41st Carbonell Awards Finalists Announced, Gay Playwrights, Directors Nab Nominations

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Island City Stage’s production of “Perfect Arrangement” landed the company three Carbonell Awards nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for Cristina Groom, left, and Best Costumes. Credit: George Wentzler.

An old-fashioned musical and a gritty world premiere play about bullying were the top nominees last week when the 2017 Carbonell Awards finalists were announced.

The Carbonells, named after sculptor Nestor Carbonell who designed the first award, recognize excellence in South Florida professional regional theater and are in their 41st year.

Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Palm Beach County led the musical category with 18 nominations, including 10 nods for the musical, “Me and My Girl,” while Zoetic Stage in Miami picked up 13 nominations in the play category, with eight for gay playwright Michael McKeever’s “After,” including Best Production and Best New Work.

McKeever was one of nine to land double nominations, also recognized in the Best Supporting Actor, Play category for his role in “After.” McKeever’s longtime partner, Stuart Meltzer, landed directing nominations in the musical and play categories for Zoetic Stage’s “Passion” and “After.”

Slow Burn Theatre Co.’s Patrick Fitzwater also received double nominations as director of “Spring Awakening” and choreographer for “Heathers the Musical” at the Broward Center. Slow Burn led Broward County companies with 12 nominations, including two Best Musical nominees, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Spring Awakening.”

Related: SFGNites

Island City Stage in Wilton Manors, the LGBT-centric company that swept the 2014 awards with Dan Clancy’s “The Timekeepers,” received four nominations: Rita Joe, Best Actress, Play, “The Submission;” Cristina Groom, Best Supporting Actress, Play, “Perfect Arrangement;” Peter A. Lovello, Best Costume Design, “Perfect Arrangement;” and David Hart, Best Sound Design, “Perfect Arrangement.” Michael Aman’s “Perfect Arrangement” was a critically-acclaimed and commercially successful comedy about two closeted gay couples during the so-called “Lavender Scare” during the anti-Communist McCarthy era of the 1950s.

Clancy’s play, “Middletown,” a drama about the evolving relationship between two families over several decades and premiered by West Boca Theatre Co. in Boca Raton, also made the cut in the Best New Work category.

In Miami-Dade County, GableStage in Coral Gables matched Zoetic’s 13 nominations, including two Best Production of a Play nominees, “Hand to God” and “The Royale.” Chris Crawford earned a Best Actor, Play nomination for his work in “Buyer and Cellar,” a one-man comedy mounted by Actor’s Playhouse in Coral Gables about an unemployed gay actor’s stint managing the vintage shopping arcade built beneath Barbra Streisand’s Malibu estate.

“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.”

Walters added all the nominees exemplify “the enormous amount of excellent work being produced here in our tri-county area.”

The awards will be presented on Monday, April 3 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $25 and sales open on March 28. A complete list of nominees can be found at CarbonellAwards.org.