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'Bouncers' Gets 7 Kudos From Critics

April 08, 1987|RAY LOYND

"Bouncers," the ongoing show at the Tiffany Theatre that sizzles with gyrating style, ran away with the 18th annual Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards Monday evening, capturing laurels in all of the seven categories in which it was nominated.

The other big winners, with five awards each, were Lily Tomlin's hit "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe" and "The Iceman Cometh," both staged at the James A. Doolittle Theatre.

The honors for luster in Los Angeles theater for 1986 drew 280 people to the Harry Chandler Auditorium in The Times building, a departure from the bulging hotel venues of past years. The Drama Critics Circle, an awards-dispensing group that believes less is more, chose a room that accommodates about 50 fewer guests than the ceremonies drew in other years and substituted a cocktail reception for a formal dinner. The new, lean look resulted in an awards presentation that whisked by in two hours.

Despite the fact that the circle scorns the concept of "bests" and, as president and emcee Lee Melville said, "dislikes the use of the words losers or winners ," 30, or half the nominees, walked out with an award. The seven-times nominated "Nite Club Confidential," for example, copped only one award, while only five actors (among 11 contenders) were garlanded for achievement in a lead performance.

One of those was Tomlin, who attended with co-honoree Jane Wagner, who wrote and directed "Search." Tomlin, wiping her brow, was flush with a disjointed acceptance: "This is more emotional than . . . uh, uh, uh--I'm honored." But it was Tomlin in character. (She and Wagner were gone by the time their show was named for production achievement. Tomlin had a prior commitment to present a Betty Clooney Foundation Award to Stevie Wonder at the Music Center.)

Among other notables present was Julie Harris, looking sterling and delivering a spirited introduction for the circle's honored guest, Robert Fryer, artistic director of the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson, who will depart his 15-year post after the 1987-88 Ahmanson season.

Director and Eugene O'Neill maven Jose Quintero, the circle's honored guest last year, accepted a directorial achievement award for "The Iceman Cometh," a production that also generated a performance ribbon for Jason Robards' death's-head portrayal of barroom messiah Hickey. Robards' brother, Glenn, accepted for the actor, who is rehearsing a play in New York.

The evening, a mixture of low-key formality and unfluttered celebration that included three songs performed by the cast of last year's award-winning "Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill," didn't have a sour or rowdy note in it. Marie Windsor couldn't believe she had won a featured performance award for her role as a '40s movie star trying for a comeback in Equity Waiver theater in "The Bar Off Melrose" at the Melrose Theatre. Windsor, in her musky, "Forever Amber" voice, said she was "overwhelmed" and added, "I thought I had as much chance of getting this as a hooker of getting business in Leisure World."

There were two special awards: One went to the Royal Shakespeare Company for its Ahmanson production of "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby." It was accepted by cast members Jane Carr, Roderick Horn and Tony Jay. The other went to Gordon Davidson, on his 20th anniversary as artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum.

Davidson said he cherished theater's "communal darkness pushing back internal darkness," and he also reflected that "I have a lot of trouble with the consumer ratings critics put on plays."

The Margaret Harford Award was embraced, with much humor, by Scott Kelman of Pipeline "for unwavering commitment to innovative theater".

Shows in major houses landed 18 awards and Equity Waiver productions took 12. Emcee Melville said that 680 stage presentations hit the boards in greater Los Angeles last year; 540 were Equity Waiver.

A complete list of recipients follows:

FOR DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION

"Bouncers" (produced by Susan Albert Loewenberg for L.A. Theatre Works in association with Joanne Jacobson; associate producer Sara Maultsby; co-producers Bobbie Edrick/Elaine Rich, at the Tiffany Theatre); "The Iceman Cometh," (presented by UCLA Center for the Arts/The Theatre Group, Inc., Lewis Allen, James Nederlander, Stephen Graham, Ben Edwards; a production of the American National Theatre, at the James A. Doolittle Theatre); "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe" (presented by Tomlin and Wagner Theatricalz; Lily Tomlin, producer; presented by UCLA Center for the Arts and the Southern California Theatre Assoc., at the James A. Doolittle Theatre).

DIRECTION

Ron Link ("Bouncers"); Jose Quintero ("The Iceman Cometh"); Sam Weisman ("The Common Pursuit," Matrix Theatre).

WRITING

John Godber ("Bouncers"); Simon Gray ("The Common Pursuit"); Jane Wagner ("The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe").

MUSICAL SCORE

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