To no one's surprise, Come From Away has picked up a planeload of nominations for this year's Dora Mavor Moore Awards.
The Newfoundland-set musical written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein has eight heading into Toronto's annual celebration of theatre, dance and opera – including a nod for outstanding production of a musical and three for outstanding performance (male: Chad Kimball; female: Astrid Van Wieren and Jenn Colella).
But what of the season's other shows – those that are not currently pulling in over $1-million (U.S.) a week on Broadway or up for a ton of Tony Awards?
Well, despite a year of programming packed with remounts ahead of its own trip down to New York this July, Soulpepper Theatre Company leads the way with 23 nominations in the general theatre division.
Eight came for Weyni Mengesha's epic production of Suzan-Lori Parks's Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts I, II, III). Another three came for Alan Dilworth's gripping take on Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy.
Those two shows are justifiably up for outstanding production – where they will compete with director Philip Akin's masterful take on Athol Fugard's "Master Harold"… and the Boys (Obsidian Theatre in co-production with the Shaw Festival); Nick Green's buzzworthy new play Body Politic (Buddies in Bad Times); and Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken's brilliant two-hander, Mouthpiece (Quote Unquote Collective, presented by Nightwood Theatre).
Body Politic, which dramatizes the history of the influential Canadian queer magazine of the same name, is up for outstanding new play as well. Green will compete for that award against David Yee's acquiesce; Diane Flacks's Unholy; Kristen Thomson's The Wedding Party; and, a tad surprisingly, Katherine Cullen and Britta Johnson's Stupidhead! A Musical Comedy (which perhaps chose to be considered as a comedy rather than a musical in order to avoid the Come From Away juggernaut).
Mengesha, Dilworth and Akin are all up for outstanding direction for the aforementioned shows – as is Nina Lee Aquino for her sumptuous world premiere of acquiesce. Ashlie Corcoran rounds out that category, co-nominated with her associate director Christopher Stanton for their ARC/Theatre Smash co-production of Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderon's KISS at Canadian Stage (whew!).
Back to the musical theatre division: Come From Away's main competitor is the Musical Stage Company (formerly Acting Up Stage) and Obsidian Theatre's co-production of American musician Stew's autobiographical musical Passing Strange, which, likewise, has eight Dora nominations to its name. Philip Akin is up for outstanding direction here, too – and nominated actors include Beau Dixon (already a Toronto Theatre Critics Award-winner for his work as the show's narrator), Jahlen Barnes and Sabryn Rock.
Matilda: The Musical (Mirvish Productions) garnered six nominations including a male performance nod for the actor playing the evil Miss Trunchbull, Dan Chameroy (who just won the Toronto Theatre Critics Award for best supporting actor in a musical for the same).
Theatre for Young Audiences's production of Seussical and the Lemon Bucket Orkestra's Counting Sheep – an immersive musical about the Maidan revolution in Ukraine currently on a European tour – are the final two nominees for outstanding production of a musical.
For those wondering where the Company Theatre's production of Annie Baker's John, a big winner at the Toronto Theatre Critics Awards this year, is in all this, it is competing in the independent division of the Doras.
Three of its actors are up for performance awards (Nancy Beatty, Nora McLellan and Philip Riccio), but the critically acclaimed show did not get a nomination for outstanding indie production.
The five shows that are nominated: This is the Point (Ahuri Theatre and the Theatre Centre); Pomona (ARC); The Emancipation of Ms. Lovely (Emancipation Arts with Crow's Theatre); Tough Jews (The Spadina Avenue Gang) and Prince Hamlet (Why Not Theatre).
Christine Horne, who played Hamlet in that latter production, is up for outstanding female performance opposite Beatty, McLellan, Ngozi Paul (for her performance in her own play The Emancipation of Ms. Lovely) and Elley-Ray Hennessy (for her role in The Death of Mrs. Gandhi and the Beginning of New Physics).
(The Doras give out awards for male and female performance, but do not distinguish between lead or supporting performances.)
All in all, on June 26 at the Elgin Theatre, 48 Dora Mavor Moore Awards will be handed out in a ceremony hosted by Raoul Bhaneja. These include awards for opera (the Canadian Opera Company leads with 27 nominations for five productions), dance (Danceworks leads with 12 nominations for five productions) and theatre for young audiences (Roseneath Theatre leads with five nods for two shows).