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More than just the usual suspects at local drama love-in

Awards Ceremony

It was all about spreading the love around at Monday night's Drammy Awards, the annual gala honoring Portland's theater community and its work.

Since the Drammy Committee did away with the Oscar-style, winner-take-all format in 1999, says Chairman Steve Smith, the event has become less of a contest and more of a celebration, handing out multiple awards in a number of categories.

The heavyweights made their presence felt, with Portland Center Stage gathering eight trophies and Artists Repertory Theatre taking four. But the recognition spilled into every corner of McMenamins Crystal Ballroom and the Portland theater world.

Oregon Children's Theatre and Northwest Children's Theater won two Drammies each, although youth was perhaps best served by Gracie Starr's Young Performer award for Coho Productions' tragedy 'By the Bog of Cats.' The grade schooler leaped onto her mother's lap after winning.

The Latino-oriented Miracle Theatre Mainstage captured four awards, including a lead-actor award for Andrés Alcalá's one-man 'Men on the Verge 2,' and tiny Defunkt Theatre took two more, for direction and costume design.

Companies that bring splashy musicals to the suburbs made out well, with Tigard 's Broadway Rose Theatre Company scooping up seven trophies.

But for the second straight year, the biggest buzz was generated by Third Rail Repertory Company, the talent-laden troupe that dominated the same proceedings last year by winning five awards with its first-ever production.

Before winning a best director award for the second straight year, Third Rail Artistic Director Slayden Scott talked about how success can place a bull's-eye on an artist's back.

'We don't want to be the guys who have to be brought down,' he said.

But when the company took home two more of the night's biggest prizes - for lead actor Tim True in 'The Lonesome West' and a production award for the play, which closes this week; call 503-235-1101 - the only thing hitting Scott's target were backslaps and energetic hugs.

'I don't feel it right now,' he said. 'I'm pretty stunned.'

See a complete list of Drammy winners at www.drammy.info/current.html.