Jewish factors found IRNE gold Monday night at the Inn at Brookline. The 23rd annual Independent Reviewers of New England Awards – dedicated to the memory of IRNE critic Guy Giampapa, veteran Jewish actor-director Alvin Epstein and Shakespeare & Company founding member and actor training director Dennis Krausnick – saw a revival of pre-Holocaust Germany-set “Cabaret” take home several small stage honors. Jewish characters ranging from a scientist and an impresario to a dancer and a boxing manager brought prizes to the actors portraying them.
The Moonbox Productions revival of “Cabaret” (created by a Jewish trio – composer John Kander, lyricist Fred Ebb and author Joe Masteroff) dominated the small-stage musical honors with musical, director and choreographer Rachel Bertone, music director and costume design wins. In accepting her choreography award, Bertone alluded to the show’s insight about apathy saying “We need to be up-standers and not bystanders.” Aimee Doherty took the best actress in a musical award for her portrayal of the show’s apathetic Kit Kat Club singer Sally Bowles. Lyric Stage Company of Boston’s revival of another Tony Award-winning Kander and Ebb musical – namely “Kiss of the Spider Woman” – garnered two prizes- best actor in a musical to Eddy Cavazos, who played interior designer Molina, and projection design.
In the large stage division, Ogunquit Playhouse took home three awards for its revival of the acclaimed Broadway edition of the Gershwin-scored musical “An American in Paris.” The recent New York effort includes the revelation that dancer Lise Dassin is a Jewess saved from the Holocaust by initial boyfriend Henri’s righteous gentile family. Julie Eicher won large stage musical best actress honors for playing the vulnerable heroine. In an interview, she told the Journal that she is Jewish and that her family described their experiences with Kristallnacht. (She will return to Boston this June at the Opera House in the national tour of “Miss Saigon”).
Jeffry Denman was cited twice – for his choreography as well as his direction. The large stage big winner, the Emerson Colonial Theatre production of “Moulin Rouge!” brought the musical supporting actor prize to Danny Burstein, who portrayed the title showplace’s Jewish head Harold Zidler. Right now, Burstein is on Broadway in “My Fair Lady. The Jewish six-time Tony nominee will be playing Zidler in New York at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre – with previews beginning June 28 and opening night July 25. Besides best musical, best director, best set design and best sound honors, the world premiere – which re-opened the Colonial – also took home costume honors for veteran Jewish designer Catherine Zuber.
Besides Dassin and Zidler, Jewish characters bringing IRNE honors were Howard Albert in “Man in the Ring”and Lise Meitner in “Delicate Particle Logic.” Gordon Clapp of “NYPD Blue” won the large stage male supporting actor in a play prize portraying Albert, who managed legendary boxing champion Emile Griffiths – a role earning a lead male IRNE for John Douglas Thompson.
Huntington Theatre Company’s staging of “Man in the Ring” also won lighting and projection design awards as well as the large stage play and director prize-the last to Michael Greif. Christine Power took the fringe play lead actress prize for playing Jewish nuclear fission expert Lise Meitner in the Flat Theatre Company production of “Delicate Particle Logic.” Jeff Adelberg earned an IRNE for lighting the area premiere of “Frankenstein” for Nora Theatre and Underground Railway Theater. The SpeakEasy Stage Company revival of Tony Winner “Fun Home” – with Tony-winning book and lyrics by Jewish writer-performer Lisa Kron – won the small stage ensemble prize and promising young performer award for Marisa Somequi. “Fun Home” returns for an additional Calderwood Pavilion run June 8-30.