Three of the five featured musical numbers during Monday’s 37th annual Carbonell Awards ceremony at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts were by performers whose work at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre earned them best actor or best actress nominations.
As it turns out, that was an underrepresentation of just how dominant the Maltz was in the race for South Florida theater’s highest honor.
The Maltz swept its category, winning all eight of the musical Carbonells plus one for costume design, a feat that hasn’t happened since the Miami Beach Theatre of the Performing Arts earned a sweep 34 years ago on the strength of its touring Broadway fare, a category of shows no longer eligible for these regional awards.
Two Maltz productions fueled the theater’s strong showing: The Music Man, which took the awards for best production of a musical, best actor (Matt Loehr), best musical direction (Anne Shuttlesworth), best choreography (Shea Sullivan) and best costumes (Jose M. Rivera); and Hello, Dolly!, which earned Carbonells for best director (Marcia Milgrom Dodge), best actress (Vicki Lewis) and best supporting actor (Loehr again). Angie Radosh won the best supporting actress award for her performance in the Maltz production of Cabaret.
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Loehr, who performed con man Harold Hill’s Ya Got Trouble from The Music Man at the awards show, is currently appearing on Broadway as Elder McKinley in The Book of Mormon. He was the only one of this year’s six double nominees to win two Carbonells.
The dramatically dominant GableStage in Coral Gables earned the award for best production of a play for its staging of Ruined, Lynn Nottage’s harrowing Pulitzer Prize winner about the horrific effect of war on Congo’s women. Joseph Adler won another best director Carbonell for his work on the production, and leading lady Lela Elam won her second career Carbonell for her portrayal of brothel owner Mama Nadi. Robert Strain, who played her beau in Ruined, won the best supporting actor in a play honor.
Zoetic Stage, a company based at the Carnival Studio Theater in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, chalked up a strong showing in just its second full season. Tom Wahl took the best actor in a play Carbonell for his demanding, dazzling solo performance in Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife. Playwright Michael McKeever, one of Zoetic’s founders, got the best new work Carbonell for Moscow, a play that reflected multicultural Miami during the Cuban missile crisis. Elena Maria Garcia was honored as best supporting actress for her performance in that show.
Four more theater companies took home one Carbonell award each. Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs got the best ensemble award for its production of Neil Simon’s Rumors. Matt Corey won for his spooky sound design of The Birds at Plantation’s now-defunct Mosaic Theatre. Director Margaret M. Ledford got a Carbonell for her haunting lighting design of Naked Stage’s Turn of the Screw in Miami Shores. And veteran set designer Michael Amico won that Carbonell for his creation of the dilapidated boat house in Talley’s Folly at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the founder of Miami’s Teatro Avante and director of the annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival, received the evening’s highest honor, the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts. Actors’ Equity Association was given the Ruth Foreman Award in celebration of its centennial.
The Carbonells, named after the late sculptor Manuel Carbonell who designed the egg-shaped award statue, also awarded $1,000 scholarships to Sammi-Jack Martincak of the New World School of the Arts, Christian Frost of J.P. Taravella High School, Vanessa Contreras of John L. Leonard High School and Jade Zaroff of West Boca Community High School.
Palm Beach County theaters won 10 Carbonells, followed by Miami-Dade companies with 8 and Broward theaters with 2. Nominated theaters whose artists went home empty-handed were Actors’ Playhouse of Coral Gables, the Theatre at Arts Garage in Delray Beach and Alliance Theatre Lab in Miami Lakes.