The six-year-old Silver Palm Awards for theatrical excellence aren't like the much older, more formal Carbonell Awards. The Silver Palms vary in number from year to year, avoid categories and competition, and are decided upon by an executive committee -- playwright Tony Finstrom, actress and Becon TV talk show host Iris Acker and Florida Media News/ENV Magazine critic Ron Levitt -- based on recommendations sent to them by South Florida critics.
This year, Silver Palms go to 20 recipients in honor of the South Florida Theatre League's 20th anniversary. They're for work done between Sept. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2013, and they'll be presented at the League's annual holiday party in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 2.
Honored this year are producer-writer-director-actor-designer Antonio Amadeo, for his multifacted original work in A Man Puts on a Play at The Naked Stage; Miami Theater Center playwright and director Stephanie Ansin for her production of The Three Sisters; Ann Kelly Anthony for her work as executive director and board chair at Mad Cat Theatre Company; Andie Arthur, for six years as executive director of the South Florida Theatre League; Matt Corey, for his sound design of Mosaic Theatre's The Birds; Lela Elam, for her outstanding performance in Ruined at GableStage; James Danford for 30 years of outstanding work as a South Florida stage manager.
Also receiving Silver Palms are Patrick Fitzwater for his direction and choreography of Slow Burn Theatre's Side Show; Ethan Henry, for his outstanding lead performances in Palm Beach Dramaworks' A Raisin in the Sun and M Ensemble's King Hedley II; Andrew Kato for his outstanding work as producing artistic director of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Jan McArt for her outstanding work developing new plays via the Lynn University New Play Reading Series; Harriet Oser for her outstanding performance in Driving Miss Daisy at the Plaza Theatre.
Other Silver Palm honorees are artistic director Skye Whitcomb and Outré Theatre, as the year's outstanding new professional company; Nicholas Richberg for his outstanding performance in Cock at GableStage; Erin Joy Schmidt for her oustanding performances in Mad Cat's Blow Me and Other Desert Cities at Actors' Playhouse; Nicole Stodard for her challenging productions at Thinking Cap Theatre and her outstanding adaptation/production of The Rover; John Manzelli of City Theatre and Andy Rogow of Island City Stage for their coproduction of Shorts Gone Wild, the outstanding LGBT theater piece of the season; Tom Wahl for his outstanding performance in Zoetic Stage's I Am My Own Wife; Mike Westrich, for his outstanding performance in Outre Theatre's tick...tick...BOOM!. I am also getting a Silver Palm, recognizing my 34 years of theater criticism at the Miami Herald. And I swear I didn't suggest that to the committee.
This year's party goes from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Dec. 2 at Stache, 109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Theatre League members get in free, but anyone can come for a $25 admission fee. For more info, contact Andie Arthur at 954-557-0778 or visit the Silver Palms web site.
(Photo of Ethan Henry by the Miami Herald's Patrick Farrell; Erin Joy Schmidt photo from Mad Cat)