History of the Suzi’s
In 2003, Atlanta’s vibrant professional theatre struggled to attract a local audience and had virtually no national attention. Atlanta needed a culture of theatre awareness, where patrons attended shows at more than one theatre and enjoyed discussing the relative qualities of theatrical production and artists. A group of theatre professionals decided that an annual Awards program would improve visibility for theatres and artists. The Atlanta theatre had just lost one of its stars, Suzi Bass, to cancer at the height of her stage and screen career. Considering Suzis dedication to professional theatre, her service to her fellow artists through the performers’ unions, and her popularity with local theatre patrons and producers, it seemed natural to name the awards after her.
At the first awards event in 2005, we introduced the Spirit of Suzi Award, given each year to a person or organization whose long-term commitment to Atlanta theatre embodies the qualities Suzi Bass was known for. Past recipients of the Spirit Award include the Center for Puppetry Arts; Kenny Leon, Artistic Director of True Colors Theatre Company; Karen Howell, actor and long-time Chair of the Atlanta Liaison Committee of Actors’ Equity Association; Rosemary Newcott of the Alliance Theatre; Lois Reitzes of WABE; and Jerry’s Habima Theatre of The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, a troupe pairing professional actors with adult actors with developmental disabilities.We introduced the performance awards (The Suzis) in 2006 and now award artists in 32 categories including acting, directing, design, choreography and musical direction in both plays and musicals.
The annual Suzi Bass Awards event, held at various venues through the years, enjoyed an audience of approximately 400 people last year. The Awards have been dubbed “the best theatre party in Atlanta” by press and audiences. Even more exciting: our Suzi caricature logo and name are widely known among local audiences and theatre artists nationwide.
The Suzi Bass Awards has grown from a small group of dedicated volunteers to a much larger organization with volunteers, an active Board of Directors, and over 40 volunteer Judges, who see and rate more than of 70 professional productions each year. As the organization grows, we continue to see positive effects from our programs. Most notably, the awards have generated national, industry-wide coverage for nominated artists and theatres, especially in theatre E-zines like Broadway.com and Playbill.com. Our nominees put their honors in production bios around the country and report that producers are impressed by a Suzi Award or Suzi Nomination.
Here in Atlanta, the Suzi Awards host seminars and theatre artist panel discussions for our Judges and the general public. Our programs increase visibility and press coverage for theatre in general and professional companies in particular. Exposure for Suzi eligible productions continue throughout the season and increase as Suzi Nominations are announced and the Awards event approaches. Best of all, the Awards get people talking about theatre again, become more likely to notice theatre marketing for productions, and purchase a ticket for a play!
2018 Winner for Outstanding Supporting Actor/Female – Play. Carolyn Cook for Citizen’s Market. Horizon Theatre
The Suzi Bass Awards Board of Directors
Cherie Caldwell, Chair
Kate Warner, Vice-Chair
Randy Harris, Secretary
Cathy Adams, Treasurer
Karen Howell, Executive Director
Dave Paule, Ex-Officio
Beverly Trader Austin, Dianne Butler, Cynde Collins,
Jenny Costantino, Karen Dillard, Beth Keller, Ann McMikel, Kelly Parry, Brenda Porter, Toni Ruth Rivers, Susan Stiefel,