Announcing the 2014 Moss Island Brophy Award Winners

2014 Trophy Award Icon
Bryophyte: Any green, seedless plant that is one of the mosses, hornworts, or liverworts.

Tony: The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, commonly known as the Tony Award.

Brophy: The Moss Island Sounds Award for Excellence in Greater Utica Area Theatre (whether green, seedless, mossy, horny, or otherwise).

I love lists, especially end-of-year. It’s awards season, time for retrospection. Lists are never definitive – they are shaped by the author’s (authors’) tastes, perspectives, most of all by limited time and choices; sometimes there are rules! At their best, lists recall fond memories, inspire discussion and (re)consideration. They’re like bar snacks – light diversion, well-salted, not to replace a regular meal. And so…

The 2014 Moss Island Brophys (Inaugural Class)

Ashley Pope
My favorite performance of the year was in a junior high production of Once Upon a Mattress. Ashley was fresh, poised, and displayed a real talent for physical comedy.

Teresa Dunn
Teresa stood out in a very strong Company cast, knocking Sondheim’s Ladies Who Lunch out of the park.

Ellen Campion
In the same production of Company, Ellen devised an interesting way to make the most of the severe technical limitations at Players of Utica – the best lighting yet in the State St. black box.

Richard K. Stoodley
Rick had a great year. He stretched as Roy Cohn in Angels in America, but I really loved him in (the mostly dreadful) 9 to 5, where he delivered a slick, fun performance that looked effortless. He hasn’t peaked yet – I’m waiting for the role that gives him the challenge of Angels in the strike zone of 9 to 5.

The Hamilton College Orchestra, conducted by Heather Buchman
Utica Dance presented their Nutcracker at Hamilton this year, which wasn’t significantly different from last year’s production at MVCC, when the group was still under the Munson-Williams Dance umbrella. The direction rarely encompassed the entire stage, the story wasn’t coherent, the lighting and scenery were ugly (sometimes fascinatingly) and the dancing didn’t excite me. What WAS exciting, actually hair-raising thrilling, was hearing a real orchestra perform the music during the production. It wasn’t perfect – dynamics were sometimes out of whack, and at least one number veered close to a rhythmic train wreck (I don’t know how the dancers managed at times) – but it was a swing for the fences that paid off. On the strength of the music, this is the current holiday production to beat, in my book; bravo to Heather and the orchestra.

Charles Schneider
Original musical theater pieces must be difficult to create, given how few seem to turn out well. Bawdy Town The Musical was a homegrown dud, with the exception of the surprisingly elegant orchestrations by Chuck Schneider, maestro of the dormant Utica Symphony.

Delia Foley – Lifetime Achievement
41 seasons of the Mohawk Valley Ballet, more than 30 years of The Nutcracker in addition to many other significant full-length ballets (Sleeping Beauty, Dracula, etc.) Precision, discipline, beauty – Delia set the highest barre, and it was to Utica’s immense benefit that she did it here, for us.

2014 was an interesting year. This blog started in June as an outlet for things I’ve always written, keeping most of them to myself. These pieces have been looked at almost 10,000 times in six months, surpassing my expectations. I’m appreciative and grateful for those who honor me by reading, discussing, even disagreeing.

I directed three productions this year, and appeared in two of them. I kept a public journal of sorts during those productions, posting many of my thoughts here. I’ve often said I can’t review my own productions, although some of what I’ve written has come across that way. Still, I don’t think I can objectively cite the work of the wonderful casts, musicians and production teams from the shows I’ve directed, which is why they are not singled out above. (Parents shouldn’t announce their favorite children.)

With that said, it has been my privilege to work with so many artists this year, and to be honored with their trust, on I Love You Because, The Mikado, and The God Game. Janet Engle and Barbara Pratt separately helped me to my personal best performances on stage, certainly outclassing me but gracious enough not to be obvious about it. Ben, Liska, Janet, Kat, Anthony, Sarah, Mamie, Susan, Greg, Ben, Janet, Steve, Lisa, Thom, Sarah, Craig, Buff, Heather, Miranda, Joe, Robert, Nick, Griffin, Tyler, Joseph, John, Rosemary, Henryk, David, Sarah, Noah, Alyssa, Susan, Ben, Barbara, Joe, Sarah, Susan, Pat and Alex – thank you all, and here’s to the next adventure.