Picks for Best in Theater, 2014/15, by Philly Reviewer Neal Zoren

Each year, Philadelphia-based reviewer Neal Zoren announces his choices for the Helen and Morris Zoren Awards for World Theater. Though the choices range from Broadway to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, a fair number of the picks on Neal’s list are performers and productions from the Philadelphia area: (see his explanation here).

BEST PRODUCTIONJUNO AND THE PAYCOCK, The Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario

BEST ACTORBEN DIBBLE, for Herringbone, Flashpoint Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.

BEST ACTRESSZAINAB JAH, for Hamlet, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTORJAY ARMSTRONG JOHNSON, for On the Town, Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, Mass, Lyric Theatre, Broadway, NYC

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESSLINDSAY DUNCAN, for A Delicate Balance, John Golden Theatre, Broadway, NYC

BEST DIRECTORCHRISTOPHER WHEELDON, for An American in Paris, Palace Theatre, NYC

Ben Dibble, winner of "Best Actor" for his role in Herringbone at Flashpoint Theatre.

Ben Dibble, winner of “Best Actor” for his role in Herringbone at Flashpoint Theatre.

In addition to the recipients of the Helen and Morris Awards for World Theatre, Neal honored up to 30 runners up in each category. Here are the Philly-area highlights. (see the complete award list here)

BEST PRODUCTION

  • JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK, The Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the Lake, Ontario
  • The Rape of Lucrece, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Hamlet, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Fences, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
  • Kinky Boots, National Tour, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Doubt: A Parable, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol, Pa.
  • Arcadia, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Oscar, Opera Philadelphia, Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Michael & Edie, Villanova Theatre, Villanova, Pa.
  • The Matchmaker, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • The Hairy Ape, Ego-Po Classical Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Blood Wedding, Philadelphia Artist’s Collective, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • As You Like It, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.
  • To the Moon, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia, Pa.

BEST ACTOR

  • BEN DIBBLE, Herringbone, Flashpoint Theatre; Doubt: A Parable, Lantern Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Dan Hodge, The Rape of Lucrece, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Matteo Scammell, The Hairy Ape, Ego-Po Classical Theatre; Beauty and the Beast, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa
  • Michael Genet, Fences, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
  • Steven Booth, Kinky Boots, National Tour, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Pearce Bunting, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Kyle Taylor Parker, Kinky Boots, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Robert Jason Jackson, The Matchmaker, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Christopher Sutton, Memphis, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Joseph Marcell, King Lear, National Tour, The Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Scott Greer, To the Moon, 1812 Productions; The Whale, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia, Pa,
  • David Daniels, Oscar, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Jeffrey Coon, Catch Me If You Can, Eagle Theatre, Hammonton, N.J.; The Addams Family, Media Theatre, Media, Pa.; Mary Poppins, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa
  • J Hernandez, Blood Wedding, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective; The Taming of the Shrew, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Curtiss Cook, Jr., Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company. Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Kyle Branzel, Murder for Two, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia, Pa.

