PAMTAs: a night for song & dance

On the hottest night of the year, Portland's musical-theater crowd puts on a sizzling show of its own. Topping the list: a beauty and a beast

On the hottest night of the year (so far) on Sunday, the Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards set off a little steam heat of their own in the Winningstad Theatre, where the dapper and funny Darius Pierce hosted the 10th annual awards ceremony.

Beauty and the Beast took home the hardware for best production, 1776 for best ensemble, and The Tail of Sleeping Beauty for outstanding original musical. The second big theater awards ceremony, the 39th annual Drammys, follows on Monday night in Smith Memorial Center at Portland State University.

Emcee Darius Pierce running the show. Photo: David Kinder

Here’s a full list of this season’s PAMTA nominees. The list of winners, supplied by PAMTA producer Corey Brunish:


ArtsWatch Weekly: Solstice!

Here comes summer. Here comes summer art. Take off your shoes, put on your swimsuit, and dive right in.

Raise a glass, if you’re of a mind, to summer, which according to the wise old heads of The Old Farmer’s Almanac officially begins at 9:24 Pacific Daylight Time this evening – Tuesday, June 20. If you’re reading this on the East Coast you’ll need to wait until 12:24 on Wednesday morning for the solstice to kick in.

That makes it high time to start thinking about summer arts, too.

The eclectic Siletz Bay Music Festival in and around Lincoln City on the Oregon coast opens Wednesday with some Mendelssohn and Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and continues through July 4 with concerts ranging from classics to rock violin to swing jazz and cabaret.

Chamber Music Northwest kicks off its summer season in Portland on Monday evening, June 26, with a program of music by Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Amy Beach (plus a little Bach), and continues through July 30. The opener’s a good introduction to this year’s celebration of women composers – and that ties in neatly to Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s swiftly approaching program of free performances June 29-30 in the Washington Park Rose Garden Amphitheater, featuring works by three women choreographers. For a deeper look, see Jamuna Chiarini’s interview with Helen Simoneau, one of the three, in DanceWatch Weekly.

Falstaff (K. T. Vogt) bemoans his difficulties wooing Mistresses Ford and Page, unaware that he’s speaking to Master Ford (Rex Young) in disguise. Photo: Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The granddaddy of Oregon summer festivals, Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival, continues full steam ahead through October with eleven plays moving in and out of repertory during the season. Sir John Falstaff, that great gross night, makes a big splash, making appearances in all three plays in which he’s a character. For more on that, read Suzi Steffen’s Five questions for the Falstaffs, an interview with festival actors K.T. Vogt and G. Valmont Thomas, who between them cover all of the big guy’s bases.


PAMTAs: a night for windmills, misbehavin’, Cuban rhythms, and a big green ogre

Lakewood's "Man of La Mancha" takes home the trophies in Monday night's Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards celebration in the Winnie

What do you get with a packed house full of theater lovers celebrating musicals? The ninth annual Portland Area Musical Theater Awards celebration, which took over the Dolores Winningstad Theatre on Monday night to celebrate the best of the 2015-16 season. For one night the Winnie had the cream of Portland’s crop of golden pipes filling the air with some of the best musical numbers of the year.

The evening’s big winner was Don Quixote, who tilted at enough windmills to bring the house down. Lakewood Theatre’s Man of La Mancha took home a helmetful of hardware, winning for best production, actor and supporting actor (Leif Norby as Quixote, Joey Cote as his sidekick Sancho Panza), musical direction (Alan B. Lytle), and sound design (Marcus Storey and Timothy Greenidge).  In addition, Greg Tamblyn was named best director, sharing the award with Chris Coleman, who won for Ain’t Misbehavin‘.

Matthew Brown sings "More Than I Can Say" from "Falsettos," holding the PAMTA audience spellbound. Photo: David Kinder/kinderpics photography

Matthew Brown sings “More Than I Can Say” from “Falsettos,” holding the PAMTA audience spellbound. Photo: David Kinder/kinderpics photography

Portland Center Stage’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ also won for scenic design (Tony Cisek) and lighting design Diane Ferry Williams). The evening’s third big winner was Cuba Libre, the ambitious premiere musical at Artists Repertory Theatre featuring the music of Tiempo Libre. It won for best original production, choreography (Maija Garcia) and original score (Jorge Gomez). Northwest Children’s Theatre’s Shrek: The Musical was a double winner, for outstanding ensemble and costumes (Mary Rochon).


