Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2018 Twin Cities Theater Bloggers Award Winners!

Announcing the winners of the Fourth Annual Twin Cities Theater Bloggers (TCTB) Awards!

Ten Twin Cities Theater Bloggers* participated in the selection of the winners. The full list of nominees was announced last week. Some of the categories were quite hotly contested, so congratulations to all of our wonderful nominees for creating entertaining, inspiring, and challenging theater in 2018.

Below are our 2018 TCTB Award Winners. Be sure to continue reading for some special local theater achievement awards!

Favorite comedic performance by an individual
- Sun Mee Chomet - Two Mile Hollow (Theater Mu / Mixed Blood Theatre Company)

Favorite dramatic performance by an individual
- Jon-Michael Reese - This Bitter Earth (Penumbra Theatre Company)

Favorite musical performance by an individual
- Jamecia Bennett - Marie And Rosetta (Park Square Theatre)

Favorite comedic performance by an ensemble
The Korean Drama Addict's Guide to Losing Your Virginity (Theater Mu)

Favorite dramatic performance by an ensemble
The Wolves (Jungle Theater)

Favorite musical performance by an ensemble
Assassins (Theater Latte Da)

Favorite director of a play
- Talvin Wilks - This Bitter Earth (Penumbra Theatre)

Favorite director of a musical
- Michael Brindisi - Holiday Inn AND Newsies (Chanhassen Dinner Theatres)

Favorite music director
- Jason Hansen - Assassins AND Once (Theater Latte Da)

Favorite choreographer
- Maija Garcia - West Side Story (Guthrie Theater)

Favorite scenic design
- Christopher Heilman - Is God Is (Mixed Blood Theatre)

Favorite costume design
- Mathew LeFebvre - for colored girls... (Penumbra Theatre) AND The Wiz (Penumbra Theatre/Children's Theatre)

Favorite lighting design
- Marcus Dilliard - Assassins (Theater Latte Da) AND This Bitter Earth (Penumbra Theatre) AND The Wickhams (Jungle Theater)

Favorite sound design
- Kate Marvin - Indecent (Guthrie Theater)

Favorite play
Indecent (Guthrie Theater)

Favorite musical
Once (Theater Latte Da)

Favorite new work
The Wickhams (Jungle Theater)

Favorite theater company
- Jungle Theater

Favorite theater venue
- Jungle Theater

Favorite site-specific work
High Fidelity (Minneapolis Musical Theatre at Electric Fetus)

TCTB All-Star Award: Blackout Improv
As we were collectively contemplating our nominations for the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers awards, one name kept coming up over and over: Blackout Improv. We couldn't let the awards go by without giving them some love. Blackout Improv is a collective of some of the most talented performers in the Twin Cities.Their regular shows at Mixed Blood Theatre combine hilarious, improvisational comedy with serious, engaging discussions of social justice. They are dedicated to education and access, and introducing and supporting other comedians of color. With a current membership that includes Denzel Belin, Alyssa, DiVirgilio, Joy Dolo, Ashawnti Ford, John Gebretatose, Khary Jackson, Sam L. Landman, Kory LaQuess Pullam, and Derek "Duck" Washington, Blackout Improv is a gift to our local theater, comedy and culture.
- Carol Jackson, Minnesota Theater Love

TCTB Under the Radar Award: Theatre Elision
Theatre Elision has only been around in the Twin Cities for a couple of years, but has quickly risen to be amongst my favorite theater companies. They are masters of mounting new or little known works filled with beautiful, well-performed music and just the right amount of absurdity. They perform with small casts in intimate venues around the Twin Cities that cater well to whichever show they are performing. Lately, their runs have been getting longer, which is exciting because I truly believe that more people need to see Theatre Elision's unique and beautiful shows.
- Laura Kinniburgh, Twin Cities Stages

