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Suzi Bass Award voters this year liked cake and the Bard, the drama of boxing and a quirky little musical about high-school choristers who suffer an uncertain fate aboard an unsteady roller coaster.

Professional Atlanta theater honored its own Monday night with the 2018–19 honors, named for longtime Atlanta actor Suzi Bass, a force of nature who died of cancer in 2002 at age 56.

Outstanding play honors went to Theatrical Outfit’s The Book of Will, with a script by Decatur-born, San Francisco-based Lauren Gunderson, who, for the second time in three years, is this season’s most-produced playwright in the country.

Theatrical Outfit cast of "The Book of Will."

The Theatrical Outfit company of Lauren Gunderson’s “The Book of Will,” named outstanding play of Atlanta’s 2018–19 season (Photo by Greg Mooney)

Synchronicity Theatre’s Hands of Color was named outstanding world premiere. The drama, by first-time playwright Kimberly Monks, came through the company’s developmental SheWrites program. The walk-a-mile-in-your-shoes drama follows a white man who finds himself in an alternate universe — living life as a black man.

The Alliance Theatre’s Ride the Cyclone — the one about the choristers — earned six Suzis: best musical, Leora Morris’ direction, best ensemble and its lighting, sound and projection designs. The Alliance won two Suzis each for its family musicals Max Makes a Million and The Wizard of Oz, bringing the company’s total Suzi take to 11 (including one for Ever After; see below) and making it the biggest winner of the evening.

Among musicals, interestingly, the Suzis went small, favoring the seven-character Ride the Cyclone and shutting out the Cinderella-themed Ever After, with a cast of 28 and enough New York talent behind it to believe it has Broadway aspirations. Ever After, nominated for 14 Suzis, took home only one, for Linda Cho’s costume designs.

Synchronicity Theatre's "Hands of Color" (2019).

Justin Walker (left) and Enoch King in “Hands of Color” at Synchronicity Theatre, named outstanding world premiere (Photo by Jerry Siegel)

Aurora Theatre took home five Suzis — acting awards for Deadra Moore in A Doll’s House, Part 2 (a coproduction with Actor’s Express), Jeremy Aggers in the one-man This Wonderful Life and Adrianna Trachell in the musical Men With Money. It also was cited for This Wonderful Life’s projection design and Ricardo Aponte’s choreography for Newsies (a coproduction with Atlanta Lyric Theatre).

Theatrical Outfit also earned five Suzis — for outstanding play for The Book of Will, as previously mentioned; Patdro Harris’ direction of the searing boxing drama The Royale, loosely based on the life of Jack Johnson (1878–1946); S. Renee Clark’s musical direction for Five Guys Named Moe; lighting design for The Royale; and costume design for The Book of Will.

Horizon Theatre took home three awards, including acting awards for Marcie Millard (female lead actor/play) and Allan Edwards (male supporting actor/play) for Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake. The piece follows a North Carolina baker and devout Christian who’s asked to make a wedding cake for her best friend’s daughter — who’s gay.

Marcie Millard in The Cake at Horizon Theatre

Marcie Millard won the female lead actor/play award for her work as Della, a baker caught between her love for her best friend’s gay daughter and her Christian beliefs, in “The Cake” at Horizon Theatre.

Horizon’s third Suzi came for best ensemble/play for the cast of the soccer-themed The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe. The company comprised Katie Causey, Megan Cramer, Shelby Folks, Ebony Jerry, Shannon McCarren, Erika Miranda, Michelle Pokopac, Rebeca Robles, Jasmine Thomas and Anna Williford.

It’s hopeful to see some of the little guys take home trophies too. Catalyst Arts Atlanta, which produces a single show a year if we’re lucky, was honored for Barrett Doyle, Bennett Walton and Daniel Pope’s design work for K2, a taut drama about two climbers stranded on the world’s second-largest mountain. Legacy Theatre in Tyrone took home the female lead actor/musical award for Kaitlyn Sage’s work in Daddy Long Legs, based on the novel and the 1955 movie starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron.

"K2" at Catalyst Arts Atlanta.

Joel Coady (top) and Dan Ford in Catalyst Arts Atlanta’s “K2,” which won Suzis for its set and sound designs (Photo by Casey Gardner)

In all, 13 companies won Suzis, although it was a quiet year for Actor’s Express, which produced such important titles as An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Reykjavík by one-time Atlantan Steve Yockey and the timely/timeless musical Falsettos.

