2016 Motif Theater Awards Recap

The 2016 Motif Theater Awards may have been the best yet. The grand ballroom at Fete was filled to capacity — fortunately, theater people get along in close quarters — and the enthusiasm — at a high pitch for the full three and a half hours — was inspiring and contagious.
With drinks, culinary delights from Buddha Belly and stress balls gleaned from the prize wheel in hand, the crowd experienced an evening of awards liberally sprinkled with humor from numerous presenters and MCs BettySioux Tailor, stunning in her traditional two bezillion wardrobe changes, and the irrepressible Kevin Broccoli, whose plaid suit and bow tie sent up his roast-style comments on various audience members.
There were heartfelt moments among the acceptance speeches, and a well-choreographed sampling of musical numbers, coordinated by backstage ringmaster Terry Shea. Highlights included several tearful acceptance speeches, revealing how much the productions and theatrical experiences meant to those local theater makers. Broccoli, who also was surprised to win an award for his work in a play about “Barbra,” a character who shared a name with his recently passed grandmother, gave a moving acceptance speech about the importance of having audience support for theater of any scale. Joe Wilson Jr. spoke on behalf of Trinity Rep about the importance of community and keeping the RI and Southeastern Mass theater family strong. He also addressed sensitive issues that had been raised around race by recent shows To Kill a Mockingbird and Oklahoma, which won an award for X. PRESENTER also made a valiant and charmingly theatrical effort to get comfortable with the language of oft-nominated Wilbury Group show Stupid Fucking Bird. And one award winner, WHO, graciously thanked their (his?) Uber driver.
It was also exciting to present the inaugural NAZO award, sponsored by Big Nazo and presented to Fringe PVD for creating groundbreaking, innovative theater. While all the Motif trophies were lovely, this one was a remarkable one-of-a-kind, hand-made sculpture in the shape of the Nazo character Cornea (a prototype made by Providence’s BluLab for a possible line of collectible NAZO figures – blulabindustries.com)
Performances included impressive original music by the young theater actress Emeline and emerging UK sensation Kaya Stewart (see sidebars for more on these performers). The evening opened with a stunning solo by Jeanette Bayardelle of “Life I Never Led,” from Theatre By The Sea’s upcoming Sister Act. Later in the show were delightful, amusing renditions – Eden Casteel singing “Worst Pies” as Mrs. Lovett from Contemporary Theater Company’s Sweeney Todd and The Academy Players, led by Duane Langley in the dance number “Don’t Break the Rules” from Catch Me If You Can. Finally, Jason Quinn’s powerful voice rounded out the performances with “Work the Wound” from Wilbury Group’s Passing Strange.
For a full slate of photos, check motifri.com or our Facebook page, and check the full list of winners from this year on the next page. The spirit of the evening made all of us at Motif — and hopefully everyone in the community — ecstatic to be involved in the transformative magic of our local theater.

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