31 December 2015
Now that 2015 is finally over, it’s time to celebrate the year that was and the art that was made.
This is home base for our entire 2015 Awards Season. Starting with the Nomination Announcements, then the Nominee Interview Series and, finally, The Winners!
Without further ado,
This Year’s Nominees Are:
Nominee Interview Series
CLICK HERE to read our exclusive interviews with 77 of this year’s nominees from the MyTV, MyCinema and MyTheatre Awards.
The Awards Ceremony
Nearly 300 of Toronto’s greatest theatre artists came together at The Great Hall on March 21st to celebrate this year’s MyTheatre Awards. CLICK HERE to check out all the photos from the event.
and, finally, The Winners:
The 2015 MyCinema Award Winners Are:
Outstanding Costumes & Art Direction
Sandy Powell’s costumes for the live action version of Cinderella were outrageous, especially those worn by Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother. The opulence, creativity and sheer beauty of the costumes is matched by the incredible work by the art direction team to create one of most visually interesting films Disney’s ever made, especially without handing annoying amounts of power to the CGI department.
Outstanding Visual Effects
No contest. Are you kidding me with this movie? The perfect mix of practical and computer effects make this visual masterpiece the memorable phenomenon that it is. The scope is incomparable, the pace incredible, and the ambition second to nothing. It’s simultaneously a visual feast and a thrill ride, hitting you harder than the feeling of feasting before a thrill ride.
Outstanding Hair & Makeup
What makes the accomplishments of the hair and makeup team on the last Hunger Games instalment so impressive is the text they were working with. Combining the outlandish futuristic “high fashion” of the Capitol with the style and scars of the rebellion, Mockingjay Part II was that key department’s biggest challenge and triumph of the series.
The competition in this category was incredible, including The Stanford Prison Experiment‘s mix of big talent and promising youngsters, Cymbeline‘s diverse and sprawling ensemble, and The Big Short‘s all-star cast, but no one could beat out the Hateful… um… we counted at least ten major players and are somewhat unclear on who’s in the official Eight. They’re all great, though, from scene-stealing Samuel L. Jackson to MVP Jennifer Jason Leigh right down to that perfect Channing Tatum cameo.
Outstanding Supporting Actor
Paul Dano (Love & Mercy)
We have to admit something here- Paul Dano is winning this award for three reasons: 1) our first choice is a Performer of the Year and we don’t like to give them too many other awards; 2) most of the nominees in this category gave amazing performances in not-so-great movies (Match, Miss You Already, Danny Collins), which worked against them; 3) this was really a leading role, if we’re being completely honest, so he simply had a major advantage over awesome but less meaty performances like Nicholas Hoult in Mad Max or even Colin Firth in Kingsman. That said, Paul Dano’s work in Love & Mercy is incredible and shouldn’t be missed for any reason whatsoever.
Outstanding Supporting Actress
Phyllis Smith (Inside Out)
We don’t often give awards to voice actors but we just couldn’t get over the incredibly affecting work of Phyllis Smith in one of our favourite films of the year. As the animated embodiment of “Sadness”, the erstwhile Office star tugged at our heartstrings, taught us the power of empathy and reminded us that our feelings are worthy, no matter what they are.
Jesse Eisenberg (The End of the Tour)
Our winners are definitely not the common picks but this might be the furthest limb we ventured out on this year. There was only one Oscar nominee in this category and, unlike at the Oscars, it was one of our most competitive groups of the year. We were caught in a 5-way tie that seemed like a deadlock. We whittled down our choices by focusing on a) someone whose film wasn’t winning anything else, and b) someone whose role couldn’t conceivably be called “supporting”. That left us with Eisenberg and Ethan Hawke (both incredible; definitely see both The End of the Tour and Good Kill). We went with Eisenberg because David Lipsky was a less flashy role in a much stronger film.
Taissa Farmiga (6 Years)
You haven’t seen Hannah Fidell’s intimate masterpiece 6 Years. We know you haven’t because we’ve never met anyone who has. Please please please go fix that (it’s on Netflix; no excuses). In a year when the Oscar winner was actually incredible and some of our all-time favourite actresses did career-best work, 21-year-old Taissa Farmiga won our award for Outstanding Actress no-contest. You can’t understand why until you watch the film. You have to watch the film.
Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
There are a million things that are incredible about Alex Garland’s ambitious, philosophical sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, the cast (see Performer of the Year) and the Oscar-winning effects included, but nothing impressed and amazed us quite like the script, a feat of human insight and full-tilt wild imagination unlike anything else we’ve seen.
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
If you argue with this one, you’re just crazy. Everything we mentioned in the visual effects category plus fantastic character work and across-the-board excellence from all departments under Miller’s purview (so, all of them). We didn’t love everything about this script but we loved literally everything Miller did with it.
Okay, hear us out. Outstanding Picture, to us, doesn’t necessarily mean the most impactful or artistic film of the year. Nor does it necessarily mean our favourite (it was #4 in the My Cinematic 2015 rankings). Incredible cinematography (Mad Max), killer performances (Sicario), a brilliant script (Inside Out) or a just plain incredible story (Spotlight) alone can make a movie the most impactful, artistic or popular film of any given year. What we’re looking for with Outstanding Picture is the film we think best marries achievement in all the aforementioned categories. The Martian is the standout in that way this year. The script, the direction, the design, the acting, the effects, the score, the editing, the everything- it’s all there in The Martian and it all works together perfectly.
Eugene Gearty (Love & Mercy)
We loved a lot of things about Love & Mercy, the beautiful true story about the struggles of genius Beach Boy Brian Wilson. What we loved most was Eugene Gearty’s beautiful, evocative, insightful sound design. This was not just a well-mixed music and background effects sound job; it was music-as-the-language-of-everything/overwhelmed-by-his-environment/pull-us-in-through-the-ear exploration of a man’s mental state through how he hears the world. An incredible achievement in a category we otherwise don’t feature.
