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LAWees Rock at 31st Annual Awards

Block_nine The LA theater awards season came to a rousing finale on Monday, March 29, with the presentation of the LA Weekly Awards, honoring the best of L.A. 99-Seat theater from the wealth of productions seen in 2009. Held at the El Rey Theatre, a nifty concert venue on Wilshire Blvd. in L.A. (blocks away from the Back Stage office), the gala ceremony rocked to the beat of the 1960s, hosted by the cast of Roger Bean's smash jukebox musical Life Could Be a Dream, which had previously cleaned up with major awards at the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards and the Back Stage Garland annoucements prior to the LAWee Awards night.

True to form, the Crooning Crabcakes quartet from the musical (Doug Carpenter, Ryan Castellino, Jim Holdridge, Daniel Tatar) and their vivacious costar Jessica Keenan Wynn wowed the crowd by performing music from the show, and then capped off the evening by witnessing their widely acclaimed vehicle take home the Musical of the Year prize.

There was plenty of celebrating to go around, as the venerable Elephant Theatre Company took home the Production of the Year award for the double-cast (alternating male and female versions) noir-ish production of Block Nine, at the Lillian Theatre, as well as two other major prizes. The fast-rising Production Company, at Chandler Studio Theatre, most deservedly took home the Revival of the Year award for its staging of Peter Shaffer's timeless Equus, tying with the Fountain Theatre's Shining City.

Awards were spread far and wide to local theater artists working with various groups, with the highly regarded Fountain Theatre earning several nods, including the deeply moving posthumous presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to gifted Fountain director Bennett A. Bradley, who was so shockingly and tragically murdered in his apartment on January 2. Among other noted shows of 2009 whose names were called repeatedly as victors were Buzzworks Theatre's Munched, the Celebration Theatre's Altar Boyz, Circle X's Battle Hymn, and Rogue Machine's Treefall.

LIFE_COULD_BE_A_DREAM_-_8 LAW's longtime theater guru and critic extraordinaire Steven Leigh Morris and producer David Elzer gave us a fleet-footed and highly entertaining show, filled with great music, highly emotional moments, lots of laughs, and a wonderful reaffirmation of the camaraderie and shared respect that thankfully holds our ever-challenging local theater scene together. It was the finest LAwee event of recent years.  Kudos to Morris, Elzer, LAW's asute and hard-working team of critics, and all of the award recipients and nominees.

SoCal Stages_blog Lately there have been several vitriolic, self-serving blog posts surfacing, which are eager to denigrate members and organizations of our theater community and arrogantly boss everyone around, as if none of us know what we are doing, though many of us have been doing it for decades. The LAwees proved that postive energy and talent can easily prevail over short-sighted ranting and the sad quality that some insecure individuals display in trying to build themselves up by tearing others down.  Blogging is easy, theatre is hard, but when you let it happen as it should, sometimes life really can be a dream.

Here's a list of the LAWee winners.

--Les Spindle

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