41st Annual Carbonell Award Nominees



An old-fashioned, splashy musical about a working-class Londoner who discovers he’s nobility and a world premiere play about the consequences of bullying received the most nominations in the musical and play categories when the nominations were announced for the 41st annual Carbonell Awards, which honors excellence in theater in South Florida.

Me and My Girl, produced by Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter, led the musical category with 10 nominations. After, produced by Zoetic Stage in Miami, led the play category with 8 nominations. Nineteen of South Florida’s theaters earned nominations for a variety of shows produced during 2016. Maltz Jupiter Theatere in Palm Beach County earned the most nominations of any theater with 18. Zoetic Stage and GableStage, both in Miami-Dade County, earned 13 nominations each. Slow Burn Theatre Company in Fort Lauderdale earned 12 nominations, the most of any theater in Broward County. Nominations were spread over 36 shows from theaters stretching from Coral Gables north to Jupiter.

Palm Beach County theaters and Miami-Dade County theaters tied with a total of 39 nominations for each county, while Broward County theaters earned 22 nominations.

The awards will be handed out at the Carbonell Awards ceremony, which will be held Monday, April 3, 2017 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.

The Carbonell Awards is a not-for-profit organization and is funded by tax-deductible donations and award sponsorships. This season’s sponsors include South Florida Cultural Consortium, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Rita and Jerry Cohen, Kerry and Scott Shiller, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, Mary Ellen and Michael Peyton, Tony Finstrom and the South Florida Theatre League. Opportunities to sponsor an award category and appear on stage to announce the winner are still available. Email for more information.

Double Nominees

Nine performers and designers have double the reason to be happy with the nominations this year. Jeni Hacker was nominated as Best Actress, Musical for Passion as well as Best Supporting Actress, Play, for After, both at Zoetic Stage. Laura Hodos is nominated as Best Actress, Musical, for The Will Rogers Follies at Maltz Jupiter Theatre as well as for Best Supporting Actress, Musical, for 1776 at Palm Beach Dramaworks. Matt Loehr garnered a pair of Best Actor, Musical, nominations for his performances in Me and My Girl and The Will Rogers Follies, both at Maltz Jupiter Theatre. Michael McKeever received a Best New Work nomination and a Best Supporting Actor, Play, nomination for his world premiere at Zoetic Stage, After. Stuart Meltzer is nominated for Best Director in both the play and musical categories for Passion and After, both at Zoetic Stage. Patrick Fitzwater earned a Best Director, Musical, nomination for Spring Awakening and a Best Choreography nomination for Heathers, both at Slow Burn Theatre Company. Caryl Fantel received two nominations for Best Musical Direction of Slow Burn Theatre Company’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Passion at Zoetic Stage. Gail Baldoni received two nominations for Best Costume Design for Me and My Girl and The Will Rogers Follies, while Marty Mets earned two Best Sound Design nominations for Frost/Nixon and Me and My Girl, all at Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

“South Florida boasts a thriving theater scene which continually raises the standard of excellence that the Carbonell Awards seeks to recognize and reward,” said Don Walters, president of the Carbonell Awards Board of Directors. “Look at the Carbonell nominees for Best Production of a Play—that category alone shows the diversity of theater being produced regularly in South Florida, from classics of American theater to experimental work, as well as a world premiere play. And there are six nominees in that category, which means our judges simply could not winnow their selections to the standard five and exemplifies the enormous amount of excellent work being produced here in our tri-county area.”

The ceremony will take place Monday, April 3 in the Amaturo Theater, at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets for Nominees and Groups will be available starting Wednesday, January 28 through March 6th. Visit and click the TICKETS link for full details. Single tickets priced at $25 plus service fee will go onsale to the public on March 13 and can be purchased at the Broward Center’s Box Office by calling 954-462-0222 or visiting Day of show tickets will be available for $30 plus service fee.

A complete list of the 2016 nominations and a breakdown of nominations by county, theater and production follows.

