by Misha Berson
Seattle Times theater critic

The Seattle theater world feted its own on Monday night, at the annual Gregory Awards ceremony sponsored by Theatre Puget Sound, a service organization for local theater artists and companies. The gala took place at ACT Theatre.

Azeotrope’s staging of “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,” a taut prison drama by Stephen Adly Guirgis, was named best show of the 2011-12 season, and won for best direction (by Desdemona Chiang) and set design (Deanna Zibello). It was presented at ACT Theatre, honored with a Gregory as the area’s best theater for the third consecutive year.

Wayne Rawley’s “Live! From the Last Night of My Life” was named best new play, and its cast member Ryan Higgins as best actor. The best actress honor went to Kirsten Potter, as star of “Or,” at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was on hand to help announce the first recipient of the new Melissa Hines Award. Named after the esteemed theater administrator and Mayor’s Office for Arts & Cultural Affairs staffer who died in 2011, the prize honors “unsung” heroes in the local drama scene. It went to John Bradshaw, manager of the Seattle Shakespeare Company.

The 12th annual Gregory Falls Award, a lifetime achievement prize named for the late founder of ACT Theatre, was bestowed on versatile Seattle actor R. Hamilton Wright, for his 30-plus years on local stages.

Finalists for most categories of the Gregory honors were chosen by a 60-member nominating committee composed mainly of theater professionals. The TPS membership then decided the awards by voting on the finalists.

For a complete list of Gregory Awards winners, check