12 January 2017
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:
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actor, My Child
Haus of Casati Collective’s site-specific one-act moved a mile a minute and wrapped up in under an hour. Within that, Adam Cunningham crafted one of the most complex and frustratingly human characters of the year. After George Brown theatre school, Adam’s spent years out of the country touring and doing theatre in New York so the criminally short run of My Child (seriously, six days?!) was the first time I’d ever seen him. Hopefully there’s much more to come (including the My Child remount I started pestering the company about just days after their first run ended).
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, Red Light Winter
Chloé Sullivan was one of the benchmark performers in the 2016 Toronto indie theatre season with three standout roles. She’s nominated for her layered, emotional work in Unit 102 Actor’s Company’s stunning Red Light Winter, which she followed up with a gut-bustingly funny Dogberry in Unit 102/Leroy Street’s Much Ado About Nothing and a twisty sci-fi part in Paul van Dyck’s The Harvester at Toronto Fringe. “One to Watch” is such a reductive phrase but she’s one to watch.
MyTheatre (TO): Solo Performance, Lessons in Temperament/Ensemble, Chasse-Galerie
The endlessly engaging James Smith is a rare triple nominee this year. As the composer and lyricist of the Storefront/Soulpepper musical, he gets a heap of the credit for Chasse-Galerie‘s Outstanding Production nod in addition to his role in the Outstanding Ensemble of that show. He’s also nominated for his Outstanding Solo Performance at SummerWorks last summer, tuning pianos and telling his family’s story about mental health struggles in the stirring site-specific piece Lessons in Temperament.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Solo Performance, In Search of the Holy Chop Suey
Yvonne Ng is a Toronto-based dancer and choreographer interested in how we find and give purpose throughout our lives. She’s nominated for her compelling and visually evocative tiger princess dance projects piece In Search of the Holy Chop Suey, a coming home story stripped bare to reveal that our only one true home is the skin that we live in.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set & Costume Design, Red Light Winter
It takes a lot of skill to create a purposefully unpleasant space and Pascal Labillois’ evocative work on Unit 102 Actor’s Company’s Red Light Winter was exactly that. First a dirty Amsterdam hostel then a depressing New York one-bedroom, the grotty, lonely space of Red Light Winter set the tone for one of the most transcendent pieces of the year.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, How We Are
The brilliant Virgilia Griffith’s nomination this year is for How We Are, a tiny, site-specific new work by Polly Phokeev co-developed with Mikaela Davies. I technically saw a workshop production, as has everyone who’s seen How We Are thus far, but the play scored two nominations all the same. Workshop or no, the moral and emotional complexity of the show in general and Virgilia’s gripping performance in particular was as deep and nuanced as most things far past the workshop stage.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Solo Performance, Daughter
A celebrated educator and theatre-maker, Adam Lazarus specializes in bouffon, the satirical dark side of clown (he explains it better below). In his nominated work Daughter (which played at SummerWorks last summer), Adam capitalized on a landscape full of first person storytelling narratives to hold a harsh and startling mirror up to an audience that needed to see it. It was at once the most brilliant and absolute worst thing I had to sit through all summer and I would go back a thousand times if I could.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Three Men in a Boat
Scott Garland is delightful and he has lots of delightful stories to share about touring with Three Men in a Boat and handing Neil Patrick Harris a chainsaw and hosting Sing for your Supper with the incomparable Kat Letwin. There are lots of reasons to read this interview but the best reason is that a couple paragraphs from the end you will find an embedded audio clip of Scott doing Muppet impressions and that’s my literal favourite thing to happen in 100+ interviews in this series.
Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Ensemble, Incident at Vichy
I had to talk Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster into doing an interview. Conscientious and thoughtful about pretty much everything, she’s the sort of person who really emphasizes listening over speaking. But I insisted that that’s exactly the sort of person I want to hear speak right now. One of last year’s winners for Outstanding Ensemble for her work in the Howland Company’s Casimir & Caroline, she’s nominated again in the same category for Incident at Vichy with Soulpepper. We unpacked the troubling timeliness of that play and looked forward towards a new year of listening and amplifying unheard voices.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set & Costume Design, Of Mice & Men
Unit 102 Actor’s Company’s practical but ambitious set designer Adam Belanger won the indie division Outstanding Set & Costume Design award last year for building a ship inside the company’s tiny west end theatre. This year, he’s nominated again in the same category, this time for his Of Mice & Men bunkhouse, complete with a big reveal that was one of the great theatrical moments of 2016. Along with co-nominee costume designer Lindsay Junkin, Adam brought to life the early-20th-century California plantation where George and Lennie dream of something bigger.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, A Doll’s House
Soulpepper Academy grad Katherine Gauthier had the role of her career thus far in 2016 when she was given the opportunity to play Nora Helmer in Daniel Brooks’ contemporary production of A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s classic domestic drama about a woman trapped by the perfect life she’s worked so hard to build and the perfect persona she’s afraid to stop projecting. Kat stopped by the Nominee Interview Series to talk about Nora’s psychological reality and her own academic pursuits.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set & Costume Design, A Doll’s House/It’s a Wonderful Life
Soulpepper Director of Design Lorenzo Savoini is a two–time MyTheatre Award winner and a double nominee this year for his outstanding work on two very different Soulpepper shows. For A Doll’s House, he created a hyper-modern canvas of stark contrasts with the awkward feel of misplaced toys. For It’s a Wonderful Life, he provided immense visual interest with a detailed and multi-layered recreation of a 1940s radio broadcast studio.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding New Work, Bright Lights
Theatre Brouhaha Artistic Director Kat Sandler wrote three different plays that are nominated for MyTheatre Awards this year. Tarragon’s imaginary friend comedy Mustard– Outstanding Production, Actor (Anand Rajaram), Supporting Actress (Sarah Dodd) & Ensemble; thought-provoking alien abduction allegory Bright Lights at the Toronto Fringe- Outstanding Production, Outstanding New Work & Ensemble; and wacky TV/theatre hybrid Late Night produced with ZoomerLive- Outstanding Actress (Kat Letwin), Supporting Actor (Michael Musi) & Lighting/Sound Design (Sam Sholdice).
Anne van Leeuwen
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Direction, Red Light Winter
As an actress, the dynamic Anne van Leeuwen delivered two standout performances in 2016- in Unit 102 Actor’s Company’s/Leroy Street Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing and Unit 102’s Old Times– but it was her work as a director that scored her her first MyTheatre Award nomination for the remarkable and challenging Red Light Winter (one of the very first things I saw last year and still one of my favourite reviews I’ve ever written). Anne dropped by the nominee interview series during rehearsals for Storefront’s Tough Jews (on stage now) to look back on her fantastic 2016.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, Venus’ Daughter
Kaleb Alexander’s nominated performance in playwright Meghan Swaby’s fantastical deconstruction of modern (and not-so-modern) black womanhood Venus’ Daughter with Obsidian Theatre Company was dynamic and versatile, leaping in and out of realism, backwards and forwards through time, across age and gender lines like they never existed at all (which maybe they don’t). We caught Kaleb the day before he left town indefinitely to look back on his final (for now) productions as a Torontonian.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actress, All’s Well that Ends Well
Rachel Jones is nominated for the rare feat of playing an almost totally new Shakespeare character. In All’s Well that Ends Well at Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park, she and director Ted Witzel reshaped, redefined (and partly rewrote) the role of male clown Lavatch to instead present a compelling and complex female character whose stirring original monologues shaped the play and made Rachel a narrator of sorts.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Chasse-Galerie
One of the great indie theatre fairy tales of the last few years was Kabin/Storefront Arts Initiative’s Chasse-Galerie, a collaboratively created feminist folklore musical that soared from its rough and tumble roots to win a Dora and eventually land on the Soulpepper stage in a remount that earned the show three MyTheatre Award nominations this year, including Outstanding Production, Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Performance in a Musical for Shaina Silver-Baird whose beautiful voice and fancy fiddling stood out in one of the best casts of the year. She stopped by the interview series to take us inside the creation process of a true indie success story.