Tony and the PAMTAs: a producer’s big week

Corey Brunish races from "Man of La Mancha" to Monday's PAMTA musical-theater awards to Broadway for next Monday's Tonys as a nominee

It’s a busy week even for Corey Brunish, one of the busiest guys in Portland show biz.

  • On Sunday he gives his final performance in Lakewood Theatre’s hit revival of Man of La Mancha, leaving the show a week early to meet some big-time previous commitments. (“Corey Brunish, as the grand tall obelisk of the duke and Dr. Carrasco,” performs the villains “with malevolent dignity,” Christa Morletti McIntyre writes in her ArtsWatch review of La Mancha).
  • On Monday evening he heads to the Winningstad Theatre for this year’s PAMTA musical-theater awards, which were his brainchild and remain in many ways pretty much his baby. This season’s top-show nominees include Falsettos, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Snow White, and Lakewood’s Man of La Mancha (Brunish himself is not a nominee). See the complete list of nominees below.
  • Then he packs his bags and heads to his other home, near Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, to get ready for next Sunday’s Tony Awards, where one of his shows as a producer, Fiddler on the Roof, is up for the Tony for best revival of a musical. He’s won a Tony in the same category twice before, for Porgy and Bess in 2012 and Pippin in 2013.

A few days ago Brunish took time for a juice break at a Southeast Portland coffee shop to talk about the PAMTAs, the Tonys, and how he got from here to there.

"Falsettos" at Live On Stage: a PAMTA best-production nominee.

Norman Bandersnatch Wilson and Claire Rigsby in “Falsettos” at Live On Stage: a PAMTA best-production nominee. Photo: Gary Norman

The Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards are entering their ninth year, and what began as a protest movement against the larger and longer-established Drammy Awards has evolved into a community celebration that’s also a pretty entertaining event. As ArtsWatch reported after last year’s gala, “A funny thing happened on the way to the grand wrap-up of the PAMTAs: a helluva show broke out. … for all the suspense about who the winners would be, the hardware almost played second fiddle to the show itself, which for two hours and forty-five minutes was pretty much dazzle-dazzle spectacular. Who would’ve guessed that an awards ceremony could actually be entertaining?”


Clap hands: 2016 PAMTA nominees

This year's Portland area musical-theater awards party is June 6 in the Winnie. The complete list of nominees.

It’s PAMTA time. The annual Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards celebration will be at 7 p.m. Monday, June 6, in the Dolores Winningstad Theatre, and the PAMTA committee has announced this season’s nominees, listed below.

The PAMTAs precede the annual Drammy Awards, which will be June 26 in the Newmark Theatre, and honor achievements across the theatrical spectrum. The PAMTAs recognize achievements in musical theater specifically, which on the greater Portland theater scene provides a lot of options. The awards were created by Corey Brunish, the longtime Portland singer/actor and Tony-winning Broadway producer.

Best production nominee "Ain't Misbehavin'" at Portland Center Stage. Patrick Weishampel/

Best production nominee “Ain’t Misbehavin'” at Portland Center Stage. Patrick Weishampel/

Musical-theater people know how to put on a show, and past PAMTA ceremonies have been entertaining and well-produced. Here’s ArtsWatch’s report from last year’s event, which “pretty much packed the Dolores Winningstad Theatre to the rafters,” with  cheering that at times “approached Timbers Army volume.” This year’s festivities begin at 7 p.m., and admission’s free.


PAMTA nominees: the musical-theater awards list

It's awards season in Portland theater, and the PAMTA nominees join the previously announced Drammy finalists in the spotlight

With the traditional season wrapping up (although theater’s become a whole-calendar sport in Portland) it’s coming up on award season in Portland theater.

Last week, the Drammy Awards announced nominees for this year’s 37th annual awards ceremony, which will be at the Newmark Theatre on Monday, June 29. You can recap the nominees here.