Performer of the Year
The Cast of Ex Machina (Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson & Oscar Isaac)
When we realized that our entire short-list for MyCinema’s 2015 Performer of the Year all started their 2015 in the same place (as the leading trio in one of our favourite films in quite some time), we decided the only thing to do would be to have them split the prize three ways. It’s actually fairly ridiculous how much incredible work these three performers did in 2015, even if you take Ex Machina out of the equation (which you shouldn’t, because it’s nearly perfect and all three are extraordinary in it). Star Wars (Gleeson & Isaac), The Danish Girl (Vikander), Brooklyn (Gleeson), The Revenant (Gleeson), even The Man from UNCLE (Vikander)… the only true weak spot on this entire three-person filmography is Burnt (a useless film in which Vikander has a tiny role) but it’s easily replaced when you play by our wide-release rules and consider A Most Violent Year part of 2015 (a brilliant film in which Isaac has the lead role; seriously, go watch him in that movie, he’s a marvel). Oh, and Isaac won a Golden Globe for his superb performance in HBO’s Show Me a Hero, which we didn’t take into consideration because it was technically TV but doesn’t exactly refute our point. If these three were the only survivors of a Hollywood-specific nuclear apocalypse, we’d honestly be kind of okay with it.
The 2015 MyTV Award Winners Are:
“Slip” by Phillip Chbeeb (So You Think You Can Dance)
This insanely creative lyrical hip hop piece from former contestant Phillip Chbeeb showcased finalists Gaby and Virgil perfectly while creating some of the most memorable images in recent So You Think You Can Dance history. We love Phillip (he was also nominated last year!) and his choreographic contributions are consistently some of our favourites on the show.
With Hannibal’s end, there will be an artistic void in the TV landscape. While the directional choices sometimes didn’t land (looking at you, overindulgent artsy first few episodes of the season), when it did work, it worked. Everything from the sets, props, costumes, sound, lighting, and innovative camera work built a darker fantasy version of our world. Hannibal’s haunting universe is the kind that gets under your skin and stays with you. Very few other shows have ever dared to do what Hannibal did every week on TV, and the result of such daring artistic choices lead to the creation of a beautiful nightmare.
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy
“Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” by Dan Harmon & Chris McKenna (Community)
Despite a few episodes for the ages, Community after the sad Harmon-less fourth season never really connected the way it did in its hey-day. Its largely ignored sixth season (which streamed on Yahoo after NBC canceled the show), though based around a hodge podge of characters with only a few originals, was surprisingly really good, even if no one talked about it anymore. The highlight was, of course, the (presumed) series finale, co-written by the series’ disruptive creator himself. Based around the meta idea that each character is pitching a hypothetical direction for a non-existent season seven, Community‘s final episode was Community at its most quintessential- simultaneously creative, zany, and heartwarming. A quiet, under-remarked-upon and somehow perfect ending to a bold, groundbreaking and totally imperfect series.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama
If you have to go out, go out with a bang. That seems to be the philosophy held by the writers of “The Wrath of the Lamb”. It gave an adrenaline-packed finale to the Red Dragon storyline, but also the emotional closure fans were looking for in Will and Hannibal’s three-season long relationship. It’s very hard to write a series finale that satisfies the majority of fans, but “The Wrath of the Lamb” did. It played to the series’ strengths: intricate cat and mouse games, the exploration of unhealthy but fascinating relationships, and darkly poetic dialogue.
Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy
One of the most well-balanced and brilliantly unique ensembles on television, season two deepened and expanded the Pied Piper team in awesome new ways. By working with the real personas and chemistry of their comedian cast, the writers keep discovering new depths of both character development and comedy. Note: Our managing editor would like us to take a moment to single out Zach Woods because she’s obsessed with him. Like “he walked by her at UCB once and she freaked out”-level obsessed. Thus he has been singled out but everyone in this cast is A1.
Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama
The recipe for a killer drama ensemble is the perfect mix of prestige heavy hitters, scene-stealing supporting players, and awesome up-and-comers. The smash FOX hit stars Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard in two of TV’s meatiest roles, features our beloved Gabourey Sidibe as a sniping assistant, discovered Bryshere Y. Gray and gave the perfect platform to breakout star Jussie Smollett. Case. Closed.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Peeno Noir. Need we say anything else? Oh, we do? Okay. Burgess was the undeniable breakout star of the show, flawlessly portraying overly- dramatic struggling actor Titus Andromedon. Despite his self-centeredness and inability to function as an adult (“But I already did something today!”), Titus always has his friends’ back with hit-or-miss advice and a fabulous one-liner, which Burgess never fails to deliver.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Kether Donohue (You’re the Worst)
It broke our hearts to choose between the nominated ensemble members from our favourite half hour on television. Aya Cash’s intense season two storyline and Chris Greere’s sublime, subtle work as her reluctant, broken, insufficient support system? Both brilliant. But we were trying to spread the love this year and we just couldn’t not give the supporting actress award to Kether Donohue whose pitch-perfect sad ditz performance reached wonderful new heights in the show’s fantastic second season.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Steve Zissis (Togetherness)
Togetherness is a wonder of small, personal storytelling led by one of the best four-person ensembles on TV. Mark Duplass, Melanie Lynskey and Amanda Peet are all incredible in the show but the star is definitely Steve Zissis who plays aspiring actor Alex with incredible pathos and brilliant understated charm.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Jean Smart (Fargo)
Everybody loves it when actors renowned for their comedy chops make a succesful foray into drama. Performances like Jean Smart’s disorientingly cut-throat mob matriarch in Fargo‘s delicious second season are exactly the reason why. You know how the neighbours of serial killers always seem really confused and say things like “he always seemed like such a nice guy”? That’s what it felt like to have our loveable Designing Woman pulled away and replaced by her heartbreaking but menacing evil twin. Disorienting and terrifying but, unlike the aforementioned reality, this fiction was oh-so-satisfying.
