Tender Napalm

And the Drammy goes to …

Broadway Rose, "Tender Napalm" and a not-so-friendly gong rule the Portland theater scene's 2018 Drammy Awards

How about that gong? This year’s Drammy Awards ceremony Monday night at The Armory may have been an epic affair packed with tearful acceptance speeches, technical difficulties and even bingo, but the unofficial star of the night was the golden, disc-shaped gong that was on hand just in case any long-winded winners needed a nudge to get off stage.

In many ways, the gong embodied the spirit of the show, which honored the best achievements on Portland area theater stages in the 2017-18 season: It was playful, but added a simmering tension to the night. The show was two hours shorter than Artists Rep’s Magellanica (which should have been a contender, but Artists Rep, like Portland Center Stage, doesn’t participate in the awards) but felt longer and didn’t exactly spread the wealth around (at times it felt like the Drammy Committee’s main goal was to honor Broadway Rose and Broadway Rose). But there were entertaining, human moments as well, thanks to some powerful speeches as the comedic verve of host Claire Willett.

Lisamarie Harrison as Morticia in Broadway Rose’s “The Addams Family,” winner of the best musical production Drammy. Photo: Sam Ortega

So who won? The aforementioned Broadway Rose took home an armload of prizes for two musicals, The Addams Family (best production/musical)and Trails. Dancing Brain’s Tender Napalm also dominated with awards in, to name a few, the best production/play, directing, acting, and fight choreography categories. And the biggest loser of the night was easily Donald Trump, who was the subject of several oblique but unmistakable criticisms (side note: did the night really pass without a single thank you to Ronni Lacroute?).

At the end of the day, what I savored the most were the moments that peeked through the show’s structure. I’m thinking of Trisha Mead’s fearless onstage reckoning with her mortality (Mead founded Fertile Ground, which received a special achievement award). I’m thinking of Charles Grant winning best actor in a musical for his performance in Oregon Children’s Theater’s A Year With Frog and Toad and describing the letter that a young black girl who saw the show sent him: “Dear Frog: I love you and you are dark-skinned.”

And then there was Fertile Ground Director Nicole Lane, who delivered the best line of the night: “Please don’t gong me, Agatha.” It was a perfect moment because it was a reminder that the Drammys are capable of delivering the kind of onstage action that makes them an entertaining play in their own right.

The nominees and winners in each category, with the winner listed in boldface:

 

Best Actor in a Musical

Charles Grant, A Year with Frog and Toad, Oregon Children’s Theatre

John Ellingson, Cinderella, Northwest Children’s Theatre and School

Joel Walker, Trails, Broadway Rose Theatre Company

James Sharinghousen, A Year with Frog and Toad, Oregon Children’s Theatre

 

Best Actor in a Play

Josh Weinstein, Tender Napalm, Dancing Brain Productions

La’Tevin Alexander, And in This Corner: Cassius Clay, Oregon Children’s Theatre

Wrick Jones, Two Trains Running, PassinArt: A Theatre Company

Ted Rooney, Quietly, Corrib Theatre

Continues…