The audience is the theme for the 27th annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards , so it's totally appropriate that the June 26 presentations at the Winter Garden Theatre include a new award, the audience choice award for outstanding production. Sponsored by NOW , the award is voted on by the public to select winners from this year's Dora nominees for outstanding production in general theatre (play and musical), independent theatre, opera and theatre for young audiences, as well as new choreography.
You can vote online at www.nowtoronto.com/dora . Deadline is Sunday at 11 pm.
The nominees for the 33 Dora Awards, which celebrate Toronto's performing arts community, were drawn from 197 productions. Those include 55 new plays and musicals in the general and indie divisions.
A sizable number of nominations went to The Lord Of The Rings , The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot , the Canadian Opera Company , Harbourfront Centre , Soulpepper and the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People .
Two other honours were presented at the nominees' press conference on June 6. Albert Schultz received the Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award , while ahdri zhina mandiela was the recipient of the George Luscombe Award .
For a reminder of the quality of this past year's new scripts, come to the annual Dora Monday on June 19. Host Marjorie Chan introduces readings by the playwrights nominated for outstanding new play.
The free event happens in the NOW Lounge . See One-Nighters, page 91.
The always entertaining Theatre Columbus creates much of its work through improv, so it's a treat when audiences are let into the process. The company presents its fourth cabaret of new works, Mayhem & The Naked Knee , featuring excerpts from two of its shows in progress. In Teetering , performed by Leah Cherniak , Maggie Huculak and Martha Ross , a trio of women find themselves on the brink. Ross also performs a selection from her one-woman show On The Lam . The rest of the program, based on the theme of fear, features six 10-minute plays created and performed by participants in the recent Knee Play Lab . See Opening, page 91.
Caught the workshop at Buddies of androgyne , the second part of d'bi young 's three faces of mudgu trilogy. The trilogy's first section, blood.claat, has been nominated for five Doras. The 45-minute androgyne is filled with powerful emotions, as long-time friends mudgu (young) and sankofa ( Ordena Stephens-Thompson ) talk about sankofa's attraction to other black women. When mudgu sarcastically dismisses her friend's desires, sankofa draws parallels between racism and homophobia.
Young's script moves smoothly back and forth between childhood scenes in Jamaica and contemporary ones in Canada. The action is intercut with sankofa reciting her poems, which often state her feelings more directly than she can in her arguments with mudgu.
But we have to hear more about mudgu. There's a big reveal in the second half that we aren't prepared for, one that begs for more explanation.
Still, the chemistry between Stephens-Thompson and young is magical, and director ahdri zhina mandiela brings out the script's strengths. There's lots of good material here, material that will become a solid production down the road.
Finally, kudos to the Toronto team who created The Drowsy Chaperone , a big winner at last Sunday's Tony Awards. Begun eight years ago as Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison 's stag gift to newlyweds Bob Martin and Janet Van De Graaff , the piece broke records a year later at the Fringe - with a book by Martin and Don McKellar - and then got successfully remounted twice, at Theatre Passe Muraille and at the Winter Garden. Then came tryouts in Los Angeles, and finally Broadway success this past spring. The show's five wins include best music (for Lambert and Morrison) and best book (for Martin and McKellar). All four were similarly recognized a few weeks ago at the Drama Desk Awards.
Reviewing the production at the Winter Garden, we pleaded for an original cast album. Looks like we'll get our wish, albeit not with the mostly Canadian cast who helped push the show into the spotlight. (Martin was the only original cast member present.)
Let's hope it doesn't take another eight years for the team's next showstopper.