The Governor-General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala, Ottawa
Performing-arts players and patrons from across Canada came together at the National Arts Centre on April 27 to celebrate this year’s Governor-General’s Performing Arts Award laureates. Cocktails and dinner kicked off the evening. Gerda Hnatyshyn – whose husband, the late Ramon John Hnatyshyn, established the awards in 1992 while governor-general to honour Canada’s top performing artists – was seated at the table hosted by NAC Foundation board chair Janice O’Born. The tribute show followed inside Southam Hall, where the proceedings stuck to the usual run of events we’ve come to expect at the GGPAAs. For each of the honorees, there’s a short film produced by the National Film Board – this year, director Érik Cimon’s whimsical short honouring pianist Louise Bessette, and Ariane Louis-Seize’s film for actor Lorraine Pintal, were among the highlights – and then there are remarks, almost always made by a beloved colleague or friend. This year, Jann Arden honoured her pal Rick Mercer and Patrick Huard honoured his onetime film co-star Colm Feore. There are performances, too: Mavis Staines was honoured with a piece by choreographer Robert Binet, Metric singer Emily Haines performed alongside the NAC Orchestra for laureate Sandra Oh and soprano Caroline Bleau honoured Noël Spinelli, who received this year’s award for voluntarism. Presiding over it all was Julie Payette, Canada’s Governor-General, who continued to make her mark on the event – notably opting this year not to sit with the laureates, but rather with her next of kin in a box near the stage. Festivities continued after the show as gala guests, tribute-show ticket-holders and the 2019 laureates funnelled back into the NAC lobby for a bustling after-party hosted by Air Canada, this year’s presenting sponsor.
The Match II in support of Canadian Stage, Toronto
The previous week, on April 17 in Toronto, two of the city’s beloved theatre companies – Canadian Stage and Soulpepper – went head-to-head at a gala that served as Canadian Stage’s annual fundraiser. The organization ditched the speeches and auctions for a do chaired by Sandra Simpson that was dubbed The Match II. It saw Brendan Healy and Weyni Mengesha, the newly appointed artistic directors of the aforementioned not-for-profit theatres, and their respective teams battle it out in the ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel. It wasn’t so much a brawl as it was a theatre-knowledge showdown, complete with game-show theme music, boxing gloves and an energetic scorekeeper. Canadian Stage took home bragging rights, and while the 400 or so who attended were a mix of both theatre companies’ supporters, the funds raised will directly support Canadian Stage’s continued efforts to produce and present boundary-pushing work.
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