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Tommy Dewey (Casual)
The goofy, damaged, intense, self-destructive, intelligent, indulgent, callous, kind performance Tommy Dewey brings to Hulu’s complicated dramedy is what makes the show particularly great. Alex Cole is one of the most interesting men on TV (though he’s technically on the internet, not the TV) because of Tommy Dewey.
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
Constance Wu (Fresh off the Boat)
Wu easily navigates the challenge of portraying a flawed woman determined to get the best for her family. Tough and unapologetic, Wu’s Jessica is a fierce mother and wife, who is smart, but also at times surprisingly naïve. Jessica is so refreshingly herself. She rarely changes, and refuses to apologize for being different. In Wu’s capable hands, Jessica’s stubbornness and forthright way of dealing with things is both hilarious and endearing.
Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Jessica Jones is “a hard-drinking, short-fused mess of a woman”. A lesser actress might have focused on Jessica’s tough exterior, but Krysten Ritter was able to find nuance in her role. Yes, her Jessica was brash and tough. She used her super-strength and super-snark both as weapons and defenses. Ritter had to portray a mass of contradictions: a strong woman who was vulnerable. A woman who made some terrible choices, but who was essentially still a good person trying to do the right thing. Ritter depicted a woman who had been hurt badly, but was more than her trauma, and commanded respect. She did all of this with aplomb while also proving that women are more than capable of portraying superheroes that audiences can relate to, and who kick ass.
Outstanding Actor in a Drama & Outstanding Guest Actor
Jon Hamm (Mad Men & Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
It was an amazing year for one of our favourite TV actors, so we made him a double winner. He wrapped up his role as Don Draper with a beautiful final turn in a 9-year performance that will go down in television history. But also, after teasing viewers with glimpses of the villainous Reverent Wayne Gary Wayne, it was surprising when he was revealed to be… Jon Hamm? It’s always fun when an actor known for dramatic characters plays against type. Hamm committed to his role with relish, stealing scenes as a charismatic dweeb who almost got away with kidnapping four women on account of his folksy, nonsensical charm.
Outstanding Guest Actress
Artemis Pebdani (Scandal)
Susan Ross is the only good person left on Scandal. She’s the moral centre of the show, a no-bull-shit real-fucking-person whose ever-expanding role has only made it so much better. With the perfect blend of comic timing, real gravitas and self-deprecating humanity, Artemis Pebdani is awesome in the part, which should very soon include her in the Outstanding Supporting Actress race, not Guest Actress. Make no mistake, she wears the white hat.
Outstanding Sketch Artist
Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer)
2015 was the year of Schumer. It seemed almost every other week one of her sketches went viral, and for good reason. From sketches making fun of certain types of people you meet in your day-to-day life, to sketches dealing with social commentary (like “Last F**kable Day” or “Football Town Nights”), no one was safe from being mocked, not even Schumer herself.
Outstanding Voice Performance
Anthony Mendez (Jane The Virgin)
Jane the Virgin just wouldn’t be the same without its snarky, omniscient, fourth-wall breaking narrator. It’s a testament of Anthony Mendez’s talent that he can hold his own in a show full of larger than life, dramatic characters, even though he is never on screen. The only nominee in this category not playing a “character”, Mendez’ narrator feels whole and human in a way makes the show shine all the more brightly through his point of view.
Outstanding Variety Performance
John Mulaney (The Comeback Kid)
Mulaney proved once again that he’s one of the funniest guys in the industry. His special covered topics from relationships to religion to realtors. The special should be saved to your Netflix queue in case of a bad day, because Mulaney’s impeccable line delivery and smart, off-beat sense humor were in top form, and The Comeback Kid was an utter delight.
Outstanding Talk/Variety Host
James Corden (The Late Late Show)
CBS’s decision to have James Corden take over The Late Late Show was an inspired choice. Corden has spent years doing film, theatre, and TV (even hosting a few shows in the UK), and is one of those performers who is incredibly likable in everything they’re in. The affable host quickly established himself in the increasingly crowded late night field, holding his own against his more experienced rivals. (While Jimmy Fallon is known for playing crazy games, has he ever played Tattoo Roulette with One Direction?) From countless sketches featuring almost every celebrity under the sun, to finding creative ways to let his theater geek flag fly, Corden is a consistent delight. This is the man, of course, who introduced the world to Carpool Karaoke.
Outstanding Reality Judge/Mentor/Coach
Derek Hough (Dancing with the Stars)
Everyone knows Derek Hough is the best pro dancer and choreographer on Dancing with the Stars. Even if you don’t like him all that much (he’s hyper-competitive, sometimes a bit too intense), that’s just an indisputable fact. Sometimes, when they do a team challenge, he alone has more mirror ball trophies than the entire other team combined. He’s just the best. But it wasn’t until he was assigned Bindi Irwin as a celebrity partner that he was our favourite. His personality was always overshadowed by his goofy buddy Mark or the charismatic Val; nice guys like Tony or Tristan shining as the kinder, more supportive coaches. But Derek fell hard for the incandescent Bindi and she brought out the best in him. This past season (which, of course, he won), Derek was funny and silly and kind and sometimes he cried on camera. And he was also the best pro dancer and choreographer by miles, because he always is.
Outstanding Female Reality Star
Kelley Wentworth (Survivor: Second Chance)
#TeamWentworth. We were hardcore Kelley fans the second the Second Chance ballot was announced. She was our winner pick, the first person on every ballot we cast, our favourite confessional character, and the person we rooted for even when she was against every single other person we were rooting for (which she Always Was). Survivor was in desperate need of a new female power player. Mission very much accomplished.
Outstanding Male Reality Star
Joe Anglim (Survivor: Worlds Apart /Second Chance)
We went back and forth on this one. With a managing editor enamoured with Stephen Fishbach and a staff that rooted pretty loudly for Spencer Bledsoe in a season well-won by Jeremy Collins, this was a real battle of the Survivors. We ultimately went with Joe for a couple of reasons, including his effect on the audience (is he the most popular Survivor ever? Honestly, maybe) and the fact that he played in both seasons that made up 2015, doubling his impact on our TV season as a whole. Other reasons include: his fake idol, his fire-making ability, his family visit with his dad, his underrated social game, his challenge performances (especially puzzles), his hair.
