Carole Fréchette's The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs, British Columbia-born roller-coaster musical Ride the Cyclone and the Canadian premiere of Tony Kushner's civil-rights-era musical Caroline, or Change were the big winners at this year's Toronto Theatre Critics' Awards
Each of these shows was honoured three times for their contribution to the city's 2011-2012 theatre season.
Tarragon Theatre's English-language premiere of Fréchette's rewrite of the Bluebeard folk tale dominated the play categories. It was named best production of a play, while Weyni Mengesha was named best director of a play and star Nicole Underhay was named best actress. (Read The Globe and Mail's review here.
In the musical categories, Atomic Vaudeville's quirky cross-country hit Ride the Cyclone – which had a sold-out run at Theatre Passe Muraille in the fall – was named best new musical.
Directors Britt Small and Jacob Richmond were named best directors of a musical, while Elliott Loran won a best-supporting-actor award for his performance as a comic-book geek who sings of his dreams of being a "Space Age Bachelor Man." (Globe and Mail review here.)
Meanwhile, Robert McQueen's production of Caroline, or Change for Acting Up Stage Company was named best production of a musical. Stars Arlene Duncan and Deborah Hay, who played maid and mistress in this Kushner musical, were named as best lead and supporting actresses, respectively.
In what is only the second edition of TTCAs, the best new play category was split into two. Ins Choi's Fringe hit turned Soulpepper smash Kim's Convenience was named best new play from Canada, while Roland Schimmelpfennig's dark, theatrical drama The Golden Dragon was named the best international play of the year.
In addition to the usual roster of awards, the jury decided to give a special citation to actor Eric Peterson, who lit up the stage in The Company Theatre's The Test, Soulpepper's You Can't Take It With You and the Crow's Theatre/Porte Parole docudrama Seeds this season.
"Even now as an eminent senior actor, beloved for his past roles on the homegrown TV series Corner Gas and Street Legal, he continues to lend his considerable talents to smaller companies and edgier fare," wrote The Grid critic and Globe and Mail contributor Martin Morrow.
This year, the TTCAs were decided by critics from The Globe and Mail (J. Kelly Nestruck), The Grid (Martin Morrow), National Post (Robert Cushman), NOW Magazine (Glenn Sumi) and the Toronto Star (Richard Ouzounian).
THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS:
Best Canadian Play
Kim's Convenience by Ins Choi (Soulpepper Theatre)
Best International Play
The Golden Dragon by Roland Schimmelpfennig (Tarragon Theatre)
Best Production of a Play
The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs (Tarragon Theatre)
Best Director of a Play
Weyni Mengesha, The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs
War Horse creative team (National Theatre/Mirvish Productions)
Best Actress in a Play
Nicole Underhay, The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs
Best Actor in a Play
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Kim's Convenience
Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Kelli Fox, The Penelopiad (Nightwood Theatre)
Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Philip Riccio, The Test (The Company Theatre and Canadian Stage)
Best New Musical
Ride the Cyclone by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell (An Atomic Vaudeville production presented by Theatre Passe Muraille in association with Acting Up Stage Company)
Best Production of a Musical
Caroline, or Change (Acting Up Stage Company in association with Obsidian)
Best Director of a Musical
Britt Small and Jacob Richmond, Ride the Cyclone
Best Actress in a Musical
Arlene Duncan, Caroline, or Change
Best Actor in a Musical
Sahr Ngaujah, Fela! (Presented by Mirvish Productions)
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Deborah Hay, Caroline, or Change
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Elliott Loran, Ride the Cyclone