This year’s Barrymore Award nominees cover a wide spectrum of Philadelphia-area theater

 Ben Michael (left) and Alex Bechtel as two princes in Theatre Horizon's production of 'Into the Woods,' nominated for a dozen Barrymore Awards -- the most for a production staged this past season.

Ben Michael (left) and Alex Bechtel as two princes in Theatre Horizon's production of 'Into the Woods,' nominated for a dozen Barrymore Awards -- the most for a production staged this past season.

This is the year that the region’s smaller professional theaters, plus those in the suburbs, sit at the front of the table: Nominees in the 26 categories for the Barrymore Awards, Philadelphia’s highest theater honors, lead off with Norristown’s Theatre Horizon and Malvern’s People’s Light & Theatre Company. Close to the top is Bristol Riverside Theatre Company in Bucks County.

See all the nominees below.

Long-established theater companies like People’s Light, which has a sizable budget and big audience draw, have always been recognized by the Barrymore Awards over its 18-year history. And up-and-coming smaller theaters, whether in town or in the region, have not been overlooked. This year, though, many of the top-nominated shows come from the smaller stages in a nominee list of productions that draws inclusively from the region’s 50-plus professional stage companies — a choreography nomination for Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, N.J., for instance, or a nod to Montgomery Theatre Company in Souderton (one for best musical actress to April Woodall in “Souvenir”), or to Ambler’s Act II Playhouse (two, for best actor and actress in a play, Charlie DelMarcelle and Carla Belver in “The Glass Menagerie”).

Once again this year, two theater companies did not participate in the awards, which will be presented in November and whose nominees were unveiled this afternoon in a press conference at Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Center City. The theaters that continue to opt out of the awards are Walnut Street Theatre — by far the largest in audience and budgets and the oldest continuously operating theater in the nation — and Media Theatre, a producer of musicals in Delaware County.

Their decision not to participate skews the awards, administered by Theatre Philadelphia, an umbrella group for local theaters founded three years ago by artistic directors and managers, who revived the awards after a year’s lapse during the 2012/13 season. Even so, the Barrymores recognize much highly visible — and well-regarded — work on stages throughout metropolitan Philadelphia.

Theater Horizon, which has seen steady audience growth, a loyal following — and a new theater it opened a few years ago in downtown Norristown — leads in this year’s nominations. Horizon received 19 nods, including one for best production of a play (“In the Blood,” a modern re-telling of “The Scarlet Letter,” with seven nominations) and another for best production of a musical (Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” in a magnetic scaled-down production, with 12 nominations). “Into the Woods” received more nominations than any other production on Philadelphia-area stages last season. The musical’s nominees include Steve Pacek and Rachel Camp, for best actor and actress in a musical.

People’s Light, one of the region’s longest-running companies and among the few in America that has a real troupe — a group of core actors and directors — received 14 nominations split among four of its season productions. They include three for best actress and actor in plays (Melanye Finister and Michael Genet in August Wilson’s “Fences,” Mary McDonnell in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”) and another best-actress nomination for Kim Carson in the company’s holiday panto, “Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon.” Carson was also nominated for best actress in a play in Delaware Theatre Company’s “Nora.”

Also receiving 14 nominations is Theatre Exile, the scrappy company that’s made a mark doing tough, pointed work downtown and in its South Philly venue called Studio X. Exile’s nominations include two for outstanding production of a play — “The Whale,” an engrossing piece about a morbidly obese man (played by Scott Greer, nominated for best actor in a play) and a sizzling rendition of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” which got nominations for its leading actress and actor, Catharine Slusar and Pearce Bunting. Joe Canuso and Matt Pfeiffer received directing nods, Canuso for “Whale” and Pfeiffer for “Woolf.”

Pfeiffer received two nominations for director — one for Theatre Exile and another for his staging of the Jackie Gleason takeoff, “To The Moon,” at 1812 Productions. Likewise, “The Whale” actor Greer received a second best-actor nomination, for playing the Gleason role in that show.

