Who: MATTHEW EDISON, actor, Proof (opens October 3 at the Bluma Appel, 27 Front East)
Toothy-grinned Edison's one of those actors you hope gets a big part some day. In supporting roles, he earned full marks in The School For Wives and basked in Midnight Sun. Best of all, he strutted his stuff in a scene-stealing monologue (complete with fine Irish accent) in The Beauty Queen Of Leenane. But his turn playing a grad student who charms a math prof's daughter in David Auburn's prize winner could make this a breakout role.
What he stands to gain: Exposure and more mature roles. Not that he needs them. With a play debuting at the Tarragon next year and a hit TV series (Nero Wolfe) under his belt, he's covering all career bases.
What's at risk: The play's better known as a vehicle for its female lead, so Edison's good work could get overlooked.
the classy clown
Who: JENNIFER GOODHUE, writer/performer, new Second City Mainstage show (opens October 30 at Second City, 56 Blue Jays Way)
A standout performer in the current strong Second City Mainstage cast, the husky-voiced, hilarious Goodhue goes so deep into characters and scenes that you end up watching her even when she's not talking. Who can forget her tiny kick-boxing nun in Family Circus Maximus? Or her over-enthusiastic improv participant in last season's Psychedelicatessen? Her concentration and instincts are jaw-dropping. And has anyone noticed that she's got the most expressive pair of brown peepers since Andrea Martin?
What she stands to gain: A couple more gems to add to her repertoire of comic creations.
What's at risk: Nada. But here's hoping she stays north of the border for a while longer.
the luminous one
Who: TARA ROSLING, actor, 1002 Nights (opens November 14 at the Cameron House, 408 Queen West)
Since her Dora-nominated debut as a troubled runaway in Daniel MacIvor's See Bob Run, Rosling has cornered the market on waifish, neurotic young women. She showed off two last season -- the flaky New Age sister in Zadie's Shoes and the self-destructive bootlegger in The Lonesome West -- but she also delivered a strong Viola in Stratford's Twelfth Night. Hollywood's beckoned (she and her cheekbones sharpened up The Ricky Nelson Story), but now she's back to her indie theatre roots in Simon Heath's new play as a Scheherazade-like stripper who refuses to strip.
What she stands to gain: After three Dora nominations, isn't it time she took one home?
What's at risk: Nothing. Rosling's surrounded by a great team, including Heath (Alien Creature) and director Tanja Jacobs (Elisa's Skin).
Who: JAMES HARKNESS, writer, Homage (opens October 3 at Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander)
Playwright Harkness has earned a solid rep creating dark, carefully nuanced scripts that probe social issues like senility and violence (We Are At War) and Mike Harris's legacy (Ontario 2055). His writing style is lean and mean and should be perfect for this piece about a gay man returning home to his parents' farm. Advance word is strong, especially after its warm reception at the Buddies/Shaw workshop fest, Winter Fling.
What he stands to gain: A broader audience. The Rhubarb! and SummerWorks vet gets a mainstage show.
What's at risk: Not much. The mix of sex, sons and a social conscience feels like a good fit.
the high stepper
Who: MATJASH MROZEWSKI, choreographer, A Delicate Battle (opens November 16 at the Hummingbird, 1 Front East) and Toronto Dance Theatre double bill (opens November 26 at Premiere Dance Theatre, 2o7 Queen's Quay West)
Last season, Mrozewski made the leap from National Ballet of Canada second soloist to mainstage choreographer with A Delicate Battle, a short work that showed his aesthetic was as much MuchMusic as Merce Cunningham. The piece gets an encore presentation in the National's season opener. If that's not enough, Mrozewski (who's since left dancing to choreograph full-time) and Peter Chin take to the Premiere Dance Theatre for a double bill of Toronto Dance Theatre premieres.
What he stands to gain: Solidifying his rep as one of the city's most exciting choreographers.
What's at risk: Overexposure?
Who: Christopher Morris, director, I Am Yours (opens November 26 at Equity Showcase, 651 Dufferin)
A couple of years ago, Theatre Passe Muraille gambled on the unknown Morris for the title character in The Convict Lover. Morris astonished audiences -- a reaction duplicated in shows like I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe and Mojo, both directed by pal Daryl Cloran. After his gruff, lusty narrator in Road last season, the grounded, open actor seems capable of anything. His decision to helm Judith Thompson's acclaimed drama should take him -- and us -- in another direction entirely.
What he stands to gain: Equity productions are a way to gain new skills. Fine, as long as Morris keeps acting. (He is -- look for him this week in Soulpepper's The Play About The Baby.)
What's at risk: Very little. As much as any other actor of his generation, Morris seems committed to stage work, regardless of the consequences.
the crossover act
Who: NOVA BHATTACHARYA, dancer/choreographer, Alankar (opens December 12 at the Du Maurier Theatre, 231 Queen's Quay West)
She began studying as a kid with Menaka Thakkar in 1975, and since then, in shows like 2000's Marga, has tried to bridge classical Indian Bharatanatyam with modern movement. You don't have to know the history of the artform to appreciate Bhattacharya's grace and sense of drama, which will be on full display in her night of dance and stories with Natasha Bakht.
What she stands to gain: The 905 audience for Indian classical dance is large, but the funky Bhattacharya could bridge cultures, generations and area codes.
What's at risk: Ethnic dance is more popular than ever. Will Bhattacharya -- who's currently studying butoh -- ever come up with a signature style?