For the 14th consecutive year, the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards are waiting in the wings to remind you of the best in local theater. The nominations are out, with public voting beginning now.
I recently wrote that an abundance of local recognition — the CEAs, founded by CityBeat in 1997, and the Acclaims, supported by The Cincinnati Enquirer — might be more than can be reasonably sustained. I’m still of that opinion, and I’ve been encouraged by people inside and outside the theater community to continue the conversation.
In the meantime, however, the 2010 CEAs are under way (mark your calendar for the awards event Aug. 29 at Know Theatre), with several exciting modifications.
As a newspaper that champions grassroots activism, CityBeat has always used public voting for a segment of the CEAs, initially with a printed ballot and more recently via online voting, registering the preferences of thousands of theater fans. (Another segment of the CEAs — including technical theater and overall decisions about the season’s best productions — uses input from critics who see more shows than the average theatergoer.)
But public voting has drawbacks.
When categories have mingled nominees from professional theaters (Cincinnati Playhouse, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare and Know Theatre) with community theaters, local supporters for the latter have often swamped the results. On the other hand, when productions or performers from university programs (CCM, NKU) were nominated, because of shorter runs and smaller audiences, they often had only a slim chance of winning.
To address these discrepancies, the 2010 CEAs offer two new areas for public voting: one for community theater and another for universities. In addition to the established categories for actors and actresses in plays and musicals at professional theaters, you can now cast separate votes for actors and actresses, musicals and plays produced by community companies and college programs. This adds eight categories, roughly 40 more representations of Greater Cincinnati’s vibrant theater scene.
Among the six community theaters with 2010 nominations, Footlighters has seven for three productions (The Miracle Worker, Sweeney Todd, The Wedding Singer), while Mariemont Players has five for two shows (The Dixie Swim Club, A Tuna Christmas). Cincinnati Music Theatre’s Curtains has three nominations, as does Showbiz Players' 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Our two major universities split the nominations, with 14 going to CCM for seven shows (four musicals and three plays) and six to NKU for four shows (two musicals and two plays).
In the professional theater category, Know Theatre had two productions that earned 13 nominations between them: The ambitious staging of the two parts of Angels in America and a production of the dark musical Adding Machine.
Cincinnati Playhouse’s 50th anniversary season resulted in more nominations than any other company (21 in all, nine publicly voted and 12 in critical achievement categories). Three Sisters landed seven (pictured above) and The History of Invulnerability four; both shows are up for the season’s outstanding play, as well as Daddy Long Legs and The Fantasticks for best musical.
ETC’s 33 Variations also earned seven nominations (including outstanding play), and its extended-run hit The Marvelous Wonderettes is up for best musical.
And to demonstrate that a small company can do great work, New Edgecliff’s Equus (directed by Alan Patrick Kenny, founder of the defunct New Stage Collective) has four nominations, including outstanding play.
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