TV’s Best Couple
Zoe & Wade (Hart of Dixie)
We’ll miss our weekly trips to Blue Bell. We still think Hart of Dixie would have fit in perfectly with the CW’s new direction- quirky shows with less of a teenage focus (Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)- if it had one more chance but we’re grateful it lasted as long as it did. The beloved coupling of #Zade will live forever as the heart of Hart of Dixie.
Outstanding New Show
Guys, the best new show of the year is on Lifetime. Lifetime! That’s big news. Lifetime is a silly place, heavily feminine coded with mostly lifestyle shows and syndicated chick flicks. But this searing look behind the scenes of a Bachelor-type show was serious TV-making in a perfectly on-brand exercise of aspiration. Great writing and a killer cast made UnREAL the treat of the summer. A huge achievement from an overlooked source.
Outstanding Canceled Show
We’re not sure we’ll ever get over the cancellation of this under-watched, under-reported, under-stated, under-appreciated dramedy about gay men in San Francisco. The characters were a complexly constructed, well-played, deeply grounded ensemble and the storytelling some of the most nuanced we’ve ever seen on television. The highpoint of HBO’s improbable and wonderful mumblecore block, Looking was the first to fall (Togetherness was axed just this week and Girls will end next season) and, though its death opened up Jonathan Groff for his brilliant Hamilton run, we’ll miss it forever.
Outstanding Reality Show
The most ambitious and intriguing reality show we’ve encountered maybe since the premiere of Survivor, this British gem that sets regular citizens against the (approximated) government in a country-wide cat and mouse game had us hooked from the word go. A complex premise, unconventional episode structures, compelling casting and poignant real-world themes made Hunted really something special.
Parks & Recreation could have rested on its laurels for its seventh and last season, secure in the knowledge that its small but incredibly loyal fan base would probably love it no matter what. Instead, it took risks, from a bottle episode, to a show-within-a-show episode. It was smart, offering commentary on modern social issues, but had a lot of heart. It brought back pretty much every single fan favorite character, but never felt forced. We’ll miss Parks & Recreation, all the more because of the fun, creative, beautiful way it ended.
The cast and crew of this late NBC show went all out in their last season. And we would expect nothing else for the audacious show’s swan song. Hannibal was able to balance its old storylines and relationships with new characters, making sure it didn’t abandon the reason people were invested in the show, but also making sure the show stayed fresh. There wasn’t a weak link among the many actors, many of whom have been snatched up for other projects now that Hannibal is done. It’s no wonder – they are among the most talented actors on screen today. They made the show’s signature dark, poetic dialogue sound natural!
And you cannot talk about Hannibal without mentioning its unparalleled artistic direction. The sets, the costumes, the lighting, the sound design, the cinematography – all of it was beautiful. Hannibal shows what happens when smart, talented people come together and are allowed to be daring and have (fairly) free creative reign. With a revival looking less and less likely (Bryan Fuller is juggling American Gods and Star Trek, to say nothing of the various cast members’ upcoming projects), at least fans can console themselves with rewatches of the show, and with the knowledge that Bryan Fuller’s masterpiece ended on a strong note.
Moment of the Year & Honorary Award
At the end of a segment where all the correspondents came to say goodbye to Jon Stewart during his last show, Stephen Colbert came to wrap it up with a Lord of the Rings metaphor (because of course he did). But before Stewart could cut to commercial, Colbert ambushed him by giving a heartfelt speech. A visibly emotional Stewart squirmed as Colbert told him how much he meant to everyone there. Colbert summed up why people have tuned in to The Daily Show for 16 years: Stewart is a good man, who is very, very good at what he does. Then all the past and current correspondents rushed the stage for a group hug, reminding us that while Stewart’s tenure on The Daily Show is done, he has created a legacy that will live on for years to come. (We still miss him though!). For that moment, Colbert’s won Moment of the Year; for everything it represented, we had to give Stewart our Honorary Award.
Performer of the Year
Alison Brie’s television career thus far is a weird, diverse spectacle of show-stealing characters. The fact that all the highlights of said television career have been running simultaneously is particularly awe-inspiring and we couldn’t let the live-action roles that made Brie a star finish their runs without celebrating her work. As we say goodbye to Community‘s optimistic and beautifully broken Annie and Mad Men‘s manipulative perfectionist Trudy, all we can do is thank our lucky stars that we still have BoJack Horseman and Diane Nguyen (and hope for the return of the incomparable Vincent Adultman).
The 2015 MyTheatre (Toronto) Award Winners Are:
Outstanding Sketch/Improv Performance
Unbridled & Unstable (The Templeton Philharmonic/Next Stage Theatre Festival)
Briana Templeton and Gwynne Phillips are one of the most innovative and cerebral comedy teams in Canada. Their 2015 Next Stage show harnessed all the character-based storytelling power of their theatre work and channelled it into a zany sketch show full of atmosphere and absurdity.
Outstanding Ballet Performance
Jurgita Dronina in The Winter’s Tale (The National Ballet of Canada)
The National Ballet of Canada’s newest principal dancer won Outstanding Ballet Performance for her very first role with the company. As the wrongly accused Hermione in Christopher Wheeldon’s new interpretation of Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, the beautiful Jurgita broke our hearts and made us believe in magic. When she accepted her award, host Ryan G. Hinds shushed the crowd with the words “a ballet dancer is Speaking! Do you know how rarely they get to speak?!”.
Outstanding Opera Performance
Quinn Kelsey in La Traviata (Canadian Opera Company)
La Traviata was our favourite opera of the season with dramatic and character demands far beyond the usual call of duty for the Canadian Opera Company’s capable stars. Quinn Kelsey’s beautiful turn as a conflicted overbearing father was unforgettable.
