The 1st Annual Gregory Awards, presented by Theatre Puget Sound, took place last night in the packed and festive Intiman Theater lobby. This long overdue celebration of local theater started out modestly, with only six awards, plus a "Sustained Achievement Award" for theater photographer Chris Bennion. But the short list of awardees belied the gigantic feeling of camaraderie among this happy gathering of theater geeks. The vibe of mutual support was apparently much in the spirit of award namesake Gregory Falls, a former chair of the UW School of Drama and a founder and artistic director of ACT theatre, who was reportedly fond of saying, "Theaters are like grapes. They grow best in bunches."
There was a genuine thrum of excitement in the air at the Intiman—as well as awesome music by local cabaret band The Love Markets—and palpable tension just before each envelope was opened (take note, Seattle City of Music Awards! Not knowing who's going to win beforehand makes award ceremonies a lot more vibrant!). I'm not going to retype all the nominees and winners here, since you can read all about them on the TPS website.
I was thrilled that my personal fave, New Century Theatre, won an astounding 4 of the 6 contested awards, including Theatre of the Year, despite the fact that they've only been around since 2008. They have truly done a phenomenal job of jumping out of the gate with guns blazing, if I may mix metaphors. (They were also firing on all cylinders, full speed ahead!) In accepting the Theatre of the Year award, the group took an Obama-to-Nobel-Peace-Prize approach, saying it was too soon, but that they would consider it a vote of confidence and a call to keep doing what they are doing so well.
Throughout the night nominees, winners, supporters, and presenters alike stressed how lucky they were to be involved in such a supportive theatre community—and why, as Outstanding Actor winner Charles Leggett said, referencing the unspoken question of whether you have to go to NYC to be a serious stage actor, "It's a fantastic choice to stay here." Bravo.