This Play Goes Right, and it’s a [Hilarious] Delight

The Play That Goes Wrong (Mischief Theatre tour at Emerson Colonial Theatre, through November 18. BroadwayinBoston.com)

By Jules Becker

Sharply timed silliness is not easy. Think of the slapstick of the musical “Spamalot” and the set hijinks and cast romp of the inspired play “Noises Off.” Now add a take-off on classic Agatha Christie. The result is the deliberately outrageous but always hilarious “The Play That Goes Wrong,” now in a rollicking Broadway in Boston tour at the Emerson Colonial Theatre.

Theatergoers will know right away that slapstick is the delightful order of the day right from the start. The Emerson Colonial marquee upends the play’s title, and playbills purposely have the word ‘WRONG’ in red with the ‘G’ trailing off lower than the other letters and both the ‘G’ and the ‘S’ of ‘GOES’ split up as if murder victims themselves. Then a la “Noises Off,” the cast members are listed with their actor roles on one page of the program and with their characters in the play with-in-a play “The Murder at Haversham Manor” on another.

National tour of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong.’ (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

“The Murder at Haversham Manor” is billed as a presentation of the fictional Cornley University Drama Society. While the drama society is profoundly inept, the Mischief Theatre tour has the skill and flair of Monty Python regulars. What follows is a kind of sealed room mystery where anything that can happen will and even technicians get into the act. Early on even an audience member (clearly chosen prior to curtain time) assists with a conveniently troublesome part of designer Nigel Hook smartly detailed mansion set.

Once the body of mansion host Charles Haversham appears, the Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields laugh riot fully lives up to its title. Set pieces fall. The upper set area gradually deteriorates and tilts precariously. Props prove as mysterious as suspects. Actors end up in the wrong places. Some grandstand looking out to the audience for attention as though this is their first time onstage. Even Charles moves.

If the Cornley effort seems helter skelter unprepared, the Mischief ensemble — sharply helmed by tour director Matt DiCarlo after the original Broadway direction of Mark Bell — possesses the disarming disorder of an apparently perfect murder. “The Play That Goes Wrong” may not have the verbal wit of “Noises Off,” but audiences need not care (as was the case with the nonstop laughter opening night). Quite simply, the Mischief Theatre cast has the agility and ardor of a Norman Lloyd or Buster Keaton. Evan Alexander Smith has the proper air of authority as Inspector Carter. Angela Grovey as Cornley actress Annie and Jamie Ann Romero as counterpart Sandra are equal hoots apart and especially together in a standout sequence. Ned Noyes displays impressive versatility as quirky brother Cecil Haversham and enigmatic Arthur the Gardener. Yaegel T. Welch has the right elusiveness as ‘moving’ victim Charles. The talented ensemble also features Brandon J.Ellis, Peyton Crim and Scott Cote.

Did the butler do it? Agatha Christie buffs are likely to figure out which of her mysteries this hilarious take-off resembles and the identity of the murderer. Everyone will warm to the production’s spirited playfulness. It is no spoiler alert to reveal that “The Play That Goes Wrong” always goes right.

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Visually Stunning ‘Frankenstein’; Spirited Wit and Silliness in ‘Murder for Two’

Frankenstein, Nora Theatre, Cambridge (through November 4. centralsquaretheatre.org)
Murder for Two, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell (through November 11. 978-654-4678)

By Jules Becker

“Frankenstein” has turned 200, but writers still try to make the novel’s Doctor and Creature come alive. Some of the well-known efforts include James Whale’s 1931 movie, the 1974 comic film “Young Frankenstein” and its 2007 Broadway musical version. Now Nora Theatre and Underground Railway Theatre, sister companies at the Central Square Theatre, are staging Nick Dear’s earnest if ultimately anti-climactic adaptation. While the play’s design smartly catches experimental and electric aspects that hark back to Whale’s iconic film, Dear’s effort could do more to evoke the emotional feel of the novel in terms of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Creature (unnamed) themselves.

John Kuntz, Ashley Risteen, Debra Wise. David Keohane and Remo Airaldi in Frankenstein [Photo: Nile Scott Studios]

Director David R. Gammons does make this staging visually stunning, but his riveting earlier Actors’ Shakespeare Project revival of the Christopher Marlowe drama “Edward II” possessed a full theatrical power that this “Frankenstein” lacks.

