Houston Theater Awards

From actors to designers, directors to technicians, the city's brightest talent gets its due.

Finalists: Kregg Dailey as our nation's seventh president in Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson (Generations Theatre); Travis Ammons as crazy Jerry in Edward Albee's Zoo Story (Edge Theatre); James Belcher as the lonely writer in The Unexpected Man (Stages); David Matranga as a huckster producer in Mistakes Were Made (Stages Repertory Theatre); Guy Roberts as Shakespeare's most malevolent king in Richard III (Main Street and Prague Shakespeare Festival); and Abraham Zeus Zapata as gay window dresser Molina in Manuel Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman (Unhinged Productions).

Best Actress

Florence Garvey (Back Porch Players)

The Seafarer at The Alley Theatre
Mike McCormick
The Seafarer at The Alley Theatre
The Cripple of Inishmaan at the University of Houston
Thomas Campbell/University of Houston
The Cripple of Inishmaan at the University of Houston

Months after she blistered the paint off the walls at Barnevelder, Florence Garvey's radioactive performance in Suzan-Lori Parks' In the Blood (Back Porch Players) still smolders in our mind. As woeful street lady Hester, Garvey pierced into the essence of this lowest of the low and smashed her pain right in our face. A chilling portrait etched in horror and hopelessness, Hester is failed by everyone who proclaims they're out to protect her: government, religion, care-workers, friends and lovers. Wanting a normalcy that's impossible to achieve, she cracks into madness. Using raw, sharp-edged poetry that lacerated as it stung, Garvey reached into the character's hellish darkness and transformed Hester's pleas for help into screams of torment. This was hard-to-take theater, gritty, disturbing and fairly awful to look upon, let alone think about later. But magician Garvey turned Parks's expressionistic tale into potent, once-in-a-blue-moon theater.

Finalists: Brittny Bush as a droll child observer in Alan Ayckbourn's My Wonderful Day (Main Street); Sarah Cooksey as Jane Austen's matchmaker in Jon Jory's Emma (A.D. Players); Jeannette Clift George as a vivacious septuagenarian in George's Whatever Happened to the Villa Real? (A.D. Players); and Kristina Sullivan as guttersnipe-turned-duchess Eliza in Lerner and Lowe's My Fair Lady (Masquerade ­Theatre).

Best Supporting Actor

Troy Schulze (Catastrophic Theatre)

In the midst of darkness there is light, and Troy Schulze as the abused servant Clov in Samuel Beckett's Endgame from Catastrophic Theatre found the not-so-buried resentment of the underdog, fleshed it out with his painstaking care and humorous mistakes in carrying out orders, and silently and brilliantly conveyed his smoldering hatred of his overlord. He capped the performance with subdued glee as the worm turned and Clov escaped repetitive, boring tyranny. Schulze's body language was richly comedic and brought the essential relief and counterpoint to Beckett's dark view of the human condition.

Finalists: Wayne DeHart as Stool Pigeon in August Wilson's King Hedley II (Ensemble Theatre); Seán Patrick Judge as Turgenev in Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia (Main Street); Carl Masterson as Professor Serebryakov in Uncle Vanya (Classical Theatre Company); John Stevens as Fagin in Oliver Twist (Theatre Southwest); and Philip Hays as Dog in Dog Act (Main Street Theater).

Best Supporting Actress

Jackie Pender-Lovell (Theatre Southwest)

As Mrs. Toothe in Edward Albee's Everything in the Garden at Theatre Southwest, Jackie Pender-Lovell took command of the stage with physical stride, attitude and authority. In a play filled with minor-league evil characters, her role as an executive madam showed that pure evil, as always, is fascinating. She held the play together and made plausible an unlikely series of events, as middle-aged upward-strivers move from mere corruption to brutal murder. Resisting ample opportunities for exaggeration, Pender-Lovell opted for understated power, letting us glimpse the iron fist within the velvet glove. She was compelling, nuanced and memorable.

Finalists: Carolyn Houston Boone as Samantha in American Falls (Catastrophic Theatre); Jen Cody as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls (TUTS); Lyndsay Sweeney as Lenny in Crimes of the Heart (Texas Repertory Theatre); and Pamela Vogel as Leontine in The Triumph of Love (Generations Theatre).