"Mary Poppins" scores 13 PAMTA nominations, including best production: Photo: Northwest Children's Theater

“Mary Poppins” scores 13 PAMTA nominations, including best production: Photo: Northwest Children’s Theater

Today, the city’s musical-theater awards group announced its nominees for the eighth annual PAMTAs, Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards, which will be Monday, June 15, in the Winningstad Theatre, downstairs from the Newmark. There’s some crossover in the listings (the Drammys consider musical-theater productions in addition to other kinds of theater, but the PAMTAs dig more deeply into the metropolitan area’s active musical-theater scene.

Here’s today’s release listing the PAMTA nominees:


Tony Winning Producer Corey Brunish announces the 8th Annual Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards for the 2014-2015 season.

11267305_10152981423017123_1960198894_nThe ceremony will take place June 15 at 7pm at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts in the Winningstad Theatre. There will be 10 surprise musical performances. Open to the public. Free admission. No tickets required. Gold-plated trophies will be presented in 20 categories and all nominees will be presented with gold-plated medallions of recognition.

Outstanding Male Actor in a Lead Role:
John Ellingson, Mary Poppins
Drew Harper, tick, tick….BOOM!
Nartan Woods, The Rocky Horror Show
Joe Theissen, La Cage aux Folles
Evan Howells, Young Frankenstein

Outstanding Female Actor in a Lead Role:
Chrissy Kelly-Pettit, Mary Poppins
Nattalyee Randall, Dreamgirls
Monica Rodrigues, Soul Harmony
Dru Rutledge, She Loves Me
Cassi Q Kohl, She Loves Me

Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role:
Burl Ross, Young Frankenstein
Eric Little, The Rocky Horror Show
Joe Theissen, It’s A Wonderful Life
Jonathan Quesenberry, Carousel
Collin Carver, Grease

Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role:
Jennifer Goldsmith, WHODUNIT
Claire Rigsby, Grease
Lisa Knox, Young Frankenstein
Emily Sahler, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Annie Kaiser, The Music Man

Outstanding Ensemble:
Parade, Staged!
La Cage aux Folles, Pixie Dust
Dreamgirls, Portland Center Stage
tick, tick…BOOM!, Triangle
The Music Man, Broadway Rose

Outstanding Young Performer:
Kaylee Bair, Mary Poppins
Libby Rouffy, Mary Poppins
Austin Emmett, Mary Poppins
Kieran Gettel-Gilmartin, Mary Poppins
Josiah Bartell, The Music Man
Alexa Kelly Shaheen, Ruthless!

Outstanding Director:
Sarah Jane Hardy, Mary Poppins
Chris Coleman, Dreamgirls
Greg Tamblyn, La Cage aux Folles
Paul Angelo, Parade
Tobias Andersen, She Loves Me

Outstanding Choreographer:
Sarha Jane Hardy, Mary Poppins
Peggy Taphorn, The Music Man
Anita Menon & Sarah Jane Hardy, The Jungle Book
Jacob Toth, Grease
Laura Hiszcynskiyj, She Loves Me

Outstanding Musical Director:
Cyndy Ramsey-Rier, Young Frankstein
Alan D. Lytle, The Music Man
Jeffrey Childs, The World Goes ‘Round
Rick Lewis, Dreamgirls
Darcy White, The Rocky Horror Show

Outstanding Costume Designer:
Sydney Roberts, Dreamgirls
Mary Rochon, Mary Poppins
Pat Rohrbach, She Loves Me
Shana Targosz, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Darrin J Pufall, The Rocky Horror Show

Outstanding Set Designer:
G. W. Mercier, Dreamgirls
John Ellingson, The Little Mermaid
John Ellingson, Mary Poppins
Owen Walz, Grease
John Gerth, She Loves Me

Outstanding Light Designer:
Jeff Woods, She Loves Me
Chris Whitten, Carousel
Carl Faber, Mary Poppins
Kurt Herman, Young Frankenstein
Robert M. Wierzel, Dreamgirls

Outstanding Sound Designer:
Rodolfo Ortega, Mary Poppins
Casi Pacilio, Dreamgirls
Duane Rodakowski, La Cage aux Folles
Gordon Romei, Parade
Rory Breshears, The Rocky Horror Show

