“And the winner is…” If you were a nominee for the 2011 New York Innovative Theatre Awards those words can send chills and quivers as you await that all important NAME. And if that name is yours — !!! For the 4th year, nytheatre.com polled the winners to find out how they took the news. We asked three questions: (1)What was the absolute first thought you had when you heard them call your name? (2)Who was the first person you called/emailed to tell that you won? (3)What does this award signify or mean to you personally? Here are the answers in the order we received them.
JONATHAN BLITSTEIN - Outstanding Original Full-Length Script
Keep Your Baggage With You (at all times)
First Thought: At first I really thought it was someone else’s name. It was hard to hear in the auditorium, and then everyone sitting next to me was screaming and cheering, and I looked to the producer of the play, Brian Miskell, and he had this grin on his face that was like: “Dude, it was totally, totally worth every tough day of putting on that show”. And I was still pretty much convinced it wasn’t real, even when I was walking to the stage.
First Called: I had my cellphone on me at the show, and I sent a text right away to my family, and then I texted my co-founding members of Lesser America, Nate Miller and Laura Ramadei, who were in Keep Your Baggage. Daniel Abeles, our other co-founder was also nominated for best featured actor, and was there with me.
Award Means: I think the NYIT community/foundation, and the indie theater audience are the power-plant lighting up theater in New York City. To be recognized by them is a tremendous honor. I’m just humbled and delighted. On a personal career level, I hope this means that someday somehow I’ll get my play published, so more people can check it out. I’m
hopeful. I’m also thrilled to follow in the footsteps of writers like Bekah Brunstetter and Crystal Skillman!
NICK PAGLINO - Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role
An Impending Rupture of the Belly
First Thought: My first reaction was quite literally, “I’m pretty sure John Glover just said my name, and if he didn’t and I’m just imagining it, I’m going to look really horrible walking up to that stage right now.” My immediate next thought was, “Okay, he did say my name, and I can’t believe John Glover just said my name.”
First Called: I texted my brother who lives in Michigan and is a huge sports fan. His response to my text was “Congratulations man! Are you seeing this Giants game right now?”
Award Means: The work that the Off-Off Broadway community does truly is a “labor of love,” and often times slips under the general radar of the public. To have an organization like The NYIT Awards recognize the work that we do is such a refreshing affirmation that our efforts are noticed and appreciated. So to me, the award (and the entire awards ceremony) really symbolizes the strength of the Off-Off Broadway community.
DEANNA MCGOVERN – Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role
An Impending Rupture of the Belly
First Thought: There was definitely a little bit of a delay in my head-for it to register that Jay O’Sanders had just called my name. My cast mates and friends that were sitting with me all jumped up and starting cheering and hugging me, so that made it sink in. My very close 2nd thought was- “Crap! I didn’t prepare anything to say”. It was truly a surprise.
First Called: It was definitely my parents. They were watching the live stream at home in Dayton, OH and they immediately sent me a really beautiful message. And like an idiot, I didn’t thank them during my acceptance, so… Thank you Mom and Dad for everything, literally! I love you.
Award Means: It means so much to be recognized by your community and peers, in whatever field you are in. But after living and working as an artist in NYC for almost 6 years, I think it’s safe to say, being recognized by your theatre community, in this city, is an incredible honor. It makes the great parts of it even greater and the tough parts of it totally worth the struggle.
KRISTEN VAUGHAN – Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role
First Thought: My very first thought was “Okay, that’s me.” I was in the unusual position of being nominated alongside one of my very best friends – Heather Cunningham. Heather is a wonderful actor and also the Artistic Director and Producer of Retro Productions, a company to which I belong and because of which I received the nom and award. Heather and I
were nominated for the same show! And I’m not saying I’m unhappy (please… my award sits on the bookshelf, and I’m not sure when I’ll stop smiling at it), but honestly, in that first moment, I think I wanted, and was most prepared to hear Heather’s name.
First Called: I got a picture of me and the award and emailed it to Ursula, my MOM.
Award Means: Over the years, Retro has had a lot of nominations. This is our first WIN! I’m thrilled to have been responsible for my part in that. Personally, the award makes me want to work all the harder, to continue to be the best actor I can be. When I smile at it in the morning it says (in a very distinguished voice) “Keep going.”
