The many talented actors, designers and directors who are usually on stage or tucked away behind sound or lighting boards will find themselves in the audience on Monday, April 1 as the best achievements in South Florida theater are recognized at the 2013 Carbonell Awards.

Held at the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theatre, the ceremony has lovingly been dubbed “Theater Prom,” as the many creative characters in the industry dress up to celebrate an especially strong season.

Named after Manuel Carbonell, the recently deceased Cuban sculptor who designed the first awards nearly 40 years ago, the Carbonell Awards are modeled after the American Theatre Wing’s Antoinette Perry Awards — the “Tonys” — awarded on Broadway.

Awards are presented for Best Production of a Play and Musical, Best Performance by an Actor and Actress in a Play and Musical, Direction, Choreography, and technical categories such as Lighting and Set Design.

Nearly 100 productions from theatres in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were eligible for consideration, said Mary Damiano, coordinator of the selection process.

“It’s actually a two-stage process,” she explained. “First, we send a team of nominators on opening weekend. If they agree on a specified number of categories, the production is considered by a panel of judges.”

The judges make nominations and ultimately vote for the award-winners, but it takes more than 30 nominators and judges to oversee the entire process.

Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s The Music Man and Ruined, produced by GableStage in Coral Gables, earned the most nominations during the 2012 judging period, with 18 theaters earning nominations.  The Maltz Jupiter Theater earned the most nominations of any with 23, while GableStage, Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables, and Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach tied with 12 nominations each.

“The South Florida theatre community is blessed with a diverse and dedicated group of art makers and theatrical producers as evidenced by this year’s nominees. We celebrate and thank the many professional theater companies in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that participate in our awards process every year,” said Scott Shiller, chairman of the Carbonell Awards board of directors, in a statement.

“This was an exceptionally strong year,” commented Tony Finstrom, a Fort Lauderdale playwright and Carbonell judge. “We had to make some very difficult decisions.”

The South Florida theatre community was rocked last year with the sudden closure of several companies, including The Promethean Theatre in Davie, Mosaic Theatre in Plantation and Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton. Now dark, their achievements were remembered with several nominations, including Caldwell’s Best Play nominee, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.

Three new theatres were also nominated in their inaugural seasons, including Arts Garage in Delray Beach, Manalapan’s Plaza Theatre and Island City Stage in Wilton Manors.

“Our Carbonell nomination for Twentieth Century Way was so important as we work to build a new company. It’s helped us with fundraising and really validated our approach,” said Andy Rogow, artistic director of Island City Stage.

The awards ceremony, produced and directed by Stuart Meltzer and Michael McKeever with music direction by Caryl Ginsburg Fantel, promises to be a nailbiter for many in the audiences. And, all eyes will be on the stage Monday as, one by one, the envelopes are opened and the winners announced.

If You Go:

What: 37th Annual Carbonell Awards

When: Monday, April 1, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Amaturo Theatre, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale

Cost: Tickets $25 in advance, $35 at door at

More info: or box office