BACKSTAGE: Paxton Whitehead, James Lecesne To Be Honored By Critics
You can’t blame the folks at the Connecticut Critics Circle (full disclosure, I’m one of them) for feeling pretty proud as they prepare for the 27th annual awards ceremony June 26 at 7:30 p.m at the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. After all, last year’s winners — Yale Rep’s premiere of Paula Vogel’s Indecent and Hartford Stage’s premiere of the musical Anastasia — went on to Broadway and to an armful of Tony Award nominations. (The 2017 Tony Awards will be televised June 11 at 8 p.m. on CBS.) So this year’s Connecticut event — which is free and open to all theater lovers — will have an extra bit of cachet.
Also bringing some star power to the event will be master of ceremonies and three-time Tony Award-nominee Terrence Mann (Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, Pippin revival).
Besides recognizing outstanding work this past season at the state’s professional theaters, the celebratory event will also spotlight several special awards. One will be given to Paulette Haupt, who is stepping down after 40 years as the founding artistic director of the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford. Among the musicals Haupt helped nurture are Nine, In the Heights, Avenue Q, In Transit and [title of show].
Also receiving a tribute will be veteran character actor Paxton Whitehead, who played a vengeful college dean in Rodney Dangerfield’s 1986 movie Back to School. Writer and actor James Lecesnewill also be honored for his work with LGBTQ young people. The co-founder of The Trevor Project brought his solo show, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, to Hartford Stage this spring.