My Theatre

02 January 2016

The 2015 Nominee Interview Series

By // Theatre

2015 Featured Image (Final Version)

Welcome to the 2015 Nominee Interview Series.

This Year’s Interview Series Includes…

Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actress, We Are Proud to Present…/Outstanding Supporting Actress, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot)
The dynamic and empathetic Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah was one of the biggest breakout stars of 2015, delivering show-stealing turns in two of the most-nominated productions of the year- Unit 102’s brilliant heavenly courtroom drama (which is all over the small theatre division) and the brazen centrepiece of The Theatre Centre’s November Ticket (dominating the medium theatre division).

Juno Rinaldi
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actress,  Age of Arousal)
We can’t think of a better way to describe Juno Rinaldi’s superb performance as an “odd woman” in the first production of The Factory Theatre’s much-lauded “Naked Season” than to just quote you our review: “deep-seated melancholy, downtrodden stubbornness and organic oddity that encapsulates both perfectly time high comedy and slow-creeping sadness.” Outstanding Supporting Actress, indeed.

David N. Rogers
(MyTheatre: Boston- Best Dramaturgical Notes, Radium Girls/The Farnsworth Invention)
Boston is the only MyTheatre branch that has a category for Best Dramaturgical Notes. One of the biggest reasons why we include the category is the incredible work of double nominee David N. Rogers whose thoughtful written accompaniments made some of the year’s greatest productions so much greater.

Jakob Ehman
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, Nature of the Beast)
Jakob Ehman was last year’s winner for Best Supporting Actor (for Theatre Brouhaha’s Cockfight). He wore a rope belt to the ceremony (it was the talk of twitter) and we grilled him about the new play he was working on, Brandon Crone’s BDSM-laced lost boy tale Nature of the Beast. One year later, that play has brought him back to the Nominee Interview Series, nominated in the category where he is the current reigning champion.

Chiamaka Umeh
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actress, All Our Yesterdays)
At the 2015 Fringe Festival, then again at Next Stage in 2016, Chiamaka Umeh’s performance in Chloé Hung’s tragic reality-based new work All Our Yesterdays was heartbreaking. Playing a young girl taken captive by Boko Haram in Nigeria, it was the joy and innocence that Amaka found in her horrific circumstances that touched our hearts the most.

Lindsay Junkin
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Design, Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play)
The nominated design team for the absurd, immersive, ambitious Mr. Burns consists of three major players: Ken Mackenzie (set), Lindsay Junkin (costumes) & Evan Harkai (masks). As the production’s costume designer, Lindsay had a particularly tricky job- interpret the classic Simpsons looks through a post-apocalyptic lens and create a sort of religious iconography suggested by the way the characters would be remembered several generations after the last episode was viewed. Somehow she nailed it.

Matt Arnold
(MyTheatre: Boston- Outstanding Ensemble, Terra Nova)
Matt Arnold is nominated for his performance in the ensemble of Terra Nova. His character’s wit and good cheer do not save him from an untimely death in the icy depths of the South Pole. Arnold supplements his acting credentials with designing fights for several local companies. We chatted about playing a blind character, about what makes a great show ensemble, and about how Matt once helped me safely get bonked in the face with a stone pestle.

Chris Chiampa
(MyTheatre: Boston- Outstanding Actor, Terra Nova)
Chris Chiampa is nominated for Best Actor for his role as Captain Robert Falcon Scott in Flat Earth Theatre’s Terra Nova. The English Royal Navy Officer led a doomed expedition to the South Pole. We discussed playing historical characters (and how some character research can prove unhelpful), helpful directing tactics, and the importance of theatre companies taking chances.

Kamela Dolinova
(MyTheatre: Boston- Outstanding Actress, Terra Nova)
Kamela Dolinova is nominated for her role as Kathleen Scott in Flat Earth Theatre’s Terra Nova. The wife of Captain Robert Falcon Scott is not your run-of-the-mill weeping Penelope figure; this intelligent and independent woman is an equal partner in her formidable marriage, and discerns some of Captain Scott’s most self-destructive motivations. We chatted about the challenges fringe companies face, and playing “Englishness.”

