Top theater company honors at the 40th Elliot Norton Awards Monday night went to the Front Porch Arts Collective, which collected 13 prizes, and the Huntington, which snagged 10. “K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” a co-production of the Huntington and Front Porch, was the most celebrated production, with eight awards.
The awards, voted by the Boston Theater Critics Association, were handed out at the Huntington Avenue Theatre, the first time since 2019 that the Nortons were presented at a live, in-person ceremony.
“K-I-S-S-I-N-G” won six of the eight awards in the large-theater division, including outstanding play, plus honors for director Dawn M. Simmons, actors Regan Sims (leading performance) and Ivan Cecil Walks (featured performance), lighting designer Jorge Arroyo, and sound designer Anna Drummond. “Clyde’s,” a co-production of the Huntington and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, took the awards for Wilson Chin’s scenic design and Karen Perry’s costume design.
In the midsize-theater division, SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “The Inheritance” won for outstanding play and for Mishka Yarovoy’s featured performance. Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s “Seven Guitars” collected awards for outstanding director, won by Maurice Emmanuel Parent, and for Anthony T Goss’s lead performance.
In the combined midsize- or small-theater category, Jon Savage won for scenic design and Abe Joyner-Meyers (soundscape) and Dewey Dellay (music) won for sound design, all for their work in “Seven Guitars.” Kat C. Zhou won outstanding lighting design for “The Chinese Lady,” which Central Square Theater presented in partnership with CHUANG Stage. Outstanding costume design went to Scott Martino for Gold Dust Orphans’ “Little Christmas Tree Shop of Horrors.”
Topping the small-theater honors was Front Porch’s “Chicken & Biscuits” as outstanding play. Mariela López-Ponce was named outstanding director for Apollinaire Theatre Company and Teatro Chelsea’s “Don’t Eat the Mangos.” The award for lead performance went to Ramona Lisa Alexander in “Black Super Hero Magic Mama,” which Company One Theatre presented in collaboration with the American Repertory Theater, the Boston Public Library, and the Boston Comics in Color Festival. Schanaya Barrows won the Norton Award for her featured performance in “can i touch it?,” which Company One produced in partnership with the City of Boston’s Office of Arts and Culture.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’,” a presentation of the Front Porch Arts Collective, the Nora @ Central Square Theater, and Greater Boston Stage Company, was named outstanding musical, and claimed awards for co-directors David Freeman Coleman and Dan Rodriguez and featured performer Anthony Pires Jr. The award for outstanding leading performance in a musical went to Neil A. Casey in Lyric Stage Company of Boston’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
Along with its six large-theater awards, “K-I-S-S-I-N-G” also took the honors for Misha Shields’s choreography and Lenelle Moïse’s script. SpeakEasy’s “The Inheritance” won the award for outstanding ensemble. Paul Melendy won for outstanding solo performance in Greater Boston Stage Company’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
The outstanding visiting play was Octopus Theatricals’ “On Beckett,” as presented by ArtsEmerson. Ambassador Theatre Group’s “Into the Woods” won for outstanding visiting musical, while that show’s Gavin Creel won for outstanding visiting performance in a musical. Travis Alabanza gave the outstanding visiting performance in a play in ArtsEmerson’s presentation of “Burgerz.” And the award for outstanding visiting design went to “The Orchard,” which was produced by Cherry Orchard Festival in association with Arlekin Players Theatre and (zero-G) Lab, Groundswell Theatricals, and ShowOne Productions.
This year’s Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence was given to longtime Boston favorite Bobbie Steinbach. Tufts University’s Magic Circle Theater received the 2023 Elliot Norton Arts Education Award.
Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.