My Theatre

12 January 2017

The 2016 Nominee Interview Series

By // Theatre

Welcome to the 2016 Nominee Interview Series.

Over the next few months we’ll be posting exclusive Q&As with dozens of the artists nominated for this year’s MyTheatre, MyTV and MyCinema Awards. Keep your eyes on this page for the ever-updating list as the series progresses and we get closer to the winners announcement on April 10th.

Here’s the list of published interviews so far:

Lisa Berry
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actress, Father Comes Home From The Wars
The beautiful, prolific and formidable Lisa Berry scored her second MyTheatre Award nomination this year for her performance as Penny in Soulpepper’s standout production of the season. We caught up with her as she headed into rehearsals for a much-anticipated Shaw season.

Alec Toller
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Direction, Wasteland/New Work, Slip
Writer/director Alec Toller is directly or indirectly responsible for more MyTheatre Award nominations this year than any other single artist. He’s nominated for Outstanding Direction for Sex T-Rex’s hit Fringe show Wasteland and for Outstanding New Work for Slip, which he co-created and directed with his company Circlesnake Productions. Slip is also nominated for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Actress (Alex Paxton-Beesley) while Alec’s other 2016 project The Queen’s Conjuror scored an Outstanding Ensemble nod.

Dame Judy Dench
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Sketch/Improv Performance, Everything Else Was Sold Out 
Clever, quirky and insightful sketch troupe Dame Judy Dench is nominated for the second year in a row. Combining the unique voices of Shannon Lahaie, Jessica Greco, Chris Leveille, Gavin Pounds and Claire Farmer, the group’s delightful Fringe show earned one of only a handful of A grades from our reviewers at the festival.

Keira Loughran
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Direction, The Aeneid
Canada’s biggest and most famous theatre company- The Stratford Festival- sometimes gets bogged down by its traditional style and aging demographics. Keira Loughran rejected all of the stodginess that plagues the festival with her bold, physical, diverse and politically relevant version of The Aeneid, breathing the freshest of air into the season.

Meghan Greeley
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actress, Richard III
Meghan Greeley is nominated for playing a snake in a Shakespeare play. Sort of. That’s not a metaphor, but it’s also a metaphor. Wolf Manor Theatre Collective’s Richard III was set in the animal kingdom where Meghan’s cut-throat but deeply human Buckingham maneuvered her way to power while never fully letting on that she was the powerful one.

Hugh Ritchie
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Into the Woods
Hugh Ritchie as Cinderella’s Prince might have been the most perfect piece of casting all year in Toronto theatre. In Hart House’s excellent production of Into the Woods, Hugh combined winking swagger with his brilliant vocal chops to perfect “charming not sincere” effect.

James Wallis
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actor, Hamlet
James Wallis has been nominated for a MyTheatre Award 4 out of the last 5 years for directing and acting with his company Shakespeare Bash’d. Known for bare-bones, text-focused productions staged in local bars, Bash’d is one of the most succesful indie Shakespeare producers in the city with a dependable stable of artists highlighted by James as Artistic Director and, sometimes, leading man.

Rob Kempson
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding New Work, Mockingbird
We reviewed writer/director Rob Kempson’s nominated play at the Next Stage Theatre Festival only 6 days into the new year. It was the first production to be placed on the potential nominee list and stayed at the top of that list for nearly a full year as the rest of 2016 played out. We finally got to ask Rob about the hilarious, heartfelt and morally complex second instalment of his Graduation Plays series just as the third instalment is about to hit the Factory Theatre stage.

Brenda Robins
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, Noises Off
Brenda Robins is a Canadian theatre gem and Soulpepper stalwart whose performances always stand out for their specificity and energy. In Noises Off, Brenda stole the show with a quirk-tastic turn as frazzled actress Dotty Otley who can’t for the life of her remember if she is supposed to take or leave the sardines when she exits.

Dion Johnstone
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actor, Father Comes Home From The Wars
Dion Johnstone is one of our favourite actors anywhere, stepping out as a star at Stratford right around the time this site was getting started. He won a MyTheatre Award for his performance as Caliban the first year we gave them out (2010) and has been nominated three times since, including this year for Soulpepper’s brilliant production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ multi-part epic.