Tim Walker
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, Edmond)
Known for his kind, affable nature, indie star Tim Walker shocked and astounded in his black as pitch tour de force performance in Red One Theatre Collective’s production of David Mamet’s brutal portrait of a disturbed man battling the world.

Jurgita Dronina
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Ballet Performance, The Winter’s Tale)
The National Ballet of Canada’s newest principal dancer is one of those ethereal presences that makes little girls dream of being a ballerina. As Hermione in Christopher Wheeldon’s new version of The Winter’s Tale, Jurgita delivered with both stunning classical technique and remarkable pathos.

Prince Amponsah
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, Lot and His God)
In 2012, George Brown theatre school grad Prince Amponsah’s apartment caught fire, his catastrophic burns resulting in three months in a coma and the amputation of both of his arms. In 2015, he returned to the stage in Desiderata Theatre Company’s simple and stirring vision of Lot and His God. Prince played the angel Drogheda come to warn Lot and his wife of the impending destruction of their home Sodom. It was a triumphant second debut and the first appearance of a powerful new performer.

Michelle Monteith
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actress, Waiting Room/Butcher )
One of Toronto’s most lauded actresses, Michelle Monteith is one of only three artists this year to receive a nomination for the same category in two different divisions (the others are Ravi Jain for direction and Michael Gianfrancesco for design). As a grieving mother and a tortured survivor, Michelle delivered two massively impactful and totally different star turns in 2015.

Eo Sharp
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Set Design, Pygmalion)
The detail in Eo Sharp’s sprawling, modern set for Peter Hinton’s reimagined modern take on Pygmalion at the Shaw Festival was incredible. We interrogated the Outstanding Design nominee about what the post-its in Higgins’ office said and what book titles were on the shelf.

Robert Stephen
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Ballet Performance, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
National Ballet first soloist Robert Stephen is a beautiful ballet dancer but in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland he played the Mad Hatter and what’s more mad than tap dancing in the middle of a ballet? His nominated performance was, for us, the idiosyncratic highpoint of that wild piece of happy theatricality.

Tayves Fiddis
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, Othello)
When Ale House Theatre regular Tayves Fiddis suggested to director Joshua Stodart that he’d like to play Iago, his response was “But who would believe a guy like you would… Ohhhhh. Perfect”. The combination of Tayves’ good guy image and incredible charm made his Iago particularly lethal and the audience particularly culpable in his crimes because he had us rooting for the villain to win from his very first line.

Vikki Anderson
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Direction, Top Girls)
We’ve interviewed quite a few Shaw company members this year and we asked each of them about their favourite productions in the 2015 season. Helmed by Outstanding Direction nominee Vikki Anderson, Top Girls was one of the most-mentioned productions in this unofficial survey of people who know what they’re talking about. With an insightful frame and a light touch, Vikki tackled Caryl Churchill’s tonally ambitious text to great success.

Mike Nadajewski
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, The Physicists)
The last time the consistent, versatile and always delightful Mike Nadajewski was nominated for a MyTheatre Award it was for playing a religious figure in a musical. This time he’s nominated as a scientific figure in a contemporary morality play. Well, not a scientific figure exactly- the man he played in Stratford’s wacky and thoughtful production of The Physicists merely thought he was Einstein. Or did he? We turned to Mike for answers.

(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Sketch/Improv Performance, The Real Housewives of Murder)
Devon Henderson and Jacqueline Twomey are the Second City-trained pair behind comedy duo “TwoSon” (TWOmey and HenderSON) whose original show The Real Housewives of Murder was one of the funniest productions in last year’s Fringe Festival. We caught up with Devon and Jacqueline and were delighted to learn that they’re “both the Beyonce”.

Nick Antosca
(MyTV- Outstanding Writing for a Drama, Hannibal)
Arguably the most challenging and acclaimed drama in recent network TV history ended its shocking three-year run in 2015 with an intense and memorable final episode co-written by Nick Antosca with showrunner Bryan Fuller and Steven Lightfoot. We caught up with Nick to discuss “The Wrath of the Lamb” and what made Hannibal different from everything else on TV.