Carbonell Award Nominations, 2016

Best New Work (play or musical)

After, Michael McKeever, Zoetic Stage

Middletown, Dan Clancy, West Boca Theatre Company

Three Sisters of Weehawken, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Theatre Lab

Unlikely Heroes, Charles Gluck, Family Pool Productions

Best Production of a Play

After, Zoetic Stage

Frost/Nixon, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Hand to God, GableStage

Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Mud, Thinking Cap Theatre

The Royale, GableStage

Best Director/Play

Joseph Adler, The Royale, GableStage

Barry Lewis, Frost/Nixon, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Stuart Meltzer, After, Zoetic Stage

Nicole Stodard, Mud, Thinking Cap Theatre

Paul Tei, The Flick, Mad Cat Theatre

Best Actor/Play (cannot be for a role in a cast nominated for Best Ensemble)

Aygemang Clay, The Royale, GableStage

Chris Crawford, Buyer and Cellar, Actors’ Playhouse

Peter Galman, A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney, Thinking Cap Theatre

John Jellison, Frost/ Nixon, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Wesley Slade, Hand to God, GableStage

Best Actress/Play (cannot be for a role in a cast nominated for Best Ensemble)

Rita Joe, The Submission, Island City Stage

Margery Lowe, Hand to God, GableStage

Mia Matthews, After, Zoetic Stage

Elizabeth Price, Reborning, The Theatre at Arts Garage

Avery Sommers, The Devil’s Music, The Theatre at Arts Garage

Best Supporting Actor/Play

Alex Alvarez, Stalking the Bogeyman, GableStage

Kristian Bikic, Hand to God, GableStage

Michael McKeever, After, Zoetic Stage

Tom Wahl, After, Zoetic Stage

Conor Walton, The Normal Heart, Outré Theatre Company

Best Supporting Actress/Play

Elizabeth Dimon, Three Sisters of Weehawken, Theatre Lab

Christina Groom, Perfect Arrangement, Island City Stage

Jeni Hacker, After, Zoetic Stage

Shein Mompremier, The Royale, GableStage

Lourelene Snedeker, It’s Only a Play, GableStage

Best Production of a Musical

1776, Palm Beach Dramaworks

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Passion, Zoetic Stage

Spring Awakening, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Best Director/Musical

Clive Cholerton, 1776, Palm Beach Dramaworks

James Brennan, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Michel Hausman, The Golem of Havana, Miami New Drama

Patrick Fitzwater, Spring Awakening, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Stuart Meltzer, Passion, Zoetic Stage

Best Actor/Musical (cannot be for a role in a cast nominated for Best Ensemble)

Gary Cadwallader, 1776, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Bobby Cassell, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Matt Loehr, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Matt Loehr, The Will Rogers Follies, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Nicholas Richberg, Passion, Zoetic Stage

Best Actress/Musical (cannot be for a role in a cast nominated for Best Ensemble)

Jeni Hacker, Passion, Zoetic Stage

Laura Hodos, The Will Rogers Follies, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Julie Kleiner, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Stephanny Noria, Spring Awakening, Broward Stage Door

Jenna Pastuszek, Evita, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Best Supporting Actor/Musical

Matthew Korinko, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Chaz Mena, The Golem of Havana, Miami New Drama

Dominique Scott, Million Dollar Quartet, Actors’ Playhouse

Dominic Servidio, Heathers, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Christian Vandepas, A Minister’s Wife, GableStage

Best Supporting Actress/Musical

Laura Hodos, 1776, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Isabelle McCalla, West Side Story, Actors’ Playhouse

Jessica Brooke Sanford, Sister Act, The Wick Theatre

Leah Sessa, Heathers, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Mary Stout, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Best Musical Direction/Musical

Eric Alsford, West Side Story, Actors’ Playhouse

Craig D. Ames, 1776, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Caryl Fantel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Caryl Fantel, Passion, Zoetic Stage

Helen Gregory, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Best Choreography/Musical

Patrick Fitzwater, Heathers, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Ron Hutchins, West Side Story, Actors’ Playhouse

Dan Knechtges, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Kelly Shook, I Love a Piano, The Wick Theatre

Shea Sullivan, The Will Rogers Follies, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Best Scenic Design/play or musical

Michael Amico, The Night of the Iguana, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Jodi Dellaventura, The Nether, Area Stage

Paul Tate De Poo III, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Michael McClain, After, Zoetic Stage

Sean McClelland, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Best Lighting Design/play or musical

Paul Black, The Night of the Iguana, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Jeff Quinn, The Royale, GableStage

Eric Nelson, Mud, Thinking Cap Theatre

Giancarlo Rodaz, The Nether, Area Stage

Donald Edmund Thomas, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Best Costume Design/play or musical

