The Dora Mavor Moore nominees were announced this morning at the Elgin/Winter Garden Theatre, and as usual the results are a mixed bag. For a full list of nominees, see here.
I'm thrilled that Nightwood Theatre's striking production of The Penelopiad leads the pack in the General Theatre category with six nominations; at the same time I'm perplexed that it's tied with Pamela Mala Sinha's Crash, a perfectly ordinary script given a good production.
One of my favourite plays of 2011, Topdog Underdog (Obsidian/Shaw), scored big too, with nods for production, both actors (Nigel Shawn Williams and Kevin Hanchard) and director Philip Akin. All worthy choices.
And one of the best productions (so far) of 2012 also did well: The Golden Dragon, produced by the Tarragon and acknowledged for production, Ross Manson's direction, the skillful work by the ensemble of actors and Teresa Przybylski's remarkable set.
Of course, everyone expected a stampede of nominations for Mirvish's War Horse, and the Dora jury didn't disappoint, recognizing it for production, costume, sound and choreography.
But I'm a little confused that Buddies in Bad Times's production of The Maids was completely shut out. Nothing for Diane D'Aquila's riveting performance? Or the subtle support work by Maria Ricossa? And surely Brendan Healey deserved a director nod.
Likewise Studio 180's production (in association with Buddies) of The Normal Heart seemed to come away mostly empty-handed, although Ryan Kelly got acknowledged in the featured role category for his moving performance as AIDS activist Mickey Marcus. Nothing for John Thompson's set? Joel Greenberg's direction? Jonathan Wilson's staggering lead performance?
Other ignored productions include BirdLand Theatre's fine Gruesome Playground Injuries and Artistic Fraud/Factory Theatre'sOil And Water. In fact, Factory Theatre seemed all but shut-out this year, possibly because they front-loaded their season with remounts of already-acclaimed Rick Miller shows.
I'm thrilled that another fine 2012 show, Kim's Convenience, produced by Soulpepper, was acknowledged in two major categories: outstanding new play (for writer Ins Choi) and performance by a male in a principal role (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee). But I'm disappointed it didn't get more love: for Weyni Mengesha's direction (she was also left off the list for her fine work on Tarragon's The Small Room At The Top Of The Stairs) and the fine supporting performances.
Acting Up Stage and Obsidian Theatre Company's Caroline, Or Change dominated the musical theatre category with 10 nominations, including four in the category of outstanding performance by a female (Arlene Duncan, Deborah Hay, Neema Bickersteth and Sabryn Rock).
In the Indie Theatre division, three shows came out with the six nods eacg: Ahuri Theatre's A Fool's Life, Theatre Columbus'sThe Story and Theatre Smash's The Ugly One. It would have been nice to see Daniel MacIvor's His Greatness and Soheil Parsa and Peter Farbridge's Hallaj recognized in more categories.
The dance nominees are particularly good and spread out this year, with the fine Orpheus & Eurydice, DarkMatters, TransMigration, IZM and Confluence competing in the outstanding production category. Wonder if Wayne McGregor's Entitydidn't qualify?
Finally, it's intriguing that this year's Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award went to Richard Rose, who founded Necessary Angel back in 1978 and was responsible for helming major works like Tamara, Inexpressible Island, Coming Through Slaughter and for nurturing the careers of artists like Jason Sherman, Colleen Murphy and Colleen Wagner.
Was this award political? After all, as current artistic director of the Tarragon, Rose received some flak earlier this year for not programming Michael Healey's latest play, Proud, a thinly veiled critique of Prime Minister Harper, in Tarragon's season.
No controversy for the other honorary award winners: administor/producer Leslie Lester won the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award, and the Jumbles Theatre's founding artistic director Ruth Howard won the George Luscombe Award for mentorship in theatre.
The Doras are handed out Monday, June 25 at 8pm at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in the Bluma Appel.