Kevin Kline Awards | 03.20.06

Cracking jokes at every turn, Kline won over the audience with his warm spirit and humble demeanor.

 

Roberts Orpheum Theater, St. Louis

Two thousand six is a historic year for the theater community of St. Louis, for it is the year in which the first ever Kevin Kline Awards were held, honoring outstanding achievement in local theater. I am happy to say that the entire event went off without a hitch.

The ceremony, hosted by St. Louis native Jason Danieley, celebrated all facets of the theater community, from sound design to outstanding production of a play. With 22 categories presented, the ceremony did a decent job in recognizing so many outstanding aspects of our fine community without becoming annoying.

The man himself, Kevin Kline, was not only in attendance, but also in rare form. Kline’s greeting to the audience was heartwarming and genuine. Cracking jokes at every turn, Kline won over the audience with his warm spirit and humble demeanor.

To get a complete list of the nominees and winners, all you have to do is visit kevinklineawards.org. The big winner of the night was the Muny, with its production of West Side Story. Nominated for nine awards and taking home five, West Side Story appeared to have been the show not to miss this past season.

When it seemed that West Side Story was going to steal the whole night away, a couple of “upsets” seemed to set the crowd abuzz. When Ben Nordstrom won for his role in Stages St. Louis’ production of Footloose, a gasp emerged from the crowd. Additionally, when Zoe Vonder Haar deservedly won for her role in Stages St. Louis’ production of Hello, Dolly!, the crowd once again gave congratulations with warm applause.

A few smaller theaters got in the mix, proving that talent wins awards, not budgets. The Orange Girls took home three awards for their marvelous production of Going to See The Elephant. Likewise, the Washington Avenue Players Project snagged their award in the Outstanding New Play or Musical category.

One criticism I had of the production was the fact that Danieley read his script from a black binder. Maybe he just didn’t have enough time to memorize his lines, but that aspect left me scratching my head. Not to be nitpicky, but Danieley is a respected Broadway actor; it just seemed odd.

Other than that item, the entire evening was possibly the most enjoyable night I have ever had inside a theater. Seeing so many of St. Louis’ fine actors congregate under one roof was overwhelming. As a reviewer, I go judge these people’s work, so to see them off the stage in a social setting was fantastic. St. Louis has so many fabulous theater companies and actors, it is about time someone recognized their hard work. Steve Isom, Executive Director of the Professional Theater Awards Council, should be proud of the work he and his talented team accomplished. Everything in this production worked, from the talented band on stage, to the engaging presenters, to Kevin Kline himself. New York had better watch out: While they may have their Tonys, St. Louis is coming on strong with their Kevin Kline Awards. This event is the “must-see” event for any St. Louis theater enthusiast.

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