As audience members enter, Dr. Victor Frankenstein — John Kuntz does his very good best here despite an underwritten Dear characterization — is writing notes about this momentous experiment on the second level of an eye-catching luminous vertical lab construct from designer Cristina Todesco. Jeff Adelberg complements the striking set with a sharp balance of light and shadow, and David Wilson smartly modulates the sound design for the lab developments. Remo Airaldi, Omar Robinson, Ashley Risteen, David Keohane, Debra Wise and Kuntz himself prove arrestingly synchronized as Creature in Victor’s experimentation. Airaldi later stands out as a blind patriarch who accepts Creature and defends him to his alarmed family. The problem here as with the ensemble playing Hyde in a recent Greater Boston Stage Company (then Stoneham Theatre) production of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is that having one actor play Creature would add to the pathos and emotional force achieved at vulnerable moments when he seeks to be understood as an outsider. Even so, director Gammons does create stretches where Creature and his formation contribute significantly to a message of acceptance with regard to gender, race and sexual orientation.

* * * *

Joe Kinosian was a fan early on of Marx Brothers movies and murder mysteries — especially Agatha Christie ones and “The Thin Man” films. That fondness for vaudevillian comedies and classic mysteries makes “Murder for Two” — an acclaimed Off-Broadway musical — a labor of love for composer and co-author Kinosian and lyricist and co-author Kellen Blair. Jared Troilo sang vibrantly as detective Marcus and Kirsten Salpini moved deftly from character to character as all of the suspects — male and female — in a somewhat satisfying recent Lyric Stage Company of Boston production.


Joe Kinosian and Martin Landry in Joe Kinosian and Martin Landry in ‘Murder for Two.’ [Photo: Meghan Moore]

Now Kinosian himself is taking on all of the suspect roles as he did in New York at Merrimack Repertory Theatre — with Martin Landry as the young eager sleuth — in a staging sharply directed by JC Clementz that even more smoothly moves from the initial discovery of murdered Arthur Whitney by Marcus through witness questioning to revealing the identity of the killer as well as the thief who robbed ice cream meant to celebrate the now dead novelist’s birthday.

Kinosian, reprising his New York performance as the suspects, keeps all of the characters as distinct as Salpini did at Lyric Stage. His cavorting — especially as ballerina Barette Lewis — has all the signature style of Groucho Marx. Standout characterizations include would-be detective Steph and quirky psychotherapist Dr. Griff, who seems to have a thing for Marcus. Landry may not sing as richly as Troilo did at the Lyric Stage, but his interaction with Kinosian and their musical duos with piano work seamlessly – most notably a friendship anthem in which Griff waxes rhapsodic with Marcus. Particular praise goes to Aimee Hanyzewski’s film noir-suggesting lighting and David Remedios’ vivid sound design.

“Murder for Two” itself may not rival classic Christie, but Kinosian and Merrimack Rep make its 90 minutes of spirited wit and silliness as enjoyable as a premium quality sundae.

A Rollicking Barber of Seville

The Barber of Seville, Boston Lyric Opera at Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, through October 21.

By Jules Becker

Giacchino Rossini composed “The Barber of Seville” (Il barbiere di SIviglia)–with libretto by Cesare Sterbini,after Beaumarchais–in 1816, yet this disarming work sounds wonderfully fresh in the Boston Lyric Opera’s vibrant season-opening staging at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre. Stage director Rosetta Cucchi–in her playbill note–highlights the opera’s dramatization of the struggle between the power-guided guardian Dr. Bartolo and the love and freedom-moved young nobleman Count Almaviva for the heart of Bartolo’s spirited ward Rosina. Her robust staging lives up to the beauty of Rossini and Cesare’s classic collaboration–most particularly in the high caliber of the cast’s singing and acting

Daniela Mack and Jesus Garcia in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” at Boston Lyric Opera. [Photo: Liza Voll]