Daren A. Herbert
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Ensemble, Father Comes Home From The Wars
Daren A. Herbert is a two-time MyTheatre Award winner for his musical work with Acting Up Stage Company (now The Musical Stage Company). He took home 2011’s Outstanding Supporting Actor trophy for his performance in Jason Robert Brown’s Parade (co-produced by Studio 180) and is the reigning Outstanding Performance in a Musical winner for 2015’s The Wild Party (co-produced with Obsidian Theatre Company). This year, however, he’s nominated for an only tangentially musical work, as part of Soulpepper’s Outstanding Ensemble for Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts I, II, III) by Suzan-Lori Parks, a poetic and challenging contemporary drama inspired by Greek mythology.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Direction, Father Comes Home From The Wars
Weyni Mengesha is one of the fastest rising stars in Canadian theatre, a rare young director consistently hitting it out of the park on the country’s biggest stages. 2016 was her biggest year yet, earning a slew of MyTheatre Award nominations for helming two competing Outstanding Production contenders- Soulpepper’s Father Comes Home From the Wars and Stratford’s Breath of Kings.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actor, Changeling
A true MVP of the Toronto indie season, Prince Amponsah gave no fewer than three incredible performances in 2016- romantic quadriplegic Freddie in Safeword’s Contempt, enigmatic antihero Alistair in Storefront’s Hangman, and complex victim-turned-villain DeFlores in Desiderata Theatre Co’s brutal and challenging Changeling: A Grand Guignol for Murderous Times.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Sketch Performance, Peter vs. Chris/Ensemble, Bright Lights
Peter n’ Chris (Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson) is arguably the most popular Fringe Festival act in the country, touring the cross-Canada circuit pretty much every year and winning all the Best of Fest & Patron’s Pick awards. This year they pulled double duty during the Toronto festival by pairing their own show Peter vs. Chris with roles in Kat Sandler’s complex alien abduction comedy Bright Lights. We caught up with the duo’s Toronto-based member Chris Wilson for some insight into both shows.
Sheri Anne Godda
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actress, Dog Sees God
The delightful Sheri Anne Godda has won the MyTheatre Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress before (in 2013 for the RESISTIBLE rise of arturo UI) and now she’s back in the same category for her chameleonic performance as “CB’s Sister” (aka teenage Sally Brown from Peanuts) in Dog Sees God at Second City’s John Candy Box Theatre with Echo Productions.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Performance in a Musical, The (Post) Mistress
Patricia Cano is a Canadian actor and singer who has performed around the world in a range of languages. Her artistic collaborations with Tomson Highway have produced a range of works, most recently in Toronto where the two performed in a one-woman cabaret-style musical that put Cano’s charisma and talent centre-stage. Showing off her gorgeous singing voice while giving a rambunctious and very endearing performance as Marie-Louise Pinchaud, the angelic post-mistress for the fictional town of Loving, Ontario, Cano presented herself as a theatre performer who effortlessly sends her joy out into the audience.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set & Costume Design, Breath of Kings/The Unbelievers
Anahita Dehbonehie is not only a double nominee this year in the Outstanding Set & Costume Design categories but she’s nominated for two vastly different projects. In the large theatre division, she’s nominated (with costume designer Yannik Larivée) for creating kingdoms and battlefields by exploring the many resources available at the country’s biggest company. In the small theatre division, she created a prison out of cardboard.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actor, Of Mice and Men
One of Unit 102 Actor’s Company’s go-to leading men, Brandon Thomas followed up his 2015 MyTheatre Award-nominated performance as the literal devil with a deeply human turn in Of Mice and Men, the final production at the company’s erstwhile home on Dufferin Street.
