Vancouver’s French-language company Théâtre la Seizième scored big time at the 33rd annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards at the Commodore Ballroom on June 22.
The awards are divided into three categories—large-theatre, small-theatre, and theatre-for-young-audiences—and are determined by separate juries. In the large-theatre competition, la Seizième’s mounting of Michel Tremblay’s À toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou dominated the main categories, taking a whopping six prizes. It won as outstanding production; Craig Holzschuh got the directing nod; Drew Facey was honoured for his set design; and performers Joey Lespérance, France Perras, and Julie Trépanier were recognized as best actor, actress, and supporting actress.
In the TYA category, la Seizième received another two Jessies for its production of Selfie: director Rachel Peake was called to the stage to pick up the Jessie for outstanding artistic creation, and Trépanier, Siona Gareau-Brennan, and Vincent Leblanc-Beaudoin shared the honours for outstanding performance. For Selfie, Christine Quintana also won the Sydney Risk Prize for playwriting, bringing la Seizième’s haul to nine.
The Arts Club won two Jessies, both for Saint Joan: Dean Paul Gibson’s turn as the Machiavellian Earl of Warwick earned him the supporting-actor laurels, and Alessandro Juliani was recognized for his sound design.
In accepting his prize, Gibson jokingly referred to his fellow nominees Andrew Cownden and Robert Salvador: “First of all, let me say how happy I am to share this category with another couple of white guys.”
The Gateway Theatre’s Crazy for You also scored a double—for Julie Tomaino’s choreography and Carmen Alatorre’s costumes. Lighting designer Lauchlin Johnston earned Pacific Theatre’s sole win for his work on The Whipping Man.
Allotment of booty was more widely spread in the small-theatre division. Osimous Theatre nabbed the trophy for outstanding production of a play for Our Town, and its cast (Bob Frazer, Craig Erickson, Quelemia Stacey Sparrow, Jessica Ross-Howkins, John Shaw, Dawn Petten, Lauren Jackson, Chris Cope, and Varya Rubin) shared an artistic-achievement award for their ensemble performance. Best-directing recognition went to Richard Wolfe for Pi Theatre’s Blasted, which also garnered attention for lighting designer Jeff Harrison and set designer Drew Facey (winner of the set-design award in large theatre as well).
Ruby Slippers also took three Jessies, including two in the lead-acting categories—Scott Bellis and Jennifer Lines in After Me (Après Moi)—and adding a third for Mara Gottler’s costumes for The Duchess a.k.a. Wallis Simpson.
Peter Carlone’s turn in Staircase Theatre’s Hunter Gatherers topped the supporting-actor competition. The guy who picked up Carlone’s trophy said, “Hi. My name’s Kyle. I’m subletting Peter’s place and he says thanks.”
Lindsey Angell’s harrowing performance in Dirt Road Productions’ Iceland earned her the supporting-actress honours.
The small-theatre jury considered emerging company Delinquent Theatre’s remount of STATIONARY: a recession-era musical top dog in the musical category, and Mishelle Cuttler’s score for that piece was also recognized.
In the world of theatre for young audiences, Green Thumb Theatre’s Celestial Being was chosen as outstanding production. Monster Theatre’s Dusty Hagerud and Tara Travis shared the design prize for The Little Prince, and Axis Theatre’s Jessica Oostergo and Shizuka Kai shared an artistic-achievement award for their design concept and execution for Axis Theatre’s Hamelin: A New Fable.
A number of individuals also received special awards. Speaking on video because he’s travelling, actor, UBC theatre prof, and long-time Province critic Jerry Wasserman accepted the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance Career Achievement Award. And Scott Ashton Swan, a major promoter of musical theatre, was delighted when called to the stage to take the Mary Phillips Prize for Behind-the-Scenes Achievement.
Zee Zee Theatre’s Cameron Mackenzie nabbed the Ray Michal Prize for most promising new director, and stage manager and designer Sarah Mobberly took the Sam Payne Award for most promising newcomer. The Colin Campbell Award for excellence in technical theatre went to builder, designer, and teacher Lorraine West.
Chair of the B.C. Arts Council Stan Hamilton, who is an active fundraiser and generous donor, took the patron-of-the-arts award, and actor Jill Daum accepted the John Moffat and Larry Lillo Prize, a cash award that will allow her to work on a script inspired by her relationship with her husband, songwriter John Mann, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Indian Arm, Hiro Kanagawa’s rich reworking of Henrik Ibsen’s Little Eyolf for Rumble Theatre, was chosen as outstanding new script. And the Georgia Straight Critics’ Choice Innovation Award was bestowed upon Theatre Conspiracy’s Foreign Radical, which examines the erosion of personal rights and freedom post-9/11.