The OEA Awards for Performing Arts came with some expected recognition for last year’s blockbusters as well as some unexpected surprises for other great productions. With many of the winners working on productions, out of town, or simply unaware they were even nominated, several awards were gathered by the Artistic Directors (or in some cases young cast members) of the worthy shows. With a performance from the progressive multimedia performance group aetherplough and a chance for local theatre practitioners to enjoy and converse other artists from different mediums, the OEA Awards provided one of the more unique events for theatre lovers to attend.
The Omaha Community Playhouse took home 7 awards split among 3 shows. August: Osage County by Tracy Letts garnered award wins for Randy Vest (Best Supporting Actor - Play), Moira Mangiameli (Best Actress - Play), Amy Lane (Best Director - Play) and also took home Best Drama. Lend Me a Tenor earned awards for Laura Campbell (Best Supporting Actress - Play) and Best Comedy. The final OCP award went to Melanie Walters for her choreography of Alter Boyz.
The Bluebarn Theatre had an identical awards night as well, also taking home 7 awards from 3 shows. The alt-rock musical Spring Awakening took brought home awards for Carol Wisner (Best Lighting Design), Mitch Fuller (Best Music Direction), Kate Johnson (Best Actress - Musical), and Susan Clement-Toberer (Best Director - Musical). Bug garnered two awards, one to Martin Magnuson (Best Sound Design) and the other to Brian Zealand (Best Actor - Play) while In the Next Room (or, the Vibrator Play) brought hardware to Martin Scott Marchitto (Best Scene Design).
The Rose Theatre gained recognition in 4 categories throughout the night. Seussical: The Musical won trophies for Sherri Geerdes (Best Costume Design), Kevin Mikuls (Best Young Actor), and Mary Carrick (Best Supporting Actress - Musical). James and the Giant Peach beat out the competition for Best Performance for a Young Audience.
The surprise of night came from SNAP! Productions’ rendition of the entertaining puppet musical Avenue Q. The small Midtown theatre garnered 3 awards for Homero Vela (Best Supporting Actor - Musical), Matthew Uehling (Best Actor - Musical), and also took home the coveted Best Musical award.
The Shelterbelt Theatre rounded out the field with the final theatre awards of the evening going to Ben Beck and Molly Welsh for the authorship of the comic-book turned stage play Crash! Boom! Pow! (Best New, Original, Local Script)
Other Performance Awards went to Alyssa Harrington’s Spring Showcase for The Moving Company (Best Featured Dancer), Ballet Nebraska’s Momentum (Best Dance Production), and Katie FS (Best Slam Poet).
The surprises and new faces winning awards showed the quality of productions provided by the Omaha community this year. With a great start to 2013 so far, next year’s awards look to be even more unpredictable but nonetheless enjoyable.