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The Play’s The Thing: APAC earns deserved outer-borough love at IT awards

I was part of an enthusiastic crowd gathered for the Sixth Annual New York Innovative Theatre Awards last week in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. This was billed as the Off Off Broadway theater community’s biggest night, when some 17 “IT” awards for achievement and three honorary awards were given out.

And lo and behold, although these awards go almost exclusively to downtown Manhattan theater, the Astoria Performing Arts Center, right here in Queens, won for Outstanding Production of a Musical, as did their Michael P. Kramer for Outstanding Set Design, at the Sept. 20 ceremony.

Both of these awards were for “Children of Eden,” the musical by Stephen Schwartz (best known for “Wicked”), somewhat based on the “In the beginning...” story of the Book of Genesis. APAC has been on the receiving end of some IT nominations in the past, but this is the first time that they have won the big one. (Another nomination went to a featured actor in a production of Sofia Landon Geier’s Unity Stage Company in Sunnyside, and a couple to Brooklyn’s The Gallery Players, but other than that, the recipients were strictly below 34th Street.)

APAC has been around for 10 years at a few different locations in Astoria, but now performs at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church on Crescent Street. For the last five years Taryn Drongowski has been its executive director, and more recently, Tom Wojtunik its artistic director (he also directed “Children of Eden”). By the way, it’s not true that to be a big wheel at APAC you have to have a name that’s difficult to spell and almost impossible to pronounce, but it helps.

Coming up at APAC Oct. 28 through Nov. 13 is “MilkMilkLemonade,” a new dark comedy by Joshua Conkel that premiered at the Under St. Mark’s theater last year. It’s been described as bitterly funny and broadly satiric, and features a talking chicken. APAC says that no one under 16 will be allowed in, so all you adults out there better hurry to book your tickets before it’s too late at www.apacny.org or 718-706-5750.

If you’re a local theater company, look into submitting your work for New York Innovative Theatre consideration. They must be doing something right, since they even have an award for Outstanding Stage Manager.

Contact Ron Hellman at rbh24@Columbia.edu.

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