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    SpeakEasy, ART lead Norton nominations for the best in Boston theater

    Brookline MA 1/31/16 Playwright Melinda Lopez who wrote "Back the Night," during their final run through at the Boston Playwrights Theatre on Sunday January 31, 2016. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) Topic: Reporter:
    Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff/file 2016
    Actress and playwright Melinda Lopez is this year’s recipient of the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence.

    The Boston Theater Critics Association announced Thursday the nominees for the 37th edition of the Elliot Norton Awards, with the American Repertory Theater and SpeakEasy Stage Company leading the field with 10 nominations each, followed by the Huntington Theatre Company and the Lyric Stage Company of Boston with seven each. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony May 20 at the Huntington Avenue Theatre, with actress and playwright Melinda Lopez as this year’s recipient of the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, Faye Dunaway as the guest of honor, and Zeitgeist Stage Company scheduled to receive a special citation as it brings down the curtain on 18 years in Boston.

    Two musicals, the ART’s “Jagged Little Pill” and SpeakEasy’s “Once,” share honors for most individual nominations with five each. Closely following with four each are SpeakEasy’s “Between Riverside and Crazy,” the Huntington’s “Man in the Ring,” Lyric Stage’s “The Little Foxes,” and Zeitgeist’s “Love! Valour! Compassion!”

    In the large theater division, the nominees for outstanding production are the Huntington’s “Man in the Ring” and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s “Richard III” and “Birdy.” As outstanding director, Michael Greif is nominated for “Man in the Ring” along with Bryn Boice for Commonwealth Shakespeare’s “Universe Rushing Apart: Blue Kettle and Here We Go” and Steven Maler for “Birdy.”

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    The outstanding actor nominees are Faran Tahir for “Richard III” and John Douglas Thompson and Kyle Vincent Terry for “Man in the Ring.” For outstanding actress, it’s a Huntington trio: Marianna Bassham and Nancy E. Carroll in “Romeo and Juliet” and Jordan Boatman in “The Niceties.” And for outstanding design in this division (a category that this year includes visiting productions), the nominees are the ART’s “The Black Clown,” Manual Cinema’s “The End of TV” (presented by ArtsEmerson), and Ambassador Theatre Group’s “Moulin Rouge!”

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    In the midsize theater division, “Between Riverside and Crazy” and “The Little Foxes” will compete with Lyric Stage’s “The Wolves” and Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s “Equivocation” for outstanding production. The midsize outstanding director nominees are Tiffany Nichole Greene for “Between Riverside and Crazy,” Paul Melone for “Once,” and A. Nora Long for “The Wolves.”

    The outstanding actor nominees are Nael Nacer for “Equivocation” and Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s “Macbeth,” Remo Airaldi for “The Little Foxes,” and Tyrees Allen for “Between Riverside and Crazy.” For outstanding actress, it’s Octavia Chavez-Richmond in “Between Riverside and Crazy,” Amelia Broome in “The Little Foxes,” and Amanda Collins in Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.”

    “Love! Valour! Compassion!” is joined by Sleeping Weazel’s “The Audacity: Women Speak” and Apollinaire Theatre Company’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the nominees for outstanding production by a small or fringe theater. Nominees for outstanding director are David J. Miller for “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” Olivia D’Ambrosio for Bridge Repertory Theater’s “Dark Room,” and Kiki Samko for the Gold Dust Orphans’ “Nightmare on Elf Street.”

    In that same division, the outstanding actor nominees are Jeremiah Kissel for Gloucester Stage Company’s “Cyrano,” Ken Baltin for Gloucester Stage’s “My Station in Life,” and Brooks Reeves for “Love! Valour! Compassion!” And for outstanding actress, it’s Jennifer Rohn in “Dark Room,” Juliet Bowler in Flat Earth Theatre’s “Not Medea,” Khloe Alice Lin in Off the Grid Theatre’s “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord,” and Liz Adams in Centastage’s “Noir Hamlet.”

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    For outstanding design, midsize, small, or fringe theater, the nominees are “Dark Room,” “The Little Foxes,” and the Gold Dust Orphans’ pair of “Brokelahomo!” and “Nightmare on Elf Street.”

    The outstanding musical production nominees are “The Black Clown,” “Once,” and “Jagged Little Pill.” For outstanding musical direction, it’s Steven Ladd Jones for “Once,” Bryan Perri for “Jagged Little Pill,” and Dan Rodriguez for Moonbox Productions’ “Cabaret.” The nominees for outstanding musical performance by an actor are Davóne Tines in “The Black Clown,” Phil Tayler in “Cabaret,” and Davron S. Monroe in “Breath & Imagination,” a co-production of Lyric Stage and the Front Porch Arts Collective. And the outstanding musical performance by an actress contenders are Lauren Patten and Elizabeth Stanley in “Jagged Little Pill” and Mackenzie Lesser-Roy in “Once.”

    The outstanding new script nominees are Kira Rockwell for Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s “The Tragic Ecstasy of Girlhood,” John Minigan for “Noir Hamlet,” and Sara Porkalob for the ART’s “Dragon Mama.” Up for outstanding solo performance are Jade Wheeler in Bridge Repertory Theater’s “Who Is Eartha Mae?,” Porkalob in the ART’s “Dragon Cycle: Dragon Lady and Dragon Mama,” and Liza Jessie Peterson in “The Peculiar Patriot,” a National Black Theatre and Hi-Arts production presented by ArtsEmerson.

    For outstanding choreography — a new category this year — it’s Ilyse Robbins for “Once,” Sonya Tayeh for “Moulin Rouge!,” and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui for “Jagged Little Pill.” And the nominees for outstanding ensemble are “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Praxis Stage’s “All My Sons,” and SpeakEasy’s “Small Mouth Sounds.”

    The Boston Theater Critics Association has also announced its visiting theater awards. Outstanding visiting production went to ArtsEmerson’s presentation of Cheek by Jowl and Pushkin Theatre Moscow’s “Measure for Measure.” The outstanding visiting performer was Vaishnavi Sharma in Underground Railway Theater’s presentation of “Bedlam’s Pygmalion.” The outstanding visiting musical production was “Hamilton,” from Broadway In Boston. And the outstanding visiting musical performers were Nicholas Christopher in “Hamilton” and Ani Djirdjirian in the Huntington’s presentation of “Spamilton.”

    Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at jeffreymgantz@gmail.com.