Norton Awards News!

by:  Temple Gill at 05/20/2014

Congratulations and huzzah!

I am delighted to report that Huntington productions received 3 Elliot Norton Awards at last night’s ceremony:

  • The Jungle Book — Outstanding Musical Production by a Large Theatre;
  • The Seagull — Outstanding Ensemble, Large Theatre;
  • Andrea Syglowski (Venus in Fur) — Outstanding Actress, Large Theatre

Andrea gave a heartfelt impromptu speech about how she got her equity card on Venus in Fur and that it was her first job out of Juilliard! Michael Maso accepted the award for The Jungle Book, commenting on what a joyful experience the production was and how Mary Zimmerman’s remarkable vision made it all possible.

Michael Maso and Kate Burton

Michael also gave a sincere and heartfelt tribute to Nicholas Martin, referencing Nicky’s life-affirming laugh and Andre Bishop’s quote that Nicky had more friends than most people have had hot suppers:

I want to thank the Norton Committee for dedicating this ensemble award to Nicholas, which seems a very fitting tribute. For the last few decades of his life Nicky didn’t have a leading man, but he did have an ensemble, a devoted community whose overlapping personal and professional roles enriched every aspect of his life and his work. As Andre Bishop said, Nicky had more friends than most of us have had hot suppers.

Nicky was an elfin, concentrated ball of life. In the rehearsal hall he was both the undisputed master and a gleeful co-conspirator. He combined street smarts with caviar taste, and his productions were wise and warm and funny — and oh so elegantly staged. His range was extraordinary, from the classics to Coward to Chris Durang, and when he decided to try a musical as his final production as Huntington Artistic Director he gave us a She Loves Me for the ages. He opened up the stages of the Huntington to so many people in this room, and he ushered in a new age for Boston playwrights — and not just on our stages.

He did all that with no pretension whatsoever — he was arguably the least fashionable gay man in America, and he had no patience for grand theories or art. After his first season at the Huntington a reporter asked him to compare Boston to New York. He said "it's very hard to make change here." "Oh,” said the reporter, “you mean Bostonians are resistant to new ideas?" "No,” Nicky said, “I mean it's hard to make change, of a dollar."

“If I have any aesthetic at all,” he wrote, “it has its foundation in the collaboration that theatre affords.”

As so many of you know, he was almost always laughing that laugh – that braying, barking, life-affirming miracle, loud enough to wake the angels from their heavenly sleep, and wicked enough to make them question if they were on the right side. I can hear it still.

When he was hired at the Huntington our search came down to two candidates. The other one was twenty years younger and had more directing and administrative experience. I was worried that our trustee committee might not make what I thought was the right decision. And so I asked one of my favorite committee members, a trustee named Esther Kahn, what she was thinking.

Well, she said, my head tells me to go with that other guy — but my heart belongs to Daddy.

So did mine.

Michael also presented the Outstanding Ensemble Award in Nicky’s honor so it seemed quite fitting that The Seagull’s ensemble should win. Nael Nacer spoke on behalf of the Boston community, and Kate Burton spoke about Nicky, who was the one, in fact, who had chosen them and turned them into an ensemble. She also told the story that when Nancy Carroll won the Norton Award years ago and didn’t come to the ceremony, that Nicky called her to tell her that Victor Garber was accepting on her behalf; Kate then encouraged her to take her bow at that moment! It was wonderful that so many of the ensemble was able to attend, and they seemed so genuinely happy to see one another.

Nael Nacer and the cast of The Seagull as they accept the award for Best Ensemble

In other news, ART and Zeitgeist were the headline winners with 4 awards a piece, our Bevin O’Gara joined Paul Daigneault on stage when SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of Tribes won Outstanding Production by a Midsize Theatre, and the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence went to Paul Daigneault.  You can read the details in The Boston Globe WBUR’s Artery.

Thank you to all who attended and participated in last night’s ceremony, and congratulations and thanks to all of you who helped make these award-winning shows such a success!

Old friends Andrea Syglowski (Venus in Fur) & Auden Thornton (The Seagull) proudly display their awards

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