Raquel Duffy
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine
Soulpepper Resident Artist Raquel Duffy is one of the most consistently wonderful performers in Toronto theatre. In a season where she took on three different physical comedy roles, the heart and humanity she brought to the creative clowning in The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine was second to none.

Alex Paxton-Beesley
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding New Work/Actress, Slip
A familiar face from CBC TV hits like Murdoch Mysteries and Pure, Alex Paxton-Beesley returned to theatre to co-create and star in Circlesnake Productions’ smart/funny/sad detective story Slip. It’s being remounted at the Tarragon Workspace starting March 23rd and Alex’s mesmerizing performance is one of the best reasons not to miss it.

Daniel Karasik
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding New Work, On Top
Arguably the most controversial figure in Toronto theatre, Daniel’s provocative online persona informed his nominated play On Top inescapably. We asked him about the controversies that inspired him and he answered, verbosely and bluntly as is the Karasik way.

Anna Chatterton
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, Gertrude and Alice
Anna Chatterton is a different kind of triple threat: as a librettist, playwright, and actor, she is a force to be reckoned with. She brought much of that talent to her portrayal of another force- the quiet but witty Alice B. Toklas in the hilarious and heartbreaking play Gertrude and Alice (created by The Independent Aunties), snagging herself a nomination for Outstanding Actress in the process.

David Korins
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set Design, Norma
David Korins may be nominated this year for his work with the Canadian Opera Company but you don’t have to know opera to know him. He’s designed for Kanye West concerts, live TV events, restaurants, films, a Picasso exhibit, and tons of hit Broadway shows including something called Hamilton.

Sophia Anne Caruso
MyTheatre (NYC): Best Supporting Actress (Musical), Lazarus
Despite her young age (15), Sophia Anne Caruso has developed a diverse and impressive body of work, with her most recent stage appearance in David Bowie’s musical Lazarus opposite Michael C. Hall garnering accolades and critical praise, including a MyTheatre Award nomination. We caught up with Sophia just after Lazarus closed, following a successful run on the West End.

Jonathan Tan
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Seussical
I once described Jonathan Tan as a Disney Prince and every time I see him onstage (especially when he gets to sing), I double down on that opinion (in a good way, not in a two-dimensional way). In SeussicalJon paired that same charm, energy, and quick wit with a troublemaking edge to bring to life a different kind of childhood icon- the Cat in the Hat.

Andre Sills
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actor, “Master Harold” … and the Boys/Ensemble, Pomona
Andre Sills delivered one of the definitive performances of 2016 as Sam in “Master Harold”… and the Boys, first at the Shaw Festival then in a second run in Toronto (co-produced with Obsidian Theatre). Then he returned to ARC where he’s a resident company member and earned his second nomination of the year with the rest of the cast of the dystopian thriller Pomona.

James Daly
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, “Master Harold” … and the Boys
“Master Harold” … and the Boys (co-produced by the Shaw Festival and Obsidian Theatre Company) was a heavy, wordy three-hander with a ton of weight falling onto the shoulders of James Daly in only his second year at Shaw. As the naive “Master Harold”, James beautifully captured how an ugly society can make us ugly ourselves.

Marla McLean
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actress, Uncle Vanya
There are many reasons to make the trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake to visit the Shaw Festival; the opportunity to see Marla McLean perform is one of the very best of those reasons. Natural, empathetic, and preternaturally versatile, the addition of Marla to any production instantly elevates it- a theory that was put to the test when she was called at the last minute to step into Jackie Maxwell’s production of Uncle Vanya after an illness sidelined the actress originally cast as Sonya. 

Christine Goerke
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Opera Performance, Siegfried
Christine Goerke is the world’s new great Brünnhilde, making her debut in arguably opera’s most iconic role with the Canadian Opera Company’s 2015 Die Walküre and nominated this year for the second part of the character’s story- Siegfried. We caught up with her as she wrapped up the third instalment (Götterdämmerung) to talk about the task of finding humanity in the gods.

Jane Archibald
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Opera Performance, Ariodante
Canadian Opera Company favourite (and newly minted Resident Artist) Jane Archibald is nominated for her second MyTheatre Award for her brilliantly sung and refreshingly strong, contemporary take on mistreated ingenue Ginevra in Handel’s Ariodante. We caught up with the gorgeous soprano just after her exciting residency was announced to talk about her extraordinary 2016 and what’s coming up next.