Gail Baldoni, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Gail Baldoni, The Will Rogers Follies, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Peter A. Lovello, Perfect Arrangement, Island City Stage

Brian O’Keefe, 1776, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Rick Peña, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Slow Burn Theatre Company

Best Sound Design/play or musical

Matt Corey, The Night of the Iguana, Palm Beach Dramaworks

David Hart, Perfect Arrangement, Island City Stage

Marty Mets, Frost/Nixon, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Marty Mets, Me and My Girl, Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Shaun Mitchell, Million Dollar Quartet, Actors’ Playhouse

Best Ensemble Production (play or musical)

The Flick, Mad Cat Theatre Company

It’s Only a Play, GableStage

Million Dollar Quartet, Actors’ Playhouse

Mud, Thinking Cap Theatre

The World Goes ‘Round, MNM Productions

About The Carbonell Awards

Along with New York’s Drama Desk and Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards, the Carbonell Awards are among the nation’s senior regional arts awards and predate others including Washington, D.C.’s Helen Hayes Awards. The Carbonell Awards fosters the artistic growth of professional theater in South Florida by celebrating the diversity of our theater artists, providing educational scholarships, and building audience appreciation and civic pride by highlighting achievements of our theater community. Named after Manuel Carbonell, an internationally-renowned sculptor, who designed the original solid bronze and marble award in 1976, each season volunteer panelists and judges choose nominees and recipients from hundreds of shows produced on stages throughout the tri-county area. For more information, visit .

Top 10 Pageant Choreographers of 2016

Shea was named the top pageant choreographer by The Pageant Planet!

Shea is the creative genius behind so many talent competition routines, including our Miss America 2013, Mallory Hagan! Shea is known for having the ability to bring out the best style and technique of each contestant she works with. Mallory Hagan says herself that she could not have won Miss America without Shea. Congratulations, Shea!

‘The Producers’ at Maltz Jupiter Theatre a Delightful Comic Romp

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Hap Erstein Special to The Palm Beach Post

Peel back the layers of Mel Brooks’ manic musical “The Producers” and you find three distinct and often contradictory elements. It is a brazenly politically incorrect comedy, while at the same time a valentine to the theater and a soft-hearted bromance.

That the show works, and works like gangbusters, is a testament to the legendary funnyman’s original 1968 film and to the way he expanded it for the stage with his own gag-laden score.

On Broadway, “The Producers” won a record-setting 12 Tony Awards. The fact that it had a relatively short run – a mere six years – is largely due to the void felt when the show’s star, Nathan Lane, left the production. At the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, which pours a lot of performance and design talent into the evening, there is a similar hole at its center.

Broadway veteran Lenny Wolpe takes a curious approach to the role of conniving impresario Max Bialystock, who hatches a scheme to make money on a flop show by overselling its stock. One need not bellow like Lane, but Max should be a larger-than-life presence, yet Wolpe underplays the character. As a result, he never dominates the proceedings, neither bullying his milquetoast accountant Leo Bloom into crime nor pressing his charms on the little old lady potential investors. It is an adequate performance, but Wolpe comes up short in the broadly comic possibilities in Max.

Fortunately, Mark Price as button-down, sweaty, hair-trigger hysterical Leo more than fills the humor gap. As adept at physical comedy as he is an unexpectedly agile dancer, he makes this “Producers” about Leo’s journey, leaving his humdrum bean-counting job for the larcenous excitement of show business. And along the way, he finds love with a Swedish Amazon named Ulla (Elyse Collier) and begrudging affection for Max.

That can’t-miss flop script, as fans of Brooks’ movie know, is “Springtime for Hitler,” a celebration-cum-satire of Der Fuhrer and the Third Reich. The frequent Maltz team of director Mark Martino and choreographer Shea Sullivan deliver the title production number with aggressive bad taste and attention to details. (Listen for the voice of Brooks delivering a single line in the number.)

They have gathered a gaggle of great second bananas. Take Roland Rusinek as playwright Franz Liebkind, so insistent in his admiration for li’l ol’ Adolf. Michael Brian Dunn is drily amusing as befrocked director-within-the-show Roger Debris, who fills in at the last minute as Hitler, rolling about the stage and confiding in the audience while perched at the footlights. Even better is Seth Tucker as his personal – OK, very personal – assistant Carmen Ghia, who sashays through many a gay stereotype.

