My Theatre

21 January 2018

The 2017 Nominee Interview Series

By // Theatre

Welcome to the 2017 Nominee Interview Series.

In the months leading up to the winner announcement in April, we’re interviewing dozens of the artists nominated for this year’s MyEntWorld Critics’ Pick Awards. Keep your eyes on this page as we update with new interviews over the coming months.

If you’re nominated this year, be sure to email to join the series; we’d love to talk to you!

The list so far…

Shalyn McFaul
Theatre: Actress, Omnium Gatherum
As the hostess of a surreal dinner party in Theatre by Committee’s Omnium Gatherum, Shalyn McFaul gave a standout performance that earned her a nomination. Charming and witty, Shalyn expertly balanced her character Suzie’s hilariously single-minded desire to throw the perfect dinner party with sober and thoughtful conversation, and she did it all while madly dashing around the table to serve dishes.

James Gangl
Theatre: Solo Performance, In Search of Cruise Control
What made James Gangl’s Fringe show In Search of Cruise Control so impactful was its honesty. Its charm, humour, pace and pathos, too, but mostly its honesty. He begins by telling the audience about the sex talk he awkwardly had to give his nephew, then takes us through a wild ride of sexual misadventures and hilarious mishaps before landing in a place of remarkable personal revelation.

Joella Crichton
Theatre: Supporting Actress, Tragedie of Lear
Joella Crichton is a ray of sunshine… who is nominated for gouging out someone’s eyes. Tasked with humanizing one of Shakespeare’s great female villains- Regan in King Lear (or “Tragedie of Lear” as this production was called)- Joella embraced the “no villains” mandate of director Ash Knight’s passion project and completely redefined Lear’s middle daughter.

Genevieve Adam
Theatre: Actress, Recall
We saw over 100 shows at the Toronto Fringe last summer. Of the countless individual performances we witnessed in those 12 days, few struck a chord quite as strongly as the vibrant Genevieve Adam in Seven Siblings’ emotional sci-fi drama Recall. As a brash, complicated mother desperate to help her troubled kid, Genevieve completely took over the giant Theatre Centre stage to earn more than just an A grade.

Olivia Croft
Theatre: Actress, The Tenth Muse
There’s a magic to indie theatre that the big houses just don’t have, a sense of possibility, the ever-present promise that you might make a new discovery. Seeing Olivia Croft as Sappho in Filament Incubator’s production of The Tenth Muse by Julie Foster was one such rare indie experience. It’s hard to remember the last time an actor made such a huge impression the very first time we saw them onstage.

James King
Theatre: Performance in a Musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
In the past few years, the legendary Barbara Fingerote has taken to emailing us just ahead of awards season to put in a good word for her favourite performance of the year. Barbara doesn’t technically get a vote but her taste is impeccable and, without fail, her choice is already at the top of our short list. This year, Barbara Fingerote’s favourite performance of the year was James King in Hedwig.

G. Kyle Shields
Theatre: Actor, Tough Jews
The delightful and versatile G. Kyle Shields is one of the great staples of the Toronto indie theatre scene. He’s delivered memorable performances in some of our favourite productions of all time but he stepped up his game in 2017 with a career-best (and Outstanding Actor-nominated) turn in the key role of Teddy in the Storefront’s smash hit new play Tough Jews, staged site-specifically at Kensington Hall.

Squad Goals
Theatre: Improv/Sketch Production, Big City Improv Festival
Squad Goals is the ultimate all-star female improv troupe. Assembled by Sarah Hillier with the sole criteria of ‘get the best of the best’, Squad Goals is basically the definition of its name- a group of smart, awesome, hilarious women you’d be lucky to roll with. Their style is unstructured and unrestrained and the resulting comedy is clever, gutsy, at times ‘goblin’-esque, and always madly entertaining.

Krystina Bojanowski
Theatre: Supporting Actress, Odd One Out
We first saw the soft spoken and deeply thoughtful Krystina Bojanowski in the Outstanding Ensemble- winning cast of Romeo and (her) Juliet in 2014. At the Toronto Fringe last summer, her character Clem in the enigmatic period piece Odd One Out was a strong, funny, vulnerable beauty whom the other characters fell hard for. Her performance was intelligent, ethereal, and utterly unforgettable.

Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski
Theatre: Actor, Three Sisters
Anyone who follows @MyEntWorld on twitter knows how obsessed I am with @AdrianShepski, the bold, irreverent, unapologetically silly account run by the hilarious Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski. It’s particularly fun, then, to see him in serious theatrical roles like Andrey in Wolf Manor’s Outstanding Production-nominated Three Sisters, a dramatic turn full of nuance and empathy.

Jon Blair
Theatre: Improv/Sketch Production, Toronto SketchFest
In her review of his set at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, Mary-Margaret said “Until seeing Jon Blair at Sketchfest, I was unaware that there was a void in my life. I now question if you have seen comedy until you have seen his Triple Crown character rap about how much he wants to be a horse”. This quote perfectly captures the particular quirk and unquestionable brilliance of comedian Jon Blair.

Katelyn McCulloch
Theatre: Supporting Actress,  Treasure Island 
Twenty years from now, young artists are going to be answering the question “what inspired you to go into theatre” by remembering that in 2017 they saw Treasure Island and Katelyn McCulloch swung through the trees. In a year full of spectacle, Katelyn’s heartfelt and heartstopping aerial-infused performance as a reimagined Ben Gunn was truly unforgettable.

Justin Miller/Pearle Harbour
Theatre: Solo Performance, Chautaqua
When Justin Miller’s throwback drag alter ego Pearle Harbour walked through the flaps of her tent at the 2017 SummerWorks Festival (yes, this is a show that happens in a canvas wartime tent), she looked the audience straight in the eye and we knew this show was going to be an experience. In Pearle, Justin Miller has created a believable yet unreal, subtle yet bombastic, hilarious yet no nonsense character.

Julia Haist
Theatre: Solo Performance, This Is Not She
Julia Haist’s site-specific solo show This Is Not She at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival transported the audience straight back to high school- complete with assignments we were unprepared for and photocopied handouts about a book we hadn’t read- and along the way told an emotionally evocative story about the human side of the teachers we overlook.

Josh Epstein
Theatre: Performance in a Musical, Onegin
One of the most beautiful voices in Canadian musical theatre belongs to sweetheart tenor Josh Epstein. He’s nominated this year for his performance as tragic good guy Lensky in Amiel Gladstone & Veda Hille’s inventive adaptation of Onegin with the Musical Stage Company. Josh has been with the show since the very beginning, touring it across Canada before landing in Toronto to work with a new cast last spring.

Mikaela Davies
Theatre: Actress, The Changeling/New Work, The Mess
Mikaela Davies stormed onto the Stratford Festival’s prestigious Tom Patterson stage in 2017 in the leading role of Middleton & Rowley’s Jacobean classic The Changeling. She then re-teamed with her indie collaborator Polly Phokeev for The Mess, the continuation of their series of intimate site-specific one act plays where Mikaela’s credited as both director and co-creator.

Nora McLellan
Theatre: Supporting Actress, John
One of the most indelible performances of the year came from a Canadian theatre legend who gave new (literal) meaning to the term “she can do it with her eyes closed”. In The Company Theatre’s sublime production of John (one of two Annie Baker pieces that came to define the year in Toronto theatre), Nora McLellan provided big laughs and other-worldly wisdom we’re still wrapping our heads around.

Coming Soon…

Polly Phokeev

Basel Daoud

Jessica Hiemstra

Nola Jean Martin

Victoria Fuller

Arinea Hermans

Julie Foster

Tennille Read

Jamie Cavanagh

Hayden Finkelshtain

Michael Ross Albert

Blue Bigwood-Mallin

Anne van Leeuwen

Stephen Joffe

Luis Fernandes

Nicole Wilson

Andy Trithardt

Mallory Fisher

Sonia Rodriguez

Piotr Stanczyk

Anita Majumdar

Steven Elliott Jackson

Chantal Forde & Mandy Roveda

Adam Belanger & Lindsay Junkin

Clare Blackwood & Ryan Hughes

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