The 30th edition of the Elliot Norton Awards, held Monday night at the Paramount Theatre, was dedicated to former Boston Theater Critics Association president Caldwell Titcomb, who died last June, and the ceremony was rife with stories of Titcomb and Norton and how much both men loved the theater.
But the evening also had a clear winner, SpeakEasy Stage Company, which waltzed off with six of the 24 contest prizes.
Competing in the midsize- and small/midsize-theater categories, SpeakEasy scored awards for outstanding production (“Red’’), musical production (“The Drowsy Chaperone’’), actor (Thomas Derrah, “Red’’), actress (Kathy St. George, “The Divine Sister’’), actor in a musical (Michael Tacconi, “Next to Normal’’), and director (Larry Coen, “The Divine Sister’’).
In announcing the nominees for the director award, Company One artistic director Shawn LaCount said: “They tell me directing is hard. But these three made it look SpeakEasy,’’ referring to the fact that all three had directed SpeakEasy productions.
There were other multiple winners.
ArtsEmerson took four awards in all. “Mabou Mines DollHouse,’’ an adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen play, was named outstanding visiting production; its star, Maude Mitchell, won outstanding performance by an actress at a large theater.
The solo-performance category, in which ArtsEmerson swept the nominees, yielded a win for Yves Jacques in “The Andersen Project,’’ which also grabbed the design prize in its class.
Rob Orchard, Emerson College’s director for the arts, accepted Jacques’s award, explaining that the performer was busy at the Cannes Film Festival, where he had two films. “Be sure that my thoughts are with you,’’ Jacques wrote; after reading the note, Orchard said with a big smile, “I don’t know about that.’’
The American Repertory Theater’s “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess’’ won for outstanding musical at a large theater, and its Bess, Audra McDonald, plucked the prize for actress in a musical.
The corresponding actor-in-a-musical accolade went to Christopher Sieber for playing Albin in the touring production of “La Cage aux Folles,’’ which was presented by Broadway in Boston.
Mary Zimmerman was named outstanding director at a large theater for “Candide,’’ at the Huntington Theatre Company. Richard Clothier won the large-theater actor’s prize for his turn in the title role of Propeller’s all-male “Richard III,’’ which was presented by the Boston University School of Theatre in association with the Huntington.
It was a good night for the Bard. Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s “All’s Well That Ends Well’’ was named outstanding production at a large theater, and Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s “Twelfth Night’’ won the same prize in the small-theater division. “Twelfth Night’’ also took the design award for a medium, small, or fringe theater.
Stephen Sachs’s “Bakersfield Mist,’’ coproduced by Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater and New Repertory Theatre, was named outstanding new script.
Company One, in the small/fringe-theater race, came away with two acting awards: Hampton Fluker for “The Brother/Sister Plays’’ and Erin Markey for Tennessee Williams’s “Green Eyes.’’
Megan McGinnis won the actress-in-a-musical award, small/midsize division, for playing Jerusha Abbott in Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s “Daddy Long Legs.’’
The directing prize for a small or fringe theater went to Danielle Fauteux Jacques for Apollinaire Theatre Company’s “Uncle Vanya.’’ Orfeo Group’s “Love Song’’ won outstanding production at a fringe theater.
The Boston Theater Critics Association, which presents the awards, also gave some in noncompetitive categories.
The Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence went to Kate Snodgrass, artistic director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, which puts on the annual Boston Theater Marathon.
The Elliot Norton 30th Anniversary Award was given to Tony Award-winning producer Spring Sirkin. The Emerging Artists Award was presented to the Factory Theatre “for continuing to support new talent,’’ and a special citation was given to Charlestown Working Theater for its “adventurous collaborations that provide unique insights from theater around the world.’’
It wasn’t all prizes and speeches; there were musical numbers from SpeakEasy’s productions of “The Drowsy Chaperone’’ and “Next to Normal.’’ And Tommy Tune accepted the Elliot Norton Lifetime Achievement Award first by singing George and Ira Gershwin’s “ ’S Wonderful’’ and then by tapping his way through their “Embraceable You,’’ both in tribute to Norton, whom he called “the dean of American critics.’’