Ass-kissing, petty jealousy and plain stupidity.
Those are the only words I can use to explain the more outrageous Dora Award nominations and omissions revealed last Friday. Of course, many nominations were richly deserved.
In the General division, the strongest list is for lead performance by a female in a play, which includes Linda Griffiths (Alien Creature), Nora McLellan (Music For Contortionist), Yanna McIntosh (Belle), Jane Spidell (Motel Hélène) and Rita LaFontaine for the French-language version of Michel Tremblay's Encore Une Fois, Si Vous Permettez. It's too bad Irene Poole's radiant performance in Glace Bay Miner's Museum couldn't be recognized. Ditto Soo Garay's breakthrough performance in Belle.
The list for lead performance by a male in a play is also fine, with Diego Matamoros deserving both nods for two roles that couldn't be more different -- the servant in Endgame and the masterful manipulator in The Play's The Thing. Puppeteer Ronnie Burkett achieved a deserving first, an acting nomination for a puppet show. Oliver Becker brought warmth and humour to The Beauty Queen Of Leenane, but if jurors thought Donald Sutherland would add old-school class to the list, they obviously forgot Jim Mezon in Patience or Ron White in Heaven, two performances more deserving of that fifth spot.
In the Independent category, Building Jerusalem and Chekhov's Shorts deserve every nomination they earned -- seven and six, respectively, including acting nods for Dean Gilmour, Martin Julien, Liisa Repo-Martell (who could easily have been nominated for Judith Thompson's shut-out Perfect Pie) and Kim Renders. Even on limited budgets, these two shows were among the season's best.
The most exciting category is Outstanding Set Design. Each of the nominees deserves the prize, including Ken MacDonald (The Overcoat), Richard Hudson (The Lion King); Michael Levine (Platonov); and Levine's former proteges, Julie Fox (competing against herself in Endgame and Faust) and Dany Lyne (Pelléas Et Melisande).
With one exception, the nominees for Outstanding New Musical are a joke. What's "new" about Leslie Arden's A Meeting Of Minds -- basically a revue of rehashed material? I can't remember one song from Nude Beach Wear 100% Off, last year's unexceptional Second City revue. Swing shows (like Forever Swing and Swingstep) already feel dated -- will someone please swing an axe at them? Which leaves Anything That Moves, Allen Cole and Ann-Marie MacDonald's charming if long-winded look at love in all its varieties.
Why were Dora jurors so impressed with Chaz Thorne's The Dogpatch, a painfully earnest play about abuse and poverty in Halifax? It scored eight nods. Those for acting (David Ferry, Barbara Gordon) were deserved, those for writing and direction weren't.
And where is Theatre Viscera's Muscle Memory? Or Threshold Theatre's Howl? At the very least, these shows deserved nods for set designers, respectively Karla Faulconbridge and Vikki Anderson.
Petty jealousies seem to explain a few of the serious omissions this year. Chris Abraham deserves a directing nomination for The Offering. Maybe he's been shut out because he swept the indie Doras last year. For that matter, the play's actors (Mark Ellis, Dean Gilmour and Gary Reineke) are off the list.
Why is George F. Walker's Heaven absent from the major Dora categories? Too many on his mantel? It's criminal to have Heaven's Ron White absent from the list.
Yes, everyone knows Fiona Reid gets every juicy female lead stage role, but her work on Beauty Queen expanded her range.
Also absent for reasons that seem more about box-office envy than artistic merit is Diane Flacks and Richard Greenblatt's successful Sibs. Not a single nomination. Chalk it up to Sibling rivalry.
The Doras are handed out June 26 at the Pantages. 872-1111. GS
Looks like a couple of homegrown comedy stalwarts, Second City alum Jennifer Irwin and the man behind Dame Sybille, Sean Cullen, will get a shot at the network big time on Ellen DeGeneres's next effort, The New Ellen Show.
So taken were CBS brass with the sitcom's recently shot pilot, it's a good bet it'll be picked up for mid-season replacement, putting it on either the January or March schedule provided another show goes buns-up -- also a good bet. DJ