2008 Onyx Awards in the News!


Onyx Awards honor ‘Christmas,’ ‘Trains’

Thursday, July 03, 2008
By Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Photo:  Mark Southers, Leslie “Ezra” Smith, Vickie Bey, Lamman Rucker and Vernell A. Lillie at the 2008 AACTA Onyx Awards. 

The sixth annual Onyx Awards were presented last weekend by the African American Council on the Arts, which recognize excellence in African American theater. In practice, this mainly means picking the best shows and performances of Pittsburgh’s three predominantly black companies, Kuntu Rep, New Horizon and Pittsburgh Playwrights, plus occasional specials, like two annual Christmas shows. 

There was some controversy when the annual “Christmas Is Comin’ Uptown” won 10 of the 14 awards for musicals because it is now produced by AACTA itself. No one could object that August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running,” produced by Pittsburgh Playwrights, won seven of the 12 awards for plays, plus two more — although as an Equity production on an unusually high level, it had a huge advantage.

Kuntu Rep also did well with eight awards, including four for its revival of Rob Penny’s “Good Black Don’t Crack” and three for “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

Still not included in the competition are black productions or individual performances at predominantly white professional theaters, such as this year’s “Flight” at City Theatre, although how to include and evaluate them is under consideration.


The Rob Penny Lifetime Achievement Award went to Valerie Adeniji Lawrence and the Pride of Pittsburgh Award to Pittsburgh native Lamman Rucker, best known nationally for a recurring role on UPN’s “Half & Half,” who served as emcee.



Best Musical: “Christmas Is Comin’ Uptown.”

Musical Director: James Buster Alston (”Christmas”).

Director: Jeannine Foster McKelvia (”Christmas”).

Leading Actor: Kevin Brown (Scrooge, “Christmas”).

Supporting Actor: Carter Redwood, (Christmas Future, “Christmas”).

Leading Actress: Chrystal Bates Nelson (Eva Dee, “Get Ready,” New Horizon Theatre).

Supporting Actress: Maya Randolph, Dani P. Mason and Sahara Nzongola (Ghoulies, “Christmas”).

Ensemble: “Christmas.”

Costume Design: Cheryl El-Walker (”Christmas”).

Set Design: Kenneth Ellis (”Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Kuntu Rep).

Set Construction: Mathhew Ferrucci (”Ain’t Misbehavin’ “).

Lighting: Eric A. Smith (”Nativity: A Christmas Gift,” Shona Sharif Dance and Drum Ensemble).

Sound: Mark Whitehead (”Christmas”).

Choreography: Ayisha A. Morgan-Lee (”Christmas”).


Best Play: “Two Trains Running.”

Director: Mark Clayton Southers (”Two Trains”).

Supporting Actor: Sala Udin (Holloway, “Two Trains”).

Leading Actor: Leslie “Ezra” Smith (Freeman, “Freeman,” New Horizon).

Supporting Actress: Teri Bridgett (Sister Louise, “Good Black Don’t Crack,” Kuntu Rep).

Leading Actress: Cheryl El-Walker (Teresa, “Freeman”).

Costume Design: Cheryl El-Walker (”Two Trains”).

Set Design: Mark Clayton Southers (”Two Trains”).

Set Construction: “Two Trains.”

Light Design: Marti Mott (”Good Black”).

Sound: Wayne Gaines (”Good Black”).

Ensemble: “Two Trains.”


Minority Actor: Jay Keenan (Shadrack McGinty, “James McBride,” Pittsburgh Playwrights).

Minority Actress: Theo Allyn, (Darby, “James McBride”).

Up and Coming Youth Actress: Sharnece Thomas (Risa, “Two Trains Running”).

Equity Actor: Anthony Chisholm (Memphis, “Two Trains”).

Equity Actress: Candice Smith (Layla, “Lavendar Lizards and Lilac Landmines: Layla’s Dream,” Kuntu Rep).


Best Actor: Kevin Brown.

Best Actress: Crystal Glover.

Best Play: “Good Black Don’t Crack.”

Best Musical: “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

– Christopher Rawson, Post-Gazette theater critic

2 Responses to “2008 Onyx Awards in the News!”

  1. Sabrina Says:

    You Go Sister Vickie!!!

  2. Exotic Fish for Sale Says:

    Exotic Fish for Sale…

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