Celebrating the best of North Bay theater

It was a good night for the North Bay theater community.

At the 39th annual San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle awards, held at San Francisco’s Victoria Theater on Monday, March 9, a happy batch of North Bay theater companies saw their artists win honors for shows that caught critics’ attention in 2014.

Denise Elia-Yen won—her second year in a row—for her snappy portrayal of Annie Oakley in Spreckels Performing Arts Center’s brilliant production of Annie Get Your Gun; Janis Wilson won for musical direction of that show as well. Those were two of four awards won by Spreckels this year, including acting wins for Mary Gannon Graham and Jeff Coté for Bell, Book and Candle and The Book of Matthew (Liebowitz), respectively.

For 6th Street Playhouse, Abbey Lee was honored for her outrageous supporting performance as an oversexed gangster’s moll in Victor/Victoria, and Rebekah Pearson (no longer sporting her arm cast) for playing the title role in Thoroughly Modern Millie. For the same show, Anthony Guzman and Evan Attwood both picked up acting wins, and Joseph Favalora was honored for his peppy choreography.

For Main Stage West in Sebastopol, singer-songwriter Si Kahn won for best original music for his show Mother Jones in Heaven, along with actor Tyler Costin for the hilarious Vanya and Sonja and Masha and Spike and sound designer Albert Casselhoff for the outstanding T.I.C. (Trenchcoat in Common). Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma received a nomination for Mary Chun’s musical direction of last year’s elegant Fiddler on the Roof and an award for The Marriage of Figaro. The Best Ensemble win went to the cast of Sheri Lee Miller’s stellar staging of Of Mice and Men

One of the biggest winners was Marin Onstage and Curtain Theater’s co-production of Return to the Forbidden Planet, with acting wins for Steve Beecroft and Phillip Percy Williams, best director for Carl Jordan and several other technical and artistry awards, including Best Overall Show.

Other winners included Ross Valley Players (Journey’s End), AlterTheater (Baba), Novato Theater Company (Next to Normal) and Marin Theater Company (Failure: A Love Story, Lasso of Truth and Fences).

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners, who need not be reminded that theater awards like these are just a party game. Having the opportunity to make exceptional theater, that’s the real party.

For the full list of San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle nominees and recipients, visit www.sfbatcc.org.