Brad Smith
(MyTheatre: Boston- Outstanding Sound Design, Terra Nova)
Brad Smith is nominated for his sound design in Flat Earth Theatre’s production of Terra Nova, a show filled with terrifying shrieks of Antarctic winds. We chatted about the design process, Smith’s recent IRNE nomination, and just how far one can go to capture all the different sounds of wind blowing.

James Graham
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, King John)
Though he appears regularly in contemporary theatre like Next Stage’s Mockingbird, Studio 180’s NSFW and with his own group The Howland Company, James Graham always shines brightest with Shakespeare, making his 2015 debut with indie stalwart Shakespeare Bash’d a natural pairing. As the soliloquizing Philip the Bastard, James held the Monarch Tavern hostage and stole the company’s bold punk rock reimagining of overlooked history play King John.

Peyton LeBarr
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actress, Twelfe Night)
One of Toronto’s brightest up-and-coming ingenues, the delightful Peyton LeBarr brought her stellar classical training to the Toronto Fringe last summer to join Ale House Theatre as one of very few new actors in their Twelfe Night remount. Funny, smart, sad and sincere, the only thing not to love about Peyton’s Viola was her wig.

Brett Donahue
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Ensemble, We Are Proud to Present…)
The gut-punch centrepiece to the Theatre Centre’s spectacular November Ticket was a bold, terrifying, hilarious, provocative, imaginative think piece called We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915. The multiple MyTheatre Award-nominated piece featured a brilliant and brave six-person ensemble, including the thoughtful and charismatic Brett Donahue as “the Actor playing White Man #1”.

Kathryn Akin
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Performance in a Musical, The Immigrant)
There was a lot to cry over in The Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company’s production of Mark Harelik’s musical about Russian jews settling in small town Texas. If you’re anything like us, your biggest cry trigger is unconditional and unexpected kindness, in which case it was Kathryn Akin’s warm and wonderful portrayal of a woman trying to do good that turned you into a sobbing mess.

Scott Walker
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, Hamlet)
In the western canon’s most legendary role, the incredibly versatile Scott Walker delivered a true star turn marked by clarity of purpose and grounded character psychology. We talked to the Unit 102 standout about taking a year to learn his lines and dealing with a gold-digging Claudius young enough to be his brother.

Tara Rosling
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actress, Top Girls)
Shaw festival stalwart Tara Rosling contrasted a larger-than-life performance as the legendary Patient Griselda in act one of Top Girls with a heartbreaking naturalistic turn as a wounded woman in the second act in one of the most versatile performances of the year.

Patrick McManus
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, Pygmalion)
One of the Shaw Festival’s most consistently wonderful leading men, Patrick McManus highlighted one of the festival’s biggest hits of 2015 as a completely redefined Henry Higgins.

Dame Judy Dench
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Sketch/Improv Performance, That’s Just Five Kids in a Trench Coat!)
Five person sketch troupe Dame Judy Dench rocked the Fringe festival as “five kids in a trench coat”. We got the group together to answer our questions about their creative process and the worst joke they’ve ever told.

Aurora Browne
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actress, Trudeau & Levesque)
Aurora Browne contrasted hilarious and clever characterizations of Maggie Trudeau and Jean Chrétien in Video Cabaret’s thrilling Trudeau & Levesque as part of the History of the Village of the Small Huts series. We talked to her to get the scoop on the legendary company’s unique style.

David Lafontaine
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Direction, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot)
Unit 102 Actors’ Company burst onto our radar in 2015 and landed the most nominations of any independent company (11). Co-founder David Lafontaine is among the nominees as the director of the production that racked up most of those nominations, Outstanding Production nominee The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

Danik McAfee
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Cabaret)
Danik McAfee appeared in two different productions of Cabaret in 2015. In the second- First Act Productions’ intimate chamber version of the classic musical- he took on the iconic and enigmatic role of the Emcee which earned him a nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Musical.

Kristen Zaza
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actress, Casimir & Caroline)
Amidst the Outstanding Ensemble-nominated indie all-star cast of Holger Syme’s new adaptation of the 1932 Ödön von Horváth play Casimir & Caroline, Howland Company founding member Kristen Zaza stood out with an emotional turn as a woman trapped in a terrible relationship. We asked her to walk us through the production’s collaborative creation process and help us understand her character Liz’s complicated psychology.