The pivotal figure in that struggle, of course, is the iconic hero Figaro, and Matthew Worth proves a revelation as the title barber. Worth moves with the style and the swagger of the resourceful factotum who ultimately assures the escape of Rosina from controlling Bartolo. His delivery of Figaro’s signature first act aria “Largo al factotum” is delightfully vigorous and well-phrased.Jesus Garcia combines the daring and risk-taking of Almaviva with his heart-on-sleeve rhapsodizing for Rosina. He and Worth share moments of real camaraderie–including a moment in which the count seems to affectionately tickle Figaro. Daniela Mack as Rosina is a vocal standout with rich mezzo soprano coloring-especially in the young lovers’ duet “Contro un cor.” David Crawford displays impressive bass notes as edgy music teacher Don Basilio, while Michelle Trainor demonstrates a hearty high register as Bartolo’s genial and romance-minded housekeeper Berta. Steven Condy handily captures Bartolo’s meaner side as well as his boffoonishness. Music director David Angus conducts with sharp attention to the softer and stronger passages of Rossini’s score-notably in the famous opening overture. Kudos go to Julia Noulin-Merat’s Escher-inspired black and white-dominated set with dramatic stairways that smartly revolve during lyrics that speak of spinning and Gianluca Falaschi’s vivid costumes that include humorous over-sized head gear and feature enhance plot elements involving disguise.

There may be moments when attention to humor seems over-the-top–though an allusion to Lady Gaga and Bartolo’s headphones do work. Still Cucchi has given the highest priority to vocal clarity and the opera’s witty plotting. In an age when some leaders brazenly embrace dictators, Rossini’s highly comic and romantic call to freedom resonates more than ever. Head to BLO’s “The Barber of Seville” for a rollicking appointment with Figaro.

Engaging and Timely, ‘Niceties’ Proves Clever, Thoughtful and Entertaining Drama

The Niceties (Huntington Theatre Company in association with Manhattan Theatre Club and McCarter Theatre Company, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, through October 7. bostontheatrescene.com)

By Jules Becker

The timing could not be better for Huntington Theatre Company’s season opener “The Niceties.” The powerfully provocative play comes on the heels of the already running two-month terrific tour of “Hamilton” at the Boston Opera House (through November 18).

Jordan Boatman and Lisa Banes in the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of The Niceties [photo: T. Charles Erickson]

Focused in large part on the identity of the writers of American history – whether white and/or black – and how thoroughly African-Americans are covered in book and at university (here an elite university – inspired in fact by Yale, where such a volatile meeting occurred in 2015). The Brookline-bred Yale and New York University graduate’s savvy play refers to Alexander Hamilton but laments the relative lack of attention to the contribution of early black Americans. That lament is persuasively expressed by African-American political science major Zoe to white lesbian history professor Janine during a meeting at the latter’s office – detailed by Cameron Anderson – about the student’s term paper on the impact of slavery on the American Revolution.

Even Hamilton in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smart musical reminds Thomas Jefferson about the slaves – including the latter’s own – in the thriving economy of Virginia. For her part, Janine will stress the considerable oppression of women and gays during the country’s history as well.

The ‘niceties’ of that meeting – Janine’s advice about the need for more flair and vivid detail about the past as well as such considerations as consistent parallelism – eventually fall by the proverbial wayside as the professor praises her student’s bold, original thinking but contends that Zoe will not find sufficient primary sources and archival evidence to support her argument. Here Zoe charges that Janine’s point of view and that of the university are virtually all-white in their thinking.

Burgess’ clever drama calls to mind the 1994 David Mamet two-character play “Oleanna,” in which a student accuses her male professor of sexual harassment. Anger, volleys of accusations and even cursing lead to a confrontation during which the professor crosses the line with brief physical force as she attempts to wrest away the device Zoe has been using to record their conversation. Audience members were unsurprisingly buzzing with reactions during intermission (at the performance this critic saw).

Three weeks later, Zoe visits Janine – now under suspension without pay. The emboldened student suggests that the professor give up teaching, while Janine seems to grasp for more niceties – seeking a compromise solution in which they would work together to increase attention to African-American studies and black experience on campus. Once again the conversation becomes heated and revealing – especially when the tenacious millenial compares the professor’s attitudes about college and life to that of her own parents. Unlike Mamet – who seems to rely on set-up moments in “Oleanna,” Burgess is strikingly direct about the style and structure of her insightful play. Under Kimberly Senior’s taut direction, Jordan Boatman is convincing, fiery yet vulnerable; and Lisa Banes rightly domineering early on and conciliatory in the later going.

“The Niceties” is one of the best and most timely plays this year. Burgess is clearly inviting all theatergoers to engage in an-ongoing examination of the imperfect American experiment and the place of slavery and the black experience in it. Her play is much more than a good start for dialogue and true understanding.

