Monday, September 10, 2007

PPAC Awards

On balance, Sunday night's Pikes Peak Arts Council Awards were a success:
  • The crowd at the Fine Arts Center's SaGaJi theater was the biggest in the awards' seven-year history.
  • The proceedings moved along at a good clip.
  • Though there were some surprising awards, that's the norm rather than the exception for this event.
  • The nominee-provided musical and poetic interludes gave the evening texture, and made the awards more meaningful to outsiders.
  • If you were one of those fortunate enough to win a PPAC award, you got a gorgeous enameled bowl made by Pat Musick that's certain to become an heirloom.
  • And the champagne was decent.
Not bad for $20. But there's still a lot that could be done to make the evening a richer experience:
  • The awards were given in a brusque, almost production-line fashion. The slides projected on the screen behind the stage were very helpful, but there were no film or audio clips of the winning performances, nor even brief descriptions of what made them stand out.
  • In the case of (at least) the Lifetime Achievement Award winner - this year it was muralist Eric Bransby - a brief speech would be welcome.
  • And if PPAC president Eve Tilley is going to be the evening's emcee again, she needs to be better prepared, both in terms of how to enunciate for a microphone and in how to pronounce all the nominees' names.
An unintentionally strange aspect of the ceremony was its parsing of performing arts groups, so that only one member of a a collaborative effort received an award when in fact it was the entire effort that was being honored.

If organizations don't collaborate, it's not a problem. But increasingly, performing arts organizations do collaborate, and the PPAC judging committees - and I was on two of them - have to do a better job of recognizing these hybrid productions. So "The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore" won awards in two categories without two of the three involved performing arts organizations - the Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble and Colorado's Classical Youth Ballet - even being mentioned. To the extent that I was responsible for that oversight, I apologize to everyone who was slighted. We'll do better next year.


Blogger Warren Epstein said...

I've gone to three or four PPAC awards, and they're usually uneven affairs with some interesting poetry and a few standout performances.

This year, Xanthe and Jonathan Gabriel, part of the Manitou indie jazz rock group Poesis stole the show.

Xanthe announced that she and Jonathan had just gotten engaged, and then proceeded to sing a new love song she wrote about him ... about a love that could move through walls.

We were all enchanted and inspired... both by the performance (her sultry vocals are a force of nature) and the pure love that radiated from it.

I think we all fell in love with Poesis that night, and now I can't wait to hear the full band.

I'm going to try to catch them Friday night at Kinfolks in Manitou.

Judeth Shay Burns was, as always, amazing singing a fun operatic trio "Sing for Your Supper" with the also wonderful Linda Weise and Jana Lee.

And, as far as the awards went...

The most dead-on choice was best actor: David Hastings from Star Bar's "The Night and Her Stars." His performance as the manipulative TV exec from the '50s was up there with Jeremy Privens work in "Entourage."

The best actress was a tougher choice: Sally Hybl was amazing as a grown Cinderella in the FAC's "Into the Woods." I told her after the show, she really held her own with one of the strongest casts this town has seen. But I don't know how you pick Sally over Broadway vet Susan Dawn Carson and Broadway-worthy Julie Sweum.

And, for Original Production, "Alice in Wonderland" by Flying Machine out of NY was certainly original ... but ultimately impenetrable and dull. Jim Jackson should have gotten it for his original show "Hut!"

Last by not least, I must mention the annual snub of Mark Hennessy, an outstanding actor and director who just can't seem to win one of these awards. He's the Susan Lucci of local theater.

Eventually, like Lucci, I'm sure Mark will get his. I just hope we don't wait 20 years and slip him a Lifetime Achievement Award out of pity.

2:54 PM  

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