Serenbe Playhouse, which rivals the Alliance in attracting national press, won two of the 10 awards for which it was nominated — an acting honor for Chase Davidson’s Younger Brother in Ragtime and Adam Koch’s water-borne scenic design for Titanic.

Ten nominated companies were shut out, including — surprisingly — 7 Stages, Georgia Ensemble Theatre and True Colors Theatre Company. Also shut out were a mix of larger companies (Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse) and smaller houses/budgets (BUICEentennial Productions, the Celtic-themed Arís Theatre, the LGBTQ-themed Out Front Theatre Company, Theatre Buford, the French-language Théâtre du Rêve and Marietta’s Wallace Buice Theatre Company).

The Suzis also handed out four special awards, including lifetime achievement honors for Theatrical Outfit’s Tom Key, who’s led the downtown company for 25 years and exits at the end of the season. Mary Lynn Owen won the Gene-Gabriel Playwriting Award for her one-woman piece Knead, developed through the Alliance’s Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab. Sheila Oliver, a teacher and Actor’s Express’ longtime casting director, won the Callboard Award for work behind the scenes, and Laura Kurlander Nagel, who chairs Synchronicity’s board, was named volunteer of the year.

The winners of the 15th annual Suzi Bass Awards are highlighted in bold below.

OUTSTANDING WORLD PREMIERE:

  • Goodnight, Tyler at the Alliance Theatre
  • Hands of Color at Synchronicity Theatre
  • Knead at the Alliance
  • Men With Money at Aurora Theatre
  • On the Third Day at Vanguard Repertory Company

OUTSTANDING PLAY:

  • The Book of Will at Theatrical Outfit
  • Goodnight, Tyler at the Alliance Theatre
  • K2 at Catalyst Arts Atlanta
  • An Octoroon at Actor’s Express
  • The Royale at Theatrical Outfit

DIRECTION/PLAY:

  • Freddie Ashley, A Doll’s House, Part 2, at Actor’s Express and Aurora Theatre
  • David Catlin, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Alliance Theatre (in Piedmont Park)
  • David Crowe, The Book of Will at Theatrical Outfit
  • Kent Gash, Goodnight, Tyler at the Alliance
  • Patdro Harris, The Royale at Theatrical Outfit
  • Adam Koplan, The Pitmen Painters at Theatrical Outfit

FEMALE LEAD ACTOR/PLAY:

  • Denise Burse-Fernandez in Dot at True Colors Theatre Company
  • Tonia Jackson in Skeleton Crew at True Colors
  • Marcie Millard in The Cake at Horizon Theatre
  • Courtney Moors in Nell Gwynn at Synchronicity Theatre
  • Mary Lynn Owen in Knead at the Alliance Theatre

MALE LEAD ACTOR/PLAY:

  • Jeremy Aggers in This Wonderful Life at Aurora Theatre
  • Alex V. Gibson in Goodnight, Tyler at the Alliance Theatre
  • Lee Osorio in Hamlet at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
  • Stephen Ruffin in Pipeline at Horizon Theatre
  • Peter Smith in I Am My Own Wife at Out Front Theatre

FEMALE SUPPORTING ACTOR/PLAY:

  • Shelli Delgado in Hamlet at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
  • Therecia Lang in Hands of Color at Synchronicity Theatre
  • Deadra Moore in A Doll’s House, Part 2, an Actor’s Express/Aurora Theatre coproduction
  • Gina Rickicki in Romeo and Juliet at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
  • Kristen Storla in Romeo and Juliet at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

MALE SUPPORTING ACTOR/PLAY:

  • Matt Baum in Waiting for Godot at 7 Stages
  • Marlon Burnley in The Royale at Theatrical Outfit
  • Allan Edwards in The Cake at Horizon Theatre
  • Chris Hecke in Henry IV, Part 1 at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
  • Jonathan Horne in Henry IV, Part 1 at the Shakespeare Tavern

ENSEMBLE/PLAY:

  • The Book of Will at Theatrical Outfit
  • Not About Heroes at Arís Theatre
  • An Octoroon at Actor’s Express
  • The Pitmen Painters at Theatrical Outfit
  • The Wolves at Horizon Theatre

 COSTUME DESIGN/PLAY:

