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Black Alliance nominations honor black theater excellence

Morris Robins(as Joe) sings 'Old Man River' during piano run-through 'Show Boat' Sunday February 5 2012 Lyric OperChicago. | Tom

Morris Robinson (as Joe) sings "Old Man River" during the piano run-through of "Show Boat" Sunday February 5, 2012 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 23, 2012 9:59AM



Scan the newly announced list of 2012 Black Theater Alliance/Ira Aldridge Awards nominations — which honor excellence in Chicago area theater and dance featuring the work of black artists or stories on black themes — and you will spot an interesting phenomenon.

Competing strongly with the nominations for work by the few but long-lived uniquely black companies in the city (Black Ensemble Theatre, eta Creative Arts and MPAACT, with Congo Square notably missing this year), is work of such companies as the Goodman, Court, Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf, TimeLine, Lookingglass and others, where black directors, playwrights and actors are now featured routinely.

In their own way, the Black Theater Alliance Awards call attention to this important shift while also singling out talents who sometimes go unnoticed.

Following is a complete list of nominations:

— Best Drama or Comedy: “Bodies,” MPAACT; “dowager daughters of transcendence,’ eta Creative Arts Foundation; “Sweet Home,” MPAACT.

— Best Musical or Revue: “The Color Purple,” J Ruffin Entertainment/ Theater 47; “The Jackie Wilson Story,” Black Ensemble Theater; “The Marvin Gaye Story,” Black Ensemble Theater.

— Best Ensemble: “Ameriville,” Victory Gardens Theater; “Spunk,” Court Theatre; “Sweet Home,” MPAACT.

— Best Dramatic Script (Original or Adaptation): Keith Josef Adkins, “Sweet Home”; Danai Gurira, “The Convert” (The Goodman Theater); Cheryl Hall, “dowager daughters of transcendence”; Ike Holter, “Hit The Wall” (The Inconvenience Theatre); Carla Stillwell, “Bodies”; Paul Oakley Stovall, “Immediate Family” (About Face Theater Company).

— Best Musical or Revue Script: Lalenja Harrington and Sule Greg Wilson, “Keep A Song In Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville” (Old Town School of Folk Music); Jackie Taylor, “The Marvin Gaye Story”; Regina Taylor, “Crowns” (The Goodman Theatre).

— Director (Drama or Comedy): Anthony P. Brooks, “dowager daughters of transcendence”; J. Nicole Brooks, “Mr. Ricky Calls A Meeting” (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Phylicia Rashad, “Immediate Family”; Chuck Smith, “Care” (The Goodman Theatre); Sonita Surratt, “Flow” eta Creative Arts Foundation.

— Director (Musical or Revue): Andrea J. Dymond, “Keep A Song In Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville”; McKinley Johnson, “Train Is Comin’” (Open Door Repertory Company); Jackie Taylor, “The Marvin Gaye Story”; Regina Taylor, “Crowns”; John Ruffin, “The Color Purple.”

— Director (Ensemble): Kimberley Crutcher, “Sweet Home”; Tim Rhoze, “Home” (Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre); Seret Scott, “Spunk.”

— Leading Actor (Drama or Comedy): Teagle Bougere, “Invisible Man” (Court Theatre); Charles Gardner, “My Kind of Town” (TimeLine Theatre Company); Rashad Hall, “Flow”; Leroy McClain, “The Convert”; James Vincent Meredith, “Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting”; Andre Teamer, “Bodies.”

— Featured Actor (Drama or Comedy): Kamal Angelo Bolden, “Immediate Family”; Manny Buckley, “Hit The Wall”; Kevin Mambo, “The Convert”; Warner Joseph Miller, “The Convert”; Geoffrey Owens, “Race” Michael Pogue, “Angels In America” (Court Theatre); William R. Riley. “The Legend of Buster Neal” (eta Creative Arts Foundation).

— Leading Actor (Musical or Revue): Morris Robinson, “Show Boat” (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Kelvin Roston Jr., “The Jackie Wilson Story”; Rashawn Thompson, “The Marvin Gaye Story.”

— Featured Actor (Musical or Revue): Donald Barnes, “The Marvin Gaye Story”; David Jennings, “Crowns”; K.C. Lee, “The Color Purple”; Mark Smith, “The Color Purple”; Lawrence Williams, “The Jackie Wilson Story”; Sule Greg Wilson, “Keep A Song In Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville.”

— Actor in an Ensemble: Gamal Chasten, “Ameriville”; Earl Alphonso Fox, “Sweet Home”; Terry Francois, “Sweet Home”; Kenn E. Head, “Spunk”; Steven Sapp, “Ameriville.”

