By: Dale King Contributing Writer
This year’s 43rd annual Carbonell Awards ceremony held last month at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale included its share of glitz and glamour, its portion of tuxes, gowns, speeches, hugs, cheers, tears and pats on the back.
But the theater community that runs from Miami-Dade into Broward and Palm Beach counties for whom a Carbonell Award is South Florida’s equivalent of a Tony, received their trophies this year barely two weeks after the Broward Stage Door Theater announced it was shutting its doors permanently due to financial difficulties.
The closing came just a year after two actors in Broward Stage Door’s production of Dreamgirls won Carbonells. The defunct playhouse had one nomination this year, but that entrant didn’t win.
Otherwise, several show houses in the Boca-West Palm Beach area had a run of luck at this year’s presentation.
Theatre Lab, the professional resident theater company of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton was recognized with two Carbonell Awards. Dawn C. Shamburger, Theatre Lab’s resident costume designer who has crafted the outfits for every full production at Theatre Lab since its opening in 2016, received Best Costume Design for her work on outfitting actors in The Revolutionists.
In addition, Niki Fridh took home the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play for her performance in Tar Beach by Tammy Ryan.
“We are incredibly proud of our Carbonell Awards winners,” said Matt Stabile, artistic director for Theatre Lab. “And we are so very grateful to all of our FAU family for the support in making the Theatre Lab dream a reality.”
Theatre Lab presents three main stage productions each season, along with playwright master classes, play festivals and readings on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.
This is Fridh’s second Carbonell Award. She won Best Actress, Play, last year for Grounded presented at the Thinking Cap Theatre.
At the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton, Michael Walters received a Carbonell Award for his portrayal of the major general in its production of The Pirates of Penzance, the Gilbert & Sullivan musical which opened the 2018-2019 season. Walter is a veteran of the performance stage, having appeared in about 75 musicals, comedies and dramas. He is also a celebrity impersonator, specializing in portrayals of Dame Edna and Jackie Gleason.
Michael Walters impersonates the Dame Edna character only, and is not affiliated with Barry Humphries, originator of the portrayal.
In addition, Bruce Linser won a Carbonell this year in the category, Best Director, Musical, for Woody Guthrie’s American Song at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach.
Linser is a freelance director, actor, singer, instructor and coach. He teaches acting, directing and musical theater performance at Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University, both in Boca Raton, and is the manager of the Dramaworkshop at Palm Beach Dramaworks, committed to the development of new plays.
He will appear as Artie Shaugnessy in The House of Blue Leaves at Palm Beach Dramaworks from May 17 through June 2.
All four of Broward County’s Carbonell Awards went to Slow Burn Theatre Company.
Indecent, a drama about a Jewish theatre troupe and its devotion to a controversial play, and Memphis, a musical about the racial divide in early days of rock and roll, won Carbonells as Best Play and Best Musical, respectively, at the awards ceremony. Indecent was presented at Palm Beach Dramaworks and Slow Burn Theatre produced Memphis.