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Castmates, smash hits face off at Dora awards

Arlene Duncan portrays the titular character in Caroline, or Change. Caroline, or Change (2012): Arlene Duncan

Joanna Akyol

The Canadian premiere of Caroline, or Change, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner's musical set in Louisiana during the civil rights movement, leads the nominations for this year's Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

Director Robert McQueen's critically acclaimed, sold-out production of the sung-through musical for Acting Up Stage Company has ten nods heading into Toronto's annual theatre awards

McQueen is up for Outstanding Direction, while six members of the cast will be largely competing against their castmates in the acting categories.

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As there are no separate supporting actor categories for musical theatre at the Doras, both Arlene Duncan, who played the titular frustrated African-American maid, and Deborah Hay, who played her Jewish boss, are nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor. (Both recently won Toronto Theatre Critics Awards for these same performances.)

Caroline, or Change faces just two competitors for Outstanding Production of a Musical, however: Seussical at Young People's Theatre, and I Love You Because at Angelwalk Theatre.

In the play categories, the front-runners are Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad (Nightwood Theatre) and Pamela Mala Sinha's Crash (Theatre Passe Muraille), which both lead the pack with six nominations each.

These two dramas are up for Outstanding Production, where they will be up against Obsidian Theatre Company's two-hander Topdog/Underdog, Tarragon Theatre's production of German play The Golden Dragon and Mirvish Productions' spectacular hit, War Horse.

Crash, Sinha's solo show about the aftermath of a brutal rape, is up for Outstanding New Play, where it will compete against Ins Choi's Fringe-hit-turned-Soulpepper-smash, Kim's Convenience.

The three other works up for Best New Play this year are: Erin Fleck's Those Who Can't Do, about a middle-school sex scandal; Evan Webber's Sophocles-inspired double-bill, Ajax & Little Iliad; and Tim Supple and Hanan al-Shaykh's One Thousand and One Nights, which played at last year's Luminato Festival.

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who recently won Best Actor at the Toronto Theatre Critics Awards for his performances as a Korean-Canadian convenience store owner in Kim's Convenience, is up for the same award here. He'll be up against Jim Mezon, who portrayed artist Mark Rothko in Red; playwright Michael Healey, for his two roles in comedy Clybourne Park; as well as Nigel Shawn Williams and Kevin Hanchard as battling brothers in Topdog/Underdog, which transferred to Toronto after an acclaimed run at the Shaw Festival.

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In the Doras' indie theatre division, three productions tied for the lead in nominations. Theatre Smash's The Ugly One, Ahuri Theatre's A Fool's Life and Theatre Columbus's Christmas show, The Story, are all up for six awards.

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About the Author
Theatre critic

J. Kelly Nestruck is The Globe's theatre critic. More

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