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Nicole Underhay and Rick Roberts in the Tarragon production of The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs.

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).


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

Best Design

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

Special Citation:

Eric Peterson