Soulpepper received a much-needed vote of confidence from the Dora Mavor Moore Awards on Thursday, as the embattled Toronto theatre company received a leading 13 nominations in the general theatre division of the performing arts awards.
Company co-founder Diana Leblanc’s production of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance and director Daniel Brooks’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot are both up for outstanding production, while director Alan Dilworth’s expressionistic take on German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Idomeneus picked up five nominations, including a nod for Dilworth for outstanding direction.
Dilworth is currently Soulpepper’s acting artistic director – having stepped into that role after founding artistic director Albert Schultz resigned in January, when four civil suits were filed against him and the theatre by past company members alleging he was a “serial sexual predator.” (Schultz has vowed to “vigorously defend” himself against the allegations.)
Playwright and director Djanet Sears, who like Dilworth is considered a serious candidate in the current search for a permanent new artistic director for Soulpepper, garnered an outstanding direction nomination, too, for her production of for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.
Buddies in Bad Times also has two shows up for outstanding production in the general theatre division: Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools (a co-production with Theatre Passe Muraille that garnered four nominations in total); and LULU v.7 / / aspects of a femme fatale (whose co-creators ted witzel and Helen Yung are up for outstanding direction and outstanding scenic design, respectively).
Jerusalem, Outside the March and Company Theatre’s hit production of Jez Butterworth’s play, is the fifth and final show up for outstanding production in the general theatre division. It received six Dora nods in total, including outstanding male performance for Sons of Anarchy star Kim Coates’s critically acclaimed return to the stage and outstanding direction for Mitchell Cushman. (Tarragon Theatre artistic director Richard Rose is the fifth nominee for outstanding direction for his recent rock’n’roll production of Hamlet.)
Five scripts are up for outstanding new play in the general division: The Boy in the Moon by Emil Sher based on the book by The Globe and Mail’s Ian Brown; Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools by Evalyn Parry and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory; Take d Milk, Nah? by Jiv Parasram; Bang Bang by Kat Sandler; and Lo (or Dear Mr Wells) by Rose Napoli.
In the Doras’ musical theatre division, the Musical Stage Company is dominant – with 12 nominations for its world premiere of Britta Johnson’s Life After (co-produced with Canadian Stage and Yonge Street Theatricals); six for its Toronto premiere of past Tony winner Fun Home (presented by David Mirvish); and another three for Veda Hille and Amiel Gladstone’s Onegin.
Those three shows will compete for outstanding production of a musical against Tarragon Theatre’s presentation of Wong Teng Chi and Njo Kong Kie’s Mr. Shi and His Lover (which recently was named best new musical at the Toronto Theatre Critics Awards); and the Young People’s Theatre production of Beauty and the Beast.
The Overcoat – a musical tailoring, writer Morris Panych and composer James Rolfe’s opera based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, is the leading show in the Dora’s opera division, picking up 10 nominations in total for its co-producers Canadian Stage, Tapestry Opera and Vancouver Opera.
Canadian Stage received a total of 24 nominations in the opera, dance, musical theatre and touring divisions – making it the most-nominated performing arts company of the 2017-2018 season, despite having no nominations in the general theatre division – yet another a sign of how completely outgoing artistic director Matthew Jocelyn has transformed the company.
A total of 237 Dora nominees were announced on Thursday morning – including in the independent theatre and theatre for young audiences division.
The 48 winners will be announced on June 25 at the Winter Garden Theatre in a ceremony hosted by Come From Away’s Astrid Van Wieren.