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Candide

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“Oh, poor Candide,” warbles the Governor of Buenos Aires as he sends Candide, our hapless hero, off to almost certain death in a leaky boat. Except, of course, when the traitorous warbling comes from the Governor of Montevideo. Or when the double-cross and the singing are courtesy of a Dutch merchant named Vanderdendur. And here, in a nutshell, is the conundrum of Leonard Bernstein’s musical, Candide. Or is it an operetta?

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Dream Boy

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Eric Rosen’s adaptation of Jim Grimsley’s Dream Boy receives its Los Angeles premiere in a richly textured production by the Celebration Theatre. Under Michael Matthews’ vivid and pictorially elegant direction, the play admirably balances the story’s beauty and its bleakness.

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Ham A Musical Memoir

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For those of us who have been around Los Angeles long enough, Sam Harris exploded onto our radar when he sang in a variety of small venues in the early 80’s. The voice, the style, and the theatricality were already in evidence.

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1984

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In a radical and pertinent new stage adaptation of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984, by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, the terrifying tale of Winston Smith, a conscious cog of a person caught in the machinery of the oppressive state of Oceania, unfolds with horrific tension and ample (and amply jarring) sensory disruption. What makes it all the more disturbing is that this Headlong Theatre production of 1984 (an import from Great Britain) echoes the tenor of our own time.

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The Madwoman in the Volvo

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In addition to being a longtime radio personality, who was recently recognized by Variety magazine as one of America's 50 most influential comedians, Sandra Tsing Loh is also a bestselling author and playwright. And now, Southern California audiences have the opportunity to see Loh in the world premiere of The Madwoman in the Volvo, on the Julianne Argyros Stage of Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory Theatre.

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Outside Mullingar

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Thanks to a stellar cast and its crafty director, Todd Salovey, San Diego Repertory Theatre’s engaging production of Outside Mullingar succeeds in pulling the wool over the eyes, just long enough and often enough to be pleasantly, often hilariously, surprising.

 

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Empire the Musical

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Empire the Musical is not to be confused with Empire, the television series. The TV program is a drama about ambition and the music industry. The Empire that is the focus of this review is a musical about ambition and architecture. Shortly before the Great Depression, in 1929, the idea of constructing a skyscraper that would in less than two years become the one of the seven man-made wonders of the modern world was a daring notion, ripe for drama, loaded with potential human conflict.

 

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The Madwoman in the Volvo/Another View

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Throughout her career as an essayist, a familiar voice on NPR, and a performer/playwright, Sandra Tsing Loh has used autobiography as a means to comment on her own life as well as broader issues in the world. Her new play, The Madwoman in the Volvo, now enjoying a world premiere at South Coast Repertory Theatre, continues and expands upon this model.

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Absolute

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In The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, a fourteen-year-old boy is missing from his sleepy Jersey Shore town. Solving the mystery of Leonard Pelkey’s disappearance is the job of local detective, Chuck DeSantis, played by James Lecesne. And, as this is a solo show, playwright/performer Lecesne also plays the other inhabitants of the town.

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Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities

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Cirque du Soleil has come a long way from its humble Montreal beginnings in the mid-80’s. Its brilliant synthesis of circus and theatre has revolutionized the world’s idea of the circus. Their latest touring creation, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, has settled into the parking lot at Dodger Stadium for the holidays and beyond.

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Spotlight

The 30th Annual Robby Awards

Since 1974 when theater critic Rob Stevens invented the Robbys to spotlight the multitude of strong theatrical productions being done locally, the evening has taken on a near-cult following. The nomination list reads like a who's who and what's what of Los Angeles area theater. From small to large venues, Stevens seeks them out and nominates a fine list of plays, players, and those who toil behind the scene. The names are familiar, but he doesn't exclude new talent either. The evening is a paean to our unique LA theater scene. The award itself is a bus, since the first show was held in a LA bus station. Quirky, yes, but lots of fun and a chance for the year's best productions to be recognized and for the principals to meet and greet.

BEST MUSICAL

Assassins, Red Blanket Productions

Big Fish, Moonlight Stage Productions

Billy Elliot The Musical, McCoy Rigby Entertainment

The Bridges of Madison County, CTG-Ahmanson Theatre

Company, Cabrillo Music Theatre

Fugitive Songs, 2Cents Theatre

I’m Still Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road, Laguna Playhouse

Inside Out, Grove Theatre Center

Jesus Christ Superstar, DOMA Theatre Co

Side Show, 3D Theatricals

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Los Angeles Drama Critics Announce Nominations for 2015

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) has announced its nominations and special awards for excellence in Los Angeles and Orange County theatre for the year 2015 (Dec. 1, 2014 – Nov. 30, 2015). The 47th annual LADCC awards ceremony will take place on Monday, March 14, 2016 at The Ann & Jerry Moss Theater at New Roads School, in the Capshaw-Spielberg Center for Arts and Educational Justice at the Herb Alpert Educational Village, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA. (There is some onsite parking and ample street parking.) All event tickets are $40, and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com (small service fee applies) or at the door if available. (Purchased tickets will be held at Will Call.) Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for our Silent Auction, hors d’oeuvres, and cash bar. The show will commence at 7:30 p.m. Further information will be found at www.ladramacriticscircle.com. Inquiries to: 2016criticsawards@gmail.com.

