By Brad Erickson
It’s the morning after the second annual TBA Awards Celebration and the cheering—three nonstop hours of cheering—from last night’s event is still ringing in my brain (I’m pretty sure it’s the cheering and not the hangover from the way-too-much-fun after-party at PianoFight). The first reaction this morning is, “Thank God we made it! We can relax!” and the second, like on the day after Christmas, is that we’ve got 364 long days before next year’s event.
The production values that our producers Nick Olivero and David Gluck brought to the evening were so high that I am tempted to review the celebration as if it were one of the productions highlighted at last night’s ceremony. Five stars, huge applause, falling-out-of-his-chair-Little-Man for MC Ron Campbell; for scriptwriter Allison Page; for announcer Carrie Paff; for the Killing My Lobster crew’s satirical opening number; for the show-stopping performances from Broadway By the Bay, San Jose Stage Company and Altarena Playhouse; and for the moving musical tribute led by Amy Lizardo and Teresa Attridge. We not only talked about theatrical achievement, we saw it live and on stage.
And what a stage. The Geary Theater is our community’s Notre Dame, and for this event American Conservatory Theater throws open the cathedral doors. Not only does ACT waive the usual rental fee, the company donates countless hours of staff time, from the box office, to the production crew to the executive offices. Watching hundreds of theatre artists, dressed to the nines and hailing from theatre companies of all sizes around the region, pouring into that burnished and glowing house and greeting each other so exuberantly (so very exuberantly that we had to hold the curtain a full 15 minutes) makes real the notion of a theatre “community” that we at Theatre Bay Area talk about so often.
Like last year, I was struck by the jubilation that rang out all night long, from the finalists as they appeared on stage, from the award recipients, from their friends and colleagues in the house and from those who may have been completely unfamiliar with an artist or a company until the names were announced. I heard no murmuring over those who might have been passed over. There was no need for a “triage for bruised egos,” as Ron Campbell joked—instead I sensed an extraordinary collective clap on the back for all the artists and their work.
What I did hear, many times, were comments like this from one veteran artistic director: “Who is that new company? I keep hearing their name over and over!” Or, “Wow, that number was terrific. I really need to go to [fill in the blank] Theatre more often!” Or even, “I’ve been in the Bay Area for years and I’ve never seen [fill in the blank]’s work. I’ve got to go!”
This might be the sweetest outcome of this program—if we are encouraged to explore the true depth and breadth of this theatre community we call home, and discover for ourselves the wealth of artistic achievement flourishing so joyfully on our stages night after night.
Click here for the full list of 2015 TBA Awards Recipients.
Brad Erickson is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.