A scene from the “Ballad of Emmett Till” at Ion Theatre in Hillcrest.

The Ballad of Emmett Till” by ion theatre took top honors when the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle honored local theatre at the 16th annual Craig Noel Awards for Theatrical Excellence.

The ceremony at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation on Monday drew nearly 500 people, many of whom wore black clothes and/or white roses in solidarity with the #MeToo movement.

The evening’s most honored productions were “The Battle of Emmett Till” with four awards and “In the Heights” at Moonlight Stage Productions with three awards. Cygnet Theatre and ion theatre were big winners, with four awards each.

The actors of the year, recognized for multiple, wide-ranging performances during 2017, were Jennifer Paredes and Cortez L. Johnson.

The complete list of winners:

Outstanding Dramatic Production
“The Ballad of Emmett Till” — ion theatre

Outstanding Resident Musical
“In The Heights” — Moonlight Stage Productions

Outstanding New Musical
“Tarrytown” by Adam Wachter — Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company

Outstanding New Play & Performing Arts LIVE Prize
“Ballast” by Georgette Kelly — Diversionary Theatre

Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Small Theater
OnStage Playhouse, Chula Vista

Actor of the Year, Female
Jennifer Paredes

Actor of the Year, Male
Cortez L. Johnson

Outstanding Young Artist — Sandra Ellis-Troy Award
Scotty Atienza

Outstanding Special Event
“8 Songs for a Mad King,” Bodhi Tree Concerts, San Diego International Fringe Festival

Outstanding Touring Production
“An American in Paris” — Broadway San Diego

Outstanding Direction of a Play

  • Yolanda Marie Franklin & Claudio Raygoza — “The Ballad of Emmett Till,” ion theatre
  • Christy Yael-Cox – “Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3,” Intrepid Theatre

Outstanding Direction of a Musical
James Vasquez — “In the Heights,” Moonlight Stage Productions

Outstanding Musical Direction
Elan McMahan — “In the Heights,” Moonlight Stage Productions

Outstanding Choreography
Carlos Mendoza — “In the Heights,” Moonlight Stage Productions

Outstanding Ensemble
“The Ballad of Emmett Till” — ion theatre

Outstanding Solo Performance

  • James Lecesne — “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” The Old Globe
  • Shana Wride — “2.5 Minute Ride,” Diversionary Theatre

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical, Male
Richard Bermudez — “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” Welk Resort Theatre

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical, Female
Minka Wiltz — “Black Pearl Sings,” San Diego Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical, Female
Cashae Monya — “Cabaret,” ion theatre

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical, Male
Randall Hickman — “The Little Mermaid,” Moonlight Stage Productions

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play, Female
DeAnna Driscoll – “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” Cygnet Theatre

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play, Male
Caleb Foote — “Hand to God,” San Diego Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play, Female
Annie Hinton — “Well,” Diversionary Theatre

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play, Male
Tom Stephenson — “Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3,” Intrepid Theatre

Outstanding Scenic Design
Sean Fanning — “On the 20th Century,” Cygnet Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design
Joanna Lynne Staub — “Wild Goose Dreams,” La Jolla Playhouse

Outstanding Costume Design
Shirley Pierson — “Shockheaded Peter,” Cygnet Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design
Conor Mulligan — “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” Cygnet Theatre

Outstanding Projection Design
Michael McKeon — “Silent Sky,” Lamb’s Players Theatre

Founded in 1983 and re-established in 2002, the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle is an independent, nonprofit organization of print and online theater critics dedicated to open and honest dialogue about theater in San Diego County and to honoring artistic excellence.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.