William Yong
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Direction, Comfort
Dancer/choreographer William Yong is nominated for the first play he ever directed- Diana Tso’s Comfort. Red Snow Collective’s examination of the treatment of women in Asia during World War II incorporated elements of music, dance and martial arts and earned two acting nominations in addition to William’s directing nod.

Michael Musi
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, Late Night
Michael played frantic intern Davey in Theatre Brouhaha’s TV/theatre mashup Late Night with ZoomerLive. We talked to him to find out how the complicated play got on its feet, which late night host he’d be willing to intern for in order to play with puppies, and why he hates Danny Pagett.

Neil McPherson
MyTheatre (London): Best Original Work, It Is Easy To Be Dead
Neil McPherson is Artistic Director of the Finborough Theatre and the writer behind It Is Easy To Be Dead, a play which follows the life of war poet, Charles Hamilton Sorley, during the First World War.

Jesse Nerenberg
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, Hamlet
A twotime MyTheatre Award winner, indie Shakespeare stalwart Jesse Nerenberg is nominated again this year for his role as Horatio in Shakespeare Bash’d’s Hamlet at the Monarch Tavern.

Toby Peach
MyTheatre (London): Best Original Work, The Eulogy of Toby Peach
The Eulogy of Toby Peach tells the true story of its creator/star’s battle with cancer at a young age. The solo show was a wild success and Toby has since been touring the UK telling his story to as many people as possible, including a stop at London’s Vault Festival which earned him his nomination this year.

Michael Rinaldi
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Sound Design, Quiver
Anna Chatterton’s solo show Quiver incorporates live sound effects created and recorded and cued onstage by the performer making the role of Outstanding Sound Design nominee Michael Rinaldi one of the most unique design challenges of a season full of unique design challenges. We chatted with Michael about working with Anna to unlock all the potential in the tiny vocal effects box the show rested on.

Marcus Nance
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Sweeney Todd
Marcus Nance has one of the most memorable voices in Canadian musical theatre- a rich bass that could charm just about anybody (which comes in handy because he always seems to be playing the most dastardly of villains). We caught up with Marcus to look back on last summer as he prepared to move to Stratford to begin rehearsals for what’s next.

Sondra Radvanovsky
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Opera Performance, Norma
Sondra Radvanovsky is one of the world’s most renowned sopranos. She received her second Outstanding Opera Performance MyTheatre Award nomination for her glorious bel canto performance in Norma with the Canadian Opera Company. She took the time amidst preparing to debut a new role to look back at Norma and her time on the Four Seasons Centre stage and its burning pyre.

Debashis Sinha
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Sound Design, Breath of Kings
Prolific sound designer and composer Debashis Sinha is nominated for the third time in two years for his stirring and complex work on Stratford’s epic Breath of Kings. We caught up with him to discuss his latest Outstanding Sound Design nomination (shared with lighting designer Kimberly Purtell) and he gave us a fascinating glimpse inside one of the most technical and under-explored aspects of theatre creation.

Jennifer Dzialoszynski
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, Mrs. Warren’s Profession/Supporting Actress, Hamlet
This is Jennifer Dzialoszynski’s third nomination in a row. Well, third and fourth, really, since she’s nominated in two different categories- Outstanding Supporting Actress for her scene-stealing turn as Laertes in Shakespeare Bash’d’s Hamlet then for Outstanding Actress as no-nonsense Vivie Warren in the Shaw Festival’s production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession. We caught up with the fierce and clever actress to talk about yet another year of incredible stage performances.

Kat Letwin
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, Late Night/Ensemble, Chasse-Galerie
A past winner and past awards host, actress/comedian/improviser/writer/host/general cool gal Kat Letwin is back this year with another pair of nominations and another insightful, candid interview. *audio interview*

Andrea Creighton
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, The Angry Brigade
Recent LAMDA graduate Andrea Creighton brought the character of revolutionary political activist Anna Mendelssohn to life in Elevated State’s The Angry Brigade. Her performance had a depth and sincerity that did justice to the historical character who was so disarming and seductive that she was almost single-handedly responsible for drawing out their trial to one of the longest in British recorded history.

Songbuster
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Sketch/Improv Performance, Songbuster- An Improvised Musical
Nominated for their 2016 run at the Toronto Fringe Festival, Songbuster is an improv troupe who creates a live original musical at every performance based on a suggestion from the audience.

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