The Electric Company wins big at the 30th annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards
The Electric Company’s moving and original production of All the Way Home, which won six prizes, dominated the small-theatre category at the 30th annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, which were presented at the Commodore Ballroom on Monday night (June 25).
The small-theatre jury considered All the Way Home the outstanding production and Kim Collier the outstanding director. This show about intimacy and grief, which the Electric Company produced in association with the now-defunct Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, also nabbed the Critics’ Choice Innovation Award.
Newcomer Marshall McMahen got the set-design nod for All the Way Home, and Nicola Lipman was honoured for her witty supporting-actress performance. “This is turning out to be a great time in my life,” the mature performer quipped, “contrary to all predictions.”
It was a stellar night for the gifted Meg Roe, who took both best-actress trophies: in small theatre for All the Way Home, and in large theatre for The Penelopiad.
In small theatre, it was also a good night for Bill Richardson and Veda Hille, who created Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata for the Arts Club Theatre Company. The duo snagged Jessies for both outstanding sound design or original composition and outstanding original script.
The extraordinary cast of The Bomb-itty of Errors (David A. Kaye, Jameson Parker, Brian Cochrane, Niko Koupantsis, and Oker Chen) shared the trophy for significant artistic achievement. And Vanessa Imeson’s outrageous costumes and sculpted wigs won a second Jessie for Bomb-itty, which was coproduced by Temporary Thing and Twenty-Something Theatre.
Andrew Wheeler accepted the small-theatre lead actor laurels for his performance in the Pacific Theatre/Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre coproduction of Sean Devine’s impressive first script, Re:Union. Grabbing the supporting actor prize for his portrait of Satan in Pound of Flesh Theatre’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Michael Kopsa quipped, “I’d like to thank Stephen Harper for the inspiration.” Parjad Sharifi won for his dream-like lighting of Leaky Heaven Circus’s project x (faust).
With four Jessies, Patrick Street Productions’ mounting of The Light in the Piazza led the large-theatre pack. The jury considered Piazza the strongest production and honoured the show’s musical director, Sean Bayntun, and his musicians (Evan Bates, Albertina Chan, Kerry O’Donovan, Janna Sailor, and Lyndon Surjik) with a significant artistic achievement award. Piazza’s designers, Alan Brodie (lighting) and Lance Cardinal (set), also have new Jessies to polish.
Craig Hall accepted the directing honours for Rumble Productions’ Snowman. And Snowman’s Robert Perrault was called to the stage for his sound design and original composition.
Besides its two awards for Craigslist Cantata in small theatre, the Arts Club scooped three Jessies in large theatre. For her portrayal of Odysseus in The Penelopiad, supporting actress Colleen Wheeler joined lead actress Roe in the winners’ circle. And Jonathon Young won the supporting-actor trophy for his embodiment of the tailor in Intimate Apparel.
Greg Armstrong-Morris accepted the large-theatre lead actor Jessie for his portrait of the drag queen Albin in the Playhouse’s La Cage aux Folles.
Mara Gottler accepted the costume-design Jessie for the Bard on the Beach production of The Merchant of Venice. Anton Lipovetsky, who is currently appearing on Bard’s mainstage, received the Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Rachel Peake scored the Ray Michal Prize for Emerging Director. And Meghan Gardiner took home the Sydney Risk Prize for an outstanding original script by an emerging playwright.
Playhouse veterans Pat Smith (costumes) and Kevin Cockell (props) shared the Colin Campbell Award for Excellence in Technical Theatre. “I’ve been in the theatre so long,” the notoriously outspoken Smith said. “Now I’m old and tired, and this is fantastic.” Set designer Pam Johnson tearfully accepted the GVPTA Career Achievement Award.
The John Moffat & Larry Lillo Prize, which allows artists to follow their dreams, went to Théâtre la Seizième’s Craig Holzschuh. Politician and tireless arts supporter Jim Green, who died in February, was honoured with the Georgia Straight Patron of the Arts Award. And stunned Andrée Karas—artistic producer of the ambitious, semi-professional United Players—accepted the Mary Phillips Award for Behind-the-Scenes Achievement.
In the theatre-for-young-audiences awards, Théâtre la Seizième’s production of Le portrait Gooble accumulated Jessies for outstanding production, direction (Rachel Peake), and performance (Vincent Forcier). Drew Facey won the design trophy for Carousel Theatre for Young People’s Aesop’s Fables. Accepting a significant artistic achievement award for outstanding and socially relevant artistic curation, Green Thumb Theatre’s artistic director, Patrick McDonald, wryly noted: “I suppose it will be easy to keep going if the world continues to be as fucked up as it is.”