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29th Annual Robby Award Winners Announced

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South Coast Repertory’s The Light in the Piazza and the Center Theatre Group’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, each with four awards, were the big winners at the 29th Annual Robby Awards held Monday February 9, 2015 at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. Piazza tied with Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening for Best Musical Production and also took awards for Best Actress in a Musical for Patti Cohenour, Best Music and Lyrics for Adam Guettel and Best Costume Design for Leah Piehl. Vanya took home the awards for Best Comedy Production, Best Playwriting for Christopher Durang as well as Best Actress and Supporting Actor in a Comedy for Christine Ebersole and David Hull, respectively. Best Drama Production of the year went to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s production of The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia? which also won a Best Actress in a Drama award for Ann Noble. (A complete list of winner can be found below.)


The show began as Eileen Barnett and Michael G. Hawkins joined Robby musical director/accompanist Wayne Moore on the “Robby Theme Song,” written by Billy Barnes in 1995. The show, the first since 2004, was hosted by  Jo Anne Worley and Jason Graae, whose comic antics kept the audience laughing throughout. The evening contained many comedy numbers that were aimed at roasting Robby producer and sole voter, Rob Stevens. Heather Lee, Tracy Lore, Sharon McKnight, Hawkins & Maggie Roswell and Robert Yacko all got big laughs with their songs. Teri Bibb, Will Collyer, Kim Huber and John Massey & Sami Staitman performed numbers they originally sang in some of the evening’s nominees for Best Musical Production. Eileen Barnett sang a Billy Barnes song written about Marilyn Monroe. Bibb and Huber joined Kirsten Chandler in a show-stopping rendition of “Meadowlark” from The Baker’s Wife. All the performers presented the awards along with Priscilla Barnes, Linda Hart, Linda Purl, Joan Van Ark, Ann Walker and Stephanie Zimbalist. Robby Living Legend and oft-times hostess Carole Cook had the audience in stitches telling tales of her involvement with the Robby Awards. Jodi Carlisle presented director Jules Aaron with this year’s Robby Living Legend Award.


Virginia Capers Award for Best Musical Production (Tie)

The Light in the Piazza, South Coast Repertory

Spring Awakening, Deaf West Theatre

Best Director of a Musical

Michael Arden, Spring Awakening

Best Actor in a Musical

James Barbour, Les Miserables, McCoy Rigby Entertainment

Michelle Nicastro Award for Best Actress in a Musical

Patti Cohenour, The Light in the Piazza

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

John Massey, Li’l Abner, LACC Theatre Academy

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Kimberly Hessler, Les Miserables

Billy Barnes Award for Best Music and Lyrics

Adam Guettel, The Light in the Piazza

Best Musical Direction

Jared Stein, Spring Awakening

Dom Salinaro Award for Best Choreography

Kelly Todd, Lysistrata Jones, Chance Theatre

Nan Martin Award for Best Drama Production

The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia, Los Angeles GLBT Center

Martin Benson Award for Best Director of a Drama

Casey Stangl, The Curse of Oedipus, The Antaeus Company

Best Actor in a Drama

Tony Abatemarco, Trying, International City Theatre

Best Actress in a Drama

Ann Noble, The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

Dane Oliver, Equivocation, Theatricum Botanicum

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

Linda Park, Top Girls, The Antaeus Company

Michael Devereaux Award for Best Playwriting

Christopher Durang, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Center Theatre Group-Mark Taper Forum

Carole Cook Award for Best Comedy Production

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Ron Link Award for Best Director of a Comedy

Art Manke, Fallen Angels, The Laguna Playhouse

Best Actor in a Comedy

David Engel, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, The Laguna Playhouse

Lu Leonard Award for Best Actress in a Comedy

Christine Ebersole, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Albert Lord Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

David Hull, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Dee Croxton Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy (Tie)

Mary Pat Green, Fallen Angels

Angela Lansbury, Blithe Spirit, Center Theatre Group-Ahmanson Theatre

Best Scenic Design

Alexander Dodge, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, La Jolla Playhouse

Best Lighting Design

Lisa D. Katz, Floyd Collins, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Best Costume Design

Leah Piehl, The Light in the Piazza

Best Sound Design

Jeff Gardner, The Curse of Oedipus

Best Ensemble Performance

Sherry Mandujano, Keith Montanez, Emily Morris and Scott Weston, Songs for a New World, A Cuppa Tea Theatre Company

John Raitt Award for Best Cabaret/Concert Performance

David Burnham, Valerie Perri and Mark Vogel, Together Again for the First Time, Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal

Robby Living Legend Award

Director Jules Aaron

Special Award

Sacra/Profana Choral Ensemble, The Hunchback of Notre Dame





Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.