Michael Aronov and Marin Ireland in Mauritius
(© Eric Antoniou)
Michael Aronov and Marin Ireland in Mauritius
(© Eric Antoniou)
The 25th annual Elliot Norton Awards, presented by the Boston Theater Critics Association, were bestowed on May 21 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre.

Joan MacIntosh, whose CV dates back to the radical theatre days of the late 1960s as a founding member of the Performance Group, won Outstanding Actress, Large Company for her portrayal of Agrippina in the American Repertory Theatre's production of Racine's Britannicus. Her husband, film actor James Cromwell, was on hand to cheer her on.

ART's recently departed artistic director Robert Woodruff was accorded a 25th Anniversary Award for offering "a daring, global menu of theatrical fare" over the past five years. Writing from Brazil, he wished those present "fuel for your own risk-taking and adventurousness for years to come."

Nicholas Martin, entering his final year as artistic director for the Huntington Theatre, was pronounced Outstanding Director, Large Company for Love's Labour's Lost. The Huntington also received kudos for Outstanding Production by a Large Company for Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius -- which also earned an Outstanding Actor, Large Company award for Michael Aronov, who played a grifter on the make in the play. Commented Huntington's managing director, Michael Maso -- standing in for Martin, who was busy fine-tuning Present Laughter, which opens on May 23 -- "A world premiere would have been unthinkable in this city 25 years ago."

Although Mauritius didn't win Outstanding Design, Large Company (that honor went to Christine Jones' set and Justin Townsend's lighting for The Onion Cellar, the Dresden Dolls' rock-cabaret for the ART), its painstakingly veristic set was just one of many that warranted a Sustained Excellence award for designer Eugene Lee, whose terse, modest speech ("I'm not from the big city here"), served mostly to prove that, appearances notwithstanding, he is in fact one person. What other than cloning could explain a 40-year career which, while centered at Providence's Trinity Repertory Company, has spanned a seemingly endless run at Saturday Night Live and three Tony Awards (for Candide, Sweeney Todd, and Wicked.)

The Lyric Stage Company's rendition of Christopher Durang's cosmic comedy Miss Witherspoon, guest-directed by prior Norton-winner Scott Edmiston, won Outstanding Production by a Midsize Company, along with Outstanding Actress, Small/Midsize Company for local phenomenon Paula Plum in the title role. This past season, Plum also played Oberon in Boston Theatre Works' A Midsummer Night's Dream, which took the Norton for Outstanding Production by a Small Company.

Edmiston was edged out of Outstanding Director, Midsize Company by relative newcomer David R. Gammon, who mounted a killer all-male Titus Andronicus in a concrete bunker in the heart of Harvard Square for the Actors' Shakespeare Project.

In one of four musical interludes, repeat winner Leigh Barrett demonstrated the focus and power that earned her Outstanding Musical Performance as Mother in New Repertory Theatre's Ragtime. In that same medley, fellow cast-member and nominee Stephanie Umoh dazzled with exquisite phrasing. The third nominee in the category, Jacqui Parker, was largely responsible for the SpeakEasy Stage Company receiving Outstanding Musical Production for Caroline, or Change; she sang excerpts from that score with co-star Jacob Brandt, who is another youngster to watch.

Consummate multi-tasker Larry Coen, who spends his days mentoring future performers at City Stage Co., won Outstanding Actor, Small/Midsize Company for five roles (more if you include the multiple roles he aced in Miss Witherspoon). Coen serves as frequent muse to parodist Ryan Landry, who created Silent Night of the Lambs with Coen as a cannibal Santa and The Plexiglass Menagerie with Coen as a gender-confused Laura. Before giving a shout-out to his mother -- "I learned to project from that woman" -- Coen expressed relief at the win: "If I didn't get this, I'd have lost five times," he said.

A full listing of awards and citations can be found at www.stagesource.org.