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Weekly Volcano 2013 Theater Awards: Carvies and Varnies

The best in South Sound theater, according to our theater critics

Varnie award-winning play Tacoma Little Theatre's "Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged (Revised)." Photo credit: DK Photography

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We're not awful people, we swear! It bums us out to deflate the work of theatrical colleagues and friends. That's why I was delighted to add the "Carvies," a roster of exceptional work in Olympia, to my review schedule in 2010 and in every December since. Now I've encouraged Joann Varnell to get into the game by listing her picks for the best in Tacoma and Lakewood. The goal isn't just to brighten our holiday season or atone for our sins, but to remind theatergoers that we live in an amazingly vital community of artists, actors and directors. More than a dozen companies are represented here, and in what amounts to a midsize market. Each deserves your patronage in 2014. By elevating our standards and encouraging a dialogue between theater patrons and practitioners, we get closer, ever closer, to the goal of "Ashland North." Break a leg, everyone!

The Carvies for 2013

By Christian Carvajal

Here, again, are my picks for the best of Olympia theater over this calendar year. The nominees are listed in alphabetical order, with winning choices printed in bold. It pains me to say it, but 2013 simply wasn't a banner year. (The scene was richer in Tacoma and Lakewood.) I decided, in fact, to decrease my number of noms from five to four in each category. I wasn't able to catch Shadowlands at OLT but heard positive things, so it's possible that would've altered a few of these lists. I offer sincere apologies to its cast and crew. Full disclosure: I was in Legally Blonde and Robin Hood, and my wife was in Cinder Edna, Lyle, and Robin Hood.


Kate Ayers, Lyle the Crocodile (Olympia Family Theater)

Samantha Chandler, The Abolitionist's Wife (OFT)

Keith Eisner, The Abolitionist's Wife (OFT)

Rebecca Lea McCarthy, Same Time, Next Year (Olympia Little Theatre)

>>> David Nail, Gloucester Blue (Harlequin Productions)

Kurt Raimer, Next to Normal (Capital Playhouse)

>>> Jana Tyrrell, Next to Normal (CP)

Dennis Worrell, The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood (OFT)


Kate Ayers, Cinder Edna (OFT)

Colleen Powers, Oliver! (CP)

>>> Brian Tyrrell, Next to Normal (CP)

Scot Whitney, Or, (Harlequin)

>>> James Weidman received his Supporting Cast Carvie for his performance in Harlequin Productions' Or,. Photo courtesy of Facebook


Kate Arvin, An Improbable Peck of Plays II (Northwest Playwrights Alliance and Prodigal Sun)

>>> Kristin Burch, Legally Blonde: The Musical (CP)

Brian Jansen, Reservoir Dogs (Theatre Artists Olympia)

John Pratt, Premiere! (OLT)

Amy Shephard, Or, (Harlequin)

Erin Snodgrass, Next to Normal  (CP)

>>> James Weidman, Or, (Harlequin)

Patrick Wigren, Oliver! (CP)


Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (South Puget Sound Community College)

Legally Blonde: The Musical (CP)

>>> Next to Normal (CP)

Or, (Harlequin)


>>> Cinder Edna (OFT)

Gloucester Blue (Harlequin)

Oliver! (CP)

The Stardust Christmas Blizzard (Harlequin)

The Varnies for 2013

By Joann Varnell

For the first time, I'm presenting my picks for best of theater in Tacoma and Lakewood for this past calendar year. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order, with winning choices in bold. The best surprise of the year had nothing to do with theater unless you consider discovering I was going to have my second kid meant I wouldn't be auditioning for the 2013/14 season. The Tacoma theater surprise was that Tacoma Musical Playhouse's renovations seem to have helped with a long standing problem of being unable to hear many of the actors due to the previous placement of the orchestra in front of the stage.


Rachel Boyer, Pride and Prejudice (Lakewood Playhouse)

Benjamin Cournoyer, Little Shop of Horrors (Tacoma Little Theatre)

Andrew Kittrell, The Importance of Being Earnest (LP)

>>> Alex Smith, Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged (Revised) (TLT)


>>> Marilyn Bennett, The Importance of Being Earnest (LP)

Maria Valenzuela, Little Shop of Horrors (TLT)

Suzy Wilhoft, Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged (Revised) (TLT)

Casi Wilkerson, Pride and Prejudice (LP)


>>> Tom Birkeland, It's a Wonderful Life (TLT)

Gretchen Boyt, Little Shop of Horrors (TLT)

Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson, Pride and Prejudice (LP)

April Villanueva Santa Domingo, Les Miserables (Tacoma Musical Playhouse)

Syra Beth Puett, The Importance of Being Earnest (LP)


Complete Works of William Shakespeare (TLT)

Les Miserables (TMP)

Pride and Prejudice (LP)

>>> The Importance of Being Earnest (LP)


Michele Graves (Costumes), Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged (Revised) (TLT)

>>> Alex Lewington (Costumes), The Importance of Being Earnest (LP)

Sarahann Rickner (Stage Manager), Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged (Revised) (TLT)

Alex Smith (Lighting Designer), The Importance of Being Earnest (LP)

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