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Theatre Charlotte, CAST, CPCC top MTA Awards

Theatre Charlotte, which staged 'Rent,' is Theatre of the Year.

By Lawrence Toppman
ltoppman@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Actors Studio took home 11 trophies Sunday at Metrolina Theatre Association's eighth annual MTA Awards. Central Piedmont Community College followed close behind, with 10 prizes. Yet Theatre Charlotte, where an acclaimed "Rent" capped a season of adventurous programming, was named Theatre of the Year for 2011.

Marla Brown, who founded Warehouse Performing Arts Center in Cornelius and has stocked it with diverse, challenging shows, earned Theatre Person of the Year honors. The MTA gave out 98 awards, counting regional theaters and college productions, and you'll find the list at www.metrolina theatre.org .

Each of the three big categories had a clear leader or two. CAST garnered 10 of its 11 awards in the drama category, notably for "The Elephant Man"; it won best show, actor (Hank West) and director (Michael Harris). Cynthia Farbman won best actress for CAST's "Agnes of God."

CPCC picked up most of its prizes for musicals, winning best show with "Hairspray" (which also got best actress for Sara Reinecke and best choreography for Eddie Mabry). Yet "Rent" scored two big awards, best actor for Chaz Pofahl and best director for Billy Ensley.

The comedies were split more evenly: Collaborative Arts took four of its five prizes here, as "Incorruptible" and Peter Smeal won play and director. Actor's Theatre of Charlotte won all four of its awards in this group, including best actor (Dave Blamey for "The 39 Steps"). Annette Saunders won best actress for "Same Time, Next Year" at Theatre Charlotte, one of that company's seven trophies.

Citizens of the Universe gathered five awards, including outstanding special event for "Love Conquers All: A Quiet Evening with Sid and Nancy." It shared that prize with Stephen Seay Productions' "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)." Children's Theatre of Charlotte collected seven prizes, all for technical excellence in sets, costumes, lighting or special effects.

Other winners included Catawba College's "Bright Lights, Big City," which took four awards including best college production; Davidson Community Players' "Ragtime," which topped eight categories, including best production in Regional-North; and Uwharrie Players' "All Shook Up," which got six nods including best production in Regional-South.

The William Rackley Award for Technical Excellence went to Anna Sartin, who also won for her set of "How I Became a Pirate" at Children's Theatre. Brianna Smith, an incendiary Emma Goldman in "Ragtime," is Emerging Artist of the Year.

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