It's that time again, when Toronto theatre and dance artists get ready to party at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Celebrating the best of the past year's productions, the awards are named for Toronto theatre pioneer Dora Mavor Moore.
This year's 29th annual awards, to be presented June 30 at the Winter Garden Theatre, are divided into five categories: independent theatre, general theatre, opera, theatre for young audiences (TYA) and dance.
Announced yesterday (Thursday, June 5) at a press conference, the nominees were drawn from a record 219 productions, which included 47 new plays and musicals.
VideoCabaret's Laurier took six nominations in the indie division, with other strong showings by Aluna Theatre's Madre, Modern Times Stage Company's Waiting For Godot, single threat's A Quiet Place, Theare Rusticle's April 14, 1912, Carlos Bulosan Theatre/Theatre Passe Muraille's People Power and Independent Aunties/Theatre Centre's Breakfast.
In the TYA division, five productions took all the nominations: Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People's productions of Love Your Forever... And More Munsch and Cranked, (the latter a co-pro with Vancouver's Green Thumb), Theatre Direct Canada's Binti's Journey and Offensive Fouls and Factory Theatre/Luminato's Tough!
Canadian Stage's Fire and Soulpepper's Top Girls each received seven nominations in the general division, with Canadian Stage getting 21 nominations in all.
Opera Atelier's Idomeneo topped the nominations in the opera division. In dance, DanceWorks received nine nominations for shows that include Bas-Reliefs, adelheid solos and A Story Before Time. Peggy Baker's Portal received three nominations.
The press conference was also the opportunity for presenting several other awards, several of them emotionally received by their recipients. The Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award for excellence in the performing arts went to Fiona Reid, while dramaturge Iris Turcott picked up the George Luscombe Award for mentorship in theatre.
A new prize for administrators, the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award (named in honour of the owners of Theatrebooks), went to Buddies in Bad Times artistic producer Jim LeFrançois.
The Doras ceremony is open to everyone, of course, so you come and celebrate with the community. But you can also help choose a winner, since for the third year NOW co-sponsors the Audience Choice Award. From June 12 to 27, you can vote online at nowtoronto.com for your fave production of the 2007-2008 season. I'll be presenting the award, selected by the Toronto theatre-going public, at the Doras.
Best moment at the press conference? Daniel MacIvor, presenting the nominees along with Tracy Wright, raised his eyebrows when he saw that the nominees for outstanding performance by a male in a principal role (musical) included both Ross Petty for Peter Pan, The Family Musical and Keith Cole for Buddies' Arthouse Cabaret.
Both men are, in their own way, outrageous onstage (nor does Cole limit his unpredictable energy simply to performing), but MacIvor suggested an unusual method of duking it out: he wondered aloud who'd win a mud-wrestling match.
I'd lay odds on Cole.