My Theatre

01 January 2018

2017 Critics’ Pick Awards: Theatre (Toronto)

By // Theatre (Toronto)

Our favourite Fringe Festival ever, expanded dance coverage, and a shifting indie landscape were the defining features of our 2017 in Toronto theatre. Our staff collectively saw hundreds of productions and below are our picks for the best of the best over the past 12 months.

Who Qualifies?
Any production one of our Toronto writers saw between January 1st and December 31st was considered for nomination, unless it was a remount of something we’d already seen (ie: Soulpepper’s Christmas Carol). If the remount has a new cast member, however, that cast member is eligible even if the production as a whole isn’t.

How Do the Divisions Work?
Like in previous years, we decided on a three-division breakdown that allows for more nominees and a more even playing field. We’ve designated each company as either “large”, “medium” or “small” based loosely on budget, audience size and number of shows produced per year. It’s an inexact science but we’ve tried to be as fair as possible.

Who Picks the Winners?
Our Editors and Staff Writers all get a say but we use your votes for tie breakers and to choose a Fan Favourite so be sure to share your thoughts on Twitter or shoot us an email toronto@myentertainmentworld.ca.

When Are the Winners Announced?
Winners will be announced at the annual celebration in April.
A full list of the winners will be published on the site the following day.

DON’T FORGET: The Anonymous Award for Outstanding Stage Management
A good stage manager’s work is difficult to appreciate from the audience; we can’t see how tight a ship they run in rehearsal or how many fires they put out along the way. So in 2015 we decided to create this award and turn it over to the people who do see those things- other theatre artists.

If you worked with an incredible stage manager in Toronto (or at Stratford or Shaw) during the 2017 season, we want to hear about them. Send an email to editors@myentertainmentworld.ca with the subject line “SM Nomination: NOMINEE’s NAME” and describe in 100 words why you think they deserve to win (*Please only submit one nomination and respect the word limit). Make sure to include the production details and the nominee’s email address. The winner will be announced with the rest of the awards at the party in April, so make sure your nominee shows up!

Nominee Interview Series
If you’re nominated this year (including ensemble and production categories), e
mail editors@myentertainmentworld.ca to sign up for our annual Q&A series. 

Also be sure to check out our nominations for the TV Awards and Cinema Awards.

One Last Thing: especially in technical categories, we are limited by program credits which are often incomplete, misleading or full of typos. If you find an error, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Without further ado, this year’s nominees are…

Outstanding New Work
Tough Jews by Michael Ross Albert (The Spadina Avenue Gang/Storefront Arts Initiative)
Welcome to the Bunker! by Clare Blackwood & Ryan F. Hughes (Portius Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
The Seat Next to the King by Steven Elliott Jackson (MinMar Gaslight Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party by Byron Laviolette, Barbara Johnston & Suzy Wilde (Charcoal Sketch Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
The Tenth Muse by Julie Foster (Filament Incubator)
The Mess by Polly Phokeev, co-developed with Mikaela Davies (Mikaela Davies and Polly Phokeev Productions)

Outstanding Solo Performance
Ingrid Hansen in Interstellar Elder (SNAFU Dance Theatre/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Julia Haist in This Is Not She (The Simian Assembly/Toronto Fringe Festival)
James Gangl in In Search of Cruise Control (Gangland Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Justin Miller in Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua (SummerWorks Festival)
Mia Raye Smith in I Am Hope (Toronto Fringe Festival)
Anita Majumdar in Fish Eyes Trilogy (Factory Theatre)

Outstanding Sketch/Improv Production
Everything is Great Again (Second City Toronto)
Jon Blair (Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival)
A Peter N’ Chris-tmas Carol (Peter n’ Chris/Toronto Fringe Festival)
32 Short Sketches About Bees (Clear Glass Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Squad Goals (Big City Improv Festival)
Scenes from the City (Bad Dog Theatre Company)

Outstanding Contemporary Dance/Cirque Production
triptyque (7 Fingers/Canadian Stage)
Odysseo (Cavalia)
Picaza (Inamorata Dance Collective/Toronto Fringe Festival)
The F Word (SaMel Tanz/Toronto Fringe)
Backbone (Red Sky Performance/Canadian Stage)
Adjusted Surrender (ProArteDanza)

Outstanding Ballet Performance (Leading)
Piotr Stanczyk in The Winter’s Tale (National Ballet of Canada)
Sonia Rodriguez in A Streetcar Named Desire (National Ballet of Canada)
Skylar Campbell in Pinocchio (National Ballet of Canada)
Evan McKie in Nijinsky (National Ballet of Canada)
Hannah Fischer in The Winter’s Tale (National Ballet of Canada)
Guillaume Cote in A Streetcar Named Desire (National Ballet of Canada)