Hamnet Boasts Imagination, Stunning Visual Effects

More emotional impact and insight into its subject would strengthen play

Hamnet, staged by Dead Centre, American premiere by Arts Emerson at Robert J. Orchard Stage, Emerson Paramount Center, through October 7. (brief full nudity-the actor playing Shakespeare). artsemersons.org

By Jules Becker

A young boy appears center stage at the Emerson Paramount Center dressed casually and sporting a backpack. Although he warns that “I’m not allowed to talk to strangers,” he does address the audience about his quest to find out about his father. The youth in question turns out to be Hamnet, the Stratford-on-Avon born and bred son of William Shakespeare (1585-1596) and twin brother of Judith. Ireland-based company Dead Centre created the 60-minute briefly interactive play of the same name last year. Eugenia Genunchi’s visual effects are unquestionably stunning, but how much insight and emotional impact will audiences gain about its subject? The American premiere of “Hamnet” at Arts Emerson Paramount Center is a clever concept, but one that depends more on striking design than emotional punch.

Early on Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd’s imaginative play does allude to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” by having Hamnet note the fact that the only difference between his name and the playwright’s arguably most famous work is the change of one letter. Ironically informing the audience that he has even been learning and rehearsing the tragedy’s most famous speech, Hamnet speaks directly to an older theater goer (at the performance this critic saw), asks his age and invites him onstage brief to play the Ghost of Hamlet’s father complete with a sheet covering his body.

Ollie West as ‘Hamnet’ (Photo courtesy Gianmarco Bresadola)

It soon becomes clear that Dead Centre’s Hamnet — transcending time and mortality — means to grapple in the present with issues relating to his own identity. Admitting that he does not know where he is, Hamnet speaks of being stuck. Praising his famous father as a Dad who knows everything and would be able to explain, he laments that his father went away — to London, of course — after he was born (when he was only four years old according to many scholars). The somewhat diffident youth fears at one point that he would have no words if he should meet his father.

At moments like these, the Dead Centre script does seem to possess some pathos and feeling. Then such moments pass, and Stephen Dodd’s clever lighting and the aforementioned Genunchi effects seem to take over repeatedly onstage. Might Moukarzel and Kidd have enriched their efforts with scenes involving mother Anne Hathaway and his twin sister? Would the play be more touching if Hamnet were also rehearsing lines spoken by Sebastian from the great Shakespearean comedy “Twelfth Night” after he discovers his own twin sister Viola (in a play written and Hamnet’s passing and probably influenced by the Bard’s own twins)?

There are brief moments of insight. Hamnet does accuse absentee parent Shakespeare of being like a ghost. For his part, a time and mortality-transcending Shakespeare at least vows that he would never consciously use his son in his work. Ollie West — Aran Murphy for the rest of the run — does bring convincing naïveté, inquisitiveness and cockiness to the title role at the right moments, and Moukarzel captures Shakespeare’s vulnerability. “Hamnet” does entertain and invite audience members to consider Hamnet’s all too brief life, but its writers perchance could have dreamed more about their play.

Compelling Portrait of Adolescent Growing Pains

Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, Off the Grid Theatre (Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, through Sept 1. bostontheatrescene.com)

By Jules Becker

Call the vivid set for Alexis Scheer’s latest play cleverly disarming. After all, if theatergoers did not see its purposely grim title — “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” — on the Off the Grid Theatre playbill, they might rightly assume that what they were about to see in Kristin Loeffler’s well-detailed Florida treehouse setting were far from menacing.

That assumption could not be farther from the truth. In fact, Boston-based Jewish Colombian-American Scheer has described her provocative drama as “‘Mean Girls’ meets ‘Narcos'” — quite simply the intersection of damaging social cliques and Colombian narcoterrorism. Whatever audience members may think of this disturbing new effort — containing strong language and graphic content – director Rebecca Bradshaw and a convincing cast make “Drug Lord”‘s 90 minute no-intermission school girl face-off addictively arresting.

Early theatergoers will be able to gain a full appreciation of Loeffler’s inspired set. With such diverse items as a Mickey Mouse lunchbox, toy animals, a soccer medal, golf balls and simple student pictures, the handsome wooden treehouse looks more like an open full-size ginger bread house than an alarming meeting place for strange adolescent ritual. The four bright AP level and IVY league bound students who enter through a stage trap door will quickly establish an edgy ambiance with a Ouija board and a poster of the late title Colombian criminal Pablo Escobar — shot dead by police in his native Medellin in 1993.

