An array of actors, producers, administrators and playwrights who have helped build South Florida into a nationally-recognized regional theater hub will receive the Carbonell Awards’ highest honors this fall.
The recognitions include the prized George Abbott Award being given to New World Symphony founder Michael Tilson Thomas and to Actors’ Playhouse founders Barbara and Lawrence R. Stein. It recognizes an individual or team who have contributed significantly to the artistic and cultural development of the region.
Among the other annual awards, this marks the inaugural year for the Vinnette Carroll Award recognizing efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in local theater. The first recipient is Marshall L. Davis, who served 38 years as managing director of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center (AHCAC) in Miami’s Liberty City. The new award is named for the nationally-known playwright, director, educator and producer who returned to South Florida to create her own repertory company in Fort Lauderdale.
All the recipients will be honored and the winners of the 20 competitive awards will be revealed Nov. 7 at the annual gala, nicknamed “theater prom,” to be held this year at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, 3800 NW 11th Place. Tickets are $32 each (including facility fee) and will soon be available for public purchase.
The other 2022 winners are:
—-Critic Hap Erstein will receive the Charlie Cinnamon Award. Named after the legendary press agent, this award honors an individual who not only contributes significantly to the support of the arts in South Florida, but also has given dedicated service to the Carbonell Awards program.
—- Actor, producer, director, poet and educator Teresa Maria Rojas will receive the Ruth Foreman Award. Named after the pioneer theater director and producer, this award recognizes contributions to South Florida theater development by an individual or group, for singular achievement and/or career contributions.
—-Veteran actress Margot Moreland has won the Bill Hindman Award. Named for the long-time actor, it honors long-term contributions to the region’s cultural life and onstage career achievement, by performing artists based in South Florida.
—- Andie Arthur, playwright, dramaturg, co-founding artistic director of Lost Girls Theatre and executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, will receive the Howard Kleinberg Award for contributions to the health and development of the arts in South Florida.
—- Theatre Lab, the professional resident theater at Florida Atlantic University, is given to the theater company that exemplifies excellence for the totality of its programming: productions, educational outreach, developmental programs, and audiences served.
The announcement marks a kind of return to normal for the awards which had a challenging time adjusting to the challenge of Covid. During the downtime, officials overhauled the nominating and selection process based on complaints from theater managers and artists. The awards were given in mid-2020 in a cyber-cast program and did not judge the productions in the winter of 2020 pre-Covid.
This marks the organization’s first live get together since April 2019 for what became over its 47-year history a social event for theater artists who had not seen each other during the previous year. Among its projects is bestowing the Jack Zink scholarships to are students.
Biographies of the winners:
Michael Tilson Thomas is cofounder and Artistic Director Laureate of the Miami Beach-based New World Symphony, as well as Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. A composer and pianist as well as one of the great figures in the world of classical music, Tilson Thomas comes from a family of artists: His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were Yiddish theater stars, and his parents Ted (who changed his surname) and Roberta Thomas worked in the movie industry. The winner of a dozen Grammy Awards, he appears on more than 120 recordings, and among his many honors are the National Medal of Arts and the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors. His dedication to music education and to expanding the ways people can experience concerts are exemplified by his work with the New World Symphony, which he cofounded in 1987. More than 1,200 young musicians have passed through “America’s Orchestral Academy,” with 90 percent maintaining careers in music, and a vast number of music lovers have connected with Tilson Thomas, other conductors and the orchestra via free WALLCAST concerts on the large projection wall at the state-of-the-art Frank Gehry-designed New World Center.