  • April Andrew for An Octoroon at Actor’s Express
  • Landi McAdams for Nell Gwynn at Synchronicity Theatre
  • Sully Ratke for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Alliance Theatre
  • Jennifer Schottstaedt for Code Noir at Théâtre du Rêve
  • Emmie Tuttle for The Book of Will at Theatrical Outfit

LIGHTING DESIGN/PLAY:

  • Maranda DeBusk for Hands of Color at Synchronicity Theatre
  • Michelle Habeck for Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous at the Alliance Theatre
  • Zach Murphy for An Octoroon at Actor’s Express
  • Liz Lee for Goodnight, Tyler at the Alliance
  • Mary Parker for The Cake at Horizon Theatre
  • Mary Parker for The Royale at Theatrical Outfit

SCENIC DESIGN/PLAY:

  • Kat Conley for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alliance Theatre in Piedmont Park
  • Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay for The Book of Will at Theatrical Outfit
  • Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay for I love To Eat at Theatrical Outfit
  • Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay for The Cake at Horizon Theatre
  • Barrett Doyle for K2 at Catalyst Arts Atlanta

SOUND DESIGN/PLAY:

  • Brandon Bush for Approval Junkie at the Alliance Theatre
  • Anna Lee for This Wonderful Life at Aurora Theatre
  • Jeff Millsaps for The Royale at Theatrical Outfit
  • Rick Sims for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Alliance in Piedmont Park
  • Bennett Walton and Daniel Pope for K2 at Catalyst Arts Atlanta

PROJECTION DESIGN/PLAY:

  • Justin Anderson for This Wonderful Life at Aurora Theatre
  • Bradley Bergeron for Pipeline at Horizon Theatre
  • Bradley Bergeron for Skeleton Crew at True Colors Theatre Company
  • Mike Post for The Pitmen Painters at Theatrical Outfit
  • Vanguard Repertory Company for On the Third Day at Vanguard Repertory Company

MUSICAL:

  • Daddy Long Legs at Legacy Theatre
  • Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Men With Money at Aurora Theatre
  • Ragtime at Serenbe Playhouse
  • Ride the Cyclone at the Alliance

DIRECTION/MUSICAL:

  • Susan V. Booth for Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Taylor Buice for Parade at Wallace Buice Theatre Company
  • Brian Clowdus for Ragtime at Serenbe Playhouse
  • Brian Clowdus for Titanic at Serenbe Playhouse
  • Leora Morris for Ride the Cyclone at the Alliance

FEMALE LEAD ACTOR/MUSICAL:

  • Sierra Boggess in Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Kaitlyn Sage in Daddy Long Legs at Legacy Theatre
  • Adrianna Trachell for Songs for a New World at BUICEentennial Productions
  • India Tyree for Aida at Atlanta Lyric Theatre
  • Rachel York for Ever After at the Alliance

MALE LEAD ACTOR/MUSICAL:

  • David Garrison in Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Jacob Louchheim in Ragtime at Serenbe Playhouse
  • William Michals in South Pacific at City Springs Theatre Company
  • Chase Peacock in Daddy Long Legs at Legacy Theatre
  • Haden Rider in Aida at Atlanta Lyric Theatre

FEMALE SUPPORTING ACTOR/MUSICAL:

  • Deborah Bowman for 42nd Street at City Springs Theatre Company
  • Nicole Vanessa Ortiz for Ragtime at Serenbe Playhouse
  • Rhyn Saver for Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Yvonne Strumecki for South Pacific at City Springs
  • Adrianna Trachell for Men With Money at Aurora Theatre

MALE SUPPORTING ACTOR/MUSICAL:

  • Corey Bryant for Footloose at Theatre Buford
  • Chase Davidson for Ragtime at Serenbe Playhouse
  • Max Gukhman for South Pacific at City Springs Theatre Company
  • Chris Kayser for Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Dan Wisniewski for Men With Money at Aurora Theatre

ENSEMBLE/MUSICAL:

  • Falsettos at Actor’s Express
  • Five Guys Named Moe at Theatrical Outfit
  • Ride the Cyclone at the Alliance Theatre
  • Parade at Wallace Buice Theatre Company

MUSICAL DIRECTION:

  • S. Renee Clark for Five Guys Named Moe at Theatrical Outfit
  • Jodi Cotton for Daddy Long Legs at Legacy Theatre
  • Chris Brent Davis for Ragtime at Serenbe Playhouse
  • Greg Matteson for Ride the Cyclone at the Alliance Theatre
  • Phil Reno for Ever After at the Alliance

