The Dora Mavor Moore Awards gala went outdoors at Harbourfront for its 35th anniversary Monday, June 23. It poured before the presentations and during the post-show party, but during the event itself the skies were happily clear and the show full of good cheer and a sense of community for the theatre and dance folk who attended. Here are some highlights.
1. Anusree Roy's acceptance speech
Playwright Anusree Roy, no stranger to the Doras stage, picked up another for her script Sultans Of The Street, presented by Young People's Theatre. The show won all five of the awards in the theatre for young audiences category. Surprised and touched, Roy told us that for 14 years she'd dreamed about writing a play for young viewers set in the Third World and presented by a mainstage theatre. She ended with a heartfelt plea to female writers of colour to continue creating and believe in themselves.
2. Great teamwork
Sure, all theatre is a collaborative process - even solo shows. But those who went onstage to accept statues for two productions - the evening's big winners, Soulpepper's Of Human Bondage, which copped seven awards in the general theatre category, and Canadian Stage's London Road, which scored six in the musical theatre/opera division - constantly reminded audiences of the large team of artists who made both those shows special. Maybe Soulpepper will bring Bondage back in a future season?
3. Diana Leblanc scores silver
The winner of this year's Silver Ticket Award, given for long-term devotion to theatre, went to actor and director Diana Leblanc, who has worked at Soulpepper and Théâtre français de Toronto. At the end of her bilingual acceptance speech, full of praise for the artistic excitement generated by the Toronto arts community, she finally looked at the award - it actually is a silver ticket - and joked that it matched her hair colour.
4. The energetic Colin Doyle
There was no more exuberant winner than the irrepressible Colin Doyle, who co-hosted the red carpet with Elly-Ray Hennessy and then picked up the evening's first theatre award, for outstanding individual performance in Sultans Of The Street. He bowed to presenters Brent Carver and Jackie Richardson, dubbed the evening the theatre prom and voiced his disappointment that his parents, caught in the horrible traffic mess all along Queens Quay, hadn't arrived to see him get his Dora. They showed up in time to see him back onstage for the ensemble award.
5. Best hosts, ever
Returning for their second year, the National Theatre of the World's Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus were always entertaining, whether using Chris Earle's fun script or ad libbing, which they do so well. They got caught up in an opening dance number, part disco and part kick line, and moved the evening along so well that no one complained about the show's running time. Have them back again, please.