The San Diego production won four awards, including Outstanding Resident Musical.

On the dramatic side, the awards were split for two plays that tackle racism and civil rights. Ion Theatre’s "The Battle of Emmett Till," about a crime that sparked the civil rights movement won best play, best direction and best ensemble. Intrepid Theatre’s Civil War epic "Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3" also took home an award for best direction, plus outstanding featured performance by Tom Stephenson.

The San Diego Theatre Critics singled out special awards during the two-hour ceremony. Actor of the Year went to Cortez L. Johnson ("Ballad of Emmett Till," "Blue Door") and Jennifer Paredes ("Twelfth Night," "Ballast"). Chula Vista's volunteer-run OnStage Playhouse won for Outstanding Work by a Small Theatre Company.

Bodhi Tree Concert's "8 Songs For a Mad King," won Outstanding Special Event and Scotty Atienza won Outstanding Young Artist for his work in Ion Theatre's "Cabaret."

Here's a look at the complete list of winners:

Outstanding New Musical

"Tarrytown," Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company

Outstanding Musical Direction

Elan McMahan for "In the Heights," Moonlight Stage Productions

A 2017 photo of Cygnet Theatre's "Shockheaded Peter."
Daren Scott
A 2017 photo of Cygnet Theatre's "Shockheaded Peter."

Outstanding Costume Design

Shirley Pierson for "Shockheaded Peter," Cygnet Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design

Joanna Lynne Staub for "Wild Goose Dreams," La Jolla Playhouse

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical, Male

Randall Hickman for "The Little Mermaid," Moonlight Stage Productions

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical, Female

Cashae Monya for "Cabaret," ion theatre

Outstanding New Play

"Ballast," by Georgette Kelly, Diversionary Theatre

A 2017 photo from the touring production of "An American in Paris."
Matthew Murphy
A 2017 photo from the touring production of "An American in Paris."

Outstanding Touring Production

"An American in Paris," Broadway San Diego

Outstanding Lighting Design

Conor Mulligan for "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," Cygnet Theatre

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play, Female

Annie Hinton for "Well," Diversionary Theatre

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play, Male

Tom Stephenson for "Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3," Intrepid Theatre Company

Outstanding Choreography

Carlos Mendoza for "In the Heights," Moonlight State Productions

Outstanding Ensemble

"The Ballad of Emmett Till," ion theatre

Outstanding Scenic Design

Sean Fanning for "On the 20th Century," Cygnet Theatre

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play, Male

Caleb Foote for "Hand to God," San Diego Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play, Female

DeAnna Driscoll for "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," Cygnet Theatre

Outstanding Projection Design

Michael McKeaon for "Silent Sky," Lamb's Players Theatre

Outstanding Direction of a Play

TIE

Yolanda Marie Franklin and Claudio Raygoza for "The Ballad of Emmett Till," ion theatre

and

Christy Yael-Cox for "Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 and 3," Intrepid Theatre

A 2017 photo of San Diego Repertory Theatre's "Black Pearl Sings!"
Courtesy of San Diego Rep
A 2017 photo of San Diego Repertory Theatre's "Black Pearl Sings!"

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical, Female

Minka Wiltz for "Black Pearl Sings!" San Diego Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical, Male

Richard Bermudez, "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Welk Resort Theatre

Outstanding Direction of a Musical

James Vasquez for "In the Heights," Moonlight Stage Productions

Outstanding Solo Performance

TIE

James Lecesne for "The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey," The Old Globe

and

Shana Wride for "2.5 Mile Ride," Diversionary Theatre

Outstanding Resident Musical

"In the Heights," Moonlight Stage Productions

A 2017 photo from Intrepid Theatre's "The Battle of Emmett Till."
Daren Scott
A 2017 photo from Intrepid Theatre's "The Battle of Emmett Till."

Outstanding Dramatic Production

"The Ballad of Emmett Till," ion theatre