A buoyant vintage musical about a Cockney gent who comes into a fortune and an unflinching new play about families shattered by deadly violence lead the race for the 41st annual Carbonell Awards, South Florida theater’s highest honor.
In the nominations announced Wednesday, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre leads all companies with 18, 10 of those for its much-lauded production of “Me and My Girl” starring triple Carbonell winner Matt Loehr as the improbable heir. Loehr, nominated for that role and for his star turn in “The Will Rogers Follies” at the Maltz, is competing against himself as a double nominee for best actor in a musical.
Michael McKeever’s drama “After” received eight nominations, the most for any play. The Zoetic Stage world premiere at Miami’s Arsht Center focused on two couples trying to cope with a tragedy involving their teen sons, and the production brought the Davie-based McKeever nominations for best new work, best production of a play (the award would go to Zoetic, of which McKeever is a founder) and best supporting actor in a play.
Last year, the Island City Stage world premiere of McKeever’s marriage equality play “Daniel’s Husband,” which will get an off-Broadway production by Primary Stages March 22-April 28 at the Cherry Lane Theatre, won three Carbonells, including best production of a play and best new work.
Theaters in Broward County received 22 nominations, while companies in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties earned 39 each, all for work done in 2016. The Carbonell judges, who evaluated more than 80 shows in the three counties, recognized work at theaters large and small, and productions both mainstream and edgy.
Among musicals, the leading contenders after “Me and My Girl” are Slow Burn Theatre’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and Palm Beach Dramaworks’ “1776” with six each, Zoetic Stage’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Passion” with five and the Maltz’s “Will Rogers Follies” with four. The Broward Center-based Slow Burn’s “Spring Awakening” and “Heathers” received three each, as did “West Side Story” and “Million Dollar Quartet” at Actors’ Playhouse. Miami New Drama earned two nominations for its debut production, “The Golem of Havana,” at Miami Beach’s Colony Theatre.
Julie Kleiner and Matt Loehr are Carbonell Award nominees for their work in the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s “Me and My Girl,” which has 10 nominations.
After “After,” the top Carbonell contenders among plays are GableStage’s “The Royale” by former Miamian Marco Ramirez with five, plus Thinking Cap Theatre’s production of Maria Irene Fornes’ disturbing “Mud,” GableStage’s “Hand to God” and the Maltz’s “Frost/Nixon” with four each. Dramaworks’ “The Night of the Iguana” and Island City’s “Perfect Arrangement” got three nominations apiece, with two each going to Mad Cat Theatre’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Flick,” GableStage’s “It’s Only a Play,” Dramaworks’ “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” Area Stage’s “The Nether” and the Theatre Lab world premiere of Deborah Zoe Laufer’s “The Three Sisters of Weehawken.”
Among theater companies, after the Maltz’s leading 18 nominations, GableStage and Zoetic Stage received 13 each, Slow Burn got a dozen, and Palm Beach Dramaworks earned 11.
In addition to Loehr, seven other artists earned double nominations. Zoetic Stage artistic director Stuart Meltzer got nominations for his staging of “Passion” and “After.” Slow Burn’s Patrick Fitzwater was nominated for his direction of “Spring Awakening” and his choreography of “Heathers.” Jeni Hacker is up for best actress in a musical for “Passion” and best supporting actress in a play for “After,” both at Zoetic Stage, while Laura Hodos is nominated for best actress in a musical for the Maltz’s “Will Rogers Follies” and best supporting actress in a musical for Dramaworks’ “1776. Musical director Caryl Fantel was recognized for her work on Zoetic Stage’s “Passion” and Slow Burn’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Costume designer Gail Baldoni has nominations for “The Will Rogers Follies” and “Me and My Girl,” both at the Maltz. Maltz sound designer Marty Mets is also a double nominee, for “Frost/Nixon” and “Me and My Girl.”
Named in honor of the late sculptor Manuel Carbonell, who designed the bronze-and-marble award statues, the Carbonells will be presented at 7:30 p.m. April 3 during a show and ceremony in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets priced at $25 plus a service fee will go on sale to nominees and groups on Jan. 28, and to the public on March 13. Day-of-show tickets cost $30. For more information, go to CarbonellAwards.org or BrowardCenter.org.