 

The awards will be hosted by Jake Broder, accomplished actor, writer, musician, and composer whose original music for Miravel, a play he also wrote and starred in at Sacred Fools Theater, has been nominated as one of the year’s outstanding scores. Broder co-wrote the acclaimed musical bio Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara, and originated the role of “Louis Prima.” Musical director Corey Hirsch, recipient of a 2014 LADCC award for A Man of No Importance and one of the busiest musical directors on the local scene, will appear for the third consecutive year.

The evening’s theme will be “OUR THEATER IS UNIQUE.” We will be mindful of the ways in which the theatrical art in general, and local theater in particular, are like no other art forms.

One or more plaques will be presented in each of 18 categories. Two of those achievements have already been voted plaques. For Writing (Adaptation), Luis Alfaro will be honored for Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, produced at The Getty Villa by J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court. The McCulloh Award for Revival—for a production of a play originally written between 1920 and 1980—will be presented to Anna Christie, produced by Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at the Odyssey Theatre. In addition, six special awards will also be presented through the sponsorship of organizations to which the LADCC is most grateful.

The LADCC special award recipients are as follows:

The Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theatre goes to Deaf West Theater Company. The award is accompanied by an honorarium, sponsor to be announced, and will be presented by Circle member Sharon Perlmutter.

The Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play goes to Qui Nguyen for Vietgone, originally produced by South Coast Repertory. The award is accompanied by an offer to publish by Samuel French, Inc., and will be presented by Circle member and event producer Bob Verini.

The Polly Warfield Award for an excellent season in a small to mid-size theatre goes to International City Theatre. The award is accompanied by an honorarium funded by the Nederlander Organization, and will be presented by Circle member Shirle Gottlieb.

The Kinetic Lighting Award for outstanding achievement in theatrical design goes to projections designer Jason H. Thompson. The award is accompanied by an honorarium funded by Kinetic Lighting, and will be presented by Circle President Margaret Gray.

The Joel Hirschhorn Award for outstanding achievement in musical theatre goes to director-choreographer Janet Miller. The award is accompanied by an honorarium, sponsor to be announced, and will be presented by Circle member David C. Nichols.

The Milton Katselas Award for career or special achievement in direction goes to Michael Matthews. The award is accompanied by an honorarium funded by the Beverly Hills Playhouse, and will be presented by Circle Vice President Jonas Schwartz-Owen.

 

The nominees for the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for theatrical excellence in 2015 are as follows:

Production

·       André & Dorine, Kulunka Teatro at Los Angeles Theatre Center.

·       Bootycandy, Celebration Theatre at The Lex.

·       Enron, The Production Company at The Lex.

·       Fences, International City Theatre.

·       Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles       LGBT Center.

·       Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

·       Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

·       The Gospel at Colonus, Ebony Repertory Theatre at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.

 

McCulloh Award for Revival (plays written between 1920 and 1980)

·       Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.

Lead Performance

·       Angela Bullock in Watching O.J., Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA at Atwater Village Theatre Complex.

·       Jason Dechert in Picnic, Antaeus Theatre Company.

·       Mary Beth Fisher in Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

·       Matthew Hancock in Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

·       Ted Heyck in God’s Man in Texas, A Guest Production at The Blank Theatre’s 2nd Stage.

·       Lily Knight in A Small Fire, The Echo Theater Company @ Atwater Village Theatre.

·       Troy Kotsur in American Buffalo, Cal State L.A. Department of Music, Theatre and Dance and Deaf West Theatre at State Playhouse.

·       Emily Lopez in Carrie the Musical, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, The Transfer Group, Michael T. Cohen/Robin Reinach, Kraige Block and Joe Everett Michaels, in association with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and The Los Angeles Theatre.

·       Zoe Perry in Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.

·       Tiffany Royale in The Best of Enemies, The Colony Theatre.

·       Michael A. Shepperd in Fences, International City Theatre.

·       Jimmi Simpson in Trevor, Circle X Theatre Co. at Atwater Village Theatre.