Pet-owning theatergoers in particular are likely to become uncomfortable as an unseen cat in a box appears to become a victim of the Escobar-worshipping ritual of the DLC — Dead Leaders’ Club. Frankly, the quartet’s interests and club activities are very different from those of scouts or organizations approved by their school. They have a Ken-like doll of Escobar, and the intention of their Ouija session is to try to conjure about the drug lord’s visit. At the same time, they experiment with cocaine.

Not surprisingly, the students are a study in contrast. Self-confident Pipe proudly mentions that her father is a defense attorney and declares herself a political independent who supported McCain. Zoom, comfortable with her Jewish identity, does express concern that her period is late though she later claims she remains a virgin. Squeeze, rigorous in her adherence to club rules and regulations, reminds Zoom that DLC has a no-pregnancy pact. Squeeze has a back story in which her father killed himself. Pipe and Kit, whose father died before she was born and whose mother gave up her job after the destruction of the Twin Towers, seem attracted to each other and kiss when they are briefly alone — though Pipe insists she is not a lesbian.

Do all four need much more guidance in their lives? Scheer’s play can be seen as a very disturbing cautionary tale about the perils of adolescence. Those perils seem to take center stage when the students speak of a holiday known as Death Day and a likely sacrifice. Domineering Pipe soon hits and kicks Zoom, and an ominous hanger becomes a weapon in a ritual from which squeamish theatergoers may wish to turn their eyes. A last minute surprise appearance clearly endorses the cautionary aspects of Scheer’s play.

Under Rebecca Bradshaw’s taut direction, a talented young cast strongly balances the moments of peace and tension that inform the quartet. Gina Fonseca has the right volatility as Pipe. Lisa Joyce catches Zoom’s alternating insecurities and high self-esteem. Khloe Alice Lin is properly tenacious yet vulnerable as Squeeze. Tatiana Isabel Gil captures Kit’s warmth.

“Our Dear Dead Drug Lord” may not be everyone’s examination of toxic growing pains, but Off the Grid Theatre — one of the Hub’s bravest and best small companies — makes Scheer’s dramatic diagnosis a very compelling one.

‘Last Act’ Proves Striking Premiere for Israeli Stage; Norton Awards Recognize Wide Range of Local Talent

‘Theatre should be dangerous, or else it shouldn’t be.’

The Last Act (Israeli Stage, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. Through June 2. 617-933-8600.)

By Jules Becker

Joshua Sobol is a dangerous playwright. Indeed, free-spirited Israeli actress Gilly could be the renowned Israeli playwright’s spokeswoman as a pivotal character in his provocative new play “The Last Act” when she observes, “Theatre should be dangerous, or else it shouldn’t be.” Boston-based Israeli Stage is embracing that danger in a striking world premiere that invites audience members to call into question their assumptions about not only Israelis and Palestinians but also the possibility of real dialogue.

Israeli Stage artistic director Guy Ben-Aharon clearly has a passion for Sobol’s work. Since 2011 he has been acquainting more and more Hub theatergoers with staged readings of some of the prolific (over 75 plays) writer’s plays — among them “Wanderers” and “Sinners” — and the author himself last year as an Israeli Stage playwright-in-residence. Now Ben-Aharon is taking that acquaintance to a higher plain with a you-are-there full production “The Last Act” that intends to lead the Boston community in all its diversity to a shared dialogue.

Craig Mathers as Ethan, Marianna Bassham as Dana and Annelise Lawson as Gilly in ‘The Last Act.’ (photo courtesy Paul Marotta/Israeli Stage)

Gilly and Palestinian-Israeli citizen Djul, who actually studied together at drama school, seem serious about creating their own shared dialogue as they rehearse Gilly’s adaptation of “Miss Julie.” Complicating the hopeful possibility is the fact that Gilly is married to Mossad agent Ethan, who has set up ongoing surveillance of the pair as they prepare to present the Strindberg classic in Ramallah. When Ethan’s superior Dana (pronounced Dahna) contends, “God sees everything we do (surveillance et al) and keeps silent,” Jean Paul Sartre’s seminal drama “No Exit” comes to mind.

