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The Spokies 

by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he Spokies -- intended to honor the best of Spokane-area theater -- cause some local theater lovers to envision a would-be criminal mastermind: a deluded and neurotic soul bent on invading the minds and savaging the delicate egos of local actors and directors.

I'm referring, of course, to the guy who forced people to sit through Atlantis. Those of you who remember Spokane's all-time theatrical turkey (at the Opera House in 1993) will wish they couldn't. The rest of us are stuck with the subjective selections of the 2007-08 Spokies.

In a new twist this year, nominations were posted last weekend at Comment-posters grumbled even over those choices; imagine their ire when it comes to selecting the winners. Nonetheless, here they are.

Best Actress -- Play

Karen Nelsen as Mary Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night, Actors Repertory Theatre

Hands fluttering below sidelong glances: in denial and aware of it.

Best Actress -- Musical

Abbey Crawford as Keely in Pete 'n' Keely, Actors Rep

Belting and simmering, without being camp -- that's why the lady is a tramp.

Best Lighting Design

David Baker for Man of La Mancha, Spokane Civic Theatre

The moods ranged from autumnal to festive to menacing.

Achievement in Sadism

Testing the pain-level tolerance of a man who's only pretending that his legs are paralyzed: "Ruffhousin' mit Shuffhausen" in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the INB Center.

Best Infidelity to Method Acting

To Patrick McHenry-Kroetch, hornily pursuing Tanya Barton while rehearsing the inset Dracula production in the Civic's Laughing Stock. Part of him, at least, was not a member of the Undead.

Best Actor -- Play

Patrick Treadway as the Professor in All the Great Books (abridged), Actors Rep

The flop-sweat of the forced poetry recitation: calibrated goofiness.

Best Actor -- Musical

Patrick McHenry-Kroetch as Cervantes/Quijana/Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Civic

Tottering movements concealed defiance. Masterful.

Best Choreography

Roger Welch and Andrew Start for The Full Monty, Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre

The combination of good "bad" dancing and "Michael Jordan's Ball" was intricate, exhilarating and Hoop-festive.

Best Costume Design -- Play

Jessica Ray for Souvenir, Actors Rep

Elegant but slightly out of date, deluded but still rational: Mrs. Jenkins' get-ups were Angels of Inspiration.

Best Costume Design -- Musical

Judith McGiveney for Kiss Me, Kate, Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater

The swagger of the '50s! Billowing Renaissance gowns in complementary colors!

Exalted Decoration for Dream Sequences

Jackie Davis and Gary Pierce rising from surgery to salsa in Interplayers' The Clean House: liveliness in the context of death.

Best Use of a Dolly Parton Impersonator

The final scene of Best of Broadway's The Wedding Singer: Even better than in the Miss Congeniality movie.

Transvestism Trophy

To Jerry Sciarrio, for filling out a coconut-shell bra in South Pacific at the Civic.

Best Director -- Play

Tralen Doler for Rabbit Hole, Actors Rep

Emotional intensity achieved in stillness.

Best Director -- Musical

Roger Welch for The Full Monty, CST

Working-class desperation, nervous naughtiness, raucous joy.

Best Touring Musical

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Best of Broadway

Whodunit reversals and off-the-wall lyrics engaged brains and funny bones both.

Best Set Design -- Musical

David Baker for The Christmas Schooner, Civic

The pulling-into-the-dock sequence was a triumph of imagination and logistics.

Best Set Design -- Play

John Hofland, Rabbit Hole, Actors Rep

At the risk of being overly literal, the dead boy's portraits loomed large and made us share in the grieving.

Best Featured Actress

Marianne McLaughlin as Bloody Mary in South Pacific, Civic

From the chanteuse of Bali Ha'i, hootchy-kootchy happiness and a vision of a better world.

Best Featured Actor

Jonathan Rau as Buddy "Keno" Walsh in The Full Monty, CST

He had to step up, strip off and deliver the Chippendales ideal. And succeeded.

Best Ensemble

Rabbit Hole, Actors Rep

Page Byers, Michael Weaver, Kathie Doyle-Lipe, Caryn Hoaglund, Jimmy-James Pendleton, united in sadness.

Best Local Musical

The Nominees: The Full Monty, Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater; The Last Five Years, Civic; Man of La Mancha, Civic; Pete 'n' Keely, Actors Rep

The WINNER: The Full Monty, CST

They shed clothes, we shed inhibitions. Good clean fun.

Best Drama

The Nominees: Long Day's Journey Into Night, Actors Rep; The Night of the Iguana, Civic; Rabbit Hole, Actors Rep

The WINNER: Rabbit Hole, Actors Rep

Acknowledging the abyss, then leaping over it.

Best Comedy

The Nominees: All the Great Books (abridged), Actors Rep; Laughing Stock, Civic; Tour de Farce, CenterStage

The WINNER: All the Great Books (abridged), Actors Rep

Reinforcing literature by mangling it.

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