It was a night filled with excitement, laughs, and unbridled passion for indie theater as the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation celebrated the outstanding achievements of Off-Off-Broadway for its thirteenth year, in a ceremony held on Monday at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Four-time host Jason Kravits – known for his 30-year-career on stage, film, and TV, including a long-running role on ABC’s The Practice and his current solo cabaret improv act Off the Top! at The Duplex – kept the show moving with high energy, hilarious commentary, and a fast pace, as honors were handed out in 26 categories, along with four special honorary awards, including the recognition of an Outstanding Stage Manager (a category often overlooked by other awards organizations).
The ceremony, written by Brian Silliman and directed by DeLisa White, combined live performances and videos with the awards presentations and acceptance speeches – all of which were gracious, engaging, and enthusiastic, and brief enough to finish the show a full fifteen minutes ahead of its projected three-hour running time (Did you hear that, Oscars?) This year’s nominees represented a total of 176 individual artists, 52 theater companies, and 48 productions, seen on stages in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Among the illustrious presenters were actor Matthew Broderick, writer and performer Charles Busch, actress Angel Desai, and producer Tom Viertel. Immediately following the awards ceremony, which was sponsored by Kampfire Films PR, Theatre Development Fund (TDF), and Kyden Machine Inc., celebrants were invited to enjoy an after party at Ousia restaurant on West 57th Street.
The recipients of the 2017 IT Awards were:
CAFFÉ CINO FELLOWSHIP AWARD – Retro Productions
ELLEN STEWART AWARD – Crystal Fields
ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Lois Weaver & Peggy Shaw (Split Britches)
DORIC WILSON INDEPENDENT PLAYWRIGHTS AWARD – J. Stephen Brantley
OUTSTANDING STAGE MANAGER – Elizabeth Ramsey
OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE – Brittany Allen, Vinie Burrows, Ugo Chukwu, Constance Cooper, Milo Cramer, Fernando Gonzalez, Jonathan Gordon, David Greenspan, Tommy Heleringer, Chris Henry, Veronica Hunsinger-Loe, Hannah Mitchell, Caitlin Morris, Craig Mungavin, Jeanna Phillips, Madeline Wise, Minor Character: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time (New Saloon Theater Company in association with Emily Kaplan & Immediate Medium)
OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE – William DeMeritt, Origin Story (Old Sound Room)
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE – Zack Krajnyak, Sweeney Todd (Theater 2020)
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE – Ivanna Cullinan, Three Sisters (Obvious Volcano in association with Maggie Cino)
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE – Nico Grelli, The Jamb (Hard Sparks)
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A LEAD ROLE – Moira Stone, Three Sisters (Obvious Volcano in association with Maggie Cino)
OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY/ MOVEMENT – Tamrin Goldberg, Raisin (Astoria Performing Arts Center)
OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR – Morgan Green, Minor Character: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time (New Saloon Theater Co. in association with Emily Kaplan & Immediate Medium)
OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN – Kate Jaworski, The Woman Who Was Me (Convergences Theatre Collective)
OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN – Izzy Fields, Anais Nin Goes to Hell (Manhattan Theatre Works – MTWorks – in association with Goode Productions)
OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN – Frank Oliva, #liberated (The Living Room)
OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN – Aidan Meyer, The Red Room (The Shelter)
OUTSTANDING INNOVATIVE DESIGN – David Bengali, John Erickson, Reid Farrington, Jorge Garcia-Spitz, David Mauro, Dan Monceaux, Leegrid Stevens, for Video Design & Animation, The Dudleys! (Loading Dock Theatre Company)
OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC – Melody Bates & Rebecca Hart, The Cabaret At The End Of The World (Hard Sparks)
OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SHORT SCRIPT – Charlie O’Leary, Precious Body, a part of Landmarks & TRANSformations (Project Y Theatre Company)
OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL FULL-LENGTH SCRIPT – Aditya Rawal, The Queen (Aman Soni in association with Juggernaut Theatre Company and Theater for the New City)
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE ART PRODUCTION – The Infinite Wrench, New York Neo-Futurists
OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL – Raisin (Astoria Performing Arts Center)
OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY – The Tempest (Smith Street Stage)
OUTSTANDING PREMIERE PRODUCTION OF A PLAY – Minor Character: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time (New Saloon Theater Company in association with Emily Kaplan & Immediate Medium).
Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners, and to everyone who contributes to the creative work of Off-Off-Broadway and independent theater!
The 2017 New York Innovative Theatre Awards Ceremony was held on Monday, September 25, 2017, at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre, John Jay College of Criminal Justice – 524 West 59th Street, NYC. For more information, and a full list of nominees, go online.