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The Barrymore Awards are back and better than ever


Back in February, over 950 local theater artists, educators, donors, arts administrators and audience members weighed in via survey whether The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, the annual award ceremony recognizing the achievements of the most deserving theater companies, actors, artists and productions in the region, should be revived.

For those who don’t know, the ceremony was canceled after 18 years when the presenting organization, the Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, went under in 2012. Hardly shocking, nearly 90 percent of the survey respondents agreed that the show must go on. The more shocking piece of news is that their wish has been officially granted.

During a town hall meeting at the Walnut Street Theatre late yesterday afternoon, Theatre Philadelphia, the coalition formed after the Theatre Alliance’s demise, announced that not only will the Barrymores be returning for the 2013-2014 season, but they’ll be accompanied by a new, more manageable voting system.

“The Board of Theatre Philadelphia wholeheartedly agreed with the results of the community survey and is eager to bring back an event that celebrates the excellence of the work created here,” said Theatre Philadelphia Board President Kevin Glaccum in a statement.

Per the revised voting system, judges will now only be required to see 50-60 productions each season, as opposed to the previous 90-100 shows, thus allowing more theater professionals to serve. In addition, creating more of a consensus vote rather than a cut and dry “most points wins” approach, judges will now meet quarterly to discuss the shows they’ve seen and what they did or didn’t like.

Makes sense to me. You wouldn’t want the members of a jury to deliberate the facts of a trial alone, would ya? These are some pretty prestigious awards at stake. Plus, this announcement isn’t just good news for a few lone shining stars. The Barrymores are a celebration of Philadelphia’s top-notch and ever-growing theater community as a whole. And we’ve got some really amazing talent here.

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