From a busy designer to a politically driven artistic director, from actors who catch the nuances of human interaction to an internationally acclaimed designer who moved to the director's chair, Toronto's theatre artists gave us a year of thrilling work.
1 CAMELLIA KOO designer
Know anyone else who's worked on nearly 20 productions this year? With her suggestive sets and costumes, Koo scored in large and indie shows. Highlights? A pair of Doras for Bombay Black and a bleak Soviet setting for The Russian Play . The shy Koo even performed in 4 Unrelated Stories About Being 28 Years Old - though her silent character held up cue cards and didn't speak.
2 OLIVER DENNIS actor
A Soulpepper stalwart, Dennis gave six solid performances this year, beginning with a substantial paterfamilias in Our Town before turning to laughs in The Government Inspector and then offering a clown with heart in The Chairs . He ended the year as a moving Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol , but Dennis's finest creation was the delightfully ditzy, amorous Reverend Chasuble in The Importance Of Being Earnest .
3 YANNA McINTOSH actor
Proving again that she's one of Canada's best performers, McIntosh first wowed us with her physically and emotionally searing performance in The Monument as a vengeful mother. But she was just as savage, and a lot funnier, as an oil executive and environment-rapist who turns into a born-again do-gooder politician in Generous .
4 TOM ROONEY actor
An actor who knows how to suggest the multiple feelings of an emotionally inarticulate character, Rooney gave warmth to a quiet family outsider in Homechild , brought an enticing ingenuousness to a suicidal man who met and lost the love of his life on the Danforth in Whistle Me Home and nearly stole The Oxford Roof Climber's Rebellion as the repressed but intensely passionate Lawrence of Arabia.
5 MICHAEL LEVINE designer/director
One of Canada's master stage designers, Levine's been amazing audiences for three years with instalments of the Ring Cycle , culminating in Das Rheingold , which turned the Norse Valhalla into a grand formal parlour. Seeing the whole Cycle this year in the new Four Seasons Centre proved the consistency of his vision as it moved from Victorian to contemporary times, but we weren't prepared for his stylish directing debut in Rheingold, which gave human detail to Wagner's epic score.
6 CHRISTINE BRUBAKER actor
Brubaker has a zest, a pleasure in performing, that amplifies any role she takes on. This summer in A Comedy Of Errors she chewed up the stage as an angry wife who resorts to drink to rail against her philandering husband, while later in The Babysitter she turned coolly libidinous herself as a dangerous nurse who tries to subdue the terrified title character.
7 TOM McCAMUS actor
Shaw and Stratford vet McCamus has recently devoted himself to film and TV, but returned to the stage in 2006 with a trio of powerful parts, first in The Innocent Eye Test as a comic Las Vegas wheeler-dealer who wore the world's loudest shirts. In Mathilde , McCamus sobered up to play the seemingly unemotional, initially unsympathetic husband of a wife jailed for her affair with a teen, and, in the nonlinear Thom Pain (Based On Nothing) , moved and tantalized us as a caustic, exasperating guy who told possibly autobiographical tales.
8 KEITH KLASSEN performer
Who says an opera singer can't act? This year the dramatically true tenor specialized in queer characters, some of whom aren't comfortable in their own skins. Klassen began as the sympathetic third side of a triangle in Shattered Glass , then became a tortured university student in Unfamiliar and a sexy lover in Ashlike On The Cradle Of The Wind . Yeah, he played some straight guys, too, but he later reprised his tongue-in-cheek gay role as a scientist infatuated with a delivery man in Knotty Together .
9 CARA RICKETTS actor
The young Ricketts keeps giving rich depth to her performances. She played an empathetic youth-care worker in Smokescreen , but her summer work was especially strong. In A Midsummer Night's Dream , Ricketts offered not only an imperious, emotionally detailed Titania but also an unusually sympathetic Hippolita. A month later, playing a gamut of black female types in Hip-Hop (Who Stole The Soul?) , she proved she could dominate the insecure black man trying to subdue her.
10 FRANCO BONI, artistic director, Theatre Centre
Boni has reinvigorated the cutting-edge Theatre Centre even as he fought a sadly lost battle to keep its recently remodelled space at Queen and Dovercourt. His programming of the Free Fall fest proved thoughtful and theatrical, and he's assisted indie troupes like Theatre Archipelago and newbies like One Reed Theatre. But Boni is pushing the political envelope, too, with multidisciplinary events like CondoBoom , a look at gentrification of the Centre's Queen West environs.