— Most Promising Actor: David Davis; Lance Newton Jr.; Andre Robinson; Keith Surney; Preston Tate Jr.

— Leading Actress (Drama or Comedy): Karen Aldridge, “Clybourne Park” (Steppenwolf Theatre); Alana Arenas, “Changes of Heart” (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company); Pascale Armand, “The Convert”; Cynthia Faye Carter, “Tangled” (eta Creative Arts Foundation); Shanesia Davis, “Immediate Family”; Ebony Joy, “Bodies.”

— Featured Actress (Drama or Comedy): Zainab Jah, “The Convert”; Mildred Marie Langford, “My Kind of Town” (Timeline Theatre Company); Tamberla Perry, “Race”; Rhonda Preston, “dowager daughters of transcendence”; Marlo Manns, “dowager daughters of transcendence”; Sidney Miller, “Bodies.”

— Leading Actress (Musical or Revue): Alyson Cambridge, “Show Boat”; Tashika Benson, “The Color Purple”; E. Faye Butler, “Black Pearl Sings” (Northlight Theatre); Rhiannon Giddens, “Keep A Song In Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville”; China Stewart, “Dreamgirls” (J Ruffin Entertainment/Theater 47).

— Featured Actress (Musical or Revue): Felicia Fields, “Crowns”; Melanie McCullough, “The Jackie Wilson Story”; Nyfesha Miller, “The Color Purple”; Jasmine Patton, “The Color Purple”; Yahdina U-Deen, “The Marvin Gaye Story”; Marketta Wilder, “Crowns.”

— Actress in an Ensemble: Samantha Bailey, “In The Continuum” (Pegasus Players); Ashleigh LaThrop, “In The Continuum”; Patrese D. McClain, “Spunk”; Alexis J. Rogers, “Spunk”; Shariba Rivers, “Sweet Home.”

— Most Promising Actress: Reneisha Jenkins; Jacqueline Maize; Quiana McNary; Ninah Snipes; Ta-Tanisha Wilson.

— Musical Direction: Fred Carl, “Crowns”; Dom Flemons, “Keep a Song In Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville”; Kendall D. Nesbitt, “Dreamgirls”; Phil Patterson, “The Color Purple”; Robert Reddrick, “The Marvin Gaye Story.”

— Choreographer (Resident): Brian Brooks, “Chicago Women of Song” (Deeply Rooted Productions); Montina Chrisp and Davonna Edwards, “The Color Purple”; Idy Ciss and Amaniyea Payne, “Roff” (Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago); Rueben Echoles, “The Marvin Gaye Story”; Dianne McIntyre, “Crowns”; Reggie McLaughlin, “Keep A Song In Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville.”

— Choreographer (Non-Resident): Alvin Ailey(posthumously) “Memoria” (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater); Rennie Harris, “Home” (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater); Bill T.Jones, “Fela!” (Nederlander Productions).

— Best Male Performer (Non-Resident): Kirven James Boyd, “Takademe” (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater); Sahr Ngaujah, “Fela!); Samuel Lee Roberts, “Minus 16” (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater).

— Best Female Performer (Non-Resident): Felicia Boswell, “Memphis” (Nederlander Productions); Linda Celeste Sims, “Memoria”; Ashley Ware, “The Color Purple.”

— Solo Performance: Daniel Beaty “Emergency” (The National Public Housing Museum and The DuSable Museum of African American History). (Unopposed)

— Lighting Design: Casey Diers, “Speaking In Tongues: The Chronicles of Babel”; Craig Ford, Jr., “The Legend of Buster Neal” (eta Creative Arts Foundation); Eurel Jackson, “broke-ology” (eta Creative Arts Foundation).

— Sound Design: Mahmoud Khan, “Tangled”; Mike Pierce and Les Spires, “The Marvin Gaye Story”; Souls of Black Folk, [cq] “Sweet Home”; Sonita Surrat, “dowager daughters of transcendence.”

— Costume Design: Jos N. Banks, “The Color Purple”; Gidi [cq], “Dreamgirls”; Karen Perry, “Crowns”; Michael Alan Stein, “Chicago Women of Song”; Ruthanne Swanson, “The Marvin Gaye Story”; Paul Tazewell, “The Convert.”

— Set Design: Dolores Easter and Darius Woolfolk, “dowager daughters of transcendence”; Jessica Kuehnau, “Speaking In Tongues: The Chronicles of Babel” (MPAACT); Jackie and Rick Penrod, “In The Continuum.”



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