Outstanding Production:
Young Frankenstein, Lakewood
Dreamgirls, Portland Center Stage
Parade, Staged!
La Cage aux Folles, Pixie Dust
Mary Poppins, Northwest Children’s Theater

Outstanding Playbill Cover Design:
110 in the Shade, Lisa Johnston-Smith/Artslandia
The Rocky Horror Show, Jim Parker
Grease, Emily Dew
Iolanthe, Rachel Barry-Arquit, Joe Ercegg, Matt Erceg, Larry Larsen


Outstanding Original Orchestrations:
Soul Harmony, Michael Allen Harrison
The Jungle Book, Rodolfo Oretega and Archana Mungara
The Babes are Back!, Jonathan Quesenberry

Best Original Musical:
Soul Harmony, Michael Allen Harrison, Alan Berg, Janet Mouser
The Jungle Book, Anita Menon, Sarah Jane Hardy, Rodolfo Ortega, Archana Mungara
The Little Mermaid, Milo Mowery, Rodolfo Ortega
The Babes are Back!, Donald Horn, Teddy Deane

Best Original Song:
Soul Harmony, Michael Allen Harrison, Alan Berg, Janet Mouser
The Music Inside, Michael Allen Harrison, Alan Berg, Janet Mouser
Don’t Get In That Car, Teddy Deane
Sisters in the Ocean, Rodolfo Ortega

Best Original Score:
Soul Harmony, Michael Allen Harrison, Alan Berg, Janet Mouser
The Little Mermaid, Milo Mowery, Rodolfo Oretga
The Jungle Book, Rodolfo Ortega, Archana Mungara
The Babes are Back!, Teddy Deane

Special Awards:
De’Sean Dooley for Outstanding Debut
Kelly Jung for Breakthrough Performance
Portland Opera for Nurturing Musical Theatre
Benjamin Scheuer for Outstanding One-Man Show

PAMTAs: a little song and dance

Portland Center Stage scores big at musical-theater awards with 'Fiddler,' 'Lizzie'; 'Zombie' and 'Piazza' also take home hardware

The enduring and still radical classic Fiddler on the Roof led the parade Monday night at the seventh annual Portland Area Musical Theater Awards, scoring wins in six categories, including best production, actor (David Studwell as Tevye the milkman), and director (Chris Coleman). Center Stage dominated the evening, taking three more awards for its current Lizzie Borden rock musical, Lizzie, including outstanding song (House of Borden), score, and orchestrations.

David Studwell took top actor honors for his Tevye in best-production winner "Fiddler on the Roof." Photo: Patrick Weishampel

David Studwell took top actor honors for his Tevye in best-production winner “Fiddler on the Roof.” Photo: Patrick Weishampel

Portland Playhouse’s The Light in the Piazza, which beat out Fiddler for best musical production just two weeks ago at the larger Drammy Awards, took four wins in three categories, including a tie for best actress for Meredith Kaye Clark and Susannah Mars. And Oregon Children’s Theater’s sweet little high school comedy Zombie in Love, another multiple winner at the Drammys, won for best original musical and best performance by a young actor (the rubber-limbed zombie in question, Blake Peebles). Peebles tied with his Zombie costar, Madison Wray, who won for her starring role in OCT’s Fancy Nancy.

A crowd of about 250 settled into downtown’s Dolores Winningstad Theatre for the ceremony, a swift and generally entertaining affair that lasted a little longer than two hours – a veritable 40-yard dash compared to the marathon Tonys and Oscars. Master of ceremonies was the wryly funny actor Darius Pierce, who kept things clipping with a finely calibrated internal stopwatch and an ear for improvisational comedy to go along with his prepared jokes. He noted drily that next year’s PAMTA winner for sound design (Monday night’s went to Brian Moen for Stumptown Stage’s Ain’t Misbehavin’) will make eight in eight years – or one more than the Tonys, which began naming a sound winner just seven years ago and lately announced to considerable protest its plans to drop the category – will have awarded in its entire existence.