MyCinema: Outstanding Supporting Actor, Closet Monster
Sorry, every other nominee, but our funniest interview of the year award definitely goes to MyCinema nominee Aaron Abrams who questions the purpose of Hollywood “meetings”, praises the genius of his Hannibal captain Bryan Fuller, noshes on a bag of cashews, and psychoanalyses his superbly complex character in Stephen Dunn’s stunning film Closet Monster, one of the greatest Canadian films we’ve ever seen with a career-best turn from Aaron.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set & Costume Design, Changeling
Smart, detailed, and ambitious, Julia Matias has started to carve out a really interesting career as a performer, director and designer in Toronto by seeking mentorship from established artists and leaving a trail of excellent impressions in her wake. Her first MyTheatre Award nomination is shared with one such mentor, Claire Hill, who brought Julia onto Desiderata Theatre Co’s Changeling: A Grand Guignol for Murderous Times where together they melded past with present and created opulence out of coroplast.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, Dalton & Company
Andy Trithardt is one of the great dependable artists of Toronto’s indie theatre scene. A prolific sound designer and actor of impeccable consistency, he never fails to deliver a performance that’s as complex and moving as it is charming, including in Cart/Horse Theatre’s excellent production of Paul Dunn’s Dalton & Company where his performance as a middling but competitive academic earned him his second nomination.
MyTheatre (TO): New Work, Slip/Direction, Hangman/Improv Performance, True Blue
Danny Pagett works constantly- in multiple capacities, on different types of projects, in various venues, with a sprawling array of collaborators. That multi-hyphenate prolificity is reflected in the startling number of MyTheatre Award nominations he racked up this year in a full range of categories. As a playwright and actor, he was one of the principal architects behind Outstanding New Work & Outstanding Production contender Slip; as an improviser, he joins the rest of the cast of Bad Dog Theatre’s True Blue in their Outstanding Sketch/Improv Performance nomination; he’s also up for Outstanding Direction for his work on Hangman at the Storefront.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set & Costume Design, Of Mice and Men
Lindsay Junkin won an Outstanding Set & Costume Design MyTheatre Award last year for her work on Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play. After designing for three different Outstanding Production-nominated shows in 2016, she’s nominated again in the same category, this time for her indie work on Unit 102 Actor’s Company’s visually stunning, period-accurate tour de force.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Direction, My Child
Described as “deeply intelligent, meticulous, and passionate”, “a powerhouse”, and “the only person I’ve ever worked with where I definitely leave a better actor than I was when I went in to the project” by the cast of Haus of Casati’s Outstanding Production-nominated drama My Child, Jeannette Lambermont-Morey is a beloved figure in Toronto theatre, known for nurturing talent and assembling all-star teams.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, Titus Andronicus.
Jordin Hall is nominated for his performance as enigmatic soliloquizer and deeply human villain Aaron in Seven Siblings Theatre Company’s bold apocalyptic take on Shakespeare’s brutal Titus Andronicus. He’ll face off in the supporting actor race against his director Will King who’s nominated for his performance in another Seven Siblings show.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actress, TomorrowLove
Outside the March’s TomorrowLove was one of the great theatrical experiences of 2016- a sprawling series of thematically linked futuristic two-handers performed simultaneously throughout an old funeral home by an extraordinary 8-person cast in any one of dozens of combinations of possible scene orders and scene partners. We saw the show twice, the second time just following Katherine Cullen around because she was too captivating to walk away from.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actress, Mrs. Warren’s Profession
Nicole Underhay is one of those people who brightens whatever room she walks into and, especially, every stage she walks onto. She wielded that power to extraordinary effect in her nominated role in Mrs. Warren’s Profession directed by Eda Holmes at The Shaw Festival last summer. As a fierce single mother who carved out a life for herself and her daughter by rising to the top of the world’s oldest profession, Nicole hit the perfect note between elegance and grit, indomitable charm and brutal reality.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Lighting Design, Old Times
Steve Vargo played a key role in two Outstanding Production-nominated shows this year (Red Light Winter and Of Mice and Men) both with Unit 102 Actor’s Company. But his nomination is actually for his enterprising work on another Unit 102 show, Harold Pinter’s Old Times, the first production mounted after the company lost their space, forcing Steve to make his usual magic with almost none of the resources he’s used to having.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, All’s Well That Ends Well
