More is more was the mantra for the 34th annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards, which celebrate outstanding work in Toronto's theatre and dance community.
Presented by The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, the Doras - named for a pioneer theatre artist and educator - grew this year to 48 awards, 13 more than in previous ceremonies. That's part of the "more" in the mantra, but hosts Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus went on to pun on the More/Moore similarity, too.
The hosts were one of the highlights of the show, written by Chris Earle and directed by Ed Roy; no question, though, that Baram and Snieckus, founding members of the National Theatre of the World, threw in their own zingers here and there. With great chemistry, a sharp sense of timing and some very funny lines, they moved the evening along so quickly that we were off to the Front Street post-show party in less than three hours.
And remember, there were 13 added awards to present.
One memorable laugh: they told us that Judith Thompson was writing a sequel to her first hit, Crackwalker, called Cracksmoker. And no reference - was there a need? - to a certain mayor.
The big winner of the evening was Cinderella, presented by Young People's Theatre; it picked up seven awards in the musical theatre division, for production, ensemble, direction (Allen MacInnis), scenic and costume design (both Robin Fisher), lighting (Lesley Wilkinson) and choreography (Jo Leslie). YPT got an eighth award for La Fugue, outstanding production in the theatre for young audiences division.
In the general theatre division, Buddies in Bad Times copped four prizes, three for Obaaberima (production, Michelle Ramsay's lighting and Kobena Aquaa-Harrison's sound design) and one for Julie Fox - celebrating her birthday that day -- for Arigato, Tokyo's scenic design.
When someone yelled out from the audience that it was also Fox's birthday, we all spontaneously sang Happy Birthday. Snieckus quickly ad-libbed that the royalties required for singing the song meant that three of the night's Doras had to be cancelled.
Other awards in the general category went to Kristen Thomson (outstanding new play for Someone Else) and Tom Rooney (male actor in the same play). Other shows garnered pairs of prizes: The Little Years (Chris Abraham for direction and Irene Poole for female actor) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (ensemble and Dana Osborne's costume design).
Thomson, by the way, just wouldn't stop thanking those people responsible for her success, even when musical director Waylen Miki played the notes to remind her that her acceptance-speech minute was up. When she finally left the stage, the hosts suggested that her speech was long enough to qualify for a Dora next year.
Other winners in the musical theatre division were She She Pop & Their Fathers: Testament (touring production, presented by Harbourfront World Stage), Bruce Dow (male performer for Of A Monstrous Child: a gaga musical) and Lisa Horner (female performer for The Wizard Of Oz).
Alice Ping Yee Ho and Marjorie Chan received the outstanding new musical/opera award for The Lesson Of Da Ji; Chan joked that only a few people had seen the show during its three-performance run. The Canadian Opera Company picked up the majority of the opera awards, for Dialogues Des Carmelites (production, Johannes Debus's musical direction and the ensemble) and Il Trovatore (Russell Braun and Elena Manistina for, respectively, male and female performer).
In the theatre for young audiences division, awards went to Jordan Tannahill (new play for rihannaboi95), Richard Greenblatt (director of Wrecked), Oyin Oladejo (individual performance, for In This World) and the ensemble of Alligator Pie.
DanceWorks picked up a pair of statues in the dance division for Road Trip (ensemble) and Lab Rats (Molly Johnson for female performer), while the other six awards were divided among as many companies: Political Mother (Hofesh Shechter for the production, presented by Canadian Stage), Santee Smith (choreography for Susuriwka - willow bridge), Aakash Odedra (male performance for Alchemy), Rodney Sharman (sound design for From The House Of Mirth) and Marc Parent (lighting design for Stereophonic).
VideoCabaret received the most nods in the independent theatre category for The War Of 1812: The History Of The Village Of The Small Huts, 1812-1815 (Michael Hollingsworth for direction, Astrid Janson's costumes and the ensemble).
Janson picked up on the evening's "more is more" theme by commenting that her lush, intentionally overblown costumes were created with a similar thought, adding her own idea that "less is a bore."
In the indie category, too, the rest of the prizes were spread out. Outside the March got the production award for Mr. Marmalade, while Adam Seybold's The De Chardin Project took new play. Acting nods went to Michelle Monteith (The Lesson) and Gavin Crawford (A Few Brittle Leaves), and design awards to Andrea Mittler (scenic design for The Dumb Waiter), Rebecca Picherack (BOBLO's lighting design) and Andrew Penner (sound design for BOBLO).
Long-time respected director and teacher Malcolm Black received the Silver Ticket Award for his long-time service to the theatre community, while The Wizard Of Oz picked up the Audience Choice Award, co-sponsored by NOW and Yonge-Dundas Square.
Other highlights? Bruce Dow getting the most emotional applause of the evening for his acting award and Buddies' Brendan Healey's turn in an outfit that included an open-chested, baby-blue jacket and a huge train of multicoloured tulle. We expected playful chemistry between presenters Thom Allison and Sharron Matthews, Dean Gilmour and Michele Smith and Morro and Jasp (Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee), but we weren't ready for the entertaining sparks created by the final duo, Rick Miller and Luminato's Jorn Weisbrodt.
Oh, and have Snieckus and Baram back next year, please.
For full Dora results, see tapa.ca/doras.