17 theater companies take a bow at the Norton Awards

Will McGarrahan and Leigh Barrett (pictured in “Souvenir”) were among the night’s big winners.
Mark S. Howard
Will McGarrahan and Leigh Barrett (pictured in “Souvenir”) were among the night’s big winners.

Honors at the 36th Elliot Norton Awards, as voted by the Boston Theater Critics Association, were spread across the board this year, with 17 different companies or their artists receiving prizes.

The winners were announced Monday night during a ceremony held at the Huntington Avenue Theatre. YouTube satirist Randy Rainbow was the guest of honor.

Top honors went to the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Underground Railway Theater, and the Boch Center Shubert Theatre, whose productions garnered three awards each, followed by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, American Repertory Theater, and Company One Theatre with two each.


In the large theater division, the outstanding production was Commonwealth Shakespeare’s “Beckett in Brief.” Sergio Trujillo was named outstanding director for the American Repertory Theater’s “Arrabal.” Outstanding actor went to McKinley Belcher III in the Huntington Theatre Company’s “A Guide for the Homesick”; outstanding actress was Gracyn Mix in Commonwealth Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The outstanding design winner was ArtsEmerson’s “Home.”

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In the midsize theater division, Underground Railway Theater’s “Constellations” won for outstanding production. Jacob Athyal was named outstanding actor for Underground’s “Guards at the Taj” and Caitlin Nasema Cassidy outstanding actress for the company’s “Paradise.” Summer L. Williams won as outstanding director for Lyric Stage’s “Barbecue.” And Arlekin Players Theatre’s “A Dead Man’s Diary: A Theatrical Novel” won for outstanding design, midsize, small, or fringe theater.

In the smaller divisions, Company One Theatre’s “Hype Man: a break beat play” was named outstanding production, small theater, and Sleeping Weazel’s “3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show” won as outstanding production, fringe theater. Allison Olivia Choat was outstanding director, small or fringe theater, for Moonbox Productions’ “The 39 Steps.” Outstanding actor, small or fringe theater, was Barlow Adamson in Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s “Elemeno Pea”; outstanding actress, small or fringe theater, went to Lindsay Eagle in Flat Earth Theatre’s “Fat Pig.”

The ART’s “Arrabal” won for outstanding musical production. Will McGarrahan gave the outstanding musical performance by an actor in the Lyric Stage’s “Souvenir”; outstanding musical performance by an actress went to Leigh Barrett for two Lyric Stage productions, “Souvenir” and “Gypsy.” Winning for outstanding musical direction was David Reiffel for New Repertory Theatre’s “Man of La Mancha” and SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “Shakespeare in Love.”

Idris Goodwin’s “Hype Man: a break beat play,” for Company One Theatre, was voted outstanding new script; Keith Hamilton Cobb gave the outstanding solo performance in his “American Moor,” for O.W.I. Bureau of Theatre and Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. Wheelock Theatre’s “In the Heights” won for outstanding ensemble.


The outstanding visiting production was “The Color Purple,” as presented by the Boch Center Shubert Theatre. From that same production, Adrianna Hicks was named outstanding visiting actress. And the outstanding visiting actor was Richard Thomas in “The Humans,” also presented at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre.

In addition to her acting prize, Barrett, a longtime Boston favorite, also received the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence. Boston Conservatory at Berklee received the 2018 Elliot Norton Arts Education Award. And a special citation was given to Robert J. Eagle to honor of his 50 years at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham.

Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at