InterAct Theatre Company, in an entire season of world premieres at the Adrienne Theatre before moving to a new venue it’s creating with other theaters at the Drake in Center City, received 13 nominations. They include two for best-play productions: “Caught,” a fascinating drama that toys with the perceptions of the audience involving what they’re seeing, and “The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane,” an eye-opening consideration of homophobic sexual assault in South Africa. The directors of “Caught” and “Mbane” — Rick Shiomi and Pirronne Yousefzadeh, respectively — were nominated, as was Aimé Donna Kelly, “Mbane’s” lead actress. Yousefzadeh also was nominated for best director for her staging of Theatre Horizon’s “In the Blood.”

Bristol Riverside‘s 11 nominations are mostly for its elegantly staged “Ragtime,” which received nods for best musical production, best musical direction (Bristol’s artistic chief, Keith Baker) and two for best leading actor (Derrick Cobey and Michael Thomas Holmes). “Ragtime” comes in second as the most-nominated show, with nine. Eleanor Handley is nominated as best actress in a play, for her portrayal in Bristol’s production of “Lost in Yonkers.”

The Wilma Theater received nine nominations — among them for best play production, for the wickedly funny “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” about a college summer class and the people involved. It also received a nomination for Joanna Settle, the play’s director. Jered McLenigan was nominated as best actor in a play for Wilma’s “Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”

Eight nominations went to another small company, 11th Hour Theatre Company, which has been presenting concert versions of boutique musicals and one full-scale production a season – this time the zany world premiere of “Field Hockey Hot,” which garnered all its nominations including best musical production. Megan Nichole O’Brien was nominated for her direction and the show’s creator, Michael Ogborn, was nominated for his original music.

Flashpoint Theatre Company, which shifted its season to the summer months, received seven nominations, mostly for the musical “Herringbone,” which got nods for best musical production, direction (Bill Fennelly), its leading actor (Ben Dibble) and for Dan Kazemi, its musical director.

Six nominations went to 1812 Productions, all for the Jackie Gleason-inspired “To The Moon,” a nominee for best play production. Six nominations went to the Arden, frequently the leader of Barrymore nominations, this year with one for Liz Filios, the musical lead in its spring rendition of Sondheim’s “Passion.” Lantern Theater Company received six, including one for Peter DeLaurier as best actor in a play, for portraying the theoretical physicist Richard Feynman in “QED.”

Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, whose energetic staging of the little-known “The Fair Maid of the West,” was a sell-out, had four nominations as did Philadelphia Theatre Company, mostly for its look at a teenage African-American boy in “brownsville song.” Nominations went to 11 other theater companies, many from around the region and among the ranks of the smaller and developing professional stages.

Supporting actor and actress categories, and stage design categories, list several multiple nominations to the same person for different shows.

The Barrymore Awards are the way Philadelphia’s theater community celebrates its accomplishments in a glittery night out with lots of cheering and good feeling. They include medallions, three major cash awards and a lifetime achievement award — this year given to the longtime Philadelphia actor, director and retired University of the Arts professor Johnnie Hobbs Jr. Hobbs also has been associated for four decades with Freedom Theatre, and has been a fixture on stages around the region. He’s currently in rehearsals with 1812 Productions for “The Shoplifters,” which is part of the upcoming Fringe Festival and begins previews this week.

To qualify for thre awards, a theater company must pay its cast and crew minimums of $150 a week for actors, $500 a show for designers and $750 a show for directors. For the record, larger companies holding contracts with Actors’ Equity, the national union of actors and stage managers, must pay more than those minimum scales.

An all-volunteer team of Barrymore nominators saw 105 shows to declare whether they were eligible for nominations and in which categories. Among the 60 nominators — theater artists, academics and some critics — teams of eight were randomly assigned to see each eligible production, and forwarded their recommendations to a panel of 12 judges. They met quarterly and eventually narrowed their choices down to a maximum of seven nominees in play categories, four in musical categories.

The same 12 judges will use a weighted scoring system to vote their choices for first, second and so on in each category. The nominee with the highest score in each category will be the winner. Those final ballots are due from the judges this week and will be tabulated. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Nov. 2 at the Merriam Theater on Broad Street. Tickets go on sale at tomorrow for that awards show and its after-party at the University of the Arts’ Dorrance Hamilton Hall, at $50 for those in the theater community, $75 for the public, and $125 for VIP seating.

Complete list of nominees

Here is a complete list of Barrymore Award nominees for Philadelphia’s 2014/15 theater season, which began July 1, 2014, and ended June 30 this year.