Best Breakthrough

Katie Van Kooten (HGO)

One diva per opera is usually enough for us, but Houston Grand Opera amazed with a double whammy in its stirring production of Donizetti's rarely performed Mary Stuart. Superstar coloratura mezzo Joyce DiDonato (a hometown favorite ever since her student days at HGO), as the doomed queenly heroine, met her match onstage with young fiery soprano Katie Van Kooten, as the proud, jealous Elizabeth I, who blew the blood-red roof right off the Wortham. The fireworks between the duo matched any classic Crawford/Davis catfight, as one vocal roulade trumped each preceding one. We award the match to Van Kooten, whose volcanic yet agile voice, armed with supple intonation, impeccable diction and magisterial stage presence, stole the show from veteran Di­Donato. Unfortunately, Donizetti drops Liz after Act II, but her royal impact lingered long after Mary went to the block. Act III is all Mary, but we had already lost our head to Van Kooten. She returns to HGO in October to sing Puccini's frail flower-maker Mimi in La Bohème.

Best Costumes

Claremarie Verheyen, In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play (Stages Repertory ­Theatre)

What is more sumptuous onstage than the rustle of patterned silk or the swish of fine velvet? Period costumes are our weakness, especially when they add flavor to their wearers as Verheyen's ravishing Victorian creations did for Sarah Ruhl's comedy of corseted manners. The rustle was apparent as voluminous skirts were raised in the dimly lit doctor's office as the women were introduced to the shivering charms of the electric vibrator. The novel bodily sensations, first secretly feared, then heartily embraced, opened their minds to what pleasures the state of marriage had denied them for so long. And there's no sin in pleasure, the costumes said, echoing the play's theme. The clothes for the women's husbands were as detailed as the men were obtuse: greatcoats, cravats and crisp linen shirts bound their egos tighter than any whalebone.

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The Poets was by far the most darring show of the year! It was the only real show to tackle bullying with breakthrough performances. I hear it's going to be produced in New York.


These awards are a joke. How can the saddest news in theatre be the capricious closing of a theatre, managed by a control freak, when the tragic death of Laura Beth Botkin, the extraordinary lead (Kate Monster) of Avenue Q. Also, no awards were given to Avenue Q, even when your own critic attested that the production was exceptional and in many instances than the one performed in Broadway. No even a mention for Tell me on a Sunday, an epic performance by Rachel Landon with a superb group of musicians. I don't know who the judges are, or if there is a committee or what, but I don't even think that are based on a real assessment of the productions. 


I find it totally refreshing that the Alley has only received several awards. The Alley is no longer the best theatre in town although they still consider themselves just that. Smaller theatres have finally eclipsed the downtown fortress and shown the Alley that great theatre is happening everywhere in our city, thanks to fabulous artistic directors who continue to push the envelope of cutting edge theatre. Forward we go!


I did award sound design in plays and musicals in my Buzzy Awards. and also Best Ensemble Awards. Google “Buzzy Awards” and it will take you to my winners.

slumpville 1 Like

Ad5os, Better their personal opinions than a popularity contest, whereby the largest theater in town runs away with every award, because those shows have larger houses. These awards are absolutely wonderful. HP, I wonder if you might consider adding sound design next year for an award next year. Sound design often goes unrecognized in reviews and such. It would be cool to see them in these awards next time around. Great job on the awards! Thanks!


Awesome! I don't know who the judges were or how decisions were made as to who was "Better" or even what the credentials are of these judges to make these sort of judgements are so maybe that could be explained but I imagine it is a similar process as your best of Houston series where the best is just the most arbitrary place that your friend works at. And opera shouldn't be included? Wtf. Anyway I think this is a great idea even if it isn't like the academy awards and some of the categories are a bit silly. This town needs all the help the press can give in drumming up business and promoting new theatrical experiences. As an performer I would love to see 5x more theaters being sold out every night. Even weekdays! This is a huge town and I feel we could be doing way better if we didn't have to compete against the mindless crap on corporate TV and Movies. Thanks Press for doing the right thing and recognizing the best out there...even if it is just your own personal opinions. :)


This is great and you share many of the same players with my BUZZY AWARDS but you really need to break down Best Actor and Actress and Best Supporting Actor and Actress in plays and musicals. And all technical awards need also be broken down between plays and musicals. Best artistic director is not a valid entry in my opinion or the most improved category. I do not believe you should include opera productions. Although opera IS theatre, I think you need to specifically concentrate on theatre (plays and musicals). Otherwise, this is quite complete and it’s about time someone other than myself should be honoring the amazing work of theatres in our fair city. (I have posted awards for the past 4 seasons.)