By Don Calamia,

LIVONIA – It truly was “One Wilde Night,” as approximately 250 professional thespians and their guests attended The 2013 Wilde Awards Aug. 19 at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield. Through coincidences and through recurring reference in thoughtful, cogent and brief acceptance speeches, the event was very much a “family affair.”

Now in its 12th year, The Wilde Awards honor the best productions, performances and technical work produced or presented by professional theaters across the state. Nominations are based on reviews written by’s team of professional critics. During the 2012-13 season, reviewed 179 productions presented or staged by 47 producers and presenters throughout Michigan. Of those, 71 productions presented or staged by 27 theaters received at least one nomination.

Co-hosts for the night were’s editorial director Donald V. Calamia and actress Naz Edwards, who later in the evening won the award for Best Performance, Actress – Musical. They were introduced following a rousing musical rendition of “Another Op’ning, Another Show” and a welcome address by Lesley Braden, executive director of the Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance, the non-profit service organization that produces The Wilde Awards and owns

“Not only did theater artists from all across the state come together to celebrate the work they produced last season, it might be the first time that theaters on both the west and east sides of Michigan combined their talents on a single performance,” Calamia said of the show’s opening number. “Naz and Kirk Stamm of Mason Street Warehouse in Saugatuck did an excellent job of assembling a dynamic troupe of singers and dancers who had never before worked together on the same stage – and the result electrified the audience. It was a superb and memorable way to open the show!”

A hint of family reunion was in the air, as old friends recalled how long it had been since they had trod the boards together. Perhaps it was Margaret Edwartowski, who is in a “family way,” that got the ball rolling. In accepting the award for Best New Script (“Hamtown Races,” a production of Planet Ant Theatre), she referred to the honor as her “second biggest surprise.” Not to be outdone, new mom Frannie Shepherd-Bates accepted the Critics’ Choice Award for her tireless work on behalf of the local theater community and remarked, “If I hadn’t just had a baby,” the award would be the most awesome thing that happened lately. The artistic director of the Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company has her priorities in good order.

Perennial favorite Paul Riopelle honored his parents, who were present, for their support as he accepted the award for Best Performance in a Shakespearean role as Antony in Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company’s “Antony and Cleopatra.” It was Keith Kalinowski, in arguably one of the best-received acceptance speeches of the evening, who extended the family to Family – all the relentless artists who work in their industry. Kalinowski is the winner of “Best Performance, Actor – Drama” for the remarkable “Faith Healer” at The Abreact.

Families change. Some changes are happy; some are sad. The Family lost the legendary performer Council Cargle earlier this year, but his legacy lives on. The first Council Cargle Award for Dedication to the Michigan Theater Community was presented to actor Harold Uriah Hogan by Maggie Porter, Cargle’s widow.

But we were able to celebrate additions to the family, as well (above and beyond the infant thespians-to-be referenced above). Maryland native Jane MacFarlane moved to Michigan “for the theater.” In accepting her award for “Best Performance, Actress – Drama” she may have coined our new motto: “Detroit, you’ve GOT it!” McFarlane won the award in her first professional appearance, the vindictive matriarch in The Ringwald’s “August: Osage County.”

Also saluted were three individuals chosen by popular vote through the newly created People’s Choice Wilde Awards, and noting that “it’s good to be king,” Calamia reclaimed from past years his own award, which he bestowed upon what he called “his favorite comedy or drama of the year” – “Superior Donuts” at The Purple Rose Theatre. And this year’s Jim Posante Community Pride Award went to longtime stage manager – and recently named artistic director at Matrix Theatre Company – Megan Buckley-Ball.

In total, 29 nominated artists left The Berman with an award, representing 21 productions at 16 theaters statewide. Only one actor, John Seibert, walked away with two. And “A Little Night Music” at Performance Network Theatre was the most honored production with four.

“The fact that so many theaters were honored this year – and so many individual artists – reflects the excellence that exists at theaters large and small throughout our great state,” Calamia noted. “We’re truly blessed with an abundance of talent here, and that’s reflected by the depth and breadth of The Wilde Awards this year. And I suspect that means audiences are in for a treat as the new season begins to unfold in theaters all across the state!”

The 2013 Wilde Awards were sponsored by Pride Source Media Group, publishers of the weekly newspaper Between The Lines, and Actors’ Equity Association.


Best Comedy

boom, Williamston Theatre; Tony Caselli, director

Best Drama

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, What A Do Theatre, Randy Wolfe, director

Best Musical

A Little Night Music, Performance Network Theatre; Phil Simmons, director

Best Musical

Next to Normal, Meadow Brook Theatre; Travis W. Walter, director

Best of The Bard

Love’s Labour’s Lost, Michigan Shakespeare Festival; Robert Kauzlaric, director

Best Opera

Julius Caesar, Michigan Opera Theatre; Michael Shell, director

Best Original One-Act or Solo Performance

White Elephant, Go Comedy! Improv Theater; Bryan Lark, director

Best Touring Production

The Book of Mormon, Broadway in Detroit

Best Performance, Actor – Comedy

John Manfredi, End Days, Williamston Theatre & The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Performance, Actor – Comedy

John Seibert, In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Performance Network Theatre

Best Performance, Actor – Drama

Keith Kalinowski, Faith Healer, The Abreact

Best Performance, Actor – Musical

John Seibert, A Little Night Music, Performance Network Theatre

Best Performance, Actor – Original One-Act or Solo Performance

RJ Cach, Champions, Planet Ant Theatre

Best Performance, Actress – Comedy

Carmen Decker, Vigil, Lansing Community College Performing Arts

Best Performance, Actress – Drama

Jane MacFarlane, August:Osage County, The Ringwald Theatre

Best Performance, Actress – Musical

Naz Edwards, A Little Night Music, Performance Network Theatre

Best Performance, Actress – Original One-Act or Solo Performance

Lauren Bickers, Ahoy!, Go Comedy! Improv Theater

Best Performance – Opera

Anthony Ross Costanzo, Julius Caesar, Michigan Opera Theatre

Best Performance – The Bard

Paul Riopelle, Antony and Cleopatra, Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company

Best Ensemble

Mary Bremer, Joel Mitchell, Wayne David Parker & Glen Allen Pruett, Moonlight and Magnolias, The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Choreography

Kevin Halpin, Chicago, Tibbits Summer Theatre

Best Design – Costumes

Renae Pedersen Skoog, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Michigan Shakespeare Festival

Best Design – Lights

Lanford J. Potts, The Light in the Piazza, Farmers Alley Theatre

Best Design – Props

Bruce Bennett, boom, Williamston Theatre

Best Design – Sets

Eric W. Maher, The Weir, The Abreact

Best Design – Sound or Video

Jason Painter Price, End Days, Williamston Theatre & The Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company

Best Music Direction

R. MacKenzie Lewis, A Little Night Music, Performance Network Theatre

Best New Script

Margaret Edwartowski, Hamtown Races, Planet Ant Theatre


Critics’ Choice Award

Frannie Shepherd-Bates

Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company

Critic’s Choice Award

Superior Donuts

The Purple Rose Theatre Company

Guy Sanville, director

Jim Posante Community Pride Award

Megan Buckley-Ball

The Council Cargle Award

for Dedication to the Michigan Theater Community

Harold Uriah Hogan


Best Stage Manager

Nan Luchini

Best Scene Partner

Ashlyn Nicole Shawver

Best Mentor

Tracy Spada


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