Jerusalem was led to the promised land at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards on Monday night.
The Toronto premiere of playwright Jez Butterworth’s 2009 state-of-the-English-nation play picked up six awards including outstanding production in the general-theatre division of the city’s performing-arts awards.
Director Mitchell Cushman won the Dora for outstanding direction for his immersive trailer-park production, which was co-produced by Outside the March, the Company Theatre and Starvox Entertainment at Crow’s Theatre this winter.
Kim Coates, the Saskatoon-born Sons of Anarchy star, was named best actor for his critically acclaimed turn as the ex-daredevil drug dealer Rooster Byron – a role that brought him back to theatre after a 25-year absence from the stage. The 14 actors who performed around him in the large-scale show were named the best ensemble.
If you missed Coates’s jaw-dropping performance, you’re out of luck: There are no plans to revive Jerusalem at the moment.
Many of the other big Dora winners from Monday night, however, are already set to have life after.
First and foremost: Life After, Stratford, Ont.-raised composer/lyricist Britta Johnson’s moving show about a grieving girl named Alice discovering secrets about her deceased father, which was named the best new musical or opera of the 2017-18 season.
The Musical Stage Company’s world premiere (co-produced with Canadian Stage and Yonge Street Theatricals) picked up six awards in total, including outstanding production of a musical – beating out both Fun Home and Mr. Shi and His Lover, the two shows that swept the musical-theatre categories at the Toronto Theatre Critics Awards last month.
Director Robert McQueen won for outstanding direction, while actress Tracy Michailidis – who played Alice’s mother – was named the best actress in a musical.
Next stop for Life After: An American premiere at the Old Globe in San Diego, Calif., in March of 2019.
There were three prizes for outstanding new play presented at the Dora Awards.
Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools, created by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Evalyn Parry, won in the general division. For those who missed this outside-the-box North-South collaboration in its sold-out run at Buddies in Bad Times (in co-production with Theatre Passe Muraille) last fall, it is soon set to tour to Iqaluit, Vancouver and Montreal before returning to Toronto for the Luminato Festival in 2019.
Bears, Alberta-based playwright Matthew MacKenzie’s theatricalized tale of an Indigenous man on the run in the Western Canadian wilderness (the flora and fauna played, unforgettably, by a chorus of eight female dancers), won outstanding play in the indie theatre division. The touring show (from Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts and Punctuate! Theatre) was also named the outstanding indie production of the season –and will return to Toronto at Factory Theatre in 2019.
Selfie, Siminovitch Prize-protégée Christine Quintana’s take on teenagers, social media and sexual consent, was named outstanding play in the theatre for young audiences division. Its next production is at Vancouver’s Tremors Festival in August.
Other notable Dora wins:
- The Musical Stage Company’s Toronto premiere of 2015 Tony Award-winner Fun Home wasn’t totally blanked: Stratford Festival veteran Evan Buliung won best actor in a musical for his critically acclaimed performance as the closeted father of lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel, whose graphic memoir the show is based on.
- Michaela Washburn won best actress in the general-theatre division for her multifaceted performance as Métis leader Louis Riel in Confederation and Riel, produced by VideoCabaret in association with Soulpepper. Among the nominees she beat to the award? Michaela Washburn, for her multifaceted performance as Riel in the sequel, also staged last summer at Soulpepper, Scandal and Rebellion.
- In the opera categories, Orphée⁺, presented by Against the Grain Theatre in association with Banff Centre and Opera Columbus, was the big winner, taking home five Dora Awards including outstanding production.
- In the dance division, Until the Lions – an Akram Khan Company production that was presented by the Luminato Festival – won for outstanding production.
The full list of all the Dora winners can be found here.