Though the Nappie Awards have been chugging along since Lagniappe’s first anniversary back in 2003, it was only in the last few years arts categories even existed. But even those four short years have been enough for patterns to emerge, showing Mobilians a few unnoted yet mostly unsurprising things about ourselves and our habits.
Best Local Artist
Sarah Haas Otts – Ms. Otts last appeared in this lineup in 2011 and did so with a different last name. I guess belated congrats are in order for the nuptials. She is an abstract painter who earned her BFA from the University of Mississippi in 2007 and briefly taught before dedicating herself to her own work.
Runner-up Julie Rhames – This local product studied art history and studio art at the University of South Alabama. While not working as a stylist at Salon West 54 Hundred she’s in front of an easel and her work was featured in at Spire for the July LoDa Artwalk.
2013: Christy LeGros, Amber Lane
2012: Joe Hobbs, Jessica Chavez-Price
2011: Devlin Wilson, Sarah Haas
2010: Haley Hutchinson, Devlin Wilson
Best Art Gallery
Ashland Gallery – This shop on Old Shell Road in Midtown has been a longtime favorite not only for the residents of the tony neighborhood with which it shares a name, but also among various cognoscenti of various genres. More than just a place to purchase visual art, they offer framing services and host various events such as book signings.
Runner-up Cathedral Square Art Gallery – This cooperative showplace on lower Dauphin Street has been a mainstay downtown for years. Their staying power is an involved and active membership who keep things fresh. It’s normally one of the most vibrant spots in downtown during the monthly LoDa Artwalks.
2013: Robertson Gallery, Host Gallery
2012: Robertson, Host
2011: Cathedral Square Gallery, Space 301
2010: Cathedral Square, Ashland Gallery/Robertson (tie)
Mobile Museum of Art – Perhaps we should rename this award after the showplace in Langan Park. As you can tell from the listing below, their presence in this slot has become a ritual, but not undeserved. Their exhibits continue to be exemplary and the new energy and accessibility they’ve shown under director Deborah Velders is going to make them hard to top.
Runner-up: History Museum of Mobile – Hard to believe this is the first time this institution has made an appearance in the Nappies, but maybe because they’ve been too busy preserving Mobile’s ample and lengthy story to worry about stuffing voting boxes. It’s long been an impressive museum for a town of this size, but with David Alsobrook – a man who has directed three presidential libraries – at the helm, that’s bound to continue.
2013: MMoA, Space 301
2012: MMoA, Mobile Carnival Museum
2011: MMoA, Gulf Coast Exploreum
2010: Carnival, MMoA
Best Theatre Group
Joe Jefferson Players – Considering their time in town, we should all know the JJP background story well by now. They’re the oldest continuing troupe in the state, having enjoyed being a cultural contributor since the 1940s. Their 2013-2014 season featured “Noises Off,” “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “The Bad Seed” and “Spamalot.”
Runner-up Mobile Theatre Group – This plucky company just a short distance from JJP is known for smaller productions and casts than their Midtown brethren but they’ve also reaped some prestigious international awards during their half-century of life. Their 2013-2014 season included “God of Carnage,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “The 39 Steps,” “Pump Boys and Dinettes” and “Forbidden Broadway.”
2013: JJP, Sunny Side Theater
2012: Sunny Side, JJP
2011: JJP, Chickasaw Civic Theater
2010: MTG, JJP
Best Play or Performance of the year
Legally Blonde: The Musical – JJP’s production of the sorority doll-turned-attorney tale apparently made quite the impression. That or its cast of flying female fingers proved adept at filling out Nappie ballots.
Runner-up Spamalot – This crowd-pleaser packed with Monty Python’s customary silliness was a hit for JJP. Ticket reservations were some of the hottest selling in the history of the theater. Best of all, no cows were harmed in the staging of the zany Arthurian tale.
Most surprising was that two productions with strong Azalea City ties didn’t grab the two top spots. “The Bad Seed” at JJP is taken from Mobile author William March’s novel of the same name.
Then there’s “When the Saints Go Marching in at Cockroach Hall,” the satire from South of the Salt Line Theater that ran this past winter at the MTG facility. It orbits not just Mobile society but Mardi Gras and featured one of the best singular performances on a local stage in the last few years by the dynamic Charlie Kelly.
2013: Society Shell, 1776
Best Local Actor
Brandon M. Caten – This University of South Alabama graduate is the former artistic director for the Azalea City Center for the Arts and their Sunny Side Theater and has been well represented in the Nappies over the last few years. He’s also an owner and instructor of The Studio, a voice studio that focuses on musical theatre training for ages 8-18, plus his linkedin.com description said he teaches about 25 students privately. He also ventures into other roles, like with his appearance in “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”
Runner-up James Boykin – This young man is fast making a name for himself. He’s appeared in both Nappie winners for Best Play, made a splash in “Forbidden Broadway” with an appearance in his skivvies, won a Joey Award for his work in “Spamalot” and directed “The Bad Seed.”
2013: Dent Boykin, Brandon Caten
2012: Ashley Park, John Campbell
2011: Gene Murrell, Jordan Wright
2010: LaureAnn Price, Andrew Crider