Monika Essen, Red, Performance Network Theatre
•Beth C. Duey, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Tipping Point Theatre
•Monika Essen, God of Carnage, Jewish Ensemble Theatre/Performance Network Theatre
•Jen Hansen and Ted Hansen, Stage Fright, Go Comedy! Improv Theater
•Lynn Lammers, The Usual: A Musical Love Story, Williamston Theatre
The designers Hansen cooked up enough blood and guts to gross out legions of up-close viewers. Similarly, Essen’s Carnage was just that, laying waste to the pristine with visceral insistence. Duey’s bounty was a flurry of artifacts, knickknacks, and miscellany to be jostled and flung with whirlwind energy. Toys and gadgets were a mere preamble for the magnificently thorough eight-bit wonderland Lammers had in store. Yet the splendidly thorough inventory that brought to life the reality and ritual of an artist’s craft ensured Red this win for Essen.
Lighting Design (Proscenium Seating)
Justin Lang, Red, Performance Network Theatre
•Mary Cole, Burn This, Performance Network Theatre
•Michelle LeRoy, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Planet Ant Theatre
•Brian M. Scruggs, Cyrano, Hilberry Theatre
•Jon Weaver, M. Butterfly, Jewish Ensemble Theatre
Weaver’s scene-shifting backlights and operatic contrasts dug into an extravagant, treacherous narrative. Splaying colors onto draped backdrops, Scruggs relished the glow of romantic twilights. Cole applied visible fixtures and regimented apartment lighting in masterful alignment. LeRoy’s play with darkness allowed her to capitalize on the uncorrupted enchantment of light. But ultimately, it was the starkness of Lang’s shocking fluorescent revulsion versus gorgeous natural majesty that took my breath away.
Lighting Design (Surround Seating)
Genesis Garza, The Dead Guy, Williamston Theatre
•Tim Fox, Romantic Fools, Stormfield Theatre
•Alex Gay, The Understudy, Williamston Theatre
•Harley Miah, Spring Awakening, The AKT Theatre Project
•Dana White, Escanaba in da Moonlight, Purple Rose Theatre Co.
White achieved moods and surprises that didn’t seem possible under a dreamy blanket of stars. In an unconventional space, Miah’s arsenal of equipment plunged the viewer into furious rock-expressed adolescence. A backstage setting led Gay to conspicuously draw attention to lights and their role in making theater theatrical. With garish footlights and designated neutral zones, Fox was able to reset before turning the vaudeville back up to eleven. Garza’s win reflects not only a prevailing cool MTV sensibility, but those perfect confessionals that formed the cornerstone of the production’s crucial live video element.
The Mute Quire, The New Theatre Project/Fratellaza
•Mid-Life Christmas, Go Comedy! Improv Theater
•Montag and Marbles, Go Comedy! Improv Theater
•Séance 4, Planet Ant Theatre
•Stage Fright, Go Comedy! Improv Theater
Acerbic Mid-Life Christmas encapsulated the snow-fresh disappointment of holiday letdowns. Montag and Marbles followed up on an ingenious concept with tight scripting and precision execution. Supernatural surprises were like bonus features to the character-focused comedy of Séance 4. A play within a play within a play within (etc.), Stage Fright cleverly demolished the fourth wall and feasted on its entrails. Still, as much as it defies explanation, The Mute Quire takes the win for pure imagination brought to gorgeous, immersive fruition.
Duo or Trio
Janet Caine and Eric Gutman, Spreading it Around, Meadow Brook Theatre
•Dax Anderson and Sarah Galloway, Endgame, The Abreact
•Melissa Beckwith and Jamie Richards, Southern Baptist Sissies, Ringwald Theatre
•Mikey Brown, Chris Korte, and Mike McGettigan, The Tempest, Elizabeth Theatre
•Jennifer George and Lisa Lauren Smith, Xanadu, Meadow Brook Theatre
Evildoers George and Smith matched cackle for cackle in delicious sync. Anderson and Galloway’s empty patter took growing old together to gruesome, dusty heights. No amount of braying excesses and staggering buffoonery could mask the magical attunement of Brown, Korte, and McGettigan. Beckwith and Richards hilariously proved that classless, half-acquainted barflies make the best friends. However, the shark-like conniving of Caine and Gutman’s gold-digging ingrates — honorary rogues in their own right — really put the fun in dysfunction.