Outstanding Ballet Performance (Supporting or Short Program)
The Ensemble of Genus (National Ballet of Canada)
Félix Paquet in Self & Soul (National Ballet of Canada)
Robert Stephen in A Streetcar Named Desire (National Ballet of Canada)
Dylan Tedaldi in Nijinsky (National Ballet of Canada)
Jordana Daumec in Nijinsky (National Ballet of Canada)
Harrison James in Four Lost Songs (Canadian All-Star Ballet Gala)

Outstanding Opera Performance
Ain Anger in Götterdämmerung (Canadian Opera Company)
Russell Braun in Louis Riel (Canadian Opera Company)
Erin Wall in Arabella (Canadian Opera Company)
Andrew Haji in Elixir of Love (Canadian Opera Company)
Markus Marquardt in Tosca (Canadian Opera Company)
Marcelo Puente in Tosca (Canadian Opera Company)

Outstanding Ensemble (Large)
Timon of Athens (Stratford Festival)
Saint Joan (Shaw Festival)
The Wedding Party (Crow’s Theatre)
Middletown (Shaw Festival)
Tartuffe (Stratford Festival)
For Colored Girls (Soulpepper Theatre Company)

Outstanding Ensemble (Medium)
Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre Company/The Musical Stage Company)
John (The Company Theatre)
Superior Donuts (Coal Mine Theatre)
A City (Necessary Angel Theatre Company)
Illusions (Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)
Tragedie of Lear (independent)

Outstanding Ensemble (Small)
Blue Remembered Hills (Good Old Neon)
Three Sisters (Wolf Manor Theatre Collective)
Tough Jews (The Spadina Avenue Gang/Storefront Arts Initiative)
Recall (Seven Siblings Theatre/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Grey (Three Five Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Lysistrata (how.dare.collective./Toronto Fringe Festival)

Outstanding Actor (Large)
Joseph Ziegler in Timon of Athens (Stratford Festival)
Sanjay Talwar in 1979 (Shaw Festival)
Gray Powell in Middletown (Shaw Festival)
André Sills in An Octoroon (Shaw Festival)
Tom Rooney in Tartuffe (Stratford Festival)
Diego Matamoros in Waiting for Godot (Soulpepper Theatre Company)

Outstanding Actor (Medium)
Philip Riccio in John (The Company Theatre)
Robert Persichini in Superior Donuts (Coal Mine Theatre)
Nabil Rajo in Superior Donuts (Coal Mine Theatre)
Tim Dowler-Coltman in Orphans (Coal Mine Theatre)
William Greenblatt in The Aliens (Coal Mine Theatre)
Walter Borden in Tragedie of Lear (independent)

Outstanding Actor (Small)
Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski in Three Sisters (Wolf Manor Theatre Collective)
G Kyle Shields in Tough Jews (The Spadina Avenue Gang/Storefront Arts Initiative)
Luis Fernandes in Recall (Seven Siblings Theatre/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Kwaku Okyere in The Seat Next to the King (MinMar Gaslight Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Wayne Burns in Miss (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)
David Mackett in Dublin Carol (Fly on the Wall Theatre)

Outstanding Actress (Large)
Diane D’Aquila in King Lear (Canadian Stage)
Mikaela Davies in The Changeling (Stratford Festival)
Bahia Watson in The Virgin Trial (Stratford Festival)
Moya O’Connell in Middletown (Shaw Festival)
Seana McKenna in The Madwoman of Chaillot (Stratford Festival)
Pamela Mala Sinha in Crash (Soulpepper Theatre Company)

Outstanding Actress (Medium)
Nancy Beatty in John (The Company Theatre)
Diana Bentley in Orphans (Coal Mine Theatre)
Shruti Kothari in Little Pretty and the Exceptional (Factory Theatre)
Fiona Highet in Poison (Coal Mine Theatre)
Julia Course in Grimly Handsome (Theatre Animal)
Fiona Reid in The Chance (Leroy Street Theatre)

Outstanding Actress (Small)
Arinea Hermans in Three Sisters (Wolf Manor Theatre Collective)
Genevieve Adam in Recall (Seven Siblings Theatre/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Nola Martin in Miss (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)
Olivia Croft in The Tenth Muse (Filament Incubator)
Shalyn McFaul in Omnium Gatherum (Theatre by Committee)
Tennille Read in Gray (Theatre Inamorata)