·       Jeff Skowron in Into the Woods, Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

·       Sabina Zuniga Varela in Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

Featured Performance

·       Richard Fancy in Awake and Sing!, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.

·       Charlotte Gulezian in Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

·       Charlie Hofheimer in Bent, Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum.

·       Tracie Lockwood in A Permanent Image, Rogue Machine Theatre at Theatre/Theater.

·       Elyse Mirto in Figaro, A Noise Within.

·       Martin Rayner in Oedipus Machina, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and KOAN at Odyssey Theatre.

·       Bryce Ryness in Matilda the Musical, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.

·       Michael A. Shepperd in Bootycandy, Celebration Theatre at The Lex.

Ensemble Performance

·       André & Dorine, Kulunka Teatro at Los Angeles Theatre Center.

·       Bootycandy, Celebration Theatre at The Lex.

·       Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

·       Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

·       Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

Solo Performance

 

·       Orson Bean in Safe at Home: An Evening With Orson Bean, Pacific Resident Theatre.

·       Monica Piper in Not That Jewish, Jewish Women’s Theatre at The Braid.

·       John Douglas Thompson in Satchmo at the Waldorf, The Long Wharf Theatre and Shakespeare & Company Production at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

 

Direction

·       Jessica Kubzansky, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

·       Jaime Robledo, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre.

·       Kim Rubinstein, Anna Christie, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble at Odyssey Theatre.

·       Ken Sawyer, Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

·       August Viverito, Enron, The Production Company at The Lex.

Writing

·       Rebecca Gilman, Luna Gale, Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

·       Nick Jones, Trevor, Circle X Theatre Co. at Atwater Village Theatre.

·       Robert O’Hara, Bootycandy, Celebration Theatre at The Lex.

·       Lucy Prebble, Enron, The Production Company at The Lex.

·       Micah Schraft, A Dog’s House, IAMA Theatre Company at Elephant Theatre.

Writing (Adaptation)

·       Luis Alfaro, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

Musical Score

·       Stu Barker, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.

·       Jake Broder, Miravel, Sacred Fools Theater Company at Sacred Fools Theater.

·       Tim Minchin, Matilda the Musical, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.

·       Anna Waronker and Charlotte Coffey, Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

 

Music Direction

·       Stu Barker, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.

·       Brian P. Kennedy, Carrie the Musical, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, The Transfer Group, Michael T. Cohen/Robin Reinach, Kraige Block and Joe Everett Michaels, in association with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and The Los Angeles Theatre.

·       Abdul Hamid Royal, The Gospel at Colonus, Ebony Repertory Theatre at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.

·       Julie Wolf, Girlfriend, The Actors Theatre of Louisville Production, Center Theatre Group at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

 

Choreography

·       Christopher Gattelli, Newsies, Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher at Hollywood Pantages Theatre.

·       Josh Rhodes, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Koos, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Carola Productions, Roy Furman, Peter May/Sanford Robertson, James Spry, Eric Schmidt, and Blanket Fort Productions, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.

·       Dana Solimando, Billy Elliot, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

·       Angela Todaro, American Idiot, DOMA Theatre Company at The MET Theatre.

 

Set Design

·       Tom Buderwitz, The Whipping Man, South Coast Repertory and The Pasadena Playhouse.

·       Mimi Lien, Appropriate, Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum.

·       Don Llewellyn, Fences, International City Theatre.

·       Bill Mitchell, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.

Lighting Design

·       Martin Labrecque, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities, Cirque du Soleil at Dodger Stadium.

·       Tom Ontiveros, My Barking Dog, The Theatre @ Boston Court.

·       Matt Richter, Hit the Wall, The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and Sixth Avenue at The Los Angeles LGBT Center.

·       Malcolm Rippeth, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.

Costume Design

·       Angela Balogh Calin, Figaro, A Noise Within.

·       Jessica Ford, These Paper Bullets!, Geffen Playhouse in association with Atlantic Theater Company presents the Yale Repertory Theatre Production at Geffen Playhouse.

·       Philippe Guillotel, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities, Cirque du Soleil at Dodger Stadium.

·       Wade Laboissonniere, Waterfall, The Pasadena Playhouse in association with The 5th Avenue Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse.

·       William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Koos, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Carola Productions, Roy Furman, Peter May/Sanford Robertson, James Spry, Eric Schmidt, and Blanket Fort Productions, Center Theatre Group at Ahmanson Theatre.

Sound Design

·       Gregory Clarke, Tristan & Yseult, Kneehigh at South Coast Repertory.

·       Bruno Louchouarn, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum and The Theatre @ Boston Court at Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa.

·       Jaime Robledo, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre.

·       John Zalewski, My Barking Dog, The Theatre @ Boston Court.

 

CGI/Video

·       Anthony Backman and Jim Pierce, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre.

