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Actress Elizabeth Aspenlieder, star of the one-woman hit comedy, Bad Dates, which ran at Merrimack Repertory Theatre from March 19 to April 12, 2009, took home the award for Outstanding Solo Performance at the 27th Annual Elliot Norton Awards last night, May 11, at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.  Originally produced by Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA earlier this year,Bad Dates transferred to Merrimack Rep in March, where it ran for four very successful weeks and played to packed houses.  Bad Dates became Merrimack Rep’s 11th highest grossing production in its 30-year history.  When combined with the Company’s recent IRNE Awards, Ms. Aspenlieder’s Elliot Norton marks the fifth time in the past year that local reviewers have recognized a Merrimack Rep actor for an outstanding performance on the Liberty Hall stage.

The Elliot Norton Awards, now in their 27th year, recognize excellence in Greater Boston Theatre.  The awards, which are presented by the Boston Theater Critics Association, were founded in honor of Elliot Norton, who served as drama critic for Boston newspapers for forty-eight years and as moderator of Elliot Norton Reviews on WGBH-TV from 1958-1982.  At the event, actor Al Pacino accepted a Special Elliot Norton Award honoring the late Paul Benedict.  A complete list of winners can be foundhere.

Bad Dates was originally sponsored by Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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