Outstanding New Work (Large)
M’dea Undone by Marjorie Chan & John Harris (Tapestry Opera)
After surviving having her name dropped as part of Kat Letwin and Ryan G. Hinds’ opening monologue that picked on a number of the event’s most prestigious attendees, lyricist Marjorie Chan nabbed the Outstanding New Work trophy on behalf of herself and John Harris for their bold and beautiful contemporary adaptation of the Medea myth, M’dea Undone which had its world premiere with Tapestry Opera at Evergreen Brickworks in May.
Outstanding New Work (Small)
In the small theatre category, the Outstanding New Work winner was AnOther Theatre Company’s Chloé Hung who is currently in New York finishing up her MFA in Creative Writing. Her trophy was accepted by Chiamaka Umeh, All Our Yesterdays‘ Outstanding Actress nominee who gave a beautiful speech about the importance of the play’s message and keeping Nigeria’s kidnapped girls in our hearts and minds.
Outstanding Ensemble (Large)
Peter & The Starcatcher (The Shaw Festival)
Cast members Patrick Galligan and Martin Happer were on hand to accept the trophy for Outstanding Ensemble on behalf of the large, diverse, creative and uproarious cast of The Shaw Festival’s wonderful production of Peter & the Starcatcher.
Outstanding Ensemble (Medium)
Banana Boys (Factory Theatre)
We chose the Banana Boys as our Outstanding Ensemble winners in the medium division largely because it was such an ensemble show. The Factory’s “Naked” Production was a balanced, five-person group effort that worked in large part because of the excellent cast chemistry between Simu Liu, Oliver Koomsatira, Philip Nozuka, Matthew Gin and Darrel Gamotin.
Outstanding Ensemble (Small)
Casimir & Caroline (The Howland Company)
There was a roar in the crowd when the winner of the ensemble award for indie theatre was announced as the cast of Holger Syme’s Casimir & Caroline workshop with The Howland Company. Sophia Fabiilli, Ruth Goodwin, Jesse Nerenberg, Kristen Zaza, Cameron Laurie and Hallie Seline rushed the stage to accept the award on behalf of the cast.
Outstanding Supporting Actor (Large)
Shaw Festival standout Gray Powell was in Niagara on the Lake rehearsing for the upcoming season when he won his award for playing volatile workhorse Vic in the incredible Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. Fellow company members made sure he got his trophy the following day.
Outstanding Supporting Actor (Medium)
Jeff Irving in Tom at the Farm (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)
Jeff Irving’s beautiful supporting performance in Buddies in Bad Times’ glorious Tom at the Farm was a sad, brutal, sympathetic transformation for the usually wide-eyed musical man. A career-best piece of work that we’re still not over.
Outstanding Supporting Actor (Small)
Shakespeare is home base for Howland co-founder James Graham who sat out his company’s award-winning workshop production to take the role of Philip the Bastard in Shakespeare Bash’d’s punk rock King John, handily winning Outstanding Supporting Actor for his entrancing, audience-involving performance as the complex, disenchanted soldier.
Outstanding Supporting Actress (Large)
Sara Farb in The Last Wife (The Stratford Festival)
Kate Hennig‘s new play The Last Wife was our favourite production at Stratford in 2015, full of brilliant performances, especially from the cast’s kick-ass women. As a brooding teenage version of the future queen Bloody Mary, rising star Sara Farb was the picture of rising power and frustrated philosophy.
Outstanding Supporting Actress (Medium)
Decked out in Video Cabaret’s signature bold makeup and crazy costumes, the great Aurora Browne hit the perfect balance of zany caricature and human reality in the bizarrely matched duel role of Canadian legends Maggie Trudeau and Jean Chrétien.
Outstanding Supporting Actress (Small)
Claire Armstrong in Liver (The Slab Collective/Theatre Brouhaha/Red One Theatre Collective)
Storefront stalwart Claire Armstrong attended the awards the day before opening a new production of Judith Thompson’s Crackwalker at the Factory Theatre. She picked up her Supporting Actress trophy for her beautifully understated performance in Kat Sandler’s Liver amidst screams from the indie community she plays such a major part in.
Outstanding Actor (Large)
The Outstanding Actor categories this year contain some absolutely mind-blowing performances, the great Gord Rand’s astounding tour de force as Oedipus at the Stratford Festival most definitively included. On stage for almost the entire play with no real downtime (and no intermission), Gord’s powerful, vulnerable and brittle Oedipus was an insane achievement.
Outstanding Actor (Medium)
Paolo Santalucia has been on our radar for years, nominated in the past for acting and directing, but his brilliant Hamlet brought our understanding of him as an actor to a completely new level. Honest, emotional and thrillingly paced, it was the highlight Shakespearean performance of the year in our opinion.
Outstanding Actor (Small)
In the busy, swirling world of quickfire vignettes with a large cast of one-off characters, the wonderful Tim Walker’s chameleonic titular performance in Red One Theatre Collective’s pitch-black Edmond was an unmoveable force of deep-seated damage and aching humanity, harnessing everything we love about Walker as an actor and everything we never imagined from him.
Outstanding Actress (Large)
In one of the toughest categories of the year, Michelle Monteith took the Outstanding Actress prize for large-scale theatre for her small-scale performance as a mother dealing with monumental pain in the world premiere Tarragon production of Diane Flacks’ Waiting Room.
Outstanding Actress (Medium)
Chris Abraham’s star-studded production of The Seagull was a standout production in 2015, dominating the medium division with a ton of nominations but it was Christine Horne’s delicate, tortured and defiant performance as aspiring actress Nina that, for us, made the play really soar.
Outstanding Actress (Small)
Hannah Spear in Trout Stanley (Severely Jazzed Productions)
The beating heart of Severely Jazzed Productions’ affecting production of Trout Stanley at the Storefront Theatre last May, improviser Hannah Spear’s performance as shut-in Sugar was aspirational, romantic and absolutely gorgeous in its natural empathy, making her the standout in a really competitive category.
Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Large)
Alan Mingo Jr. in Kinky Boots (Mirvish Productions)
Alan Mingo Jr. couldn’t attend the MyTheatre Awards… because his indelible performance as Kinky Boots’ brave and hilarious drag queen Lola has carried him to Broadway! As well it should have. Beautifully sung and tenderly played, the heart of Alan’s Lola was every bit as strong as her wild sense of humour and grand glamour. Alan’s Toronto castmate Daniel Williston was on hand to accept the award on his behalf.
Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Medium)
Consistently one of our favourite performers in Canadian musical theatre, Daren A. Herbert’s brazen Burrs in Acting Up Stage Company and Obsidian Theatre Company’s co-produced reimagining of LaChiusa & Wolfe’s tricky Wild Party was one of the marquee performances of the year.
Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Small)
Indie musical theatre darling Danik McAfee’s heartbreaking turn as Cabaret‘s iconic Emcee was made all the more memorable by First Act’s intimate chamber staging which had him confronting his audience face to face. Danik celebrated his win and his birthday at the same time the night of the awards ceremony.
Outstanding Solo Performance
Northan insists that Blind Date is not a solo performance but we couldn’t resist giving this award to the woman who delivered one of the most touching and refreshing pieces of single-actor theatre we’ve seen in a really long time. She used her acceptance speech to honour all the men who have joined her onstage over the years as her plucked-from-the-audience “dates”.
Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Large)
The bleak and beautiful design Soulpepper’s resident director of design Lorenzo Savoini cooked up for the company’s quiet take on Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice was as technically impressive as it was artistically envisioned, earning him his second MyTheatre Award in a row.
Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Medium)
Combining the iconic Simpsons aesthetics with strange futuristic cult iconography in a post-apocalyptic, site-specific, immersive, totally sustainable design, the three-person team behind the look of Mr. Burns did amazing things with the arguably the hardest job all season. Costume designer Lindsay Junkin was on hand to accept the award for her team.
Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Small)
For his incredible use of space and intelligently useful set designs, Unit 102’s Adam Belanger was a clear winner; it was just a matter of which show he should win for. Bolstered by Ashleigh Kasaboski’s world-building costume work, the immersive and logistically complex Lakeboat won out.
Outstanding Lighting & Sound Design (Large)
Bonnie Beecher & John Gzowski for The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt (The Shaw Festival)
See photo to the left. Add subtle, evocative sound design. Argue at your own risk.
Outstanding Lighting & Sound Design (Medium)
Laird MacDonald & John Gzowski for Avaricious (Theatre Gargantua)
Ambitious projection work and creative use of colour made Avaricious‘ Laird MacDonald stand out in the smaller lighting category, aided by double-winner John Gzowski’s smart and stirring sound design.
Outstanding Direction (Large)
Jackie Maxwell for The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt (The Shaw Festival)
Shaw Festival company members brought the Outstanding Direction trophy back to their Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell who was busy in Niagara on the Lake preparing for her final season with the festival she has monumentally shaped. For her exceptional use of space and actor work in the world premiere production, Jackie’s direction of The Divine was the clear winner in this category (and she earned bonus points for her nearly perfectly programming of the 2015 season).
Outstanding Direction (Medium)
It’s telling that perennial favourite Eda Holmes won Outstanding Direction for one production while another show she directed took home Outstanding Production. Her superb balance of creativity and practicality is second to none and the performances she elicits from her actors are never less than wonderful. Buddies in Bad Times’ transformative Tom at the Farm was the quintessential example of Eda’s superpowers.
Outstanding Direction (Small)
Claren Grosz’s wolf pack howled mightily when their Macbeth director took home the indie direction prize. Bold ideas, intense pacing, great movement work, strong use of space, smart textual interpretation- Claren brought a full arsenal to the demanding Shakespeare text that introduced us to Wolf Manor Theatre Collective.
Outstanding Production (Large)
The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… (The Shaw Festival)
Tackling Tony Kushner’s 4-hour domestic saga is no easy feat but The Shaw Festival absolutely killed it at every stage- the guts to program it, the choice of Eda Holmes to direct, the all-star casting, the tight execution. A massive feat of theatricality pulled off perfectly. This production needs to be picked up and played in Toronto.
Outstanding Production (Medium)
We Are Proud to Present… (The Theatre Centre/The November Ticket)
Bold and brave and uncomfortable, The November Ticket’s We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915 was one of those shows no one could stop talking about and everyone who missed it will never forgive themselves. No contest. The cast and director Ravi Jain were on hand to collect their award and speak to the importance of keeping the conversation of We Are Proud to Present going.
Outstanding Production (Small)
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)
Unit 102 Actor’s Company may be in the small theatre division but their production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ purgatory-set masterpiece was one of the biggest things we saw all year with a sprawling (across-the-board excellent) ensemble and limitless ambition. Every indie production we saw after May 14th was measured against the bar set by Judas Iscariot.
The closest race of the year was not decided by the MyTheatre (Toronto) staff; it was decided by readers and fans and theatre insiders who voted over Facebook, Twitter and in the comments section all through awards season. Soup Can’s entrepreneurial artistic director is a tireless advocate for the theatre community so it didn’t surprise us at all when the theatre community came together to advocate for her.
As MyTheatre’s Toronto branch grows, more and more artists come onto our radar (often because they’ve just graduated or moved to town, more often because they didn’t have us on their press list before). 2015 was a big year for our new artist discoveries with the majority of awards going to first-time nominees. One such new discovery was prolific, delightful, outrageously talented multi-hyphenate Hilary McCormack who racked up three solo nominations for three different productions with Ale House Theatre and Kildare Company. As an actor (in Shakespeare and modern drama), a producer, and a playwright, Hilary never failed to deliver thoughtful, engaging work that not only made her our most-nominated individual of the year but elevated her collaborators as well (Ale House and Kildare combined for a total of seven MyTheatre Award nominations in 2015). We couldn’t be more excited to see what she comes up with in 2016.