Young performer co-winner Blake Peebles in original musical winner "Zombie in Love." Photo: Owen Carey

Young performer co-winner Blake Peebles in original musical winner “Zombie in Love.” Photo: Owen Carey

The mood at the ceremony was convivial and upbeat, lifted by performances of several songs from nominated shows and the smooth onstage accompaniment of a lightly jazzy trio: pianist Reece Marshburn, drummer Ken Ollis, and acoustic bassist Brett McConnell. Singer Julianne Johnson brought the house down with a bluesy, gospelly, sometimes scatted performance of Fats Waller’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, egging the trio on playfully as she shifted tempos.

But the festivities also carried a bit of an unnerving echo underneath. Many winners weren’t on hand to accept their statues, an MIA pattern that dampened the fun. It was especially notable when Portland Center Stage’s name kept being announced. Company manager Don Mason, who once wrote an entertaining essay about the pleasures of being a perennial bit player, filled in at, well, center stage, popping up from his front-row seat in category after category to accept the company’s hardware.  It became a running gag, and he milked it well, at one point promising all of the PAMTA winners that if they brought their statues to the theater, he’d see they got free tickets to Lizzie. Toward the end, under prompting from the audience, he expanded the offer to all of the nominees, too – and joked about whether he’d still have a job in the morning.

Actress co-winners Merideth Kaye Clark (left) and Susannah Mars in "The Light in the Piazza." Photo: Brud Giles

Actress co-winners Merideth Kaye Clark (left) and Susannah Mars in “The Light in the Piazza.” Photo: Brud Giles

The PAMTAs began seven years ago partly to celebrate the achievements of musical theater specifically and partly as a response to the broader-based Drammy Awards, which some musical-theater people felt didn’t pay sufficient attention to musicals. The makeup and methods of the awards are somewhat secretive, although Portland performer and Broadway producer Corey Brunish is acknowledged as their driving force. “The [voting] members are anonymous, even to one another,” PAMTA’s website says. “This way members cannot be influenced by performers, designers, theatre companies or even each other. Opinions cannot be swayed at meetings because there are none. Voting is done by secret ballot. All members see all productions to the degree that it is humanly possible. Members purchase their tickets. No member of the committee is active in the theatre community.”

Monday evening, the crowd was there to celebrate. As Emily Sahler put it after bounding onstage with costar Lisamarie Harrison to accept the best-ensemble award for Broadway Rose’s The Bikinis: “Unbridled joy and love is valid, and we need lots of it.”

PAMTA winners are listed below. You can see the list of nominees (five in each category) here.



Fiddler on the Roof, Portland Center Stage



Zombie in Love, Oregon Children’s Theatre



Chris Coleman, Fiddler on the Roof, Portland Center Stage



Meredith Kaye Clark, The Light in the Piazza, Portland Playhouse

Susannah Mars, The Light in the Piazza, Portland Playhouse



David Studwell, Fiddler on the Roof, Portland Center Stage



Pam Mahon, Beauty and the Beast, Pixie Dust Productions



Burl Ross, Spamalot, Lakewood Theatre

Ben Farmer, Spamalot, Lakewood Theatre



The Bikinis, Broadway Rose



Blake Peebles, Zombie in Love, Oregon Children’s Theatre

Madison Wray, Fancy Nancy, Oregon Children’s Theatre



Alan Stevens Hewitt, Tim Maner, Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Lizzie, Portland Center Stage



House of Borden, Alan Stevens Hewitt, Tim Maner, Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Lizzie, Portland Center Stage



Eric Nordin, The Light in the Piazza, Portland Playhouse



Alan Stevens Hewitt, Lizzie, Portland Center Stage



Wes Hanson, Kiss Me Kate, Clackamas Repertory Theatre



Allison Dawe, The Light in the Piazza, Portland Playhouse



G.W. Mercier, Fiddler on the Roof, Portland Center Stage



Ann Wrightson, Fiddler on the Roof, Portland Center Stage



Brian Moen, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stumptown Strages



Julia McNamara, Fiddler on the Roof, Portland Center Stage



Eric Little

John Quesenberry

Drew Harper

Oregon ArtsWatch Archives