Barbara & Lawrence E. Stein’s Actors’ Playhouse will celebrate its 35th season in 2022-23. Active in multiple community organizations and as founding members of Congregation Bet Breira, the Steins launched their theater company in 1988 with a production of Man of La Mancha at a former twin movie theater in Kendall. When Hurricane Andrew destroyed the facility, the couple entered into an agreement with the City of Coral Gables to renovate and restore the historic Miracle Theatre on Miracle Mile, opening their new home in 1995 with another Man of La Mancha and building a legacy as Miami-Dade County’s premiere producer of large-scale musicals. Since then, Founding Executive Producing Director Barbara Stein and Founding Board Chairman Lawrence Stein, along with Artistic Director David Arisco and Children’s Theatre and Education Director Earl Maulding, have continued to grow the two-stage company where thousands of theater professionals (including Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones) have appeared, while uncounted children have begun learning their craft or simply enjoyed experiencing the art of theater.
Marshall L. Davis of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center provided artistic opportunities to hundreds of people including Oscar winner/playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater artistic director Robert Battle. A former drama teacher, Davis created a multi-arts curriculum and programming to nurture thousands of arts students, many of whom have gone on to study in arts magnet programs or received scholarships to study at top arts institutions such as the Juilliard School. Adding an art gallery and black box theater to the AHCAC campus, Davis has helped make a creative home for young artists, companies and audience.
Washington D.C. native Hap Erstein served for 15 years as theater and film critic of The Palm Beach Post, though (as he writes) he “narrowly escaped becoming an engineer” when he earned his degree from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Currently he writes for Palm Beach ArtsPaper and talks about new movies on WJNO Radio, and he has taught a theater appreciation course for Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society. He has devoted many years of service working as a judge in the Carbonell program, traveling to theaters in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties to evaluate scores of shows each year.
Teresa María Rojas was born in Havana. She trained at Cuba’s Prometo Theatre under Francisco Morín, worked in Cuban television, then went to work for Radio Caracas Television in Venezuela before moving to Miami. Her theater work has been seen in Cuba, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain and the United States. A great part of her legacy comes from her work as the founder and director of Prometeo at Miami Dade College, where she worked to preserve Spanish-language theater among young artists—one of whom was future Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. She is the proud recipient of three endowed theater chairs and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Hispanic Theatre Festival.
Margot Moreland is one of South Florida’s best-known actresses, as well as being a principal representative on the Council for Actors’ Equity Association for more than 20 years. She has received four Carbonell Awards for her performances in Ruthless!, Tomfoolery, Heartbeats andAnnie,” and a Silver Palm Award for her work in “Mamma Mia!.” In addition to her work on stage, Moreland has taught at the University of Miami as well as giving master classes at Barry University and Rollins College. She has appeared in City Theatre’s Summer Shorts Festival, including an early edition with the actor for whom her award is named – Bill Hindman.
Andie Arthur is also an adjunct faculty member at Miami’s New World School for the Arts. Arthur’s work has been produced at multiple companies in the region, and she has also participated in the Kennedy Center’s Summer Playwriting Intensive, the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs Playwright Development Program, the Greenhouse and the Overnight Theatre Festival. At the League, she shepherded the development of such programs as AntiRacism Theatre Strategies, Summer Theatre Fest, the return of Unified Auditions, many professional development workshops and the creation of the South Florida Theatre League Relief Fund to assist artists, administrators and technicians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Theatre Lab, the professional resident company at Florida Atlantic University, has a reach far beyond its intimate 99-seat Heckscher Stage theater space. Devoting itself to new work, first under founding artistic director Louis Tyrrell and now under the leadership of Matt Stabile, the company’s mission is to “inspire, develop and produce new work, artists and audiences” through its performances, workshops and conversations with leading playwrights and theater artists. Theatre Lab’s reading and development events include its annual New Play Festival, the Playwright’s Forum and MasterClass Series. Its educational outreach for students in grades 4 to 12 has provided more than 10,000 students with workshops in creative writing and theater, live theater experiences, and the opportunity to create and perform in original productions. For the region’s theater community, Theatre Lab has also hosted the Overnight Theatre Project and two Online Original Monologue Festivals to raise artist relief funds during the pandemic.