By Pat Launer
The culmination of a GREAT theater year,
A week filled with gala Patté cheer…
So herewith, I’m pleased to restate for you,
My annual doggerel year in review,
A little poetic introduction
To each 2004 Patté-winning production.
It was Saturday Night at the Palace;
The Earthquake Sun had gone down.
As I sat in Da Moonlight, a Lie of the Mind, told me
‘Take the Streetcar to town.’
So I hopped on the A-Train, Committed to finding a Raisin in the Sun
When my life turned into A Dream Play – 700 Sundays all rolled into one.
A Lion roared, a Boy fell in a Book, and Shirley sent a Valentine
Hecuba taunted Macbeth with a Goat and The Music Man started to whine.
The Spiderwoman said the Gingerbread Lady was a silly, Kid-Simple bimbo
While Jenny Chow’d down and old Kimberly steadfastly stood with her arms Akimbo.
The Jersey Boys pushed a Bed and a Sofa right into The Chosen spot
Those Rotten Scoundrels – by this time, the Remains of my evening were shot.
I was Fit to Be Tied, I couldn’t believe what these screwballs had done to my day!
So what could I do — but get ‘em together, and give ‘em a taste of Patté!
The final entertainment interlude said it all: the fabulous Jersey Boys rocked the rafters with “Oh What a Night!”
The 8th annual Patté Awards for Theatre Excellence, sponsored by KPBS, was a glorious gala, a great dinner, a fun social event and a veritable theater love-fest. The evening crackled with energy, and sparkled with glitter, sequins and feathers (and that was just my outfit!). The entertainment was especially spectacular.
The show open was from Moonlight Stage Productions’ “Cabaret” — Eric Anderson as the Emcee, backed by three gorgeously decadent, dancing Kit Kat Girls (his knockout wife, Erin Anderson, along with Deborah Fauerbach and Natalia Lind) — and was followed by the hilarious David McBean, reprising his side-splitting entry in the talent competition of “Pageant” (which premiered locally at North Coast Rep, coming back this spring to Cygnet Theatre) as Miss Deep South, musically extolling the virtues of Dixie – in three voices and vocal ranges. Uproarious. Later, three fabu singers from the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s “Crowns” came on ( Lisa Payton, Charles W. Patmon , Jr. and Karole Foreman, who’d gotten a gig in New York since she signed on for the Pattés, and flew in FOR THE DAY – just to be there! Amazing person, talent and professional!). They blew the roof off with “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” And a little later, the Jersey Boys capped off a terrific evening — Daniel Reichard as Bob Gaudio , Christian Hoff as Tommy DeVito , Steve Gouveia as Nick Massi and the fantastic, singing band: Joe Payne, Steve “Hoops” Snyder , Ken Dow, Kevin Dow and music director Ron Melrose. Killer!
And I can’t forget the fantastic house-band: Kevin Cooper on bass, Danny King on drums and music director Cris O’Bryon on piano. The interstitial songs that played up the awardees, were often obliquely amusing, and many people enjoyed ‘puzzling out’ the relationship of the music to the winning play (e.g., “The Eensy Weensy Spider,” played in an aptly somber, minor key, for the intense drama, “Kiss of the Spiderwoman.” Or “The Lonely Goatherd,” also played in a minor key, for the tragedy, “The Goat.” Or “Mack the Knife” for “Macbeth.” Coming up with the musical selections is one of my favorite parts of the Patté planning!)
Eighteen local theaters were represented in the 30 awards given, encompassing young talent as well as seasoned veterans and showcasing the enormous diversity of San Diego ’s theater community and productions. In the midst of these difficult economic times, it was thrilling to spotlight so many new theater ventures that opened their doors in 2004: Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, Ion Theatre, Premiere Productions and Moxie Theatre. Ever-optimistic, theatermakers are just brash and courageous enough to take a chance and put their own dramatic vision out there, in spite of all the doomsayers and belt- tighteners around them.
There were three special awards given during the evening. First, a total surprise (he was the only one present who didn’t know in advance that he was going to get some kind of award) to Ken Jacques, a Special Citation “For Keeping San Diego Theater Memories Alive – Photographically.” For the past quarter-century, Ken’s been the world-class photographer for so many companies and productions. Last year, he published a compilation of some of his photographic ‘greatest hits’ – the beautiful coffee-table book. “The Play’s the Thing: A Photographic Odyssey through Theatre in San Diego .”
The MacDonald Playwriting Award, named for playwright/director/philanthropist Marianne McDonald, was bestowed by Dr. McDonald on Seema Sueko, for her highly charged, personal/political reminiscence, Remains, a heartbreaking story about seeing all sides of the Middle East conflict. It was a great year for Seema; she also won an Outstanding Performance Award for her superlative job as the antic-frantic, obsessive-compulsive, agoraphobic whiz-kid in “The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow” at the Old Globe.
