New Jewish Theatre garners five nominations

BY DAVID BAUGHER,ASSOCIATE EDITOR

“And the winner is…”

Supporters of The New Jewish Theatre will hang on those words this March as they find out how many honors the organization will take home from the First Annual Kevin Kline Awards. The theater has five nominations in three categories for the event.

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NJT artistic director Kathleen Sitzer said the nominations have helped to put a feather in the cap of Jewish St. Louis as a whole.

“I’m thrilled. I’m absolutely thrilled,” Sitzer said. “We put a lot into our productions. This kind of recognition is not just in the theater community but in the community at large as well as the Jewish community because we’re doing Jewish-themed plays and it obviously is being recognized in the broader St. Louis community that we’re doing excellent work.”

The NJT’s production of The Merchant of Venice earned a nomination for “outstanding production of a play,” while Norman McGowan grabbed a nomination for “outstanding lead actor in a play” in recognition of his performance in I’m Not Rappaport. Meanwhile three of the five nominees in the “outstanding supporting actor” category are from NJT productions: Gary Wayne Barker for Driving Miss Daisy, Jim Butz for The Merchant of Venice and John Kinney for Unexpected Tenderness.

The awards are sponsored by the Professional Theatre Awards Council, which was formed in 2004 “to recognize, celebrate and promote outstanding achievement in professional theatre in greater St. Louis,” according to the group’s website.

“First annual. This is the biggie,” said Sitzer. “They announced the nominees on the air on KWMU.”

Sitzer noted that everyone at The NJT is very excited by the prospect of the theatre winning an award but just competing against the likes of the Muny or Stages St. Louis is exciting.

“When they developed this judging system they did their best to try and level the playing field and for the most part they did a pretty good job. But as to the awards themselves, even if the big guys walk off with all the biggies, just the fact that we have been nominated among them is a tremendous compliment and recognition and it attests to the work that we have been doing providing top-quality artistic, professional theater in the St. Louis Jewish community and the community at large.”

She said that even the ceremony itself will be interesting.

“We are all going to be looking forward to the actual awards event,” Sitzer said. “It should be very exciting. It’s going to be a black-tie event, just like the Oscars or the Tonys.”

The awards ceremony will be held at the Roberts Orpheum Theatre at 7 p.m., March 20.

Call 314-276-8165 for more information.