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Theater critics to present Norton Prize

Susan Saccoccia | 5/19/2016, 6 a.m.

Boston holds its own version of Broadway’s Tony Awards on Monday, May 23 at 7 p.m., when the Boston Theater Critics Association hosts its annual celebration of Boston’s live theater scene.

Held at Boston’s Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre, the 34th Annual Elliot Norton Awards will present the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence to Steven Maler, founding artistic director if Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, which for 19 summers has transformed the Boston Common into a free public arena for memorable Shakespeare productions.

Both the event and its award are named in honor of eminent Boston theater critic Elliot Norton, who remained a vigorous advocate of theater until his death in 2003 at age 100.

Tony and Drama Desk Award- winning actress Mary Louise Wilson will be Guest of Honor at the event, which honors the individuals and teams whose talents have animated the stages of Greater Boston throughout the year.

Just as the annual Tony Awards celebration presents excerpts from Broadway shows, each year’s Norton Awards night features live performances by the casts of selected shows, offering audiences a showcase of the depth and variety of these talents.

Nominees are selected and prizes awarded in 26 categories, including Outstanding Visiting Production; Outstanding Productions by Large, Midsize, Small, and Fringe Theaters; and Outstanding Musical Production by both large and smaller theaters.

Other awards recognize set designers, actors and actresses, directors, playwrights and ensembles.

Nominees include “Violet,” a production of the SpeakEasy Stage Company; actor Will Lyman, who played the title role in “King Lear” in last summer’s Commonwealth Shakespeare Company production on Boston Common; and actress Anita Gillette, in “A Confederacy of Dunces,” at Huntington Theatre Company. All three productions were reviewed favorably in this newspaper.