Memphis' theater community comes together every year on the last Sunday in August to salute the best of the previous season, honor lifetime achievement, and remember lost colleagues. The Ostranders are both a traditional awards show, honoring the finest examples of local community and college theater, and an enormous family reunion. It's also an opportunity for theater fans to see all their favorite performers in one place and sample musical performances from all the nominated shows.
This season's nominees for best musical are Theatre Memphis' productions of The Drowsy Chaperone, Shrek, and Falsettos, pitted against Playhouse on the Square's productions of Fun Home, Once, and Dreamgirls. It was an exceptional year for musical theater in Memphis, and regardless of who goes home with the Ostrander, this year's winner will almost certainly be the audience.
The nominations for best production of a play are more inclusive, with one nod going to All Saints in the Old Colony, a world premiere produced by Playhouse on the Square as part of its POTS@TheWorks series. Other nominees include New Moon's Eurydice, Ruined at Hattiloo, and A Perfect Arrangement at Circuit Playhouse.
Tony Isbell is this year's Eugart Yerian honoree for lifetime achievement in Memphis theater. Isbell is an award-winning actor, director, and producer. He's worked onstage or behind the scenes on most of Memphis' main stages, and with many of its indie companies. Working with friend and fellow performer Adam Remsen, Isbell co-founded Quark Theatre Company to produce theater he's described as being, "small and essential." Quark was conceived in 2016, following what was to be a one-off performance of Krapp's Last Tape at TheatreSouth. The company has since staged notable productions of Blackbird, Years to the Day, and The Nether.
The often elegant, occasionally irreverent, sometimes rowdy, and always inspiring Ostrander Awards were created by Memphis magazine and ArtsMemphis. They will be presented at The Orpheum Theatre, Sunday, August 26th. Mingling starts at 6 p.m.