Among Portland theatergoers, it's generally agreed that this was a dismal year for what we once called the living drama. In fact, there was simply not much to celebrate, which was reflected Monday night in the Crystal Ballroom when the Drammy committee handed out the smallest number of Drammy statuettes in some time. But even in such a meager year, six really first-rate productions stood out (Miracle's Lorca in a Green Dress, Portland Center Stage's O Lovely Glowworm, Insight Out's Cornered: In the Dark, Cygnet's Glengarry Glen Ross, Liminal's The Resurrectory, and CoHo and Third Rail's Recent Tragic Events), and their quality more than makes up for the dearth elsewhere.
Happily, this, too, was reflected at the 26th Annual Drammy presentation, where the aforesaid six shows collectively walked away with 17 of the 29 awards. Lorca in a Green Dress and Recent Tragic Events were the evening's big winners, both deservedly sharing the awards for Outstanding Production of the year, as well as receiving director awards for Olga Sanchez and Slayden Scott, respectively.
It was also a year for many of the city's favorite, hardworking artists to be recognized: Danny Bruno and John Morrison picking up acting awards for Glengarry Glen Ross; Ted Shulz winning a supporting-actor award for ART's Death of a Salesman; Laura Faye Smith in Triangle's The Heiress and Adrienne Flagg in Bump in the Road's The Waiting Room sharing Outstanding Actress awards; and Patrick Wohlmut honored for his beautiful performance in Verb's Earth Stories. Gretchen Corbett was also given a special achievement award for her work in starting and sustaining the Haven Project.
The evening at the Crystal went smoothly, though past compère Tony St. Clair was intensely missed. Improvisational comedy is usually best left in designated basements, but John Berendzen's hilarious acceptance speech for his sound work in The Resurrectory and Sowelu's Barry Hunt wryly introducing himself as a "cult leader" were as bright as defunkt co-founder James Moore's suit, adorned with a halo of stars.
Of technical awards, Outstanding Sound Designs went to Rodolfo Ortega for Lorca, Drew Flint for Recent Tragic Events, the young and worth-watching Elias Foley for Stark Raving's The Vespiary, and Berendzen. Outstanding Production design went to Liminal's collective effort, while lighting-design awards went to Tyler Micoleau for Glowworm, Glenn Gauer for Lakewood's Amadeus, Peter West for Lorca, and veteran Lakewood tech wizard Kurt Herman for Man of La Mancha. Bill Tripp won for scenic design for his work on defunkt's The Killing Game.
If the Portland theater community can build upon the top six productions of this year, the city's dramatic productions might again be worth living for.