CHRISTINE O’GRADY – Outstanding Choreography/Movement
The Drowsy Chaperone
First Thought: Susan Lucci no more!! I was excited!
First Call: My fiance. He’s on tour so wasn’t with me.
Award Means: It’s so nice to be recognized for my work Off-Off Broadway, where I’ve met some amazing collaborators who I continue to LOVE working with. For each of the times I’ve been nominated, it’s been a project in which my work has been clarified, deepened, and brought to life by the great people in the room–directors, actors, and designers. The group effort is so important to me, and The Drowsy Chaperone was just that!
BARB KIELHOFER – Outstanding Production of a Play
Balm in Gilead
First Thought: I thought I had heard wrong. We had been nominated for quite a few awards throughout the night and each time they said a name other thanBalm in Gilead, so when it finally was us I was so stunned I thought that I had misheard. It wasn’t until I saw my cast leap to their feet and start cheering that I realized we had won. It was a total out of body experience. I know our director Peter Jensen had the same experience because we shared this sort of blank, stunned look before we made our way to the podium.
First Call: My mom. She had been watching the entire show online from her home in New Mexico. The first thing she said to me was “you looked beautiful, and I saw John Patrick Shanley kiss you.” It was so sweet because she isn’t computer savvy so I know it was a big deal for her to watch online. She even live chatted with Aaron and Doug!
Award Means: For me it represents all the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in Balm. The Outstanding Production Award is a crowning achievement at the end of a rewarding and magical experience.
LESLIE KINCAID BURBY – Outstanding Director
First Thought: My first thought was, “No Way!!”. I was so in awe of the many talents nominated that I had completely convinced myself that there was no way I would win the award. I was thrilled!
First Called: I called my sons Henry (15) and Adam (12) as soon as the event was over. They were super excited and apparently Adam started rolling around on the floor and cheering. They promised me they would stay up until I got home and we would have a “big party”. However, I did gently tell them they had to go to bed and we’d celebrate the next night, which we did.
Award Means: This award meets a tremendous amount to me. It’s the first time I’ve received a major acknowledgement of my work in the many years I’ve been in the business of theatre. I know we all need to believe in ourselves, but it can feel pretty lonely sometimes. Being a director sometimes means you have to be the “bad guy”, and shoulder a lot of responsibility whatever problems the production runs into. This can be exhausting and overwhelming. It is a really lovely vote of confidence to receive this kind of tangible support from one’s colleagues. It is helping me recharge my creative batteries already!
DAVID DARROW – Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role
First Thought: Woohoo!…oh God, I have to go up there and talk…
First Called: My girlfriend who was sitting next to me tweeted it before I even got back to my seat…so I didn’t have to call anyone!
Award Means: It’s the perfect ending to an incredible process. I learned so much working on The Revival. I’m thrilled the show had such an impact on our audiences.
NAT CASSIDY – Outstanding Solo Performance
Things At The Doorstep: An Evening of Horror Based on the Works of H.P. Lovecraft
First Thought: “Dammit. I have no idea what I’m going to s– … wait, are they playing ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ for Solo Performance? That is awesome.”
First Call: Given the speed our damned social media move, I don’t think I actually told ANYBODY. By the time I got back to my seat, I had text messages and Facebook posts galore. Perhaps I’ll open a phonebook at random (they still make those, right?) and call the first number I point to, just so I can have the pleasure of actually telling somebody.
Award Means: It’s a huge, huge honor – and, frankly, I was happy just to be nominated. This was the first solo show I’d ever done and it was a really, really, really weird, challenging, personal show that actually pissed a fair amount of people off (cf., our Village Voice review). But the fact that so manyother people came along for the ride and enjoyed it was so incredibly gratifying and amazing, and now to somehow have an award for such a crazy experience is close to absurd (and on my birthday week, no less). So it signifies to me that, no matter how insane they might seem, taking risks is always worth it, and every now and then you might get a 5-pound aluminum something to show for it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all who came and voted. (And thanks to all that came and walked out, too – you were actually more of an important element than you could ever have known.)