Each year, the Carbonell Awards celebrate the best and brightest of South Florida's theater industry. Though the awards recognize performances, productions, and works that moved audiences during the 2013-14 season, perhaps theaters' greatest feat was focusing our Netflix-glazed gazes on something other than a screen for an hour.
Along with New York's Drama Desk and Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Awards, the Carbonells are among the nation's senior regional arts awards and predate many others, including Washington, D.C.'s Helen Hayes Awards. The Carbonells are named after Manuel Carbonell, an internationally-renowned sculptor who designed the original solid bronze and marble trophy in 1976. Winners and nomineeds are chosen each season by volunteer panelists and judges from hundreds of shows produced on stages throughout the tri-county area.
"Most of us who work in theater, or any arts organization, spend so much time simply trying to keep operations going and developing audiences," said Zoetic Stage's artist director Stuart Meltzer via email. "It is difficult seeing everyone's work throughout the year. To this date, I have yet to see anything at Matz Jupiter Theatre. I love seeing the community come together and support one another."
Zoetic Stage founders Meltzer and Michael McKeever produced and directed last year's awards, which featured 45 nominations for Palm Beach County, 42 for Miami-Dade, and 13 for Broward. Each ceremony brings musical performances, with verious productions staging one number from their nominated show. Melzter says 2014's awards will have seven musical numbers, with six productions nominated for Best Production of a Musical, from The Sound of Music, to the more contemporary In the Heights.
"This year, we lost some members of our community, and we will take some time to remember them with a poignant tribute," Meltzer added. "But, said and done, the Carbonell Awards is a celebration of one of the largest theater communities in the country."
Though there's no official host for the ceremony, Dave Corey of 101.5 Lite FM will provide voice-over from backstage.
"This is his third year serving as 'Mr. Carbonell Voice,' and I can't imagine doing the ceremony without him," Meltzer said. "Dave Corey is heck of a funny guy."
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Palm Beach County theaters earned a total of 62 nominations this year, followed by Miami-Dade theaters with 28 nominations and Broward County theaters with eight nominations. Four theaters, three based in Boca Raton, garnered nominations in their first year of Carbonell Award eligibility. Slow Burn Theatre Company earned 10 nominations for their one eligible show of the season, Next to Normal, while Outre Theatre Company earned a nomination for their production of An Iliad. The Wick earned three nominations for the musicals The Sound of Music and White Christmas. Meltzer's Zoetic Stage is nominated for eight awards this year, including Best New Work and Best Production of a Play for November 2013's Fear Up Harsh.
"I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. But again, I have so many friends that are up for awards this year, I'm glad when everyone gets recognized," Meltzer said. "One nomination that Zoetic Stage is up for is Best Ensemble for Zach Braff's All New People. We also received Best Ensemble of the Year from New Times, so I am really hopeful for that one. My cast was incredible ... Ultimately, the Carbonell Awards is live theater so anything and everything can happen."
Tickets are now on sale for the ceremony on Monday, March 31, at the Amaturo Theater, at Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $25 with $20 tickets available for groups of 10 or more, or $35 at the door. Tickets are available at the Broward Center's box office or by visiting browardcenter.org.