Outstanding Overall Production of a Play• Caught (InterAct Theatre Company)• The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane (InterAct Theatre Company)• In the Blood (Theatre Horizon)• Rapture, Blister, Burn (The Wilma Theater)• To The Moon (1812 Productions)• The Whale (Theatre Exile)• Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Theatre Exile)

Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical• Field Hockey Hot (11th Hour Theatre Company)• Herringbone (Flashpoint Theatre Company)• Into the Woods (Theatre Horizon)• Ragtime (Bristol Riverside Theatre)

Outstanding Direction of a Play• Joe Canuso (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile)• Matt Pfeiffer (To The Moon, 1812 Productions)• Matt Pfeiffer (The Whale, Theatre Exile)• Joanna Settle (Rapture, Blister, Burn, The Wilma Theater)• Rick Shiomi (Caught, InterAct Theatre Company)• Pirronne Yousefzadeh (The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre Company)• Pirronne Yousefzadeh (In the Blood, Theatre Horizon)

Outstanding Direction of a Musical• Keith Baker (Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre)• Matthew Decker (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)• Bill Fennelly (Herringbone, Flashpoint Theatre Company)• Megan Nicole O’Brien (Field Hockey Hot, 11th Hour Theatre Company)

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play• Pearce Bunting (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile)• Peter DeLaurier (QED, Lantern Theater Company)• Charlie DelMarcelle (The Glass Menagerie, Act II Playhouse)• Michael Genet (Fences, People’s Light)• Scott Greer (To The Moon, 1812 Productions)• Scott Greer (The Whale, Theatre Exile)• Jered McLenigan (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Wilma Theater)

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play• Carla Belver (The Glass Menagerie, Act II Playhouse)• Kim Carson (Nora, Delaware Theatre Company)• Melanye Finister (Fences, People’s Light)• Eleanor Handley (Lost in Yonkers, Bristol Riverside Theatre)• Aimé Donna Kelly (The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre Company)• Mary McDonnell (The Cherry Orchard, People’s Light)• Catharine Slusar (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile)

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical• Derrick Cobey (Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre)• Ben Dibble (Herringbone, Flashpoint Theatre Company)• Michael Thomas Holmes (Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre)• Steve Pacek (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical• Rachel Camp (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)• Kim Carson (Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon, People’s Light)• Liz Filios (Passion, Arden Theatre Company)• April Woodall (Souvenir, Montgomery Theater)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play• Akeem Davis (In the Blood, Theatre Horizon)• Charlie DelMarcelle (The Jungle Book, Arden Theatre Company)• Dan Hodge (The Fair Maid of the West, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective)• Dave Johnson (The Taming of the Shrew, Lantern Theater Company)• Anthony Lawton (To The Moon, 1812 Productions)• Graham Smith (The Cherry Orchard, People’s Light)• Ed Swidey (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Wilma Theater)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play• K.O. DelMarcelle (Detroit, Philadelphia Theatre Company)• K.O. DelMarcelle (The Taming of the Shrew, Lantern Theater Company)• Lynette Freeman (The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre Company)• Emilie Krause (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile)• Campbell O’Hare (Rapture, Blister, Burn, The Wilma Theater)• Campbell O’Hare (The Whale, Theatre Exile)• Susan Riley Stevens (Nora, Delaware Theatre Company)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical• Alex Bechtel (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)• Charlie DelMarcelle (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)• Michael Doherty (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)• Michael Phillip O’Brien (Field Hockey Hot, 11th Hour Theatre Company)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical• Liz Filios (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)• Leigha Kato (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)• Ciji Prosser (Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre)• Leah Walton (Field Hockey Hot, 11th Hour Theatre Company)

Outstanding Scenic Design• Scott Bradley (brownsville song (b-side for tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company)• Brian Dudkiewicz (In the Blood, Theatre Horizon)• Melpomene Katakalos (Caught, InterAct Theatre Company)• Lance Kniskern (The Taming of the Shrew, Lantern Theater Company)• Kristen Robinson (Rapture, Blister, Burn, The Wilma Theater)• Jason Simms (Lost in Yonkers, Bristol Riverside Theatre)• Jason Simms (Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre)

