And the Winners Be

The OC Weekly Theater Awards

Martin Benson, All My Sons, South Coast Repertory

Arguably the most important attribute of a director is his or her ability to cast well. On that point, Martin Benson's staging of Arthur Miller's drama about hypocrisy and ghosts from the past was superlative. But just as important when dealing with a recognized classic is a director's ability to make a play we've all seen, read or heard about feel as vibrant and compelling today as when first performed. This production's honesty and emotional energy forced the audience into a re-examination both of this play and of this country's collective history.

BEST PRODUCTION All My Sons, South Coast Repertory

It was tempting to give this award to one of the four other nominees, all of them produced by theaters that don't have the firepower or reputation of South Coast Repertory and all of which mounted fantastic shows: the Vanguard Theatre Ensemble, Rude Guerrilla, Huntington Beach Playhouse or 6 Chairs and a Couple of Artists. But though we tried very hard, our conscience would not allow us, for all the reasons listed above.

The Kentucky Cycle BEST COLLEGE PRODUCTION The Kentucky Cycle, Fullerton College

How ambitious was the decision to stage Robert Schenkkan's epic play cycle? It spans 200 years and comprises nine one-acts that must be produced in two separate three-hour chunks. Somehow, co-directors Robert Jensen and Daniel Lemieux managed to wrestle all that into a play that was comprehensible and engaging while guiding their very young and very capable actors to mature, fully realized performances. The ultimate compliment? At play's end, our reviewer was ready for six more hours.

Hal Landon Jr.
Photo by Jack Gould THE HELEN MODJESKA AWARD FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO ORANGE COUNTY THEATER Hal Landon Jr., South Coast Repertory This award is our version of a lifetime achievement award, with one exception: our recipients remain intimately involved in theater. No one better embodies the breadth of work and hunger for the new than Hal Landon Jr., one of South Coast Repertory's five founding artists. His annual reprise of Scrooge in SCR's holiday chestnut A Christmas Carol makes Landon the poster boy for Orange County theater. But it's his range and diversity in the multitude of other roles that make him such a luminous figure. —Joel Beers and theater staff*For a list of all nominees, click on "archives" and go to the issue for Jan. 5. Click on the story called "More Honest Than the Supreme Court!" That's it.
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