Offensive? Undoubtedly, but women, seniors, Jews and, of course, Nazis come in for equal opportunity comic abuse.

The ever resourceful Paul Tate Depoo III fills the Maltz Jupiter stage with sets that change in a cinematic blink of an eye, and Gail Baldoni’s has great fun with the costumes, notably those with Germanic icons for the “Springtime for Hitler” chorus girls.

Quibbles aside, the Maltz’s “Producers” is going to entertain a lot of people in its brief three-week run. It may be the dead of winter – well, South Florida-style – but this production is a breath of springtime.

‘White Christmas’ Sparkles with the Joy of the Holidays

Special to the Packet/Gazette

“White Christmas,” on stage of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina through Dec. 31, is a kind of magical, Christmas gift. Filled with top notch entertainment, it will engage you and put a new spin on your spirits and your holidays.

“White Christmas” and all of its endearing elements provide an evening of first-rate entertainment. The production glows with a winning, lighthearted story line and is enhanced with a holiday spin, supported with familiar music, punctuated with stop-you-in-your-tracks dancing and even a little snow.

Everything about the evening — the direction, the leads the ensemble, the music — is filled with musical savvy and performance spectacles. All the elements come together to make your spirits bright.

The stage version of “White Christmas” is based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. It was reinvented for the Broadway musical, which opened in 2004.

The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina production is directed by New York’s Mark Martino. The choreography is seen to by Shea Sullivan, and the musical direction by Eric Alsford.

“White Christmas” tells the story of a couple of successful show business partners whose friendship goes way back to their years together in the U.S. Army. We follow the action of our talented leads, Bob Wallace (Jeffrey Correia), the Crosby guy in the film, and Phil Davis (John Scacchetti), who have, after leaving the military, become a successful performance duo and are mostly enjoying life. What’s missing, the two decide, are women.

It just so happens that an old Army buddy asks the two to consider adding his sisters and their act to their new show. He explains that his sisters are hoping for a serious chance at showbiz. The fun begins as do the anticipated complexities.

The sisters, Judy (Vanessa Sonon) and Betty (Rachel Rhodes-Devey), as it turns out, are actually talented and terrific. Bob and Phil are thrilled for a lot of reasons, and after some creative maneuvering, everything falls into place and the four are off on a train to do a performance at an inn in Vermont.

It turns out that Gen. Henry Waverly (Michael Devries), their former army commander, is the proprietor of that very inn. And, in place with him are Martha Watson (Susan J. Jacks), his inn manager, and Susan (a very youthful Peyton Dobbs), his niece. Things at the inn, sadly, are not going well. There is no snow, and the skiers have all moved on. Everybody is anxious, or worse.

Clearly, there is a need to make things better, and that’s where the “Million-dollar proposition” becomes pivotal to the storyline. The “lets get together, turn things around as we accomplish all of our goals by creating and performing an all new production to be staged at the Vermont inn” scenario is put into place.

Ensuring that things come out the way they should, the leads are impressively supported by Mike (Eddy Cavazos), Ezekiel Foster (Roscoe Sandlin), Sheldrake, (Tim Shea), Rita (Mary Beth Donahoe), Jimmy (Darrin French), Conductor (Patrick Heffernan), Mrs. Snoring Man (Ashley Nicole Martin), Rhoda (Lizzy Nichols) and Scooter (Jonathan Quigley,)

A gifted ensemble cast, all of whom sing and dance with enormous talent and high energy, are all sensational. Their voices and their dancing guarantees that the production is spectacularly propelled through the evening.

There are close to 20 incredible Irving Berlin songs and musical settings, and the good news is that our favorite musical numbers start right off with “Happy Holiday” and “White Christmas.”

You will love the story and the outcome.

Forgotten Marx Bros. Musical I'LL SAY SHE IS; Restored! Revived! Rejoice!

Traditionally, actors who bear at least a modest resemblance to some beloved public figure of the past have found ways to parlay their good fortune into solo play or cabaret act.

Fortunately, Noah Diamond who is a top-shelf Groucho Marx impersonator, also seems to be a dedicated musical comedy archeologist, at least when it comes to a scarcely-remembered 1924 Broadway hit titled I'LL SAY SHE IS, which served as a vehicle for a quartet of brothers who had spent their youth climbing to the top of the vaudeville circuit.

