The Colorado Theatre Community celebrated the Eighth Annual Henry Awards Monday night, July 22, 2013. It was an evening filled with love, laughter and enthusiastic celebration of the arts. There are a lot of different places you can go to get a full list of the winners, (like this or this or this) so this article will not simply be a list of all the winners. Instead, I would like to take a look at the Henry Awards themselves and the growth, challenges and excitement of the biggest night in Colorado Theatre.
The first thing I noticed last night was that the evening was the most “Colorado” celebration the Henry Awards has ever had. The Colorado Theatre Guild has been working very hard to expand the Henry Judges for more coverage outside the Denver Metro area, and this year was certainly the biggest display of that effort. With OpenStage and Lake Dillon taking home four of the major awards. Time will tell if those efforts have possibly been taken too far, however. With judges traveling from Denver as well as several located within the cities they are judging, one has to wonder if the local judges are scoring their local theatre fairly with regards to the rest of the state. However, one thing is certain, and that is there is a huge number of truly talented and deeply dedicated theatre arts professionals all over the state of Colorado and it is a wonderful thing to see so many of them represented in one very special night.
This ceremony was also the first time that four technical categories were split in Tier One and Tier Two categories. The main difference in the tiers is budget, though that was only one of several qualifiers used to determine the Tier selections. The choice to split the categories, in my opinion, was an important step forward to leveling the playing field for the smaller companies. Overall, this split seems to be a great success.
With that, there are always criticisms, and the Colorado Theatre Guild is always open to hear any suggestions that the community has in regards to improving this annual night of theatre celebration. The system is not perfect; however there have certainly been some great strides in the growth and efforts to be as all-inclusive as possible, and that is due to the efforts of Gloria Shanstrom and the Colorado Theatre Guild.
The evening itself was also quite a success. The venue at the Arvada Center was lovely and provided an excellent home for the evening. The two new hosts for this year, GerRee Hinshaw and Steven J. Burge did an excellent job of keeping this moving and injected just the right amount of humor throughout the night. (Though, it may not be a bad idea to start giving time limits and to allow the band to play off some of the longer speeches.) A few highlights of the evening:
- The show-stopping performance from Ashlie-Amber Harris and SuCH from their nominated production of “The Color Purple” at the Aurora Fox.
- The tribute to the Colorado State Thespians and the importance of arts education.
- Jim Hunt’s much-deserved award for Lifetime Achievement
- Bob Moore’s touching acceptance speech when he took home the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play Award and he spoke about the continual efforts to do good work.
- The truly touching tribute by John Moore to those that we lost in the theatre community in the last year. (Click here to watch it online)
- The closing number from Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair” (though this was quite a bit of déjà vu from 2010 when Lake Dillon closed the Henry Awards with a very similar number.)
Overall, the Eighth Annual Henry Awards was a rousing success. It was truly a celebration of the arts throughout all of the state of Colorado and it was the most all-inclusive celebration the night has ever been. I know that the system is not perfect yet, but there continues to be improvements and strides every year to make it a bigger and better celebration of the amazing arts community in Colorado.
(All the necessary disclaimers; The author of the article is on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Theatre Guild and is also a Henry Judge.)