Outstanding Supporting Actor (Large)
Michael Spencer-Davis in Timon of Athens (Stratford Festival)
Wade Bogert-O’Brien in Saint Joan (Shaw Festival)
Kelly Wong in 1979 (Shaw Festival)
Graham Abbey in Tartuffe (Stratford Festival)
Sébastien Heins in The School for Scandal (Stratford Festival)
Derek Boyes in The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (Soulpepper Theatre Company)

Outstanding Supporting Actor (Medium)
Michael Blake in Superior Donuts (Coal Mine Theatre)
Andrew Shaver in Illusions (Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)
Jamie Cavanagh in Confederation, Parts I & II (VideoCabaret/Soulpepper Theatre Company)
Noah Reid in The Aliens (Coal Mine Theatre)
Maxwell Haynes in The Aliens (Coal Mine Theatre)
Ron Lea in My Name is Asher Lev (Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company/Studio 180 Theatre)

Outstanding Supporting Actor (Small)
Jesse Griffiths in Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Bash’d)
Stephen Joffe in Tough Jews (The Spadina Avenue Gang/Storefront Arts Initiative)
Danny Ghantous in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in the Ruff)
Steven Vlahos in Turtleneck (PirateLife/emerGENce Theatre)
Michael-David Blostein in Blue Remembered Hills (Good Old Neon)
Basel Daoud in Omnium Gatherum (Theatre by Committee)

Outstanding Supporting Actress (Large)
Katelyn McCulloch in Treasure Island (Stratford Festival)
Tara Rosling in Dancing at Lughnasa (Shaw Festival)
Marion Day in 1979 (Shaw Festival)
Yanna McIntosh in The Virgin Trial (Stratford Festival)
Anusree Roy in Tartuffe (Stratford Festival)
Ngozi Paul in A&R Angels (Crow’s Theatre)

Outstanding Supporting Actress (Medium)
Nora McLellan in John (The Company Theatre)
Darla Biccum in Superior Donuts (Coal Mine Theatre)
Marie Ève Perron in Illusions (Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)
Joella Crichton in Tragedie of Lear (independent)
Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster in Tragedie of Lear (independent)
Sarah Orenstein in My Name is Asher Lev (Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company/Studio 180 Theatre)

Outstanding Supporting Actress (Small)
Lesley Robertson in Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Bash’d)
Meghan Greeley in Three Sisters (Wolf Manor Theatre Collective)
Nicole Stamp in Slip (Circlesnake Collective)
Maaor Ziv in Tough Jews (The Spadina Avenue Gang/Storefront Arts Initiative)
Krystina Bojanowski in Odd One Out (Human Wick Effect/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Mamito Kukwikila in Gray (Theatre Inamorata)

Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Large)
Kristi Frank in Me and My Girl (Shaw Festival)
Chilina Kennedy in Beautiful (Mirvish Productions)
Mark Uhre in Guys & Dolls (Stratford Festival)
Ellen Denny in Life After (Canadian Stage/The Musical Stage Company/Yonge Street Theatricals)
Tyler Check in Million Dollar Quartet (Drayton Entertainment/Mirvish Productions)
Cyrus Lane in A Christmas Carol (Ross Petty Productions)

Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Medium)
Jahlen Barnes in Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre Company/The Musical Stage Company)
Beau Dixon in Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre Company/The Musical Stage Company)
Josh Epstein in Onegin (The Musical Stage Company)
Hailey Gillis in Onegin (The Musical Stage Company)
Athena Reich in #ARTBIRTH (Sara Schwarz Geller Productions)
d’bi.young anitafrika in Lukumi (The Watah Theatre/Tarragon Theatre)

Outstanding Performance in a Musical (Small)
Brittany Miranda in Carrie: The Musical (Hart House Theatre)
Erica Peck in Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party (Charcoal Sketch Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Jeigh Madjus in Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party (Charcoal Sketch Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Tess Barao in Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party (Charcoal Sketch Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival)
James King in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Hart House Theatre)

Outstanding Lighting & Sound Design (Large)
David Finn for Götterdämmerung (Canadian Opera Company)
Kimberly Purtell & Thomas Ryder Payne for Timon of Athens (Stratford Festival)
Kevin Lamotte & Claudio Vena for Saint Joan (Shaw Festival)
Kevin Lamotte & Alessandro Juliani for Middletown (Shaw Festival)
Paule Constable & Ian Dickinson for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (National Theatre/Mirvish Productions)
Michel Charbonneau & Rick Sacks for Backbone (Red Sky Performance/Canadian Stage)

