Shakespeare & Company actress Elizabeth Aspenlieder Wins 2009 Elliot Norton Award

Posted May 12, 2009

Saluted for ‘outstanding solo performance’

{Lenox, Mass.}—Shakespeare & Company actress Elizabeth Aspenlieder won the Elliot Norton Award for “Outstanding Solo Performance” for her performance in Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates at Shakespeare & Company and Merrimack Repertory Company this winter, at a ceremony held last night at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre. The award was presented by actress Paula Plum. Academy Award-winner Al Pacino opened the evening by accepting an award saluting the late Paul Benedict’s “indelible presence” on the Boston theatre scene.

Adrianne Krstansky directed Bad Dates, which composed S&Co.’s first-ever winter season and stormed to great Box Office and critical success. Wall Street Journal theatre critic Terry Teachout wrote of Bad Dates that Aspenlieder pulled off an “improbable act of theatrical alchemy” and her “zany acting is part of what makes Shakespeare & Company the best theater troupe in the Berkshires.” She was previously named the “Stage Comedienne of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal in 2007 for her role as Natasha Navratalova in Shakespeare & Company’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Rough Crossing.

“I wake up every day surprised and happy to be doing what I love doing, which is acting—but in close second is living here in the Berkshires and working with Shakespeare & Company – so I also feel incredibly lucky about where I’m doing what I love.” Aspenlieder says.

“To be recognized amongst such a distinguished and ‘out of the ball park’ talented group of artists and fellow nominees is not only a great honor, but deeply humbling. The offer to play Haley in Theresa Rebeck’s irreverent, funny, dark, poignant and oh so human, Bad Dates was such a gift—and to be directed by Adrianne Krstansky was the topping on an already delicious feast. My beacon, my audience, my critic, my cheer-leading squad, my best girlfriend and touchstone, Adrianne was the singular influence on my work in this production, in which she brought such integrity and heart. I again want to thank the Boston Critics Association and the Elliot Norton Award committee for this great honor and also to acknowledge the support, guidance, inspiration and friendship of Tina Packer, Dennis Krausnick, Kevin Coleman, Tony Simotes, Nicholas J. Puma, Annette Miller, Molly Hennighausen (my fearless stage manager), Charles Towers and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and the endless list of talented designers who worked on the show, and the artists and friends I have worked with here at Shakespeare & Company. I feel like I maybe this time I might have made it into the ball park.”

The Elliot Norton Awards are the highest honor bestowed for theatre work in Greater Boston. Previous S&Co. artists to receive this distinction include Packer, who was awarded the Elliot Norton Medal in 2001, and Annette Miller, who won for “Outstanding Solo Performance” in 2003 for the world-premiere of Golda’s Balcony.

The award comes as Shakespeare & Company is set to kick off its busiest season in a decade with Romeo and Juliet on May 21, followed by Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer’s reprise of the titular role in all-time audience favorite Shirley Valentine on May 27. . Later this season, Aspenlieder appears in Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons), directed by S&Co. Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer and opening at the Bernstein Theatre in January 2010. Aspenlieder, who is entering her fifteen season at S&Co., also serves as Interim Communications Director and Director of Publicity & Playbill Advertising.

Elizabeth Aspenlieder fifteenth season (Madame de Mertuille in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. S&Co: Bad Dates (Haley Walker), Othello (Bianca), The Ladies Man (Suzanne Aubanne), Rough Crossing (Natasha), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Mistress Ford); Ice Glen world-premiere (Dulce); The Comedy of Errors (Adrianna), Much Ado About Nothing (Margaret), King Lear (Regan), Ethan Frome world-premiere (Mattie), The Valley of Decision world-premiere (Fulvia), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia), A Tanglewood Tale world-premiere (Sophia), Twelfth Night (Antonia), Richard III (Anne), All’s Well That Ends Well (Helena), Wit (Susie), The Winter’s Tale (Perdita), Mercy world-premiere (Annie), Much Ado About Nothing (Ursula), and Pericles (Thaisa/Diana). Regional: Merrimack Repertory Company: Bad Dates, Boston Theatre Works: Angels in America (Angel/Nurse) and Emilia (Othello); Mixed Company: Ten Minutes in the Berkshires Play Festival(s). Canada: Eccentricities of a Nightingale (Alma), Brighton Beach Memoirs (Nora), Fifth of July (Shirley). Independent Films: Trigger Finger; Seriously Twisted. Elizabeth also provides the voices for commercials and animated features.

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