Twenty-Eight Silver Palm Awards Presented to Actors and Troupes at Annual Gala Held Monday at The Addison in Boca Raton

A rainy deluge outside didn’t dampen spirits inside The Addison restaurant in Boca Raton the night of Monday, Oct. 17, site of the annual Silver Palm Awards gala honoring actors, directors, set designers and performance troupes for excellence at stages in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

The gala – which served as a major post-COVID get-together last year for the awards that were first presented in 2008 – drew a full-house crowd to the famed Boca dining location, despite the weather that messed with travel and forced valets to break out large umbrellas to escort patrons to and from their cars.

Karen Stephens, a performer in her own right, was mistress of ceremonies and introduced nominees as they came forward to receive their awards. “I haven’t eaten anything all day,” she commented, “because I had to wear this dress.”

Photo Credit: Munoz Photography

The presentation of ceremonial plaques was split into two segments so patrons could enjoy their meals in between. The menu included salad, a choice of chicken or salmon and cake and ice cream for dessert.

The Silver Palm awards were co-founded in 2008 by artists Tony Finstrom and Iris Acker and arts journalist Ron Levitt to celebrate excellence in South Florida theater. Created more informally than the competitive Carbonell Awards, the Silver Palms do not designate nominees, and place no limit on the number of citations that might be given in any “category.” In truth, there are no official categories.

This year marked a new era for the Silver Palms. Professionals working in all aspects of the theater industry were invited to participate as judges. A new scoring system was also created to allow for more flexible attendance and to give weight to the votes of judges who attended more performances.

Photo Credit: Munoz Photography

Founders of the Silver Palms have all passed away. Andy Rogow and Michael McKeever now oversee the organization and Sandi Stock is managing director.

McKeever, a highly regarded playwright, remarked on how nice it was to see people together again after a hiatus for COVID. “When you see the people talking to each other, enjoying each other’s company and having a few laughs, it makes me feel good. And I hope you feel good, too.”

Rogow, artistic director at the Island City Stage, noted that awards founder Tony Finstrom “passed away about four years ago, and he wanted the Silver Palm Awards to continue. He entrusted Michael and me to keep it going. That was Tony’s wish.”

And Michael added: “No one loved theater or the community more than Tony.”

He also commended Sandi Stock “for the enormous amount of skill and time” she puts in as managing director, succeeding Finstrom. “It all falls on her very capable shoulders.” 

Photo Credit: Munoz Photography

The Silver Palm Awards honorees for 2021-22 were: 

  • A Wonderful World, Outstanding Production, Miami New Drama.

  • Michael Amico, Outstanding Set Design, The People Downstairs, Intimate Apparel, The Belle of Amherst, all at Palm Beach Dramaworks.

  • Lyle Baskin, Outstanding Set Design, The Price, GableStage.

  • Kirk Bookman, Outstanding Lighting Design, The Belle of Amherst, Intimate Apparel, all at Palm Beach Dramaworks.

  • Rita Cole, Outstanding Performance, Intimate Apparel, Palm Beach Dramaworks; The White Card, GableStage; Fefu and Her Friends, Thinking Cap Theatre.

  • Patrick Fitzwater (Director), Marlo Rodriguez (Assistant Director), Jerel Brown (Choreographer), Outstanding Direction and Creative Staging, Once on This Island, Slow Burn Theatre Company.

  • Niki Fridh, Outstanding Performance, To Fall in Love, Theatre Lab.

  • Ronnie Larsen, Outstanding New Work, Direction and Producer, Come Out, Come Out, Ronnie Larsen Presents.

  • Margaret Ledford, Outstanding Direction, Overactive Letdown, Theatre Lab.

  • Margery Lowe, Outstanding Performance, The Belle of Amherst, Palm Beach Dramaworks.

  • Michael McKeever, Outstanding New Work and Performance, The People Downstairs, Palm Beach Dramaworks; The Code, Ronnie Larsen Presents.

  • Stuart Meltzer, Outstanding Direction and Creative Staging, Frankenstein, GringoLandia, Side by Side by Sondheim, all at Zoetic Stage.

  • Lenora Nikitin, Outstanding Costume Design, Once on This Island, Head Over Heels, both at Slow Burn Theatre Company.

  • Brian O’Keefe, Outstanding Costume Design, Almost Maine, Intimate Apparel, The Belle of Amherst, all at Palm Beach Dramaworks.

  • Frank J. Oliva, Outstanding Set Design, The White Card, GableStage; Beauty and the Beast, Area Stage.

  • Kim Ostrenko, Outstanding Performance, The Sound Inside, Boca Stage.

  • Nicole Perry, Outstanding Intimacy Direction, To Fall in Love, Overactive Letdown, Theatre Lab; Lungs, New City Players; One in Two, Island City Stage.

  • Angie Radosh, Outstanding Performance, Suddenly Last Summer, Island City Stage.

  • Giancarlo Rodaz, Outstanding Direction and Creative Staging, Beauty and the Beast, Area Stage.

  • Andy Rogow, Outstanding Direction, Suddenly Last Summer, The Mystery of Irma Vep, both at Island City Stage.

  • Gabriell Salgado, Outstanding New Talent, Frankenstein, Gringo Landia, Zoetic Stage; The Code, Ronnie Larsen Presents.

  • Theatre Lab, Outstanding Community Efforts for Development of New Works: Heckscher Theatre for Families productions, Future PAGES Project and LabRATS educational programs, the New Play Festival, and the Fair Play Initiative for LGBTQ+ plays and stories.

  • Louis Tyrrell, Outstanding Direction, To Fall in Love, Theatre Lab.

  • Elijah Word, Outstanding Performance, Kinky Boots, Slow Burn Theatre Company.

  • TABLE OF WINNERS – Sharing a table Monday night at the
    Silver Palm Awards gala in Boca Raton were a couple of recipients: Giancarlo
    Rodaz, left, honored for outstanding direction and creative staging and Frank J.
    Oliva, second from right, cited for outstanding set design. With them are Frank’s
    mother, Yolanda Oliva and his girlfriend, Katie Duerr. (Photo by Dale King)

Judges who selected this year’s recipients included Barbara Bradshaw, actor; Jeffrey Bruce, director/actor; Angel Burgos, sponsor; Kent Chambers-Wilson, director/actor; Mary Damiano, arts journalist; Christine Dolen, theater critic; Vanessa Elise, actor; Niki Fridh, actor; Patti Gardner, actor; Carey Brianna Hart, director/actor; Bill Hirschman, theater critic; David Jobin, President, Our Fund Foundation; Aaron Krause, theater critic; Michael Leeds, director; Lee Rubin, sponsor; Troy Stanley, actor; Karen Stephens, actor/playwright and John Thomason, theater critic.

Wrapping up the energetic night that included music and dancing, Stephens offered “congratulations to all the honorees. If the good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll all be here next year.”

Photo Credit: Munoz Photography

The Silver Palm Awards gala is sponsored by the Tony Finstrom Fund at Our Fund and Mark Traverso and Conor Walton.

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