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Paulus, ART score big at Norton Awards

Among the winners at the Elliot Norton Awards last night were (clockwise from top) American Repertory Theater’s “Prometheus Bound,’’ SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play),’’ and Huntington Theatre Company’s “Ruined.’’ Among the winners at the Elliot Norton Awards last night were (clockwise from top) American Repertory Theater’s “Prometheus Bound,’’ SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play),’’ and Huntington Theatre Company’s “Ruined.’’ (Marcus Stern (Top); Kevin Berne (Below Left); Stephen T. Meyer)
By Laura Collins-Hughes
Globe Staff / May 24, 2011

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It was a big night for the American Repertory Theater, an even bigger night for ART artistic director Diane Paulus, and quite an evening for “The Aliens.’’ All were multiple winners at last night’s Elliot Norton Awards ceremony at the Paramount Theatre.

Paulus grabbed one of the evening’s weightiest honors, outstanding director at a large theater. The prize recognized not only two of her ART productions, the Red Sox musical “Johnny Baseball’’ and the rock musical “Prometheus Bound,’’ but also her touring production of “Hair,’’ brought to town by Broadway Across America-Boston. “Hair’’ won outstanding visiting musical production as well.

The ART’s four other wins were outstanding local musical production, for “The Blue Flower’’; outstanding musical performance, for Uzo Aduba as the tormented Io in “Prometheus Bound’’; outstanding actor at a large theater, for Thomas Derrah in the title role of “R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe’’; and outstanding design at a large theater, for “The Blue Flower.’’

Company One’s “The Aliens,’’ part of last fall’s festival of Annie Baker plays, dominated the small-theater categories. It won outstanding production; outstanding actor at a small or fringe theater, for Alex Pollock; and outstanding director, for Shawn LaCount, Company One’s artistic director. It also nabbed the prize for outstanding design in a medium, small, or fringe theater.

Meanwhile, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ruined,’’ at the Huntington Theatre Company, was named outstanding production at a large theater.

“August: Osage County,’’ another Pulitzer winner, took outstanding visiting production — a Broadway Across America-Boston triumph over ArtsEmerson, which in its first season on the scene had the other two contenders in that category: “The Merchant of Venice’’ and Peter Brook’s “Fragments.’’

Of the 10 Norton nominations ArtsEmerson received last month, it garnered only two prizes. Kate MacCluggage, who played Portia opposite F. Murray Abraham in Theatre for a New Audience’s “The Merchant of Venice,’’ won outstanding actress at a large theater, while Doug Elkins took outstanding choreography for “Fraulein Maria,’’ his dance homage to “The Sound of Music.’’

Lyric Stage Company picked up three honors in midsize-theater categories: outstanding production, for “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I and II’’; outstanding actor, for Johnny Lee Davenport in “Broke-ology’’; and outstanding director, shared by Lyric Stage producing artistic director Spiro Veloudos and his associate director, Courtney O’Connor, for “Nicholas Nickleby.’’

The Gold Dust Orphans won outstanding production at a fringe theater for “Mrs. Grinchley’s Christmas Carol.’’

Anne Gottlieb was named outstanding actress at a midsize theater for her performances in “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune’’ at New Repertory Theatre and “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)’’ at SpeakEasy Stage Company. Stacy Fischer won outstanding actress at a small or fringe theater for “Hysteria, or Fragments of an Analysis of an Obsessional Neurosis’’ at the Nora Theatre Company.

The prize for outstanding ensemble went to the Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s “The Hotel Nepenthe,’’ whose playwright, John Kuntz, won outstanding new script.

The Boston Theater Critics Association, which hands out the Norton Awards, announced the recipients of two honors in advance. Veteran director Scott Edmiston, founding director of Brandeis University’s Office of the Arts, won for sustained excellence, while the Wheelock Family Theatre got a special citation marking its 30th anniversary.

Laura Collins-Hughes can be reached at lcollins-hughes@globe.com.