BEST ACTRESS

  • ZAINAB JAH, Hamlet, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Catharine Slusar, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Kathleen McNenny, Outside Mullingar, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Mary Martello, Doubt: A Parable, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Julie Czarnecki, The Matchmaker, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Jennie Eisenhower, Field Hockey Hot, 11th Hour Productions, Passion, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.; The Addams Family, The Miracle Worker, Media Theatre, Media, Pa.
  • Melissa Dunphy, iHamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Jessica Wagner, Always…Patsy Cline, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol, Pa.
  • Ashley Everage, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.
  • Kathleen Wallace, Private Lives, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Kristen Bailey, The Metamorphosis, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Aimé Donna Kelly, The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Rachel Camp, The Fair Maid of the West, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Philadelphia, Pa.; Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.
  • Michael Learned, Mothers and Sons, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia, Pa.; Love Letters, Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington, Del.
  • April Woodall, Souvenir, Montgomery Theatre, Souderton, Pa.
  • Corinna Burns, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, Azuka Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Liz Filios, Passion, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Carla Belver, The Glass Menagerie, Act II Playhouse, Ambler, Pa.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • JAY ARMSTRONG JOHNSON, On the Town, Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, Mass., Lyric Theatre, Broadway, NYC
  • Jake Blouch, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia, Pa.; Unnecessary Farce, Act II Playhouse, Ambler, Pa.
  • Ed Swidey, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • James-Patrick Davis, As You Like It, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Derrick Cobey, Ragtime, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol, Pa.
  • Pete Pryor, Biloxi Blues; The Cherry Orchard, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
  • Kelly Briggs, Les Misérables; Hello Dolly, Media Theatre, Media, Pa.
  • Andrew Betz, As You Like It; Richard II: Edward III, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Akeem Davis, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.; The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane; The Three Christs of Manhattan, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.; Unnecessary Farce, Act II Playhouse, Ambler, Pa.
  • Brandon Pierce, Milk Like Sugar, Simpatico Theatre; Hands Up, Flashpoint Theatre; The Fair Maid of the West, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Graham Smith, The Cherry Orchard, People’s Light and Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
  • Dan Hodge, The Fair Maid of the West, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective; The Three Christs of Manhattan, InterAct Theatre; Private Lives, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.; The 39 Steps, Hedgerow Theatre, Rose Valley, Pa.
  • Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris, Palace Theatre, Broadway, NYC
  • Forrest McClendon, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.
  • Troy Cook, Don Carlo, Opera Philadelphia, Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Bruce Graham, Lost in Yonkers, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol, Pa.
  • Aaron Bell, Hands Up, Flashpoint Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • LINDSAY DUNCAN, A Delicate Balance, John Golden Theatre, Broadway, NYC
  • Deirdre Madigan, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pa.
  • Melanye Finister, Fences, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
  • Tamara Anderson, Ghost, Media Theatre, Media, Pa.
  • Liz Filios, Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.; Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon, People’s Light &Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.; Andy: A Popera, Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Sofie Yavorsky, Bad Jews, Walnut Street Theatre Independence on 3, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Catrina Ganey, Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Elisa Matthews, Les Misérables; Hello Dolly, Media Theatre, Media, Pa.
  • Angela Brown, Yardbird, Opera Philadelphia, Perelman Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Lynette R. Freeman, The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Jo Twiss, Always…Patsy Cline, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol, Pa.
  • Emilie Krause, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Amanda Schoonover, The Glass Menagerie, Act II Playhouse, Ambler, Pa.
  • Kimber Sprawl, Memphis, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Clare Mahoney, QED; Doubt: A Parable, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.; Biloxi Blues, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
  • Bi Jean Ngo, Caught, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Marsha Mason, Deathtrap, Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pa.
  • Lexi Gwynn, The Miracle Worker, Media Theatre, Media, Pa.
  • Alana Hibbert, The Mountaintop, The Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
  • Deborah Jean Templin, Mary Poppins, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Sung Yun Cho, Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray), Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia, Pa.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON, An American in Paris, Palace Theatre, Broadway, NYC
  • Joe Canuso, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Theatre Exile, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Blanka Zizka, Hamlet; Rosencrantz and Guidenstern Are Dead, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots, National Tour, Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Kamilah Forbes, Fences, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Malvern, Pa.
  • Brenna Geffers, The Hairy Ape, Ego-Po Classic Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Keith Baker, Ragtime: Lost in Yonkers, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Bristol, Pa.
  • Jesse Cllne, Les Misérables; Ghost: The Miracle Worker, Media Theatre, Media, Pa.
  • Kevin Newbury, Oscar, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • James Ijames, Michael & Edie, Villanova Theatre, Villanova, Pa.
  • Damon Bonetti, Blood Wedding, Philadelphia Artist’s Collective, Philadelphia, Pa.; The Gun Show: The Goldilocks Zone, Passage Theatre, Trenton, N.J.; The 39 Steps, Hedgerow Theatre, Rose Valley, Pa.
  • David Stradley, Bad Jews, Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio on 3, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Kathryn MacMillan, Doubt: A Parable; Arcadia, Lantern Theater, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Douglas C. Wager, The Matchmaker, Temple Theaters, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Matthew Decker, Into the Woods, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa.; Great Expectations, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Pirronne Yousefzadeh, In the Blood, Theatre Horizon, Norristown, Pa,; The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Rebecca Wright, The Metamorphosis, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia, Pa.

HONORABLE MENTION

  • To Jeffrey Coon for conceiving and bringing about his swinging big-band “The Cape May Summer Club.”
  • To Dan Hodge and Damon Bonetti of Philadelphia Artists’ Collective for being so prolific as actors, directors, and producers.
  • To Leonard C. Haas and the amount of good he’s done as a philanthropist backing the theater community he serves so well as an actor
  • To Jennie Eisenhower for showing how varied, versatile, and wunderbar a performer’s season can be.
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Neal Zoren for NealsPaper

Neal of the Nealspaper is a fan of all forms of live entertainment, movies, and television. He is also a constant reader and a frequent traveler. He writes for NealsPaper.com, a place for people to come to read one authoritative voice in the dialogue, and find out what might be worthwhile — or not — as you plan your entertainment outings.