The Silver Palm Awards, South Florida's "other" theater awards, will be given next month to 16 theater professionals and the ensemble cast of Mosaic Theatre's The Irish Curse. Founded four years ago by playwright Tony Finstrom, TV host and actress Iris Acker, and critic Ron Levitt, the Silver Palms (unlike the region's 36-year-old Carbonell Awards) vary in number and category each year. Critics (including me) make suggestions of award-worthy work to the founders, who make the selections.
Actors to be honored this year are Karen Stephens (pictured) for her work in Bridge & Tunnel and Eclipsed at Women's Theatre Project (WTP), and Clybourne Park at the Caldwell Theatre Company; Deborah L. Sherman for Goldie, Max & Milk at Florida Stage, No Exit at Naked Stage and Three Days of Rain at The Promethean Theatre; Marckenson Charles for Superior Donuts and A Behanding in Spokane at GableStage, and Stuff at the Caldwell; and Dennis Creaghan for A Behanding in Spokane at GableStage, Freud's Last Session at Palm Beach Dramaworks and August: Osage County at Actors' Playhouse.
Honored in the outstanding new talent category are Renata Eastlick for Kiss of the Spiderwoman at Slow Burn Theatre and Eclipsed at WTP; Elvire Emanuelle for Eclipsed at WTP, and Clay Cartland for Song of the Living Dead at Promethean.
This year's Silver Palm-winning playwrights are Michael McKeever for Stuff at the Caldwell and South Beach Babylon at Zoetic Stage, and David Michael Sirois for Brothers Beckett at Alliance Theatre Lab.
Jeffrey D. Holmes has won a Silver Palm for his direction of The Pillowman for Infinite Abyss, and Michael Leeds for his staging of The Light in the Piazza at Broward Stage Door Theatre. Winning set designers are Sean McClelland for August: Osage County at Actors' Playhouse and Tim Bennett for Stuff at the Caldwell.
Other Silver Palms go to Slow Burn Theatre Company as outstanding emerging company; Paul Homza for his Superior Donuts fight choreography at GableStage; David Cohen for his Stage Door musical tracks; and Mosaic's Irish Curse acting ensemble (Ken Clement, Ryan Didato, Todd Allen Durkin, Shane R. Tanner and Barry Tarallo).
The awards will be presented during the Theatre League's holiday party Dec. 5 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Bimini Boatyard, 1555 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. League members attend free, others pay $25. Call League executive director Andie Arthur for reservations at 954-557-0778.
(Photo of Stuff shows Silver Palm-winning playwright Michael McKeever, seated, with actor Nick Richberg on winner Tim Bennett's artfully cluttered set.)