It was a good year for new Canadian plays in Toronto – and an excellent one for revivals of older Canadian plays.
That's the main takeaway from the 2016 Dora Mavor Moore Awards nominations – honouring the best in Toronto theatre, dance and opera – that were announced on Monday morning.
For the first time in recent memory, all five nominees for best production in the general theatre division were for Canadian works.
Read the full list of Dora nominees here.
Factory Theatre's celebrated stripped-down "Naked Season" versions of David French's Salt-Water Moon and Anosh Irani's Bombay Black are up for the award, along with Videocabaret's remount of its own First World War history play The Great War.
So too are productions of two new plays: Kat Sandler's comedy Mustard (for Tarragon Theatre) and Jordan Tannahill's double-bill of Botticelli in the Fire and Sunday in Sodom (for Canadian Stage).
Sandler and Tannahill's plays will also battle for the title of outstanding new play along with Fabrizio Filippo's The Summoned (Tarragon Theatre), Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry's Gertrude and Alice (Buddies in Bad Times) and Severn Thompson's adaptation of Douglas Glover's book Elle (Theatre Passe Muraille).
Botticelli in the Fire and Sunday in Sodom and Mustard both received the most nominations overall in the general theatre division – with Mustard director Ashlie Corcoran competing in the direction category against the Tannahill double bill's two stagers (Matjash Mrozewski and Estelle Shook) and Peter Hinton for Bombay Black. Ravi Jain fills out the last two slots in that category – his direction of Salt-Water Moon competing against his direction for We Are Proud to Present… at the Theatre Centre.
In the independent division (for plays in smaller theatres or with lower budgets), Jain's Why Not Theatre's production of Nicolas Billon's Butcher – which will return to Toronto as part of the next Off-Mirvish season – leads with eight nominations.
The Winter's Tale (the debut show from Graham Abbey's Groundling Theatre Company) and Crawlspace (Karen Hines solo show about a real-estate nightmare at Videofag) garnered five apiece, while Huff (Cliff Cardinal's scorching solo for Native Earth Performing Arts) received four.
That quartet of shows and the Storefront Theatre's holiday musical, La Chasse Galerie, are all up for best indie production.
In the musical theatre categories, Mirvish Productions leads with 13 nominations. The Toronto production of Kinky Boots earned it 10 nods – and is up for best musical against Grey Gardens (Acting Up Stage Company), The Wizard of Oz (Young People's Theatre), Century Song (Volcano Theatre) and One Night Only: The Greatest Musical Never Written (Golden Ages Productions).
The Dora decision a few years back to eliminate supporting acting categories continues to make the races for "outstanding performance – male" and "outstanding performance – female" a muddle. In the musical theatre division, for instance, you'll find Jeff Lillico's supporting turn in Grey Gardens up against Alan Mingo Jr.'s leading performance as Lola in Kinky Boots – and also up against Ron Pederson's improvisational work in One Night Only: The Greatest Musical Never Written, which varied from supporting to lead, night to night.
Pederson's not the only actor up for an improvised performance – Rebecca Northan's nominated for best actress in a play for her funny, empathetic work on her hit comedy, Blind Date. She's competing against four actresses who had the disadvantage of saying the same words every night: Anusree Roy in Bombay Black, Mayko Nguyen in Salt-Water Moon, Sarah Dodd in Mustard and Valerie Buhagiar in Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom.
In total, there are 236 Dora nominations in 48 categories – including opera (where the COC's Seigfried and La Traviata are tied at eight apiece), dance (where Danceworks landed eight nods) and "Theatre for Young Audiences" (which, you'll be unsurprised to learn, Young People's Theatre dominates). Winners will be announced at a ceremony on June 27.
Read the full list of Dora nominees here.
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