Chalmers and Harold Awards winners

Rating: NNNNNFrom swanky Bay and Bloor to gritty Queen West, Monday saw two very different awards shows celebrate the performing.

Rating: NNNNN

From swanky Bay and Bloor to gritty Queen West, Monday saw two very different awards shows celebrate the performing arts.

Things got personal at the Chalmers Awards, hosted by patron Joan Chalmers at Pangaea Restaurant, when Michael Healey, winner for The Drawer Boy, accepted the $25,000 prize that goes to each winner.

“That’s a huge amount of money for people like us,” said Healey, who also included a touching thank-you to partner Kate Lynch.

“This play wouldn’t exist without you,” he said. “And even if it did, all this great stuff that’s happened around it would mean way less.”

Ronnie Burkett (winner for Street Of Blood) sent out a call looking for an apartment. He might be moving here from Calgary soon. He also thanked the jury, of which yours truly was a member.

“What they’ve done is historic. There’s no place to go in the world to learn how to write for puppet theatre. Nowhere. This will ripple through my community. I guess I can say I’m a playwright now.”

Other winners were Michel Tremblay (Encore Une Fois, Si Vous Permettez) and Linda Griffiths (Alien Creature). The winners for theatre-for-young-audiences were Gail Nyoka (Mella Mella) and Leslie Arden (The Happy Prince).


If the evening’s biggest bravos came for Tarragon Theatre’s artistic director Urjo Kareda, who received an award for artistic direction, the night’s major gaffe belonged to Murray Frum.

When it was announced that ballerina Evalyn Hart, winner of the National Dance Award, was absent, co-host Frum blurted, “Good thing she’s not here — there wouldn’t be anything else for us to eat.”

Was that some sick reference to a possible eating disorder? Ugh.


“I love to see people cry at these things,” said Jean Yoon to me in the middle of the Harold Awards later that night. She got her wish.

The tears were flowing when writer Michael Rawley presented a Harold to actor and best friend Wendy Kreckler, who donated a kidney to Rawley last November.

The Harolds, named for the late Harold Kandel, a theatregoer and frequent heckler, honour the often unheralded in the theatre community. Winners also included director Sally Han producer/organizer Sandra Hodnett VideoCabaret’s Michael Hollingsworth actor/educator Christine Moynihan artist Peter Nikolic producer Gregory Nixon Tarragon front-of-house manager Natasha Parsons director/lighting designer Kim Purtell technicians Marcus Magdalena Rakov and Roger West actor Rose Stella and administrator Jennifer Watkins.

Simon Heath won the Ken McDougall Director’s Fund Award, and Griffiths — who gave him his first professional directing gig with Alien Creature — cheered him on after arriving from the Chalmers.

“He’s the only 27-year-old 40-year-old I know,” she said of the up-and-coming director.

The most celebrated person at the Chalmers and Harolds wasn’t there in person.

Theatre writer and broadcaster Mira Friedlander, who died last Wednesday (May 10) of breast cancer, was toasted all evening.

The Chalmers Awards were dedicated to her memory.

“Many of you know she died this week,’ said co-host Barbara Amesbury. “No. She didn’t die, she was killed. By cancer.’

At the Harold Awards, Sally Szuster presented a posthumous award to Friedlander.

“She thought very highly of the Harolds,’ said Szuster. “She always spoke of how important it was to honour our peers.’

Friedlander’s husband, Wayne Fairhead, accepted the award, designed by Sam Ferrara.

A special tribute to Friedlander, respected for her articles in Toronto dailies, broadcasts on Classical 96 and reviews in the trade magazine Variety, will be held at Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House) June 5 at 7 pm.

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