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30 Years Of Boston's Elliot Norton Awards06:30
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Elliot Norton, the award ceremony’s namesake. He was a theater critic for 48 years. (Courtesy of the Elliot Norton Awards)
Elliot Norton, the award ceremony’s namesake. He was a theater critic for 48 years. (Courtesy of the Elliot Norton Awards)

Greater Boston's theatre scene is in the spotlight tonight when the 30th anniversary Elliot Norton Awards are presented at the Paramount Mainstage. The awards recognize excellence in production, direction, and acting, in and around Boston. They're named in honor of long-time Boston theatre critic, Elliot Norton, who remained engaged in the local and national theatre scene until his death in 2003 at the age of 100.

The awards were established upon Norton's retirement in 1982. It began as just one award, given for "a distinguished contribution to theatre in Boston." Carolyn Clay, theatre critic for the Boston Phoenix, says that there was a time when everyone in the theatre circuit knew who Norton was.

This was the era when Boston was considered to be a "try-out town" for actors and directors hoping to "make it big" in New York City. Norton was known for his uncanny ability to predict the success of a play or a performer in New York. He was also called a "play doctor", as his advice was trusted by playwrights such as Neil Simon, who - with much success - took Norton's advice to bring the Pigeon Sisters back in the second act of "The Odd Couple."

Among this year's awards is the Lifetime Achievement Award going to director, choreographer, performer Tommy Tune. Among the nominated productions is the A.R.T.'s reenvisioning of Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," directed by Susan Lori Parks. Parks' production is also nominated for a Tony Award.

Guest:

  • Carolyn Clay, is on the selection committee for the Elliot Norton Awards and theatre critic for the Boston Phoenix

This segment aired on May 21, 2012.

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