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The curtain is up on some changes at Vancouver’s Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, including the merging of the lead and supporting acting categories. Gone are the lead and supporting distinctions – there are now 10 nominees each for outstanding performance by an actor and outstanding performance by an actress in both the large and small theatre categories. There is also a new category for ensemble acting.

Other changes this year include handing out the awards in mid-July rather than late June, and at the Bard on the Beach main stage, rather than the Commodore Ballroom, where the event has taken place for years.

According to a Jessies spokesperson, the board of directors wanted to reduce the number of awards, both for financial reasons and because the show was “becoming longer and longer.”

The board decided reducing the number of acting awards was a logical solution; previously performers had five categories for which they could be nominated, but other disciplines had only one potential category.

Ensemble acting was given its own category, as it was often dominating the award for Significant Artistic Achievement – and that was squeezing the opportunities for other disciplines.

Founded in 1982, the Jessie Awards recognize professional theatre achievement in Vancouver and are named for local actor and director Jessie Richardson, who also co-founded the Playhouse Holiday Theatre.

As for this year’s nominees, the Arts Club Theatre Company leads in the large theatre category with 12 productions receiving 34 nominations, including Hand to God, which co-leads with six nominations, including Oliver Castillo and Jennifer Lines in the acting categories and Stephen Drover for outstanding direction.

Pacific Theatre’s Outside Mullingar also has six nominations for large theatre, including outstanding production, Angela Konrad for direction, John Emmet Tracy for outstanding actor and Erla Faye Forsyth for outstanding actress.

Also nominated for outstanding production in the large theatre category are: The Arts Club’s Fun Home, Misery and Topdog/Underdog, and Much Ado About Nothing at Bard on the Beach.

The other nominated directors in the large theatre category are Lois Anderson for Fun Home, Dean Paul Gibson for Topdog/Underdog and Kim Collier for Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika.

Drover was also nominated for outstanding direction in the small theatre category for Rumble Theatre’s production of The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius, which received eight nominations, including outstanding production – the most of any production.

Also nominated for outstanding production in the small theatre category are: Cave Canem Productions’ The Lonesome West, SpeakEasy Theatre’s The Shipment and Monster Theatre’s Who Killed Gertrude Crump?

Angela Konrad was also nominated for direction in the small theatre category for Dark Glass Theatre’s Ruined. Rounding out that category are: Ryan Gladstone for Who Killed Gertrude Crump? and Omari Newton and Kayvon Khoshkam for The Shipment.

Nominated for best original script are: Rachel Aberle for The Code, Mark Leiren-Young for Bar Mitzvah Boy, Colleen Murphy for The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius, Tetsuro Shigematsu for 1 Hour Photo and Jovanni Sy for Nine Dragons.

To read the full list:

Winners will be announced on July 16.