Home Atlanta News Suzi Bass Award Nominations are revealed to a proud Atlanta theater community

Suzi Bass Award Nominations are revealed to a proud Atlanta theater community

by Atlanta Business Journal

The Alliance Theatre dominated the Suzi Bass Award nominations announced last week, scoring 62 total nods for seven shows from their 2021-22 season – including the most-nominated musical and play. 

Trading Places: The Musical, adapted from the classic 1983 comedy film, was the most recognized show, receiving 15 nominations, including Outstanding Production of a Musical and Outstanding World Premiere Production. The most nominated play was the Alliance’s new take on A Christmas Carol, starring Andrew Benator as Ebenezer Scrooge, which returns to the stage this holiday season. It received nine Suzi nods.

The awards, which honor the best of Atlanta theater, will be announced November 14 at the Southwest Arts Center in the city of South Fulton. This is the first time that competitive Suzis will be given since 2018. The nominees for the 2019 competitive prizes were announced, but no prizes were given for that season.  In fall 2020, Suzi organizers announced that they wouldn’t give a full slate of awards for the COVID-19 interrupted season, instead giving Spirit of Suzi prizes to these organizations: Atlanta Artist Relief Fund; Atlanta Theatre Artists for Justice; Black Leaders Advocacy for Cultural Theatre; the Coalition for Racial Equity in Atlanta Theatre; and I.D.E.A. ATL (Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in the Arts Atlanta). 

This season, Aurora Theatre and Actor’s Express tied as the second-most nominated theaters behind the Alliance, both receiving 15 nominations for their productions.

In a change from previous years, the acting awards will no longer be separated by gender. Instead, two prizes will be given in principal and featured performer categories, with 10 to 11 nominees.

For some first-time acting nominees, this recognition is incredibly heartening.

Neal Ghant and Andrew Benator in the Alliance Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.” (Photo by Greg Mooney)

Charlie Thomas, who was nominated as featured performer in a play for his work in Bootycandy at Actor’s Express, said he was happy for his play’s five-person cast, including his nominated castmates Caleb Clark and Parris Sarter.

“The icing on the cake is being nominated with my fellow castmates because that show was a dream,” he said. “I share my nomination with all five of us, actually. We are very, very blessed.”

Thomas said it was particularly thrilling to see his name alongside other Atlanta actors he has long admired.

“Since I’ve moved to Atlanta, Enoch King and Neal Ghant were two major artists who I immediately aspired to work like,” he said. “To watch my name in the same category as them made me emotional. That was the biggest personal achievement, to stand next to people I consider my artistic role models.”

King received two nominations for his work this year, as Featured Performer in a Play for the Alliance’s Toni Stone and as Principal Performer in a Play for The Light at Horizon Theatre. His Light co-star Cynthia D. Barker was nominated in the same category.

Robin McGee, who portrayed an iconic civil rights activist in the one-woman show Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, received her first Suzi nomination for the play. It was McGee’s first show on an Atlanta stage; the actress moved from Tacoma, Washington, during the pandemic.

“Being a newcomer to the Atlanta theatre scene as of a year and a half ago, I must say I am ecstatic,” McGee said in a message. “To have been nominated among some of the most amazingly talented actors of Atlanta, all I can say is that I’m truly blessed by God!”

Robin McGee stars in the one-woman show “Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer.” (Photo by Greg Mooney)

Jasmine Renee Ellis, nominated alongside co-star Amitria Fanae for her work in the musical Marie and Rosetta, thanked True Colors for trusting her with the role of famed gospel singer Marie Knight.

“This category has some heavy hitters, and I’m just grateful to be amongst them,” Ellis said in a message. “I would have never guessed I’d be nominated for my first-ever principal role in a musical – a two-person show at that. I’m speechless. This show pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and my co-star (Fanae) has become a sister, even after the curtain closed.”

This year’s winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Spirit of Suzi Award, Volunteer of the Year Award and Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award will be announced closer to the event.

The full nominations are here. Nominations in key categories are below:

Outstanding Production of a Musical

Ain’t Misbehavin’, Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Darlin’ Cory, Alliance Theatre

Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, Dominion Entertainment

Marie and Rosetta, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company

Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Outstanding Production of a Play:

Dream House, Alliance Theatre

Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, True Colors Theatre Company

An Iliad, Theatrical Outfit

Legacy of Light, Synchronicity Theatre

The Light, Horizon Theatre Company

Toni Stone, Alliance Theatre

Lee Osorio plays The Poet in “An Iliad,” an update of the Homerian classic, at Theatrical Outfit. (Photo by Casey Gardner Ford)

Outstanding World Premiere Production:

