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Artie Awards on Monday

Buffalo’s theater awards turn 19 this year

Roslyn Ruff (left) is scheduled to present the career achievement awards.

The 19th Annual Artie Awards will be held at the Town Ballroom on Monday, June 1. The doors will open at 7pm and the show begins at 8pm. A $10 donation is collected at the door, which is contributed, along with the proceeds from red ribbon sales at participating theaters, to Benedict House at the end of the evening. The mission of Benedict House is “to provide non-discriminatory residential housing opportunities and supportive services for persons living with AIDS in an environment promoting the principles of dignity, respect, understanding, compassion and self-determination.”

Attendees are kindly asked to arrive no later than 7:30pm, as the crush at the door during the 10 minutes before the show begins, when celebrants arriving from pre-Artie parties come in wanting to contribute their ten dollars, pin on a red ribbon, order a cocktail, waltz past Jimmy Janowski in hopes of being selected as one of the Artie’s Best Dressed, find a table, and visit with their friends—all in the space of five minutes—has historically put horrid pressure on the volunteers from the Artvoice staff!

I will be joined in hosting duties again this year by Lisa Ludwig and Norm Sham. In addition, a new host will be joining us, Artie winner (and unofficial Artie archivist) Doug Weyand. The program will begin with the traditional song parodies about the nominated plays and musicals.

Jazz vocalist Peggy Farrell will again perform before the Artie ceremony and at the intermission. In addition to awards in the 19 categories, outstanding debuts will be announced, and career achievement awards will be given to two legendary Buffalo actresses, Beverly Dove and June L. Saunders Duell.

If the airlines cooperate, the career achievement awards will be presented by upcoming star of the New York stage, glamorous Roslyn Ruff, who won an Artie in 1999 for her performance in Amen Corner at Ujima. She will be taking a one-day break from rehearsals for Things of Dry Hours at the New York Theatre Workshop. Things of Dry Hours is set in Depression-era Alabama, and tells the story of an out-of-work Sunday school teacher who gives shelter to a white refugee. The production is being directed by another Buffalonian, Ruben Santiago-Hudson of Lackawanna Blues fame. Earlier this season, Ruff appeared in Athol Fugard’s Coming Home at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. She attracted huge critical attention when she played Vera in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars at the Signature Theater Company, a performance which won her an Obie Award and what the New York Times described as “rapturous raves” from every critic in sight. She was a member of the prestigious Acting Company in New York, following her post-graduate study at the equally prestigious American Repertory Theater at Harvard. She has also appeared in Rachel Getting Married and Off-Broadway stagings of The Cherry Orchard, Pudd’nhead Wilson, and The Taming of the Shrew. While living in Buffalo, Ms. Ruff worked with both Dove and Duell.

View the list of Arties nominees here.