News in Cortland NY

CRT Actor Brian Runbeck Wins SALT Award

Brian Runbeck wins SALT AwardIn photo: Brian Runbeck (right) as Oscar Wilde in CRT's "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde", with (l-r) Dale Young and Joel Pellini.

Brian Runbeck, who starred in the title role in Cortland Repertory Theatre’s production of “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” last summer is the recipient of the Syracuse Area Live Theatre (SALT) Award for Best Actor of the Summer Season. The SALT Awards recognize outstanding achievement in Central New York theatre productions over the past year. Hosted by the Syracuse New Times, the awards ceremony was held at the Palace Theatre in Syracuse on Sunday, April 26. Primarily an evening for community theatres in Syracuse, this is the sixth year that the awards have included a category for summer theatres, which besides CRT includes the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca and the Merry Go Round Playhouse in Auburn.

Written by Moisés Kaufman, “Gross Indecency” uses trial transcripts, personal correspondence, interviews and other source materials to dramatize the downfall of Oscar Wilde, who endured three court trials for “gross indecency with male persons”. Wilde was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment at hard labor, which eventually led to his death. In a written acceptance speech, Runbeck said that he was “deeply honored to be recognized for what was arguably one the most challenging roles of my career. In the process, I found a much greater appreciation for the wit and intellect of Oscar Wilde.” Runbeck thanked director Bill Kincaid who “enabled his actors to create freely and experiment outside the box. He somehow combines it all into a cohesive production, and working with him is an exhilarating joy.” Runbeck also said he shared the award with “a truly ensemble cast that mixed four 40-something actors with five college-aged interns; both groups had plenty to learn from the other.” Finally, he thanked the staff and crew at CRT “for caring so deeply about what they do and accomplishing so much in so little time” and Producing Artistic Director Kerby Thompson, “a very close friend for too many years”, for his friendship, belief and providing him with many performing opportunities at CRT.

Other nominees in the category included two other CRT actors, Dustin Charles for “Unnecessary Farce” and Dominick Varney for “Damn Yankees”, as well as Kevin Carolan in Hangar’s production of “Dirty Blonde”. CRT was also nominated for Best Summer Production with “Gross Indecency” and “Unnecessary Farce”. The winner in the category went to the Hangar’s production of “Rent”. Best Actress of the Summer Season went to former 2008 CRT intern Catherine Stephanie who starred as Maureen in Hangar’s “Rent”. Other nominees and winner can be seen at www.saltawards.net.