Bina’s Six Apples, Alliance Theatre

Darlin’ Cory, Alliance Theatre

Dream House, Alliance Theatre

The Pretty Pants Bandit, Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Outstanding Social Justice Production:

Dream House, Alliance Theatre

Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, True Colors Theatre Company

The New Black Fest’s Hands Up, Alliance Theatre

The Light, Horizon Theatre Company

Toni Stone, Alliance Theatre

Direction of a Musical:

Ricardo Aponte – Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Aurora Theatre

Susan V. Booth – Darlin’ Cory, Alliance Theatre

  1. Renee Clark – Ain’t Misbehavin’, Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Kenny Leon – Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Patdro Harris – Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, Dominion Entertainment

Direction of a Play:

Lisa Adler – Roe, Horizon Theatre Company

Keith Arthur Bolden and Alexis Woodard – The New Black Fest’s Hands Up, Alliance Theatre

Marguerite Hannah and Lydia Fort – The Light, Horizon Theatre Company

Tinashe Kajese-Bolden – Toni Stone, Alliance Theatre

Leora Morris – A Christmas Carol, Alliance Theatre

Ensemble of a Musical:

Ain’t Misbehavin’, Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Ensemble of a Play:

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Theatrical Outfit

The Bluest Eye, Synchronicity Theatre

Bright Half Life, Theatrical Outfit

The New Black Fest’s Hands Up, Alliance Theatre

Vanity Fair, Georgia Ensemble Theatre

The Wolf at the End of the Block, Theatrical Outfit

In this scene that deconstructs The Cosby Show ideal family dinner, teenage Sutter tells his family a strange man is following him home  in “Bootycandy.” (Photo by Casey Gardner Ford)

Featured Performer in a Musical:

Marcello Audino – Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Aurora Theatre

Jewl Carney – Darlin’ Cory, Alliance Theatre

Shameka Dwight – Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, Dominion Entertainment

Mark Kudisch – Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Josh Lamon – Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Michael Longoria – Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Marcie Millard – Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Aurora Theatre

Maria Rodriguez-Sager – Darlin’ Cory, Alliance Theatre

Don Stephenson – Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Emily Whitley – Heathers: The Musical, Actor’s Expres

Featured Performer in a Play:

Sun Mee Chomet – Bina’s Six Apples, Alliance Theatre

Caleb Clark – Bootycandy, Actor’s Express

Rob Cleveland – Red Speedo, Actor’s Express

Neal Ghant – A Christmas Carol, Alliance Theatre

Valeka Jessica – Intimate Apparel, Actor’s Express

Enoch King – Toni Stone, Alliance Theatre

Daniel Parvis – Hometown Boy, Actor’s Express

Asia Rogers – A Christmas Carol, Alliance Theatre

Parris Sarter – Bootycandy, Actor’s Express

Charlie Thomas – Bootycandy, Actor’s Express

Geoffrey D. Williams – Toni Stone, Alliance Theatre

Principal Performer in a Musical:

Jeremy Aggers – Darlin’ Cory, Alliance Theatre

Jasmine Renee Ellis – Marie and Rosetta, True Colors Theatre Company

Amitria Fanae – Marie and Rosetta, True Colors Theatre Company

Aneesa Folds – Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Jackson Hurt – Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Aurora Theatre

Alexandria Joy – Heathers: The Musical, Actor’s Express

Maiesha McQueen – Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, Dominion Entertainment

Bryce Pinkham – Trading Places, Alliance Theatre

Gillian Rabin – Darlin’ Cory, Alliance Theatre

India Tyree – Song and Dance, Aurora Theatre

Marie and Rosetta
George Brant’s “Marie and Rosetta” chronicles trailblazing musicians Marie Knight (Jasmine Ellis, left) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Amitria Fanae).

Principal Performer in a Play:

Cynthia D. Barker – The Light, Horizon Theatre Company

Andrew Benator – A Christmas Carol, Alliance Theatre

Marlon Andrew Burnley – Red Speedo, Actor’s Express

Enoch King – The Light, Horizon Theatre Company

Olivia Lampert – Bina’s Six Apples, Alliance Theatre

Robin McGee – Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, True Colors

Rhyn McLemore – Roe, Horizon Theatre Company

Lee Osorio – An Iliad, Theatrical Outfit

Kedren Spencer – Toni Stone, Alliance Theatre

Vallea E. Woodbury – Intimate Apparel, Actor’s Express

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Benjamin Carr, a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, is an arts journalist and critic who has contributed to ArtsATL since 2019. His plays have been produced at The Vineyard Theatre in Manhattan, as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival, and the Center for Puppetry Arts. His novel Impacted was published by The Story Plant in 2021.

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