Soulpepper alum Qasim Khan is nominated for completely redefining the key supporting role in arguably Shakespeare’s most under-explored work, misunderstood comedy All’s Well That Ends Well. Parolles is usually a simplistic jerk but Qasim’s completely engaging interpretation made him the heart and soul of the show during its repertory run in High Park with Canadian Stage.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Actor, The Taming for the Shrew
Geoffrey Armour’s nimble and open-hearted performance as Petruchio in Driftwood’s Shrew offered a refreshing and plausible take on a character whose controlling behaviour is seemingly celebrated by the play, contributing to its reputation as being famously misogynistic. Framed as a member of a consenting sadomasochistic relationship Geoffrey played very well off of Siobhan Richardson’s excellent Katherine, combining convincing introspection with a pansexual playfulness that surfed happily along the production’s sometimes overly-specific but often intriguing attempts to rationalize its characters’ behaviour.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, The Realistic Joneses/Ensemble, Our Town
The acting company at The Shaw Festival is second to none because of stalwart all-stars like Patrick McManus. Usually you have to travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the privilege of seeing Patrick in productions like 2016’s Outstanding Ensemble-nominated Our Town and Outstanding Production-nominated Uncle Vanya but the Toronto native took a detour back to his hometown last season for a rare appearance at the Tarragon Theatre, earning a nod for his hilarious and human turn in the wonderfully odd Realistic Joneses.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set & Costume Design,Venus’ Daughter
Ryerson grad Joe Pagnan’s nominated work on Obsidian Theatre’s arresting production of Venus’ Daughter at the Theatre Centre was some of the most visually impactful of the year, incorporating elements of the practical and the fantastical. His thoughtful, poetic, and verbose interview is similarly affecting.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Set & Costume Design, Changeling
Scenographer Claire Hill is one of only a handful of designers really defining the aesthetic of the indie theatre scene in Toronto. Nominated for a fourth time in three years for her work on Desiderata Theatre Co’s Changeling: A Grand Guignol for Murderous Times (with co-nominee Julia Matias), Claire dropped by the Nominee Interview Series to explain how she yet again built a rich world out of almost nothing.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Ensemble, Peter Pan
Bad Hats Theatre Co-Artistic Director Fiona Sauder adapted (with Reanne Spitzer) and played the title role in Peter Pan, a new musical interpretation of the classic story that toured to breweries around the city in December and scored an Outstanding Ensemble nomination for its versatile, energetic, and imaginative cast. We caught up with Fiona to find out all the secrets of creating Neverland with just a sheet and some cardboard swords.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Improv Performance, La Grande Jatte/New Work, Slip
Anders Yates is one of our favourite improvisers in the city (or anywhere, really), so he’s predictably nominated for his work with Bad Dog Theatre on the beautiful new improv show La Grande Jatte. But he’s also nominated for his non-improv work this year as one of the creators of the Outstanding New Work & Outstanding Production– nominated Slip, produced by Circlesnake Productions.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding New Work/Production, Slip
One of Circlesnake Productions’ newly minted Artistic Producers, Mikaela Dyke deserves much of the credit for Outstanding Production nominee Slip‘s success, as part of the Outstanding New Work-nominated writing team and as the dead body on the floor that kicks off the action (spoiler alert: she eventually stands up and acts and it’s awesome). Mikaela’s back to playing dead in Circlesnake’s remount of Slip on stage until April 2 at the Tarragon Workspace. Click Here to get tickets.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding New Work/Lighting & Sound Design, The Archivist
Shaista Latif’s one-woman memory play about her upbringing in the GTA and her struggle to reconcile her identity with the clashing influences in her life (her Kabul-born parents, her childhood growing up in Scarborough and Weston), maintained a conscious conversation with her audience, which is central both to the play’s structure and Latif’s beguilingly wry performance.
MyTheatre (London): Best Actress, Much Ado About Nothing
Anne-Marie Piazza brought light and love and lots of cleverness to the star role of Beatrice in Iris Theatre’s lively outdoor Much Ado About Nothing in London’s Covent Garden. She then turned around and brought brilliant comedy to the secondary role of Verges the idiot policeman in the same show. We caught up with her on tour with a new production to look back on her summer of switching roles and swapping insults in the name of love.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Seussical, Jon 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding Supporting Actor, Hamlet
A two–time 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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*
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.
MyTheatre (TO): Outstanding 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.