Les Miserables and London Road, two critically acclaimed musicals of extremely different flavours, are set for an exciting showdown at this year’s Dora Mavor Moore Awards, which honour the best in Toronto theatre, dance and opera.
The former is a rejuvenated version of a much-loved megamusical presented in Toronto by Mirvish Productions before moving to Broadway with many of its Canadian cast members.
The latter is an experimental British documentary musical about the murder of five sex workers in Ipswich in 2006, shown for just three weeks at Canadian Stage, one of the city’s biggest not-for-profit companies.
The two shows have little in common beyond having tied to lead the Dora nominations announced Monday morning with 11 nods each. Their biggest faceoff will come in the category of outstanding musical, in which they will also be up against The Barber of Seville (from Soulpepper), Once Upon This Island (from Acting Up Stage Company) and le fa le do (from Théâtre français de Toronto).
Les Miserables star Ramin Karimloo, currently up for a Tony Award for his portrayal of Jean Valjean, will compete against London Road’s Damien Atkins in the category of outstanding male performance in a musical. Karimloo is also up against his castmates Mark Uhre, who played Enjorlas, and Aiden Glenn, the preteen who alternated as Gavroche. (Once on this Island’s Daren A. Herbert rounds out the category.)
The Doras eliminated supporting actor categories last year – and that a Valjean is competing against half a Gavroche demonstrates the utter folly of that decision.
But, otherwise, this year’s Dora nominations seem refreshingly in tune with audience and critical acclaim. In the general theatre division, Tarragon Theatre leads the way with 16 nominations including five for its Dostoevsky-inspired physical-theatre show The Double and another four for Weyni Mengesha’s critically acclaimed production of Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs.
Those two shows are competing in the outstanding production of a play category with Canadian Stage’s spellbinding Venus in Fur; Buddies in Bad Times’ shocking PIG; and Soulpepper’s exciting adaptation of Of Human Bondage (which, with nine nominations in total, is this year’s most nominated play). The only real surprise in this category is that Soulpepper’s much-lauded revival of Angels In America was not nominated – though Damien Atkins and Nancy Palk, both recent winners of Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards, were both nominated for their performances.
In indie theatre, Suburban Beast’s production of Sheila Heti’s play All our Happy Days are Stupid – which will tour to Off-Broadway in the new year – was nominated for four awards. It is up against Litmus Theatre’s stylish Birth of Frankenstein; Ahuri Theatre’s romantic Ralph + Lina; VideoCabaret’s hilarious Trudeau and the FLQ; and Outside the March’s immersive Vitals for outstanding production in what was a strong year for indie theatre.
Administered by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, the Dora Mavor Moore awards give out 48 prizes in six divisions including dance, opera and theatre for young audiences.