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Seeing Red at the Arties

The 2009 Best Dressed List

Selected & written by Jimmy Janowski, photos by Rose Mattrey

Okay, theater class of 2008, what have we learned? Apparently the only thing important about the Artie Awards these days is what you wear! No one will remember who won—we will be able to look that up on Doug Weyand’s gorgeous Web site—or question the validity of it next week…but as God is my witness, you girls know how to dress!

It was a veritable spring bouquet—no, a rainbow coalition, if you will—an Artie night at which everyone agreed on one thing: A baby is the best accessory, as proven by Todd Benzin, Michele Roberts and Baby “Vincent” Benzin; or at least, a wicker monkey handbag, as carried by fashionista Susan Drozd in exquisite vintage turquoise.

We learned that when the best voices of Buffalo musical theater join together as they did in their “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park and in Michael Hake’s gloriously conceived memorial number, it can be a thing of sublime beauty!

We learned that one outstanding actor in a musical (Joe Wiens) performing from his Artie-winning role in Buddy Holly trumps five former musical award winners’ lame attempt at comedy!

And above all else, we learned that this year “drop dead red” was the color to wear to top the best-dressed list, as illustrated by my two favorite looks of the evening:

Musical director Theresa Quinn raises the bar (Get it? She’s a lawyer too! That is an example of just the kind of humor that may prevent me from ever presenting an award again) in Brett Runyon’s geometric paneled gown in scarlet satin.

Talk about a stimulus package! Katie White’s beauty can turn gay men straight (at least till their cosmo wears off) in this claret-colored chiffon gown with bugle bead detail.

Musical actress nominee Wendy Hall was a Technicolor dream, with her perfectly coiffed Titian hair the crowning glory to this skin-tight royal purple satin cocktail dress.

Perennial best-dressed beauty Nicole Cimato chose this daffodil satin gown with seed pearl bodice.

“This is a winner’s gown!” Jenn Stafford proves my point, accepting her Best Actress in a Musical Artie draped in sapphire chiffon over silk.

Always among the best-dressed, perpetual Artie hostess Lisa Ludwig spectacularly changed gowns at least six times during the evening; but it was her daughter, Cydney Kramer, who stole the spotlight in an emerald green silk strapless gown.

Our community is especially proud of our “second generation” talent, none lovelier than the Jakiel girls; but this year it was the original from whom those blessings flow, Mother Jakiel, Mary McMahon in a Grecian-inspired pewter pleated silk Mariano Fortuny style gown, who had heads turning.

Debbie Pappas is the personification of elegance in this pleated steel blue sheath with silver mesh shoes.

What a pleasure, but certainly no surprise, to see nominated set designer Ron Schwartz create this perfectly coordinated tableaux: he in cream and gray suit with geometric print design, and his enchanting partner, Erin Cain, in a pleated mini in swirls of cobalt!

This voluminous lime green raw silk confection would be too much dress for anyone other than the commanding Eileen Dugan, who wore it with panache!

Honorable Mentions: This was the first year that I had to be reminded by brilliant Artvoice photographer, Rose Mattrey, that I had more than doubled my quota of photos. What was I to do? How could I ignore stage manager Kim Chadwick’s rainbow sequined gown or Kerri Kate Abel’s homage to old Hollywood in electric blue satin? Did I dare not mention Hell Hole Honeys beautiful costars Jasmine Ramos in black re-embroidered lace over nude soufflé and Kim Piazza in black feathers—yes, damn it, feathers! And I would have to be certifiable not to call attention to Carrie Beth Wick’s cream-colored cocktail dress with chenille pattern ruffle and (get this) matching ruffle on the shoe or Lisa Vitrano channeling screen legend Merle Oberon in turquoise water print!

The search for beauty, not unlike the search for truth, is an exhausting one. Thank God I only have to do it once a year!

Honorable mention: Carrie Beth Wick

Honorable mention: Jasmine Ramos

Honorable mention: Kerri Kate Abel

Honorable mention: Kim Piazza

Honorable mention: Lisa Vitrano

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