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21st Annual Artie Awards
by Anthony Chase
Come celebrate excellence in Buffalo theater on Monday, June 6
The 21st annual Artie Awards, recognizing excellence in Buffalo theater, will be held on Monday, June 6, at the Town Ballroom. The doors open at 7pm and the show will begin at 8pm, hosted by this writer, Lisa Ludwig, Norm Sham, and Doug Weyand, with musical director Michael Hake. Jazz vocalist Peggy Farrell and Bobby Jones will perform at the event, which will also feature numbers from nominated musicals. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 and all proceeds go to Benedict House, which supports individuals and families in Buffalo living with HIV/AIDS.
The Arties have grown over the course of 21 years, from their beginnings as a theater party at Garvey’s Restaurant on Pearl Street. Some elements of the Arties have remained unchanged over years. To be eligible, an individual must reside and work in Western New York. Indeed, the list of past Artie nominees and winners reads like a mini-history of Buffalo theater over the past two decades.
Today, there are nominees who were not yet born when the event was first held. In that first year, there were so few musicals that the leading and supporting categories were combined.
This year over 75 professional productions were eligible for Artie Award nomination. The list of the individuals who are recognized highlights the excellence and diversity of the Buffalo theater offerings.
There used to be years when there were not enough new plays to give an award in the new play category. This has changed. Locally written new plays that are eligible for the Emanuel Fried Award for Outstanding New Play were abundant this year. Emanuel “Manny” Fried, beloved playwright, playwriting teacher, and labor activist, died this year, making this the first year of the Arties without his participation, but the award for new play will continue to bear his name.
In addition, building on the sense of tradition that the Arties seek to celebrate, the honors for Outstanding Debuts will be named, this year, after legendary Studio Arena Theatre publicist Blossom Cohan. Blossom’s son, Dean Cohan, will be on hand to help honor newcomers to the Buffalo theater community.
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