Chris Larson
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, The Farnsworth Invention)
Chris Larson is nominated for his role as Philo Farnsworth in Flat Earth Theatre’s production of The Farnsworth Invention. Farnsworth grows from a child prodigy raised on a farm in rural Idaho to the kinetic inventor of that modest phenomenon we know as television. I chatted with Larson about the production, about balancing acting with sound design, and about the joys of being part of a thriving community of hardworking artists.

Ben Sanders
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt )
Winner of the 2012 Best Actor MyTheatre Award for his performance in French Without Tears, Shaw Festival favourite Ben Sanders returns to the Nominee Interview Series to discuss a season during which he appeared in no fewer than three different shows nominated for Outstanding Production, including the world premiere of Michel Marc Bouchard’s The Divine for which he scored an Outstanding Actor nod for playing a young seminarian obsessed with the world of theatre.

Hilary McCormack
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding New Work, Hanger/Outstanding Actress, Othello/Outstanding Supporting Actress, Twelfe Night)
The most-nominated single artist in this year’s awards season, Hilary McCormack dazzled as Desdemona in Ale House Theatre’s Othello then ran full throttle into the Fringe Festival bringing with her a stunning new work she both wrote and performed in (Hanger) while simultaneously earning an Outstanding Supporting Actress nomination for her awesomely strong Olivia in Ale House’s Twelfe Night.

Brandon Crone
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding New Work, Nature of the Beast)
Boundary pushing indie playwright Brandon Crone won the MyTheatre Award for Best New Play back in 2013. Now celebrating his third nomination in a row, he returns to the Nominee Interview Series to answer our pressing questions about the 2015 play that left us with a thousand things to ask him.

Martin Happer
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, Peter & the Starcatcher)
The great Martin Happer battled himself for his spot in this year’s Outstanding Supporting Actor race after delivering two performances at the Shaw Festival in 2015 that were nearly impossible to choose between. Ultimately, his grand, silly, and joyous version of the villainous Black Stache in the imaginative Peter Pan prequel beat out a performance in The Divine marked with so much strength, stillness and sadness it’s remarkable the two performances came from the same man.

Gord Rand
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding New Work, The Trouble with Mr. Adams/Outstanding Actor, Oedipus Rex)
Another actor also nominated for playwrighting this year (or playwright nominated for acting), Gord Rand joins the Nominee Interview Series for a third time to talk about his work in Stratford’s Oedipus Rex and the world premiere of his controversial new play The Trouble with Mr. Adams at Tarragon.

Joshua Stodart
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Direction, Hanger
Because we try to limit multiple nominations for a single artist in any given category, prolific indie director/Ale House Theatre artistic director Joshua Stodart’s nod is for his work on Hilary McCormack’s challenging new play Hanger but it’s worth noting that his direction across three different productions resulted in more overall nominations than almost anyone else this season (including three Outstanding Actress nods, Supporting Actress, Outstanding Actor and New Work).

Ravi Jain
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Direction, Accidental Death of an Anarchist/We Are Proud to Present…)
One of only three artists this year to be nominated in the same category in two separate divisions, Ravi Jain’s 2015 work on Toronto’s stages both large (Soulpepper’s Dora-winning Accidental Death of an Anarchist) and medium (We Are Proud to Present… at the Theatre Centre as part of The November Ticket) was groundbreaking, entertaining and important.

Shannon Lea Doyle
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Design, Objections to Sex and Violence)
The creative designer behind one of this year’s Best Production nominees, Shannon Lea Doyle worked with sand to reinvigorate an old text for Praxis Theatre/FeverGraph’s physical reinterpretation of Caryl Churchill’s demanding work.

David Michael Moote
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar)
Classically trained singer David Michael Moote took on one of the toughest vocal roles in the musical theatre canon and the undisputed most iconic character of all time as Jesus in Hart House’s contemporary take on the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit.