If Hell is other people in Sartre’s existential closed tribunal, its counterpart in Sobol’s play may appear to be intelligence agents who turn the Martin Hall space at the Calderwood Pavilion into a voyeur’s delight as they keep tabs on Gilly and Djul. Are they right to assume that Djul is actually a Hamas agent intending to kidnap Gilly in order to make an exchange for many fellow terrorists? Could Djul actually be a sincere actor who struggles to earn a living? Sobol certainly keeps the line between rehearsal and reality richly ambiguous, a line that challenges alternately jealous and resolutely professional Ethan. Still, there are easy generalities like Gilly’s contention that “Everything’s an adaptation” and moments when the escalation of Ethan’s volatility threatens to become a set-up for her accusation that her husband is “ice cold.” Some theatergoers may also wonder why the play does not make Dana as fully conflicted as Ethan.

“The Last Act” may not be as inspired as “Lysistrata,” but Sobol demonstrates a stage bravery that Aristophanes would admire. Premium actor’s director Ben-Aharon has fired up a strong cast. Annette Lawson has all of Gilli’s flirtatiousness during an opening audition and her evolving relationship with Djul. She delivers Strindberg passages with full authority. Louis Abd El Massih is properly elusive and charming as Djul with Lawson’s Gilly. He also captures Djul’s indignation as he remembers a disturbing childhood experience.

Craig Mathers is rivetingly tough-minded but deeply vulnerable as Ethan. Marianna Bassham does her very good best with the under-written role of Dana. Kudos also go to Cristina Todesco for disarmingly direct grill constructs that complement Sobol’s insights on both invasions of privacy and the difficulty of achieving lasting understanding.

Theatergoers — Jewish or non-Jewish, Israeli or Arab (full disclosure: this critic was born in Herzlia, Israel) – should check out “The Last Act.” To paraphrase from Ben-Aharon’s playbill welcome, this significantly ‘dangerous’ play is not trying to change hearts and minds but rather open them a little. One hopes that Israeli Stage will someday find and stage a Palestinian play that is brave enough to do the same.

.      .      .      .      .

Theater District South — stretching from the Lyric Stage Company of Boston and Club Café to the Boston Center of the Arts — continues to reap a bountiful harvest during the 2018 awards season. As with the recent IRNE Awards, Monday night’s Norton Awards — presented by the Boston Theater Critics Association at the Huntington Theatre — honored fringe, small, midsize and large local efforts as well as visiting productions. In several instances, in fact, Norton choices echoed IRNE ones. You Tube satirist Randy Rainbow, who has performed at Club Café, was the guest of honor.

Big winner Lyric Stage Company took home three awards. Leigh Barrett was cited as best musical actress for her performances as Mama Rose in a revival of the musical “Gypsy” and Florence Foster Jenkins in the company’s reprise production of the play “Souvenir.” Will McGarrahan, who returned with Barrett as piano accompanist Cosme Moon, took musical actor honors. Summer Williams, a familiar guest director at Lyric Stage, won the mid-size production prize for her work on “Barbecue.” Barrett also took home the evening’s biggest honor, the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence.

Several companies of varying sizes were honored for efforts on the BCA’s diverse stages. Company One took both new script and small stage production honors for “Hype Man: a break beat play.” Sleeping Weazel’s “3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show” won the fringe production prize. Alison Olivia Choat was cited for direction — small or fringe — for Moonbox Productions’ edition of “The 39 Steps,” previously an IRNE Award supporting actor and ensemble winner. Malcolm Beecher III, already honored by the IRNE’s for his acting in Huntington Theatre’s world premiere of “A Guide for the Homesick,” was similarly cited by the Nortons.

Lindsay Eagle followed up an IRNE acting prize with a small or fringe actress Norton. David Reiffel took home the midsize production musical direction prize for his work on the New Repertory Theatre revival of the musical “Man of La Mancha” and the SpeakEasy Stage Company Hub premiere of the play with music “Shakespeare in Love.” Wheelock Family Theatre, already an IRNE winner for small stage production, won the ensemble prize. Keith Hamilton Cobb and “American Moor” followed up visiting IRNE small stage solo honors for O.W.I. (Bureau of Theatre) and Phoenix Theatre Ensemble with a Norton solo award.

For a complete list of the winners, go to the Norton Facebook site.