Most of the best in South Florida’s professional theater last year happened in Palm Beach County.
That is the impression left by the 36th annual Carbonell Awards for theater excellence in the region, presented Monday evening at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
Three Palm Beach County theaters — the Maltz Jupiter, Palm Beach Dramaworks and the Caldwell — picked up 13 of the awards named for the late sculptor Manuel Carbonell. In contrast, Miami-Dade troupes walked off with five statuettes and Broward scored only two.
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre, which went into the gala ceremony with 25 nominations — the most of any company — had a very good evening, taking home a total of seven Carbonells. Five of those were for its lively take on the Gershwins’ jukebox musical, Crazy For You. It was named the year’s best production of a musical and recognized for best direction of a musical (Mark Martino), best actor (Matt Loehr), best choreography (Shea Sullivan) and best musical direction (Helen Gregory).
Accepting awards frequently, Maltz producing artistic director Andrew Kato noted that he got his start as a waiter at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre. “We are immensely grateful to this theater community. You are fabulous,” he said.
Crazy for You triumphed over two other Maltz musicals, which claimed one award each. The Sound of Music was cited for best actress Catherine Walker, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was named for its costume designs by Jose M. Rivera. Topping off the Maltz’s night was its receiving the Bill Von Maurer Award, given “to the theater company that exemplifies excellence for the totality of its programming: productions, educational outreach, developmental programs and audiences served.”
The award for best production of a play went to Palm Beach Dramaworks’ debut show in its new Clematis Street home, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Also honored were its director (J. Barry Lewis) and leading actor Kenneth Tigar. The financially beleaguered Caldwell Theatre Company of Boca Raton received encouraging news, copping three Carbonells for last summer’s world premiere of Stuff, about the dysfunctional, hoarding Collyer brothers. It was named the year’s best new work, as well as for best supporting actress (Angie Radosh) and best scenic design (Tim Bennett).
Radosh, who played the Collyers’ mother, thanked playwright Michael McKeever. “Michael, keep writing for women of a certain age. We need you,” she said.
The Carbonells that went south to Miami-Dade theaters were split between Actors’ Playhouse and GableStage. Actors’ Playhouse won four awards — two each for Hairspray (best supporting actor and actress in a musical, Avi Hoffman and Julie Kleiner) and Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, a one-man revisionist take on the Charles Dickens classic, cited for lighting design (Patrick Tennant) and sound design (Alexander Herrin).
First-time Carbonell winner Hoffman said from the stage: “I’ve been in this theater community 15 years. It’s taken me that long to win.”
Both of the Carbonells for Broward went to Mosaic Theatre, one of the few resident companies still operating in the county. Mosaic was cited for best ensemble (The Irish Curse) and best actress in a play (Deborah Sherman, Side Effects).
Accepting for The Irish Curse, a play by Martin Casella about small penises, Mosaic Theater artistic director Richard Jay Simon quipped, “I’ll be short.”
The 2012 George Abbott Award was given to theatrical producer and businessman Jay Harris. The Howard Kleinberg Award for contributions to the health and development of the arts in South Florida went to Mary Becht of the Broward Cultural Affairs Division.
Proceeds from tickets to the Carbonell Awards show traditionally go to fund scholarships to promising young talents in South Florida. Three scholarships were awarded this year, one per county, to Cristina Caperna (Palm Beach), Rachel Brooks (Broward) and Krystal Ortiz (Miami-Dade).