Megan Follows in Nightwood's Penelopiad (photo: Robert Popkin)
It's 9:45 AM in Rehearsal Studio A in The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre
A crowded slate for TAPA
by Jasmine Chen
It's 9:45 AM and already Rehearsal Studio A in The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is bustling with artistic directors, arts administrators, city councillors, choreographers, and representatives from the rich variety of theatre companies across the city. Excited chatter fills the room as colleagues catch up with one another over coffee and mini muffins. There are so many people here that there aren't even enough chairs, but the mood is jovial and there is a sense of anticipation for the coming announcements. Ten o clock rolls around and we are asked to take our seats. We soon learn that this year 116 producing companies registered 212 eligible productions for a total of 169 nominations!
Highlights from yesterday's press conference include a speech from city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam who expressed her own love for music and theatre. She thanked artists for their work that continues to make Toronto a better city. Ms. Wong-Tam also had another reason for being present, she came to represent Mayor Rob Ford in presenting a proclamation making June 25 Dora Day. The first award given out was the Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award which recognizes a Canadian artist who demonstrates excellence in the performing arts and is dedicated to advocating and being an ambassador for the arts in Canada. This year's recipient was Richard Rose, whom most know as the current Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre. Rose has directed countless productions at Tarragon, Canadian Stage, The Stratford Shakespeare Festival , NAC, and across the country. He was the founder of Necessary Angel Theatre Company, and has fostered many Canadian playwrights through his play development programs. Needless to say, when Richard received his award he was met with a standing ovation from the room. His acceptance speech was full of gratitude and he apologized for having to leave early; it was his first day of rehearsal for A Midsummer Night's Dream at Canadian Stage and he couldn't keep his actors waiting! Leslie Lester was then honoured with the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award, recognizing her exceptional commitment to the performing arts in arts administration. Lester has worked as a producer for VideoCabaret (12 Dora Wins, 20 Dora nods); Nightwood Theatre; and Executive Director of Soulpepper, being instrumental in the creation of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Next, Ruth Howard was awarded The George Luscombe Award for Mentorship. Howard is the founding artistic director of Jumblies Theatre, and has been working since 2001 bringing theatre to different communities in Toronto. Jumblies focuses on mentorship and professional development. Although she was unable to be present for the ceremony, her award was accepted by someone whom she had mentored and her acceptance was read from an email message.
Jean Yoon and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee
in Soulpepper's Kim's Convenience
(Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)
Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram, founding members of National Theatre of the World and Second City veterans announced the nominations and apologized in advance if they brutally mispronounced anyone's names. In the General Theatre Production Division, Tarragon Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraille lead with 8 nods each; Soulpepper close behind with 7 nods, including several for Ins Choi's Kim's Convenience which was nominated for Outstanding New Play. Nightwood also ranked high with 6 nominations for The Penelopiad. Top Dog Underdog, War Horse, and The Golden Dragon tied with 4 nominations each. Kimberly Purtell dominates the Outstanding Lighting Design category with 3 out of 5 nominations. The Canadian Opera Company received 7 nominations in the General Theatre Production Division and went on to garner 7 more in the Opera Division. SVADBA-Wedding produced by Queen of Puddings Music Theatre earned 5 nods.
Theatre Columbus' The Story, Theatre Smash's The Ugly One, and Ahuri Theatre's A Fool's Life all garnered 6 nominations in the Independent Theatre Production Division. I was happy to see Clown duo Morro and Jasp: Go Bake Yourself earn 3 nominations, it's not everyday that clowns get recognized in awards shows. Interestingly, the nominees for Outstanding Performance by a Male/Female were all from different productions other than the top 3 in the division. VideoCabaret's The Life and Times of Mackenzie King and Independent Artists Repertory Theatre 's His Greatness garnered 5 nods each.
In the Musical Theatre Division, a whopping 11 nominations went to Acting Up Stage Company's (in association with Obsidian Theatre) Caroline, or Change. Six of those nominations were for Outstanding Performance by a Male/Female. Young Peoples Theatre's Seussical earned 6 nominations.
In the Dance Division, both dance productions presented by Canadian Stage this year, Orpheus & Eurydice and Dark Matters gained nominations in the Outstanding Production category. Gadfly's Klorofyl earned 3 nods in total.
For the Theatre for Young Audiences Division, The Neverending Story and Tough Case recieved 2 nods each, giving Roseneath Theatre 4 nominations.
The 33rd Dora Mavor Moore Awards are happening on June 25th at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Don't forget to vote for the Audience Choice Award online at nowtoronto.com! Polls open Thursday June 7 and close at midnight on Wednesday June 2oth. The Awards show will be hosted by Thom Allison.