Performer of the Year
Shaw Festival standout Ben Sanders was nominated in so many categories this year that his Objections to Sex & Violence collaborators from FeverGraph and Praxis Theatre proposed a drinking game in his honour and took to affectionately booing the mention of his name. Already a MyTheatre Award Best Actor winner for 2012’s French Without Tears, Ben added another Outstanding Actor nomination (for Shaw’s The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt) to his resume this year in addition to being part of two Outstanding Ensemble-nominated casts and a record three Outstanding Production-nominated shows (including the large division winner, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures). When it took us three hours to draft Nominee Interview Series questions that would cover all of his exceptional 2015, we knew we had our Performer of the Year.
The Anonymous Award for Outstanding Stage Management
It’s always bothered us how few accolades are publicly given to the behind-the-scenes MVPs who ensure the show always goes on. Thus, The Anonymous Award for Outstanding Stage Management. Since one of the marks of a great stage manager is that the audience doesn’t notice their work, we felt unqualified to distinguish the good from the godly and decided to hand the task of nominating this award to the in-the-room theatre makers who more directly witness award-worthy stage management. We considered all the 100-word nomination submissions that poured in from actors, directors, producers and (in the case of the National Ballet’s SM Jeff Morris) anonymous benefactors, but when two different companies (Ale House Theatre & the Storefront Theatre) submitted glowing recommendations on behalf of perpetual day-saver Lin-Mei Lay, the winner was clear. One of Lin’s nominators- Storefront production coordinator Claire Hill– joined us onstage to present this inaugural award
Brantwood: 1920-2020 (Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project)
The Honorary Award is designed to honour a theatrical achievement that is too unique to fit into any of the other categories. Sheridan’s massive, immersive, site-specific original musical creation was definitely that and hopefully something we’ll be seeing again in Toronto proper very soon. Last year’s winner Nate Bitton (who won for his fight direction, because the Honorary Award is all over the place) presented this year’s trophy to cast member Andy Trithardt on behalf of one of the biggest cast and crews in Canadian theatre history, closing out the awards and kicking off a killer dance party led by our signature band Hand-Picked Favourites.
The 2015 MyTheatre (Boston) Award Winners Are:
Best Dramaturgical Notes
Kirsten Bowen, notes reprinted with permission for appropriate (SpeakEasy Stage Company)
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins plays shock and stimulate us, but they do so by drawing deeply from the theatre canon. Bowen’s notes on how appropriate’s legacy can be found in Miller, Williams, O’Neill, and other giants of American theatre really impacted my perception of the play and its staging.
Best Lighting Design
Stephen Petrilli, for Julius Caesar (Bridge Repertory Theatre)
The lighting in Bride Rep’s Julius Caesar is a character in its own right. Judicious spotlights and other tactics obviated the need for corpses left on stage, and allowed for swift scene changes on an uncluttered stage.
Best Scenic Design
Courtney Nelson, for Dry Land (Company One Theatre)
I could have sworn I smelled the faint scent of chlorine in the swimming pool locker room set of C1’s Dry Land. The Plaza Theatre black box was convincingly transformed into a Florida high school building, with tile floors, scuffed lockers, and painful fluorescent lighting.
Best Sound Design
Darby Smotherman, for Colossal (Company One Theatre)
Sound design for Colossal gave us football game buzzers, live crowds, a dance number, a live drumline, and a convincing sound mix conveying a video tape being rewound and played multiple times. Excellent.
Best Costume Design
While there were many beautiful period costumes in several 2015 Boston plays, not many conveyed as much character as the modern-day choices in appropriate, full of type-A female workout clothes, skinny jeans, tennis shoes, and hippie garb.
Orlando (Bad Habit Productions)
The three gentlemen in Orlando (William Bowry, Tom Rash, and Noah Simes) played a variety of different characters (including Queen Elizabeth I) with as much elegance and power as the heeled boots they strode the stage in.
Alex Molina, for Colossal (Company One Theatre)
Molina’s performance as Young Mike in Colossal was gorgeous in his portrayal of athletic prowess and the joy of physical movement, and heart-breaking in his fall from future football fame and loss of possible private love.
Obehi Janice, for Fufu and Oreos (Bridge Repertory Theatre)
Obehi Janice revives the one-woman-show in Fufu and Oreos, portraying not only herself but everyone she encounters as a young Nigerian girl growing up in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Jake Scaltreto, for Terra Nova (Flat Earth Theatre)
Scaltreto was the driving force behind this fabulous production. Everything came together beautifully in Terra Nova, and Scaltreto’s keen eye and clear understanding of and trust in his team paid off.
Terra Nova (Flat Earth Theatre)
An affecting story, astonishing lighting and sound, strong cast performances, elegantly simple set and costumes…if there’s a flaw in Flat Earth’s Terra Nova, someone needs to point it out to me.
The 2015 MyTheatre (New York) Award Winners Are:
No explanation necessary. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical masterpiece has won the hearts and minds of the entire country, theatre fans and non-fans alike, and for good reason. This lyrical history lesson has (fingers crossed) forever altered the Broadway landscape.
What Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing for the Broadway musical, Danai Gurira is simultaneously doing for the Broadway play. Eclipsed, the first Broadway production to feature an all black female cast (the writer and director are also women), explores sexual abuse and violence perpetrated against women during times of war. Gurira’s characters are funny, resilient, and thoughtful even as they endure brutality and oppression, and the work as a whole, both poignant and engrossing, merits serious consideration.
Best Revival (Musical)
Contributing to the diversity of Broadway this season, Deaf West’s gorgeous production of Spring Awakening reinvented a modern musical by combining American Sign Language with contemporary choreography. In this unique staging, deaf actors worked alongside hearing actors to present a universal story of adolescence, sexuality, and self-discovery.
Best Revival (Play)
A View from the Bridge
Ivo van Hove’s stunning production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge packed a visceral punch on a strikingly stark set. Boasting both a talented cast, including Mark Strong who’s powerful performance evoked a sense of terror and wonder, and an exceptional creative team, A View from the Bridge was a must-see in 2015.