Outstanding Costume Design• Esther Arroyo (Nora, Delaware Theatre Company)• Maggie Baker (Penelope, Inis Nua Theatre Company)• Marie Anne Chiment (Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon, People’s Light)• Marla Jurglanis (Bach at Leipzig, People’s Light)• Marla Jurglanis (The Cherry Orchard, People’s Light)• Rosemarie McKelvey (La Bête, Arden Theatre Company)• Lauren Perigard (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)

Outstanding Lighting Design• Russell H. Champa (brownsville song (b-side for tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company)• Cecilia Durbin (In the Blood, Theatre Horizon)• Dennis Parichy (The Cherry Orchard, People’s Light)• Thom Weaver (Passion, Arden Theatre Company)• Thom Weaver (Rapture, Bister, Burn, The Wilma Theater)• Thom Weaver (The Whale, Theatre Exile)• Yi Zhao (Hamlet, The Wilma Theater)

Clear Sound Award for Outstanding Sound Design• Christopher Colucci (The Hound of Baskervilles, Lantern Theater Company)• Christopher Colucci (Uncanny Valley, InterAct Theatre Company)• Christopher Colucci (The Whale, Theatre Exile)• Jorge Cousineau (Bach at Leipzig, People’s Light)• Daniel Perelstein (The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre Company)• Daniel Perelstein (Passion, Arden Theatre Company)• Ryan Rumery (brownsville song (b-side for tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company)

Outstanding Original Music• Alex Bechtel (To The Moon, 1812 Productions)• Christopher Colucci (The Whale, Theatre Exile)• ILL DOOTS (Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments, Flashpoint Theatre Company)• Michael Ogborn (Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon, People’s Light)• Michael Ogborn (Field Hockey Hot, 11th Hour Theatre Company)• Daniel Perelstein (The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre Company)• Stew (Rapture, Blister, Burn, The Wilma Theater)

Outstanding Choreography/Movement• Samantha Bellomo (Bach at Leipzig, People’s Light)• Stephen Casey (Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre)• Michael Cosenza (The Fair Maid of the West, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective)• Dann Dunn (Catch Me If You Can, The Eagle Theatre)• Ellie Mooney (Field Hockey Hot, 11th Hour Theatre Company)• Ian Rose (As You Like It, Quintessence Theatre Group)• Ian Rose (The Three Musketeers, Quintessence Theatre Group)

Outstanding Music Direction• Dan Kazemi (Field Hockey Hot, 11th Hour Theatre Company)• Dan Kazemi (Herringbone, Flashpoint Theatre Company)• Amanda Morton (Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon)• Ryan Touhey (Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre)

Outstanding Ensemble in a Play• Bach at Leipzig (People’s Light)• The Fair Maid of the West (Philadelphia Artists’ Collective)• The Hound of Baskervilles (Lantern Theater Company)• In the Blood (Theatre Horizon)• The Jungle Book (Arden Theatre Company)• Little Rock (Passage Theatre Company)• Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Theatre Exile)

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical• Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon (People’s Light)• Field Hockey Hot (11th Hour Theatre Company)• Into the Woods (Theatre Horizon)• Ragtime (Bristol Riverside Theatre)

Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play• Caught by Christopher Chen (InterAct Theatre Company)• The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane by Jen Silverman (InterAct Theatre Company)• Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments by The New Black Fest (Flashpoint Theatre Company)• To The Moon by Jennifer Childs (1812 Productions)

F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist ($15,000, and $2,000 per finalist) • Alex Bechtel• Benjamin Camp• Akeem Davis• Katherine Fritz• Bi Jean Ngo

Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award (to a play that leads audiences to a bettter understanding of issues, $25,000 and $2,500 per finalist)• The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane (InterAct Theatre Company)• The Gun Show (Passage Theatre Company)• In the Blood (Theatre Horizon)• Speech and Debate (Azuka Theatre)• The Whale (Theatre Exile)

June and Steve Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company (a $10,000 award)• The Berserker Residents• EgoPo Classic Theater• Flashpoint Theatre Company• Philadelphia Artists’ Collective• Quintessence Theatre Group• Simpatico Theatre Project

Lifetime Achievement AwardJohnnie Hobbs, Jr.

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