The Shiley Lifetime Achievement Award, named for long-time Patté and KPBS donors Darlene and Donald Shiley, was given to consummate actor Jonathan McMurtry, who has thrilled local audiences for over four decades, playing everyone from Scrooge to Iago . Last year he took on at least six roles — 3 Shakespeareans, one Dickens, a drunk and an aging actor. The latter play title summed it all up: “A Life in the Theatre.”
The rest of the awards follow. The acceptances were uniformly gracious and grateful. It’s absolutely soul-stirring to be in a room with all those passionate, dedicated, talented people – and most of all, to honor them for the magical work they do. Congrats to all!
Jesus Hopped the A Train – Lynx Performance Theatre
Kimberly Akimbo – 6th @ Penn Theatre
Kiss of the Spiderwoman – 6th @ Penn Theatre
A Lie of the Mind – Backyard Productions and New Village Arts Theatre
Outstanding Scenic Design
Nick Fouch , The Goat – San Diego Repertory Theatre and Hecuba – 6th @ Penn Theatre
Giulio Cesare Perrone , Earthquake Sun – San Diego Repertory Theatre
Outstanding Sound Design
Paul Peterson, Kid-Simple – Sledgehammer Theatre
Joseph Sarlo – A Streetcar Named Desire – UCSD
Outstanding Lighting Design
Eric Lotze , Escanaba in Da Moonlight – Cygnet Theatre
Jennifer Setlow , Earthquake Sun – San Diego Repertory Theatre
Outstanding Costume Design
Kathy Auckland (costume and wig design), The Music Man – Starlight Theatre
Jeanne Reith and Aina S. O’Kane , The Boy Who Fell into a Book – Lamb’s Players Theatre
David Ellenstein, The Chosen – North Coast Repertory Theatre
Sean Murray, Direction and Design of a six-play season at Cygnet Theatre
Claudio Raygoza – Saturday Night at the Palace and A Raisin in the Sun – Ion Theatre and Common Ground Theatre
Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, Kimberly Akimbo – 6th @ Penn Theatre and Fit to be Tied – Diversionary Theatre
Richard Baird, Macbeth – Poor Players
Jill Drexler, Fit to Be Tied – Diversionary Theatre
Sandra Ellis-Troy, The Gingerbread Lady – Renaissance Theatre
David McBean, Fully Committed – Cygnet Theatre
Rosina Reynolds, Shirley Valentine – Renaissance Theatre
Charlie Riendeau, The Lion in Winter – The Broadway Theater
Seema Sueko, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow – The Old Globe Theatre
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – The Old Globe Theatre
Jersey Boys and 700 Sundays – La Jolla Playhouse
A Dream Play – Sledgehammer Theatre
Bed and Sofa – Cygnet Theatre
It was punishingly difficult to make these decisions. 2004 was the most robust year of theater I can remember. I broke my own prior records, seeing 185 shows – and there were so many talents that stood out, extending well beyond the confines of the awards. I want to single out some of the other shining stars of the year….
Actors : Priscilla Allen, David Ari , Linda Castro, Ron Choularton, Robin Christ, Devlin, Julie Jacobs, Jessica John, Linda Libby, Daren Scott, Dennis Scott, Katherine Sigismund , Cristina Soria, Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson
Directors : Esther Emery, Brendon Fox, Darko Tresjnak , Joseph Ward, Brian Wells, Jim Winker
Playwrights : Mat Smart, Jim Caputo, Ruff Yeager
… and a few Young Faces to Watch: Matt Davis, Ian Gilligan, Andrew Hart, Sam Jacobs, Erika Jermasek , Andrew Kennedy, Ari Lerner, Evan Macy-Beckwith, Melissa Mitchell, Blake Thomas, Dan Tracer, Alisha Zalkin , Tom Zohar .
2004 proved that San Diego is in peak theater form; dramatically speaking, the year was a smash-hit!
DON’T FORGET MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR…
… the TV broadcast of the 8th Annual Patté Awards for Theater Excellence on KPBS-TV, Sunday, Jan. 16 at 3:30pm (channel 15, cable 11) and again on Saturday, January 29 at 11pm. It’s almost like being there!
THIS WEEK’S ‘NOT TO BE MISSED‘ LIST:
“36 Views” a stunning piece of theater; beautifully written (by former San Diegan Naomi Iizuka ), gorgeously directed (by Chay Yew). At the Laguna Playhouse, through January 30.
LOTS of openings this week… and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! All of the following open some time between Jan. 7 and 17! Whew !:
“Of Mice and Men” – Renaissance Theatre at 6th @ Penn
“Burn this” at Cygnet Theatre
“Forever Plaid” at the Welk
“A Guide to the Perplexed” at the San Diego Rep
Plays by Young Writers – Playwrights Project at the Cassius Carter
“Wrinkles” at Diversionary
David Cale – Sushi at St. Cecilia’s
“Fucking A” at UCSD
“The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron” at the Theatre in Old Town
“Romeo and Juliet” – Poor Players at Adams Avenue Theatre
“Pigeonholes” at 6th @ Penn (MTW only)
So… is this a Theater Town , or what?
©2005 Patté Productions Inc.