On Jan. 27, 2003, the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle hosted its first Craig Noel Awards for Excellence in Theatre, honoring the top achievements in San Diego theater in 2002.

To celebrate the renaming of the awards in honor of Craig Noel, longtime artistic director of the Old Globe Theatre, the evening opened with a star-studded tribute to Craig, who sat center stage during the festivities and personally handed out all of the plaques that evening.

Among the speakers who shared personal stories and anecdotes about Craig’s career were Carnell Kirkeeng, one of Craig’s fellow actors from the 1940s; Old Globe staffers, past and present, Jim Mulvaney and Delza Martin; Critics Circle founder and San Diego historian Welton Jones; actors who’ve been directed by Craig over the years, Jonathan McMurtry and Priscilla Allen; and directors who he has mentored, James Saba and Jason Connors. Even Old Globe artistic director Jack O’Brien, who was unable to attend because he was in London, delivered a touching tribute to Craig via videotape.

Following the tribute, more than 50 awards were handed out in 20 categories:

Production
Pericles,
Old Globe Theatre
Travesties, North Coast Repertory Theatre
Wintertime, La Jolla Playhouse

Resident Musical
Ragtime, Moonlight Stage Productions
1776, Lamb’s Players Theatre

Special Event
Peter and Wendy, La Jolla Playhouse
Seven Weeks of Greeks, Linda Castro &  David S. Cohen

New Play
Nora Ephron, Imaginary Friends, Old Globe Theatre
Charles L. Mee, Wintertime, La Jolla Playhouse

Direction
Rosina Reynolds, The Caretaker, Renaissance Theatre Company
Darko Tresjnak, Pericles, Old Globe Theatre
Les Waters, Wintertime, La Jolla Playhouse

Performance, Female
Ivonne Coll, Adoration of the Old Woman, La Jolla Playhouse
Cherry Jones, Imaginary Friends, Old Globe Theatre
Robin Pearson Rose, All My Sons, Old Globe Theatre

Performance, Male
Ron Choularton, The Caretaker, Renaissance Theatre Company
Robert Petkoff, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Old Globe Theatre

Featured Performance, Male
Bryan Bevell, The Caretaker, Renaissance Theatre Company
John Getz, Tartuffe, La Jolla Playhouse
Bruce McKenzie, Wintertime, La Jolla Playhouse

Featured Performance, Female
Anna Belknap, Pericles, Old Globe Theatre
K.B. Mercer, Fifth of July, Diversionary Theatre

Performance in a Musical
Eric Anderson, Ragtime, Moonlight Stage Productions
Tom Stephenson, 1776, Lamb’s Players Theatre

Solo Performance
Karen Kandel, Peter and Wendy, La Jolla Playhouse

Ensemble
Pericles, Old Globe Theatre
Travesties, North Coast Repertory Theatre
Wintertime, La Jolla Playhouse

Choreography
Jean Isaacs, Wintertime, La Jolla Playhouse
Jerry Mitchell, Imaginary Friends, Old Globe Theatre

Touring Production
The Full Monty, Broadway/San Diego & director Jack O’Brien

Set Design
Robin Sanford Roberts, Betrayal, Old Globe Theatre
Annie Smart, Wintertime, La Jolla Playhouse
Michael Yeargan, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Old Globe Theatre

Sound Design
Matthew Spiro, Wintertime, La Jolla Playhouse

Lighting Design
David Lee Cuthbert, A Knife in the Heart, Sledgehammer Theatre
Mike Durst, Never the Sinner, Diversionary Theatre
York Kennedy, Pericles, Old Globe Theatre

Costume Design
Jess Goldstein, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Old Globe Theatre
Linda Cho, Pericles, Old Globe Theatre

Lyrics
Craig Carnelia, Imaginary Friends, Old Globe Theatre

Original Music
Johnny Cunningham, Peter and Wendy, La Jolla Playhouse
Gina Leishman, Feast of Fools, La Jolla Playhouse