Blue Bigwood-Mallin
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, A Man Walks Into a Bar)
The titular man in the Outstanding New Work-nominated Fringe play by Rachel Blair is really two men, or more than that, in some way he’s every man, an everyman, and no man in particular. It was Blue Bigwood-Mallin who had the daunting task of capturing all of that ambiguity while staying grounded and approachable but also kind of threatening but not actually threatening and incredibly charming but also somewhat sketchy and totally innocent but not really innocent and so many things all at once.

Lorenzo Savoini
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Design, Eurydice)
Last year’s winner for Best Lighting Design for his work on The De Chardin Project, Soulpepper Director of Design Lorenzo Savoini is nominated once again but this time in the Set & Costumes category for his technically ambitious and beautifully atmospheric rendering of Eurydice‘s underworld.

Julie Martell
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Sweet Charity)
Sweet Charity is never our favourite musical but the sublime Julie Martell made Charity herself one of the great heroines of 2015 with her dynamo performance in The Shaw Festival’s production helmed by Morris Panych.

Christine Horne
(MyTV- Outstanding Guest Actress, Remedy/MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actress, The Seagull)
The only 2015 performer nominated by two different branches, Christine Horne is up for both a MyTV and MyTheatre award this year for her season-stealing turn on the woefully cancelled Canadian medical drama Remedy and her incredible leading performance as Nina in Crow’s Theatre/Canadian Stage’s all-star production of The Seagull.

Tennille Read
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actress, Hanger)
Indie theatre mainstay Tennille Read gave the performance of her career thus far as a woman grappling with her sister’s suicide in Hilary McCormack’s Outstanding New Work-nominated Fringe play Hanger. We talked to her about her favourite roles to date, the research that went into Hanger‘s complex discussion of mental illness, and finally passing the Bechdel test on stage.

Kate Besworth
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actress, Peter & the Starcatcher)
One of The Shaw Festival’s brightest ingenues, the delightful Kate Besworth is best known for playing kids. In the case of her Outstanding Actress-nominated performance this year, the kid in question was the intrepid and heroic Molly who helmed the year’s most imaginative adventure.

Lauren Horejda
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actress, Hamlet)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are often somewhat forgettable in Hamlet proper, saving their brilliance for Tom Stoppard’s wacky spinoff, but in Unit 102’s cinematic version of the play, Lauren Horejda’s fabulously snotty Rosencrantz appeared as a fully formed character with wants and needs and hangups far beyond delivering messages and spying on friends.

Fiona Byrne
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actress, Top Girls)
The Shaw Festival under Jackie Maxwell always has wonderful roles for women, never more so than in 2015’s Top Girls where Fiona Byrne shone as a complex and grounded career woman trying to connect with a life she left behind.

Ryan G. Hinds
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Solo Performance, Starry Notions)
Like Neil Patrick Harris at the Emmys, fabulous cabaret star Ryan G. Hinds will be pulling double duty come March 21st as both host of the Toronto MyTheatre Awards show and a nominee for his heartfelt and dynamic solo Fringe play Starry Notions.

Damien Atkins
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang)
After winning Best Actor in 2013 and Best Ensemble in 2014, we had to talk the always delightful Damien Atkins into joining the Nominee Interview Series a third year in a row. He feared the readers had had enough of him. After seeing his hilariously silly and touchingly human performance in YPT’s new Jacob Two-Two, we knew that couldn’t be true.

Nicholas Rice
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, Nature of the Beast)
In Brandon Crone’s Outstanding New Work-nominated play Nature of the Beast, Nicholas Rice played a kindly old man who lives in the woods, doesn’t know how to use an iphone, takes in and cares for his lost teenage nephew… and runs a sex dungeon in his basement. Once we convinced ourselves not to be scared of him, we talked to the perfectly nice Nicholas about capturing all those things in one performance.

Sarah Thorpe
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Solo Performance, Heretic)
The Artistic Director of Soup Can Theatre makes her second appearance in the Nominee Interview Series (she was previously nominated for Best Director in 2013), this time for her commanding solo performance in Heretic. Sarah both wrote and performed multiple roles in the one-woman Joan of Arc drama and produced it twice over the span of 2015.

Alex McCooeye
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, Bedroom Farce)
Winner of the 2013 Best Actor MyTheatre Award for his performance as Richard III, the always wonderful Alex McCooeye returns to the Nominee Interview Series to discuss the hilarious bed-ridden role in Soulpepper’s wacky Bedroom Farce that scored him a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor this year.

John Koensgen
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, Butcher)
One of the best productions of the year, The November Ticket’s Butcher began with the arrival of John Koensgen. As Josef- a mysterious man speaking an unknown language, wearing a military uniform and santa hat with a butcher’s hook hanging from his neck- John mesmerized with a mostly silent performance as the play’s dramatic twists quickly unspooled his horrific past.

Oliver Koomsatira
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Ensemble, Banana Boys)
The low-key and “luscious”-haired Oliver Koomsatira usually plays innocents but when director Nina Lee Aquino tapped him for the role of Dave in her Factory Theatre production of Banana Boys, he got the chance to really rage against the machine and all the racism, privilege, stereotypes and lack of diversity it perpetuates.

Jennifer Dzialoszynski
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actress, You Never Can Tell)
Back in the Nominee Interview Series for the second year in a row for another standout comedic turn at the Shaw Festival, the brilliant Jennifer Dzialoszynski takes us into the wacky world of You Never Can Tell (where she played spoiled twin Dolly) and previews her roles as Laertes in Shakespeare Bash’d’s upcoming Hamlet.

Rebecca Northan
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Solo Performance, Blind Date)
Strictly speaking, Rebecca Northan’s hilarious and affecting clown show Blind Date (which played at Tarragon this fall) is not really a “solo performance” as there are always at least two people on stage. But since we can’t possibly give award nominations to the dozens of unsuspecting audience members who were chosen to “date” Rebecca’s Mimi during the run of this improvised two-hander, we’ve decided we absolutely have to give kudos to the only actual actor on stage (apart from the occasional waiter cameo, of course).

Nate Bitton
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, Hamlet)
The reigning MyTheatre Honorary Award Winner, Nate Bitton took the stage combat skills that won him that award last year and used them to help score a nomination in an acting category this year. In Hart House Theatre’s production of Hamlet, Nate’s show-stealing Laertes stood out for the detailed character work he was able to focus on because the character’s difficult-to-master fight technique was already second nature.

Jake Epstein
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding New Work, Therefore Choose Life)
One of Canada’s most popular young actors, former Degrassi star Jake Epstein has spent the past few years working in film (he had no fewer than five films premiere in 2015), television (he had a memorable turn in Remedy‘s final few episodes) and on Broadway (he originated the role of Gerry Goffin in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) but it’s as a writer that he earned his first MyTheatre Award nomination, for co-writing the holocaust drama Therefore Choose Life with his mom Kathy Kacer.

Anthony Parise
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, A Steady Rain)
One of the first performances we saw in 2015 was also one of the year’s most memorable. Anthony played a tough and tortured cop in Paper Moon Productions’ tense memory play about best friends and partners torn apart by tragedy.

Simu Liu
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Ensemble, Banana Boys)
In Nina Lee Aquino’s brilliant and bare production of Leon Aureus’ stage adaptation of Terry Woo’s groundbreaking novel Banana Boys, Blood and Water star Simu Liu plays golden boy Rick, the idolized but tragic alpha male who represents the unreachable ideal of a perfect Asian-Canadian young man. We talked to him about his professional stage debut and how Banana Boys resonates with him.

Claren Grosz
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Direction, Macbeth)
The inventive and thoughtful director behind Wolf Manor’s dark and brutal take on the Scottish Play, Claren mined countless surprising moments from a text we weren’t sure could surprise us anymore.

Colin Doyle
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play)
In the semi-immersive, totally sustainable Outside the March/Starvox Entertainment/Crow’s Theatre production of Mr. Burns that caused something of a sensation back in May, Colin Doyle split his time between an everyman character named Matt and a cultish, operatic, post-apocalyptic version of Homer Simpson. We asked him how he balanced those two very different tasks, what pop culture references he’d carry with him through the apocalypse and, of course, what’s his favourite Simpsons episode.

Adam Belanger
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Design, Lakeboat/The Last Days of Judas Iscariot)
One of only a handful of people with multiple nominations this year, Adam Belanger is competing against himself with two standout set designs on one of Toronto’s smallest stages. Adam transformed the intimate Unit 102 Theatre first into a heavenly courtroom for the sprawling Last Days of Judas Iscariot then into an shockingly realistic looking ship for the slice-of-life Mamet play Lakeboat. He joins the Nominee Interview Series to talk about working with Unit 102 Actor’s Company and creating big worlds on a small budget.

Evan Buliung
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, Pericles)
One of the definitive leading men in Canadian theatre at the moment, the prolific Evan Buliung has been a part of many of our favourite productions since MyTheatre first began. Under the guise of discussing his 2015 MyTheatre Award-nominated turn for Outstanding Actor in Stratford’s music-infused Pericles, we sent Evan down memory lane to talk about some of his best performances leading up to that obscure Shakespearean adventure.

Kathy Kacer
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding New Work, Therefore Choose Life)
A renowned children’s and young adult author, Kathy Kacer brought her signature historical fiction to the stage this year with the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company. In Therefore Choose Life, Kathy joined forces with her son Jake Epstein to tell a moving story about a family haunted by the Holocaust and how things once thought lost may not be gone forever. Kathy took the time to join the Nominee Interview Series and talk about her writing process, the differences between writing for the page and the stage, and working with her son.

Claire Hill
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Design, Dangerous Liaisons)
One of indie Toronto’s most prolific scenographers, Claire Hill joins the Nominee Interview Series to talk about the microbudget production that scored her her third MyTheatre Award nomination in two years- Red One Theatre Collective’s Dangerous Liaisons at the Storefront Theatre where Claire is now a resident designer and production coordinator.

Dylan Brenton
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Actor, Macbeth)
Despite being a perfectly nice, approachable, seemingly non-homicidal individual, Dylan Brenton plays a lot of murderers. It’s fitting, then, that his performance as arguably the most famous murderer in the western canon led to his MyTheatre Award nomination for Outstanding Actor. We interviewed the Wolf Manor Theatre Collective artistic director about being “the Macbethiest Macbeth that ever Macbethed” and why he keeps coming back to Shakespeare.

Karack Osborn
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Supporting Actor, She Stoops to Conquer)
In one of the Stratford Festival’s biggest all-star casts, 2nd year company member Karack Osborn completely stole the show as the irrepressible Tony Lumpkin in director Martha Henry’s take on classic comedy She Stoops to Conquer.

Daniel Pagett
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding Direction, Trout Stanley)
At the helm of Severely Jazzed Productions’ take on Canadian cult classic Trout Stanley, Daniel Pagett reframed the larger-than-life play as a twisted fairy tale recounted by a snarky narrator, raised the absurdity, and focused on the poetry of the text. The result was an indie hit nominated for five MyTheatre awards, including Best Production.

Chloé Hung
(MyTheatre: Toronto- Outstanding New Work, All Our Yesterdays)
Our first interview of the year is just in time for the Next Stage Theatre Festival where writer/director Chloé Hung’s nominated play All Our Yesterdays is making its highly anticipated return after a successful run at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival.

Coriana Hunt Swartz
(MyTheatre: Boston- Best Costume Design, Terra Nova)
Coriana Hunt Swartz is nominated for her costumes for Flat Earth Theatre’s Terra Nova. A stalwart of the company since 2008, she brought her historical costuming expertise to the table for an expedition to the South Pole. We talked about helping audiences make subconscious connections, how to make convincing fur boots, and the perks of actors owning usable costume pieces.

Jake Scaltreto
(MyTheatre: Boston- Best Direction, Terra Nova)
Jake Scaltreto is nominated for his direction of Flat Earth’s Theatre’s Terra Nova. A cofounder of Flat Earth, Scaltreto has directed, produced, taken photos, and done graphic design for the company. We talked about how directors should avoid micromanaging, what photography and directing have in common, and how it was that he and his colleague accidentally founded a theater company

In: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.