Outstanding Lighting & Sound Design (Medium)
Andrew Griffin & Kate Marvin for Orphans (Coal Mine Theatre)
Martin Sirois for Illusions (Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)
David DeGrow & Lyon Smith for Morro & Jasp in Stupefaction (Kabin/UNIT Productions)
Trevor Schwellnus & Thomas Ryer Payne for Marine Life (Tarragon Theatre)
Laird Macdonald & Thomas Ryder Payne for Reflector (Theatre Gargantua)
Michelle Ramsay for Lukumi (The Watah Theatre/Tarragon Theatre)

Outstanding Lighting & Sound Design (Small)
Steve Vargo for Blue Remembered Hills (Good Old Neon)
Ken MacKenzie & Christopher Willes for Other Jesus (Public Recordings Performance Projects)
Cédric Lord & Jon Lachlan Stewart for Macbeth Muet (La Fille du Laitier/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Christopher Ross-Ewart for Explosions for the 21st Century (Pressgang Theatre/SummerWorks)
Simon Rossiter & Joshua Van Tassel for Dual Light (Dreamwalker Dance Company/DanceWorks)
Steph Raposo & Andy Trithardt for Gray (Theatre Inamorata)

Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Large)
Michael Gianfrancesco for Dracula (Shaw Festival)
Camellia Koo for Middletown (Shaw Festival)
Gillian Gallow for An Octoroon (Shaw Festival)
Ken MacDonald & Christopher David Gauthier for The Madness of George III (Shaw Festival)
Cory Sincennes & Dana Osborne for A Christmas Carol (Ross Petty Productions)
Simon Phillips & Nick Schlieper for North by Nortwest (Mirvish)

Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Medium)
Shannon Lea Doyle for John (The Company Theatre)
Anahita Dehbonehie for The Aliens (Coal Mine Theatre)
Trevor Schwellnus & Lindsay C. Walker for Marine Life (Tarragon Theatre)
Michael Spence, Laird Macdonald & Melanie McNeill for Reflector (Theatre Gargantua)

Outstanding Set & Costume Design (Small)
Nicole Wilson for Blue Remembered Hills (Good Old Neon)
Adam Belanger & Lindsay Junkin for Tough Jews (The Spadina Avenue Gang/Storefront Arts Initiative)
Adam Belanger & Lindsay Junkin for Miss (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)
Joe Pagnan for Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua (SummerWorks)
Jessica Hiemstra for The Hungriest Woman in the World (Pencil Kit Productions)

Outstanding Direction (Large)
Stephen Ouimette for Timon of Athens (Stratford Festival)
Tim Carroll for Saint Joan (Shaw Festival)
Meg Roe for Middletown (Shaw Festival)
Peter Hinton for An Octoroon (Shaw Festival)
Chris Abraham for Tartuffe (Stratford Festival)
Simon Phillips for North by Nortwest (Mirvish Productions)

Outstanding Direction (Medium)
Philip Akin for Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre Company/The Musical Stage Company)
Jonathan Goad for John (The Company Theatre)
Andrew Shaver & Paul Flicker for Illusions (Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)
Mitchell Cushman for The Aliens (Coal Mine Theatre)
Ash Knight for Tragedie of Lear (independent)
Peter Pasyk for Poison (Coal Mine Theatre)

Outstanding Direction (Small)
Nicole Wilson for Blue Remembered Hills (Good Old Neon)
Mallory Fisher for Three Sisters (Wolf Manor Theatre Collective)
Jon Lachlan Stewart for Macbeth Muet (La Fille du Laitier/Toronto Fringe Festival)
David Lafontaine for Miss (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)
Victoria Fuller for Charlie: Son of Man (Echo Productions)
Brian Postalian for The Smile Off Your Face (Re: Current Theatre/SummerWorks)

Outstanding Production (Large)
Timon of Athens (Stratford Festival)
1979 (Shaw Festival)
Middletown (Shaw Festival)
Tartuffe (Stratford Festival)
Waiting for Godot (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
For Colored Girls (Soulpepper Theatre Company))

Outstanding Production (Medium)
Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre Company/The Musical Stage Company)
John (The Company Theatre)
Superior Donuts (Coal Mine Theatre)
Illusions (Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)
The Aliens (Coal Mine Theatre)
Onegin (The Musical Stage Company)

Outstanding Production (Small)
Blue Remembered Hills (Good Old Neon)
Three Sisters (Wolf Manor Theatre Collective)
Tough Jews (The Spadina Avenue Gang/Storefront Arts Initiative)
Other Jesus (Public Recordings Performance Projects)
Macbeth Muet (La Fille du Laitier/Toronto Fringe Festival)
Miss (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)

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