CHOREOGRAPHY:

  • Ricardo Aponte for Men With Money at Aurora Theatre
  • Ricardo Aponte for Newsies, an Aurora Theatre/Atlanta Lyric Theatre coproduction
  • JoAnn M. Hunter for Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Thomas W. Jones II for Five Guys Named Moe at Theatrical Outfit
  • Cindy Mora Reiser for 42nd Street at City Springs Theatre Company

COSTUME DESIGN/MUSICAL:

  • Linda Cho for Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Nyrobi N. Moss for Five Guys Named Moe at Theatrical Outfit
  • Elizabeth Rasmusson for Men With Money at Aurora Theatre
  • Emmie Tuttle for Bullets Over Broadway at Georgia Ensemble Theatre
  • Alan Yeong for Titanic at Serenbe Playhouse

LIGHTING DESIGN/MUSICAL:

  • Greg Hofmann for Ride the Cyclone at the Alliance Theatre
  • Mike Post for Men With Money at Aurora Theatre
  • Ben Rawson for Aida at Atlanta Lyric Theatre
  • Robert Wierzel for Ever After at the Alliance
  • Mike Wood for Billy Elliot at City Springs Theatre Company

SCENIC DESIGN/MUSICAL:

  • Scott Davis for Ride the Cyclone at the Alliance Theatre
  • Adam Koch for Titanic at Serenbe Playhouse
  • Anna Louizos for Ever After at the Alliance
  • Julie Allardice Ray for Men With Money at Aurora Theatre
  • Shannon Robert for Newsies, an Aurora Theatre/Atlanta Lyric Theatre coproduction

SOUND DESIGN/MUSICAL:

  • Clay Benning for Ride the Cyclone at the Alliance Theatre
  • Joshua Horvath for Nick’s Flamingo Grill at the Alliance
  • Jason Polhemus for Daddy Long Legs at Legacy Theatre
  • Daniel Terry for Five Guys Named Moe at Theatrical Outfit
  • Ken Travis for Ever After at the Alliance

PROJECTION DESIGN/MUSICAL:

  • Bradley Bergeron for Daddy Long Legs at Legacy Theatre
  • Bradley Bergeron for Elf at City Springs Theatre Company
  • Milton M. Cordero for Newsies, an Aurora Theatre/Atlanta Lyric Theatre coproduction
  • Sven Ortel for Ever After at the Alliance Theatre
  • Mike Tutaj for Ride the Cyclone at the Alliance

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION/THEATER FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES:

  • Max Makes a Million at the Alliance Theatre
  • Gimme, Please at the Alliance
  • Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds at Synchronicity Theatre
  • The Wizard of Oz at the Alliance
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Center for Puppetry Arts

NEW WORK/TYA:

  • The True Story of Pocahontas at Serenbe Playhouse
  • Max Makes a Million at the Alliance Theatre
  • Gimme, Please at the Alliance
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Center for Puppetry Arts

DIRECTION/TYA:

  • Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds at Synchronicity Theatre
  • La Tortuga and the Hare at the Alliance Theatre
  • The Wizard of Oz at the Alliance
  • Max Makes a Million at the Alliance
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Center for Puppetry Arts

ENSEMBLE/TYA:

  • Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds at Synchronicity Theatre
  • La Tortuga and the Hare at the Alliance Theatre
  • The Wizard of Oz at the Alliance
  • Max Makes a Million at the Alliance
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Center for Puppetry Arts

DESIGN/TYA:

  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at Aurora Theatre
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Center for Puppetry Arts
  • Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds at Synchronicity Theatre
  • The Wizard of Oz at the Alliance Theatre
  • Max Makes a Million at the Alliance

::

WINS BY COMPANY (nominations in parentheses):

11: Alliance Theatre (48 nominations)

5: Aurora Theatre (17)

5: Theatrical Outfit (19)

3: Horizon Theatre (7)

2: Serenbe Playhouse (10)

2: Catalyst Arts Atlanta (3)

1: Synchronicity Theatre (9)

1: Actor’s Express (7)

In addition, Atlanta Lyric Theatre, City Springs Theatre Company, the Center for Puppetry Arts, Legacy Theatre and Vanguard Repertory Company each won a single Suzi.

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