·       Nicholas Santiago, A Permanent Image, Rogue Machine Theatre at Theatre/Theater.

 

Specialty

·       Gieselle Blair, Figaro, A Noise Within. (Hair, wigs, and makeup)

·       Garbiñe Insausti, André & Dorine, Kulunka Teatro at The Los Angeles Theatre Center. (Masks)

·       Aviva Pressman, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Sacred Fools Theatre Company at Sacred Fools Theatre. (Live art direction)

·       Jim Steinmeyer, Carrie the Musical, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, The Transfer Group, Michael T. Cohen/Robin Reinach, Kraige Block and Joe Everett Michaels, in association with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and The Los Angeles Theatre. (Illusion design)

 

 

Every effort has been made to ascertain proper credits for our nominees. We regret any errors or omissions. Any that come to our attention will be corrected on our LADCC website, in the event program, and (when applicable) on a recipient’s awards plaque.

 

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle was founded in 1969.  It is dedicated to excellence in theatrical criticism, and to the encouragement and improvement of theatre in Greater Los Angeles. The 2015 membership consisted of:

Pauline Adamek, ArtsBeatLA.com, Stage Raw

Paul Birchall, Stage Raw, Stage and Cinema

Shirle Gottlieb, Gazette Newspapers, StageHappenings.com

Margaret Gray, Los Angeles Times

Hoyt Hilsman, The Huffington Post

Deborah Klugman, LA Weekly, ArtsBeatLA.com, Stage Raw

Jenny Lower, Stage Raw, LA Weekly

Jon Magaril, CurtainUp.com

Dany Margolies, ArtsInLA.com, LANG (Los Angeles News Group)

Myron Meisel, Stage Raw

Terry Morgan, TalkinBroadway.com

Steven Leigh Morris, LA Weekly, Stage Raw

David C. Nichols, Los Angeles Times

Sharon Perlmutter, TalkinBroadway.com

Melinda Schupmann, ShowMag.com, ArtsinLA.com

Jonas Schwartz-Owen, Theatermania.com, ArtsinLA.com

Madeleine Shaner, Park La Brea News & Beverly Press

Don Shirley, LA Observed

Les Spindle, Frontiers, EDGE LA

Bob Verini, Variety, ArtsinLA.com, Stage Raw

Neal Weaver, Stage Raw, ArtsinLA.com

 

Citations by production:

Hit the Wall (Los Angeles LGBT Center) 7

Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles (Getty Villa) 6

Tristan & Yseult (South Coast Repertory) 5

Astro Boy and the God of Comics (Sacred Fools) 4

Bootycandy (Celebration Theatre) 4

Luna Gale (Kirk Douglas Theatre) 4

André & Dorine (Los Angeles Theatre Center) 3

Anna Christie (Odyssey Theatre) 3

Carrie the Musical (La Mirada Center for the Performing Arts and Los Angeles Theatre) 3

Enron (The MET Theatre) 3

Fences (International City Theatre) 3

Figaro (A Noise Within) 3

A Permanent Image (Rogue Machine) 2

Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities (Dodger Stadium) 2

Matilda the Musical (Ahmanson Theatre) 2

My Barking Dog (The Theatre @ Boston Court) 2

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Ahmanson Theatre) 2

The Gospel at Colonus (Nate Holden Performing Arts Center) 2

Trevor (Atwater Village Theatre) 2

A Dog’s House (Elephant Theatre) 1

American Buffalo (Cal State L.A.) 1

American Idiot (MET Theatre) 1

A Small Fire (Echo Theatre) 1

Appropriate (Mark Taper Forum) 1

Awake and Sing! (Odyssey Theatre) 1

Bent (Mark Taper Forum) 1

Billy Elliot (La Mirada Center for the Performing Arts) 1

Girlfriend (Kirk Douglas Theatre) 1

God’s Man in Texas (Blank Theatre) 1

Into the Woods (Wallis Annenberg Center) 1

Miravel (Sacred Fools Theatre) 1

Newsies (Hollywood Pantages) 1

Not That Jewish (The Braid) 1

Oedipus Machina (Odyssey Theatre) 1

Picnic (Antaeus) 1

Safe at Home: An Evening With Orson Bean (Pacific Resident Theatre) 1

Satchmo at the Waldorf (Wallis Annenberg Center) 1

The Best Of Enemies (Colony Theatre) 1

These Paper Bullets! (Geffen Playhouse) 1

The Whipping Man (South Coast Repertory/Pasadena Playhouse) 1

Vietgone (South Coast Repertory) 1—The Ted Schmitt Award

Watching O.J. (Atwater Village Theatre) 1

Waterfall (Pasadena Playhouse) 1