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Huntington, SpeakEasy, Moonbox lead the nominees for the Elliot Norton theater awards

Winners will be announced in a livestreamed ceremony on May 11

The late Johnny Lee Davenport will be given a posthumous Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence.

The show must go on!

Even though the coronavirus pandemic has cut the theater season short, the Boston Theater Critics Association is moving forward with the 38th edition of the Elliot Norton Awards. The group announced its nominees Thursday, as well as preliminary plans for a virtual ceremony to be held May 11 that will include the posthumous awarding of the 2020 Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence to actor Johnny Lee Davenport, who died Feb. 2. Davenport was a two-time Norton winner and five-time nominee.

Leading the field of nominations this year is the Huntington Theatre Company with 16, followed by SpeakEasy Stage Company with 13, Moonbox Productions with 12, Arlekin Players Theatre with 10, and Apollinaire Theatre Company with nine. Topping the list of individual nominations is Moonbox’s “Parade” with eight, followed by the American Repertory Theater’s “Moby-Dick,” the Huntington’s “The Purists,” and North Shore Music Theatre’s “Sunset Boulevard,” all with seven.

The outstanding musical production nominees are “Moby-Dick,” “Parade,” “Sunset Boulevard,” Moonbox’s “Caroline, or Change,” and Lyric Stage Company of Boston’s “Pacific Overtures.”


The nominees for outstanding musical performance by an actor are Aaron Patterson in “Parade,” Nicholas Rodriguez in “Sunset Boulevard,” Tom Nelis in “Moby-Dick,” Rashed Alnuaimi in New Repertory Theatre’s “Oliver!,” and Peter Mill in Moonbox’s “The Rocky Horror Show.” Contenders for outstanding musical performance by an actress are Yewande Odetoyinbo in “Caroline, or Change,” Alice Ripley in “Sunset Boulevard,” Haley K. Clay in “Parade,” and Katrina Z Pavao in Lyric Stage’s “Little Shop of Horrors.”

In the large theater division, the nominees for outstanding production are the Huntington pair of “The Purists” and “Sweat” alongside ArtsEmerson’s “Detroit Red.” As outstanding director, Billy Porter is nominated for “The Purists,” Kimberly Senior for “Sweat,” Lee Sunday Evans for “Detroit Red,” Rachel Chavkin for “Moby-Dick,” and Kevin P. Hill for “Sunset Boulevard.”


The outstanding actor nominees are Morocco Omari for “The Purists,” Eric Berryman for “Detroit Red,” and Will LeBow for the Huntington’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” For outstanding actress, a Huntington quartet — Analisa Velez and Izzie Steele in “The Purists” and Jennifer Regan and Tyla Abercrumbie in “Sweat” — are joined by Nora Eschenheimer in Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s “Cymbeline.” For outstanding ensemble, the nominees are “Moby-Dick,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “The Purists,” “Sweat,” and the Huntington’s “Quixote Nuevo.” For outstanding design, it’s “Moby-Dick,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Detroit Red,” “Sweat,” and “Quixote Nuevo.”

In the midsize theater division, SpeakEasy’s “Pass Over” (with the Front Porch Arts Collective) and “The Children” will compete with the Nora’s “Cloud 9,” Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s “Cambodian Rock Band,” and Underground Railway Theater’s “Vanity Fair” for outstanding production. The outstanding director nominees are Lee Mikeska Gardner for “Cloud 9,” David R. Gammons for “Vanity Fair,” Marti Lyons for “Cambodian Rock Band,” Benny Sato Ambush for Underground Railway Theater’s “black odyssey boston” (with the Front Porch Arts Collective), and Eric Tucker for the Nora’s “The Crucible” (in association with Bedlam).

The outstanding actor nominees are Kadahj Bennett for “Pass Over,” Brandon Green for “black odyssey boston,” Albert Park for “Cambodian Rock Band,” Nathan Malin for SpeakEasy’s “Admissions,” and Hubens “Bobby” Cius for the Nora and WAM Theatre’s “Pipeline.” For outstanding actress, the nominees are Debra Wise in “Vanity Fair” and a SpeakEasy quartet: Cheryl McMahon in “Admissions,” Paula Plum and Karen MacDonald in “The Children,” and Ireon Roach in “School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play.” For outstanding ensemble, the nominees are “Cloud 9,” “Pipeline,” “black odyssey boston,” “School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play,” and SpeakEasy’s “Choir Boy.” For outstanding design, “Vanity Fair,” “black odyssey boston,” “Cloud 9,” “Pass Over,” and Lyric Stage’s “The Cake” are the nominees.


Nominated for outstanding production by a small or fringe company are Arlekin’s “The Stone” and “The Seagull,” Israeli Stage’s “The Return,” Apollinaire Theatre Company’s “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart,” and Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans’ “The Ebonic Woman.” The nominees for outstanding director are Igor Golyak for “The Stone” and “The Seagull,” Guy Ben-Aharon for “The Return,” Danielle Fauteux Jacques for “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart,” and Jason Modica for “Parade.”

The outstanding actor nominees for small or fringe theater include an Apollinaire trio: Brooks Reeves for “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart,” Alexander Pobutsky for “Hir,” and Seamus G. Doyle for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” They’re joined by Nael Nacer in “The Return” and Minh-Anh Day in Company One Theatre’s “Wolf Play.” For outstanding actress, the nominees are Darya Denisova in “The Stone,” Anne Gottlieb in “The Seagull,” Philana Mia in “The Return,” Becca A. Lewis in “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart,” and Lily Kaufman in Apollinaire’s “Cry It Out.” The outstanding ensemble nominees are “The Stone,” “The Seagull,” “Parade,” “The Ebonic Woman,” and “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart.” And for outstanding design it’s “The Stone,” “The Seagull,” “Parade,” “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart,” and Company One’s “Vietgone.”


For outstanding musical direction, the nominees are Or Matias for “Moby-Dick,” Catherine Stornetta for “Parade,” Dan Rodriguez for “Caroline, or Change,” Milton Granger for “Sunset Boulevard,” and David Freeman Coleman for “Choir Boy.” Outstanding choreography nominees are Yewande Odetoyinbo and Ruka White for “Choir Boy,” Kira Troilo for “Parade,” and Ilyse Robbins for Greater Boston Stage Company’s “Swan Lake in Blue.”

For outstanding new script, the nominees are Dan McCabe for “The Purists,” Dave Malloy for “Moby-Dick,” Will Power for “Detroit Red,” Hansol Jung for “Wolf Play,” and Ryan Landry for “The Ebonic Woman.”

In addition to honoring Davenport, the Boston Theater Critics Association will recognize “Shear Madness,” the popular audience-participation whodunit whose Boston incarnation closed this season after 40 years and more than 12,000 performances at the Charles Playhouse. And this year, in lieu of a scholarship, the BTCA will make a donation of $2,500 to the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund, which provides financial relief to artists in crisis in Greater Boston.

The awards ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on May 11. Details on how to livestream the event will be available soon at

Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at