TCTB Community Impact Award: Interact Center
TC Theater Bloggers wishes to give a community-impact mention to the two-time Ivey-winning, nationally-renowned Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Artists. Interact has been creating top-quality professional productions co-created by artists “with and without disabilities” since 1996 and it continues to serve as an integral part of our diverse local theater ecology. Last year the company charmed TC audiences with a Guthrie co-production, Hot Funky Butt Jazz, an original musical set in New Orleans, and featuring a trio of musicians from New Orleans along with a cast of 50 local actors (co-produced with the Guthrie Theater as part of its Level 9 Series). We just wanted to show our appreciation for this valued TC institution.
- Kit Bix, Twin Cities Arts Reader

TCTB Favorite New Artist of 2018: Roshni Desai
Roshni Desai shone as the wisecracking new housemaid Cassie in The Jungle’s holiday hit The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley this December.  She's worked at Great River Shakespeare Festival but somehow  she flew under our radar until now. Roshni's a member of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program Class of 2019.  We think that means she’ll be graduating in June, and our bloggers would love to see more of her on Twin Cities stages. Roshni 's the real deal: she's got presence, terrific comic timing and, you know, “that spark.”
- Kit Bix, Twin Cities Arts Reader

TCTB Favorite New Artist of 2018: Silas Sellnow
This isn't the first year we've noticed Silas Sellnow. We've seen in in the last several years on Twin Cities stages, but in 2018, our road trip to the Great River Shakespeare Festival put him front and center. He was Sam/Juliet in the regional premiere of Shakespeare in Love, and not only played the dual roles of Lysander and Bottom, seamlessly changing from a bewitched yokel to an ardent young lover in front of our eyes, but wrote music for the production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was a treat to see him again onstage in Theater Latte Da's Once, again showing his musical and acting talent. A 2016 graduate of the Guthrie's BFA program, Silas is an incredibly talented artist who's just getting started, and we'll be looking forward to seeing him continue his great work.
- Julie Jackson, Minnesota Theater Love

TCTB Favorite New Artist of 2018: May Lee-Yang
May Lee-Yang celebrated the world premiere of her show The Korean Drama Addict's Guide to Losing Your Virginity in 2018 with Theater Mu. Her work gives a voice to the Hmong community, as well as offering recognition for Asian Americans as a whole. May is strong, smart, and funny, and as an Asian American woman, I feel incredibly fortunate to have her here and can't wait to see what she does next.
- Laura vanZandt, Bite-Sized Beet (formerly known as One Girl, Two Cities)

TCTB Favorite New Artist of 2018: China Brickey
In the two-ish years since she arrived on the #tctheater scene, China Brickey's name has consistently appeared in conversations about standout new performers among the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers. Just one look at her impressive resume gives you an idea of her talent and the potential that lies ahead as she gains more leading roles. Working with companies like Penumbra, the Guthrie, the Ordway and Transatlantic Love Affair, China has created many memorable and vivacious performances. Her upcoming roles in Romeo and Juliet (Park Square Theatre) and Matilda (Children's Theatre Company) already promise a strong start to 2019; make sure to seek out her work when you get a chance. 
- Becki Iverson, Compendium

TCTB Favorite New Artist of 2018: Azoralla Arroyo Caballero
Once in a while in the world of theater reviewing, a performance sweeps you off your feet with its breathtaking freshness and nuance. Azoralla Arroyo Caballero's work in Mermaid Hour: Remixed at Mixed Blood last year was one of these. Mixed Blood worked hard to cast the role of Vi, a Latinx trans girl, for this world premiere musical. They discovered Azoralla after searching through many local school communities and knew they were they were the perfect fit for the part. After watching the show, the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers had to agree:  the level of nuance and depth young Azoralla brought to their first-ever professional stage performance swept us off our feet. The delicate work of representing an under-told trans experience, the boldness of Azoralla's charge into the world of #tctheater, and the promising future ahead if Azoralla decides to pursue a career in this field makes them one to watch in the years ahead. (Note: They have recently changed their name to Malachi, so keep an eye out for both names.) 
- Becki Iverson, Compendium

* Participating Twin Cities Theater Bloggers include:
A few bloggers also wrote about their personal favorites of 2018. You can read them here: