On April 10th, over 300 members of the Toronto theatre community gathered at The Great Hall on Queen Street West to look back at the productions that defined 2016 and celebrate the incredible work of hundreds of artists nominated for MyTheatre Awards this year.
The evening’s hosts The Templeton Philharmonic (winners of the 2015 Outstanding Sketch Performance MyTheatre Award) kicked off the night with a Facebook Live pre-show as the nominees arrived, had their pictures taken by our photographer Nick Pigeau, and mingled at the cocktail party. Templeton Philharmonic started the show at 8pm with an original parody of “Downtown” then were joined by other 2015 winners and MyTheatre staff writers to present 41 awards to this year’s winners. Guests snacked on sushi and doughnuts and danced late into the night with the help of our signature band Hand-Picked Favourites.
Click Here to check out photos from the event.
Don’t miss our 2016 Nominee Interview Series, featuring exclusive interviews with over 100 of this year’s nominated artists and be sure to check out Awards Headquarters for more from the MyTheatre, MyTV and MyCinema Awards.
Without further ado, the winners are:
Outstanding Sketch/Improv Performance
La Grande Jatte (Bad Dog Theatre Company)
Bad Dog perfected the dramedic balance in 2016 with La Grande Jatte, which combined heartfelt storytelling with goofy comedy, an inventive concept, and an internal direction device that was both beautiful and game-changing in how many possibilities it opened for each scene.
Outstanding New Work (Medium/Large)
With a clever semi-verbatim book, a sprawling cast of characters, an ambitious concept, and a moving earworm score, Toronto’s own Sankoff & Hein have created a musical that reaches far beyond its local roots.
Outstanding New Work (Small)
How We Are by Polly Phokeev co-developed with Mikaela Davies (Mikaela Davies & Polly Phokeev Productions)
How We Are is tiny- an intimate site-specific two-hander still in workshops when we caught it- but it’s immense in emotional scope and more profoundly honest than anything else we saw all year.
Outstanding Ballet Performance
Dylan Tedaldi in Le Petit Prince (The National Ballet of Canada)
We adored this polarizing ballet adaptation for a hundred reasons, top among them Dylan Tedaldi’s mesmerizing performance in the enigmatic title role on opening night. His brilliant blend of thoughtful character work, quirky style, and impeccable technique earned him his second MyTheatre Award in three years.
Outstanding Opera Performance
Ben McAteer in The Devil Inside (Tapestry Opera)
Baritone Ben McAteer beat out starry competition to win for Tapestry’s small-scale, contemporary adaptation of The Bottle Imp, his earnest and conflicted performance standing above the rest even from a smaller stage.
Outstanding Ensemble (Large)
Incident at Vichy (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
For Outstanding Ensemble, we like to choose a piece that truly derives its strength from the entire acting team. In 2016 there was no production that encapsulated that idea better than Soulpepper’s Incident at Vichy that stuck its large, killer cast on a bench for almost the entire play.
Outstanding Ensemble (Medium)
Brave New World (Kabin/Litmus Theatre)
The greatest challenge Litmus Theatre faced in adapting epic dystopian novel Brave New World for the stage was scope, a challenge they overcame easily when they found the right cast- a bold, eclectic, versatile ensemble who fleshed out a full world on a small stage.
Outstanding Ensemble (Small)
Bright Lights (Theatre Brouhaha/Toronto Fringe Festival)
The magic ingredient in this complex allegorical comedy was its Fringe All-Star cast. Playwright Kat Sandler created the play for the dream team-up of Peter n’ Chris, Morro & Jasp, and improviser Colin Munch. The thought-provoking deployment of their established stage personas resulted in uniquely rich characters and perfect chemistry across the board.
Outstanding Supporting Actor (Large)
Tim Campbell in All My Sons (Stratford Festival)
One of the most underrated actors in the country, the always-brilliant Tim Campbell delivered our favourite Stratford performance of 2016 as Chris Keller, the principled son of an exonerated criminal. Tim’s performance was the quiet, steady heart of a great production.
Outstanding Supporting Actor (Medium)
Richard Sheridan Willis in Breathing Corpses (Coal Mine Theatre)
As Jim, a terminally ill man already quite withdrawn from life, the great Richard Sheridan Willis delivered a performance that stood out for its naturalism, grounding the emotion through the play’s disjointed structure and emphasizing humanity in the dull ache of tragedy.
Outstanding Supporting Actor (Small)
As a mourning father fighting for privacy, Dylan’s heartbreaking meta-theatrical performance was a dramatic highlight of the indie theatre season.
Outstanding Supporting Actress (Large)
Rachel Jones in All’s Well that Ends Well (Canadian Stage)
All’s Well that Ends Well is a 400-year-old text but Rachel’s performance in High Park was wholly original. Reshaping the play’s clown figure Lavache into a fourth-wall-breaking, singing, monologuing narrator and key player in the emotional stories of the other characters, Rachel not only made the role her own but stole the show as well.
Outstanding Supporting Actress (Medium)
Katherine Cullen in TomorrowLoveTM (Outside the March Theatre Company)
The thoughtful, detailed, and compellingly still Katherine brought heartrending depth to every scene she played in Rosamund Small’s set of randomized site-specific, immersive, futuristic love stories.
Outstanding Supporting Actress (Small)
Nominated in two different categories this year (leading actress for Mrs. Warren’s Profession and supporting for Hamlet), the wonderfulJennifer Dzialoszynski’s award is for one of the most indelible performances we’ve ever seen, a beautifully redefined fierce big sister Laertes in Shakespeare Bash’d’s tightly focused and perfectly personal Hamlet.
Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Large)
Jenn Colella in Come From Away (Junkyard Dog Productions/Kiss the Cod LP/Mirvish Productions)
Come From Away is a true ensemble piece but, if you were to single anyone out, the glaring choice is the Broadway vet whose solo number “Me and the Sky” is an emotional highpoint of the emotional musical. Like the rest of the cast, Jenn plays multiple characters but, in her hands, the first female American Airlines pilot Cpt. Beverley Bass stands out.
Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Medium)
Reviewer Duncan Derry wrote about Patricia Cano: “Easily switching between French, English and Cree, while dominating the stage for over two hours with a layered performance, Cano presents herself as a force to be reckoned with. She should probably be a superstar.”
Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Small)
Jacquie Martin in The Life (Call It a Day Productions)
A true MVP of Toronto’s indie musical theatre scene, the brilliant Jacquie Martin’s leading performance in Call It a Day Productions’ demanding debut production of the 1990 Gasman & Coleman musical The Life elevated the “hooker with a heart of gold” archetype and carried the entire show.
Outstanding Actor (Large)
Dion Johnstone in Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts I, II, III) (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
The leading man of one of the most celebrated productions of the year, the 2010 Supporting Actor winner took home his second MyTheatre Award for his stunning and complex turn in Suzan-Lori Parks’ poetic civil war epic.
Outstanding Actor (Medium)
Matthew Edison in Killer Joe (Coal Mine Theatre)
One of Canada’s most eclectic performers, Matthew Edison hops easily between genres. In Coal Mine’s brutal production of Killer Joe, he played a ruthless hitman so convincingly that we were scared of him for months.
Outstanding Actor (Small)
Omie Syphu* in Red Light Winter (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)
Unit 102’s understated three-hander was a mesmerizing experience, largely because of the vulnerable power of the leading performance by the thoughtful and generous Omie Syphu (*credited as Omar Hady at the time of production).
Outstanding Actress (Large)
Moya O’Connell in Uncle Vanya (Shaw Festival)
The greatest shock of awards night came when our Outstanding Actress winner informed us that she’d never won anything before in her life. Anyone who’s made a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake to visit the Shaw Festival in the last decade knows that that’s bananas. Moya is one of the fierce female players at the heart of that unparalleled acting company, an attitude-free diva who delivers two brilliant performances a year, pretty much every year. In Annie Baker’s sublime adaptation of Uncle Vanya, Moya outdid herself, embracing silence and subtlety in her portrayal of Yelena as a woman much looked-on but little understood. With Baker and director Jackie Maxwell, Moya completely redefined a century-old play for us. We’re still not over it.
Outstanding Actress (Medium)
As the supportive and sometimes jealous Alice B. Toklas in Independent Aunties’ Gertrude Stein biography she co-wrote and co-starred in with collaborator Evalyn Parry, Anna Chatterton painted a picture of a complicated but devoted couple that brought us to tears.
Outstanding Actress (Small)
Circlesnake Productions’ latest collaborative creation featured across-the-board excellent performances but it was Alex Paxton-Beesley as a hard-edged detective trying to make sense of a spinning world that truly left us stunned (both times we saw the show). Known more for her work in TV and film these days, Alex’s return to the stage was complex, heartbreaking, hilarious and completely unforgettable. We can’t wait for the next show that pulls her back to the theatre.
Outstanding Lighting & Sound Design (Large)
Michael Walton & Thomas Ryder Payne for Macbeth (Stratford Festival)
There was a moment in this tightly executed Scottish Play that made the audience gasp. It wasn’t a performance moment or even a plot point- it was a thrilling lighting and sound transition. That doesn’t happen every day.
Outstanding Lighting & Sound Design (Medium)
Writer/performer Shaista Latif planned out every detail of her RISER Project solo show at The Theatre Centre. Overseen by Andre du Toit, with technical direction by Pip Bradford and Rebecca Vandevelde, she designed a simple but effective lighting and soundscape to perfectly complement her stirring play.
Outstanding Lighting & Sound Design (Small)
Steve Vargo took on the task of designing lights for this moody Pinter piece before Unit 102 lost their theatre space. He was forced at the last minute to adapt to an odd and limiting little found space where he managed to make the sun rise on a dark set with severely limited equipment.
Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Large)
Sure to be a key figure in the next wave of great Canadian theatrical design, the prolific and practical set & costume designer Shannon Lea Doyle burst onto one of the country’s biggest stages in 2016 with a colourful, detailed, fantastical aesthetic in Soulpepper’s romantic clown tragedy The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine.
Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Medium)
Trevor Schwellnus & Ming Wong for Gertrude & Alice (Buddies in Bad Times/Independent Aunties)
The rich and textured design of this stylized period piece was detailed but not overdone, just enough to help define the characters and set them in their particular, peculiar time and space.
Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Small)
We try to stay away from singling out the same artists two years in a row. Our hand was forced in this year’s indie design category where two past winners united to meld realism and creativity to showstopping effect.
Outstanding Direction (Large)
Weyni Mengesha for Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts I, II, III) (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
Weyni was at the helm of two of the greatest productions of 2016 (Father & Breath of Kings). Her balanced and insightful work on Suzan-Lori Parks’ epic was unforgettable.
Outstanding Direction (Medium)
The legendary Philip Akin also directed the extraordinary “Master Harold”…. and the Boys for Shaw/Obsidian last year but it was his bold, fluid, funny and smart work on Meghan Swaby’s fantastical new play that really impacted us.
Outstanding Direction (Small)
We’ve never seen a solo performance with the directorial impact that Michael brought to Thomas McKechnie’s autobiographical show with the help of his AD Julia Matias.
Outstanding Solo Performance
We’re still recovering from the emotional gutpunch that was Adam’s inspired bouffon performance at SummerWorks. Hilarious and haunting, Daughter is a show that should be mandatory viewing for a world plagued with toxic gender roles and hyper-aggression. It’s hard to sit through, and you might hate Adam a little bit for putting you through it, but his performance is singular and the production a satirical masterpiece.
Outstanding Production (Large)
Uncle Vanya (Shaw Festival)
Leading actress Moya O’Connell picked up The Shaw Festival’s second Outstanding Production award in a row for their exquisite Uncle Vanya, adapted by Annie Baker. The brilliant production was the perfect curtain call for director Jackie Maxwell’s groundbreaking tenure with the company.
Outstanding Production (Medium)
TomorrowLoveTM (Outside the March Theatre Company)
Arguably the most ambitious piece of theatre staged in Toronto in 2016, Outside the March’s immersive, site-specific series of vignettes about how our technological future will affect our relationships tasked an extraordinary cast with learning multiple roles in multiple scenes and never knowing which they’d be playing and with whom. It was a return trip-inducing spectacle we’d love to see get a permanent venue and long-term run.
Outstanding Production (Small)
My Child (The Haus of Casati Collective)
This fast-paced and tense one-act played to the smallest house for the shortest run of any of this year’s nominees but its engrossing humanity and creative theatricality was second to none.
The Anonymous Award for Outstanding Stage Management
Emilie Aubin for Seussical (Young People’s Theatre)
Emilie Aubin was such a great assistant stage manager during Young People’s Theatre’s run of Seussical the Musical that the Cat in the Hat (Jonathan Tan) submitted a nomination for her to win this award that was quadruple the suggested word limit. A mere excerpt: “Emilie Aubin is the real deal… monstrously efficient, shockingly thoughtful, exceedingly precise, and really fucking good at her job. I cannot celebrate her excellence without profanity or hyperbole, so great is she at caring for those around her and world domination. Her integrity inspires me to do better-to constantly strive, never settle, and love every second of what you do.”
Performer of the Year
This award always goes to someone who delivered above and beyond in multiple roles but the diversity and depth of Prince’s 2016 resume was truly stunning. Whether he was completely speechless (safeword’s Contempt), delivering breakout monologues (Desiderata’s Changeling), or breaking into song (Scapegoat’s Hangman), he captivated us all year.
A brilliant technician whose work is marked by complex emotion and beautiful expression, National Ballet of Canada Principal Dancer Evan McKie is celebrated around the world for his extraordinary artistry. His work in 2016 included roles in Onegin, Romeo & Juliet, The Four Temperaments and A Winter’s Tale on tour in Washington, DC. In a very tight Fan Favourite race, what tipped the scales in his favour was that nearly everyone who voted for him wrote in with paragraph-length accolades to his talent, calling him an “exquisite dancer, and actor” and declaring there couldn’t possibly be a better Fan Favourite. We couldn’t agree more.
In a tough landscape for young artists, Filament Incubator founders Daniel Bagg, Aaron Jan, Andrew Markowiak, and Zach Parkhurt built something new and created space for not only themselves but hundreds of other Emerging Artists with the most ambitious inaugural season we’ve ever seen.
Back in December, we came close to adding a new category for puppetry and practical effects, but then we realized it would just be Kaitlin Morrow nominated four different times. An unparalleled artist in multiple fields who stood out for her work with Sex T-Rex, Haus of Casati and Scapegoat Collective last year, Kaitlin has almost single-handedly revitalized the artistic practice of puppetry in Toronto’s indie theatre scene. In 2016 alone, Kaitlin brought to life a horse, a dog, a rat and multiple full-fledged human characters with just some fabric and sticks. She might be magic.