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The 25th Annual Artie Awards at 710 Main

Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses; theater editor Anthony Chase; and this year's Artie Career Achievement Honorees Michael Hake and Javier Bustillos at the old Desiderio's downtown, on an Artie night long ago.
Red Carpet Treatment
The 25th Annual Artie Awards at 710 Main

Final preparations for this year’s Artie Awards are being made. This year reunites Charmagne Chi and Amy Jakiel—Buffalo’s Amy Poehler and Tina Fey—as co-hosts with me. The event is a fundraiser for the Immunodeficiency Clinic at ECMC and a donation of $15 general and $10 for students is payable in cash at the door.

To answer people’s most pressing questions:

Yes, the bar at 710 Main will open at 7pm, will remain open throughout the ceremonies, and will stay open afterwards for an after party.

Yes, attendees will be able to take cocktails to their seats, as 710 Main has arranged for cups with covers—we only ask that you refrain from rattling the ice.

Yes, Jimmy Janowski will again oversee the Red Carpet and will select his list of the Best Dressed for 2015, so get there early enough for him to see you.

No, drunken audience members will not be allowed to stand at the back and create a disruption.

Yes, Michael Hake will again be the music director and has arranged a memorial tribute, this time to be performed by Katy Miner and Michael McGuire—and at 710 Main, Hake will perform on an actual piano.

Yes, the evening will feature an opening number and numbers from nominated musicals.

Yes, there will be a 25th anniversary commemorative souvenir button for all of this year’s nominees and for all previous Artie Award winners.

Yes, Peggy Farrell will perform for the 25th time, this year accompanied by George Caldwell, from the time the doors open, until the ceremonies begin at 8pm.

Yes, Artie committee members do recuse themselves from categories in which they are eligible themselves.

Yes, you must be present to win.

O.K. that last one is a joke. But considering a nomination means you have been recognized as one of the most memorable among more than a hundred in your category, it is lovely if you can acknowledge the recognition.

Planning for the 25th Annual Artie Awards has required a sentimental journey through my past. Some memories startle me; for instance, it was fun to recall that the current Artvoice editor, Buck Quigley, was actually an Artie nominee 25 years ago, for his original play, The Bump Foster Story at the old B.E.T. We have gotten to the point that there are actors in Buffalo who weren’t even born when we started the Arties. Some of the names linked to Arties past are hauntingly sentimental: Mark Adams, Bess Brown-Kregal, Arlene Clement, Tommy Flynn, David Jay, Carl Kowalkowski, Betty Lutes-DeMunn, Elsie Robertson, Al Tinney, Tim White, Erica Wohl—each evoking an inimitable talent, an abundance of fabulous show business stories, and a vivid personality we will never encounter again.

Like a statue of snow, a theater experience exists only briefly, and lives on only in the minds of those who saw it with their own eyes. Each year the list of nominees adds a new chapter to the history of Buffalo theater—albeit, after the now-traditional correction of the spelling of the names! (The performance endures for a moment, but a misspelling could live on forever! If your name has been misspelled among the nominees, please let us know or it will be wrong in the program; we’ve already fixed Anne Hartley Pfohl, Kate LoConti, Katy Miner, Charles Everhart, Dyan Burlingame, Todd Proffitt, and Kristina Siegel!)

Every so often, we add a few names to the roster of Career Achievement Award winners, individuals whose careers have touched many lives and will resonate well beyond their own duration. This year, we honor two people associated with the Artvoice publication and the Arties themselves.

Javier Bustillos has been the Stagefright theater news columnist in Artvoice since the paper began; he is also the Artie winning founder and artistic director of Buffalo United Artists, which pursues a mission of presenting LGBT focused work. In addition, Javier is the person who first suggested that Artvoice should sponsor an annual theater award.

Michael Hake is a music director extraordinaire and longtime music director of the Artie Awards. An Artie winning producer, Michael is widely admired for his remarkable musical gifts. When, for instance, Bernadette Peters’ own accompanist was unable to play for her in Buffalo, Michael Hake was the choice to step in at a moment’s notice. His unflappability has made him a steady presence at the Arties for years.

Bustillos and Hake will join a list that includes 25 other names: John Buscaglia ’01; Jeanne Cairns ’02; Derek Campbell ’03; Blossom Cohan ’93; Rosalind Cramer ’94; Beverly Dove ’09; Neal Du Brock ’94; Tom Dudzick ’13; June L. Saunders Duell ’09; Saul Elkin ’95; Warren Enters ’92; Beverly Fletcher ’96; Anne Gayley ’95; Stephen McKinley Henderson ’02; Lorna C. Hill ’99; Fred Keller ’93; Randall Kramer ’05; Lynne Kurdziel-Formato ’04; David Lamb ’96; MaryKate O’Connell ’12; Vincent O’Neill ’10; Fortunato Pezzimenti ’98; Meg Quinn ’11; Brother Augustine Towey ’94; Kathleen Betsko Yale ’12.

As Betty Lutes observed at the very first Arties, held in a crowded Garvey’s Restaurant on Pearl Street, the event connects Buffalo theater’s past to its present and its future. There will, of course be an announcement of this year’s Outstanding Debuts, named in honor of the legendary Studio Arena publicist, Blossom Cohan.

I am particularly grateful to the Artie committee, a group of dedicated volunteers who give freely of their time, their personal resources, and their insights, as they give up approximately 100 nights of their year to attend theater in our community and report back on what they have seen.

While we do announce winners, the Artie Awards are not, of course in any real sense a competition. It’s not like an arm wrestling contest that you can win. It is really a chance for the theater community to celebrate itself, and to take pride in the year’s accomplishments. That’s what we will be doing Monday, and we hope to have a lot of fun doing it.