2008 IT Awards Nominees Announced 

Chris Weikel 

The 2008 nominees for the New York Innovative Theater Awards were announced at a gala event at Our Lady of Pompeii on July 21, 2008. It is the prevailing wisdom that the only reason to attend theatre parties such as this is for the free food, the free booze and the schmoozing. The evening always seems to end the same way: someone has a little too much to drink, and winds up spilling hoisin sauce all over Catherine Zuber because they’re too distracted listening to Patti Lupone explain what the words “restraining order” mean.

Okay maybe that’s just me.

The IT Awards board and staff did in fact throw a terrific party with some delicious food as well as copious drink thanks to corporate sponsors Yuengling Beer and GuS Soda. What set this event apart from all others, however, was the collegial atmosphere, the downtown flair and the “can-do” spirit so prevalent in all the theatre companies represented. All in all it was a tantalizing preview of what the awards presentation promises to be this fall.

Nominees and guests were greeted as they arrived at the festively decorated venue with music provided by DJ Rob. A small army of volunteers, many of whom had been hard at work since early that morning making preparations, checked in guests and handed out playbills provided by United Stages. As it was one of the more humid evenings in July, the dress code was decidedly casual which suited the attitude of event organizers just fine. Still, there was a colorful array of sundresses on the ladies and a few choice millinery statements mostly sported by the men. One of these splendidly haberdashed gentlemen (did I just coin a verb?) was cheery-faced IT Awards Co-Founding Director Jason Bowcutt who along with fellow Co-Founding Directors Nick Micozzi and the always smartly dressed Shay Gines was on hand to greet the capacity crowd.

I caught a moment with IT Awards Board members Bob Lee and Michael Mitchell (Board President) who were particularly pleased with the quality of this year’s nominees. Referring to one of the productions he judged, Bob drew my attention to the slide show projected on one of the walls. As stills from the nominated productions flashed past at random, he commented, "You can tell from this how stunning the overall production was.” It was certainly an evocative photo, but my focus was drawn to one of the audience members captured at the edge of the frame.

“Bob is that you?” We had to wait for the series of slides to cycle through again to verify that it was in fact Bob sitting in the audience. So much for anonymity. The photos gave attendees an idea of the variety of productions represented, which seemed to range from the sublime to the silly. As images from one nominated production, Vampire Cowboys’ “Fight Girl Battle World” lit up the wall before me, I made a mental note: must see more plays with ray guns in them.

Bob excused himself to join a group of board and staff members which included Michael Mitchell, Kathleen Warnock, Ben Hodges, Bob Lee, Morgan Lindsay Tachco, and Christopher Borg on the stage, ready to announce the 2008 nominees. Shay began by sharing with the crowd some truly astonishing numbers. The 2008 Nominees were selected from an adjudication pool of over 3,000 artists. Nominees include 127 individual artists, 47 different productions and 40 theatre companies. I was frankly floored by these statistics. I need to get out more. Nick then took the podium to remind the crowd to take the Off-Off Broadway Demographics Survey and directed us to tables in the back of the room where forms were available. (If you haven’t done so you can still take the survey on line. Just click here).

 Following the announcement of the nominees in 18 different categories, Jason Bowcutt thanked the crowd and everyone who made the evening possible and made one more exciting announcement: members of the Off-Broadway institution Blue Man Group will be performing the opening number of the IT awards ceremony on Monday, September 22. As if after rubbing shoulders with this crowd I needed added inducement to attend. Okay where do I buy tickets?



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