Groucho, Harpo and Chico Marx were well-seasoned thirtysomething funnymen when they decided to take a chance at the legit stage. Their straight-man younger brother, Zeppo, was a lad in his early twenties.

The book and lyrics were by Will B. Johnstone with his brother Tom supplying the music. Both had worked, separately and as a team, on several musicals before this one and, as was customary in the day, their major responsibility would be to come up with some snappy tunes and somehow incorporate the quartet's tried-and-true routines into something resembling a plot.

The Marxes would strongly upgrade their writing staff for their next two Broadway vehicles. George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind penned the books for both THE COCOANUTS and ANIMAL CRACKERS, with Irving Berlin writing the score for the former and Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby cranking out tunes for the latter. While those two have been reasonably preserved by their movie versions, the most that remained, in one piece, of I'LL SAY SHE IS is thirty pages of rehearsal script.

Fortunately, those pages fell into the hands of Diamond, who began an extensive research project to fill in the missing pieces. Newspaper clippings and reviews helped him figure out what routines and songs were used, prompting more research into finding versions of ever-evolving bits.

Program notes for director Amanda Sisk's crisp and buoyant new production utilizing Diamond's handiwork estimate that a third of the book and half the lyrics are of the researcher's informed invention, staying true as possible to the language and conventions of the era. In other words, this is not a greatest hits revisal that finds an excuse for the mirror routine and for Groucho to sing "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady."

The tremendous pleasure to be had enjoying I'LL SAY SHE IS at the Lower East Side's intimate Connelly Theater, which originated as a 19th Century school auditorium, comes from appreciating the restoration of a bit of our cultural history and watching the talented and spirited company diving head-first into the nonsensical frivolity with a joyful admiration of the madcap antics they're recalling.

With what appears to be a modest budget, Joe Diamond's set and Julz Kroboth's costumes charmingly suggest the glamour and glitz of 1920s revues. Shea Sullivan's choreography for a bevy of exuberant showgirls is the kind meant to show off their beauty as well as their footwork.

What passes for a plot begins when a hapless theatre agent (Mark Weatherstone) receives visits from our four heroes, each trying to show off his talents, which coincidentally includes a quartet of Al Jolson impersonations. The kicker is that the entire scene is written in rhyming verse.

But the boys ditch showbiz when they see a newspaper headline about a young and pretty heiress looking to marry the first man who can give her a thrill. The gal's name is Beauty, taken from the expression of the day (and the lyric for the title song), "Isn't she a beauty?" "I'll say she is."

So the rest of the story is a thrill-seeking ride consisting of loosely-connected bits that take us from a high-society mansion, to an opium den, to Central Park and Wall Street, and to the show's most famous scene, where Groucho, as Napoleon, bids farewell to Josephine, while his cohorts play the queen's parade of lovers. In between, there's the requisite harp solo for Harpo, piano trickery for Chico, some love duets for Zeppo and a scene where Groucho courts a wealthy dowager.

Diamond has everything about Groucho Marx at this stage of his career down pat in a performance that feels fresh and spontaneous, particularly when throws out asides to the audience when a joke doesn't exactly leave 'em rolling in the aisles.

Seth Shelden may not be a ringer for Harpo, but he exudes the same puckish pathos and impish charm mimicking the great clown's physical bits. Special kudos to whoever figured out how to do the classic bit where a seemingly endless set of silverware falls out of his sleeve.

Matt Roper is an amusingly dour-faced Chico and Matt Walters does fine work as Zeppo, more of a romantic juvenile than a straight man here.

Although collectively, The Four Marx Brothers are the star attraction, Beauty is actually the leading role and the peppy Melody Jane does a terrific job singing and dancing with great showgirl vitality. Kathy Biehl is just swell singing with classic tones and playing befuddled straightness in the Margaret Dumont prototype role.

Music director and arranger Sabrina Chap plays piano, joined by percussionist Matt Talmage.

Everything about this pint-sized production of I'LL SAY SHE IS leaves you anxious to see what these artists could do with a fuller budget to really recreate the atmosphere of 1924 Broadway. Hopefully there's more to come for this merry historical artifact.
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