Best Actress (Musical)
Renèe Elise Goldsberry in Hamilton
Renèe Elise Goldsberry’s powerhouse vocals, acting talent and presence on stage as the fierce Angelica Schuyler set her apart from her female counterparts in the Hamilton ensemble. Her indomitable performance in the song “Satisfied” alone warrants accolades, but Goldsberry also delights audiences daily as the strong-willed intellectual foil for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “tomcat” Hamilton.
Best Actor (Musical)
Leslie Odom Jr. in Hamilton
He may be the villain in our history books, but Leslie Odom Jr.’s Aaron Burr is a charming, sympathetic, ambitious young man who is far from evil personified. Odom Jr.’s impassioned performance and sonorous vocals often bring down the house, including during the crowd-pleasing numbers “Wait for It” and “Room Where it Happened” – arguably the best-written numbers in the entire show.
Best Actress (Play)
Helen Mirren in The Audience
Helen Mirren’s celebrated performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience is practically a master class in classic stage acting. This is clearly a role that Ms. Mirren has perfected over time, much to our delight.
Best Actor (Play)
Tim Pigott-Smith in King Charles III
After honoring the Queen, it is only fitting to honor the (hypothetical) King as well. Tim Pigott-Smith crafted a classic Shakespearean tragic hero in King Charles III, transforming a caricature-like pop culture icon into a man with whom the audience could identify and for whom the audience could empathize.
Best Supporting Actor (Musical)
Daveed Diggs in Hamilton
Tackling the roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Diggs seems an unlikely match for either role. Yet, Diggs can spit a verse with such guile, humor, and class that he is an absolutely brilliant choice to portray both men.
Best Supporting Actress (Musical)
Ruthie Ann Miles in The King & I
Ruthie Ann Miles transcends the simplicity of her role and brings a great deal of emotional depth to her performance as Lady Thiang in Lincoln Center’s recent revival of The King and I.
Best Supporting Actor (Play)
Richard Goulding in King Charles III
Goulding’s performance as bad boy Prince Harry in King Charles III resembled the public image of Prince Harry just closely enough that it made him believable as the prince. However, it is Goulding’s sharp comedic ability that made his portrayal of England’s most eligible bachelor noteworthy.
Best Supporting Actress (Play)
Pascale Armand in Eclipsed
While the entire ensemble of Eclipsed performs admirably, Pascale Armand’s portrayal of the pregnant Bessie (who has a charmingly hilarious preoccupation with Bill Clinton) distinguishes her in a cast of exceptional actresses. Armand provides levity in an emotionally heavy show but does so with such authenticity and honesty that the jokes never feel out of place.
Working seamlessly together to create a breathtaking visual and auditory experience, the ensemble of Hamilton is practically perfect. Period.
Best Set Design
From a raised attic dangling high above the floor to a man-made lake covering the entire back of the stage, Beowulf Boritt’s set design for Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Thérèse Raquin was both stunningly complex and beautifully simple.
Best Lighting Design
Utilizing period-inspired candlelight and isolating spotlights to indicate changes in setting and time, Paule Constable’s lighting design for Wolf Hall was befitting of the stark set and dark tone of this exceptional play.
Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography invokes battlefield imagery, modern dance, hip-hop, traditional musical theatre and numerous other dance traditions, and the results are a visual feast.
Christopher Oram’s lavish period dress leaves quite an impression and appropriately reflects both the beauty and the terror of King Henry VIII’s reign.
Most Memorable Broadway Debut
Daveed Diggs in Hamilton
See “Best Supporting Actor (Musical)” then acknowledge that Hamilton is his first time on a Broadway stage.
Most Overrated Productions
David Mamet’s new play China Doll may have been a commercial success thanks to Al Pacino’s involvement in the production, but the play failed on multiple fronts. From the meandering, pointless plot to Pacino’s reliance on teleprompters to recall his lines, China Doll was easily one of the least valuable tickets in town this past season (despite the high price tag).
Play or Musical You Are Most Excited to See in 2016
The Crucible (play)
Saoirse Ronan, Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo and Ciaran Hinds star in Arthur Miller’s historical tale of mass hysteria and religious fervor. In a world where, for example, people frequently embrace a mob mentality through social media, perhaps this is the perfect time to revive The Crucible and challenge audiences to consider this: what dangers arise when anger or fear are permitted to oust rational thinking?
The 2015 MyTheatre (London) Award Winners Are:
Liz Stevenson for Barbarians
One of the smallest events the Young Vic offered last year, Barbarians is the story of three skinhead friends in poor seventies Britain who are tracked from the glory days of their movement to its current, dark permutation. Stevenson’s frenetic direction of the three-part cast showed us the energy, despondency and anger of these young men in a very real and frightening way.
Best Original Work
Lela & Co by Cordelia Lynn
Lynn’s abuse tale effects a perfect 180° with the audience: Lela is a child, taken on holiday from her family and abused in a dungeon while a war occurs around her. Confusion sticks with the story: why would Lela, a northerner, ever go on holiday to a war-torn nation? When Lynn slowly reveals the truth of her character, it is a display of mastery that places this work above most others.
Sam MacKay in In The Heights
MacKay took on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s original role with a rare quadruple threat of rapping, singing, dancing and acting. As Usnavi, the show’s narrator, he drove the story forward while maintaining it’s electric, adrenaline-filled atmosphere and pace.
Kate Maravan in Four Minutes Twelve Seconds
The tragedy of Di, the mother who fails to keep her son safe following damaging allegations, was consummately characterised by Maravan. The way she portrayed Di’s waning confidence in her son’s innocent and love for her husband was theatre at its best.
Best Set Design
Es Devlin for Hamlet
Although it was ultimately used for a less-than-outstanding adaptation, Devlin’s import of a 1930’s royal hall into the Barbican created a theatre space like no other—too much space, in many regards, but nonetheless Hamlet’s essential loneliness may never have been better captured than in this colossal set.
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!