THE DORA MAVOR MOORE AWARDS (Toronto Theatre Alliance). Monday (June 28), 8 pm, post-show party 10 pm. $60, party alone $20. Princess of Wales (300 King West), party at Metro Square. 416-872-1212 or T.O. Tix (Yonge-Dundas Square). www.thedoras.com Rating: NNNNN
It's time to take out those Dora duds again. But make sure they have a touch of silver, for this year the Dora Mavor Moore Awards celebrate their 25th anniversary. The awards ceremony and party make for one of the liveliest evenings of the year for Toronto's theatre and dance community, and the public is invited to be part of the festivities.
This year's show is again at the Princess of Wales, hosted by Seán Cullen and Louise Pitre . But they're not the only sparkling people you'll see on the stage.
Presenters include Jim Plaxton and Vivienne Muhling , two of the people who won the very first Doras, as well as Dora Mavor Moore 's talented granddaughters Charlotte Moore (who's performing on the same stage in Hairspray) and her sister Tedde Moore .
Also look for Nancy Beatty , Shawn Doyle , Mary Lou Fallis , Ellen-Ray Hennessy , Martha Henry , David Mirvish , Jackie Richardson , Veronica Tennant , Jim Warren and Nigel Shawn Williams .
Why are the presenters important? Though they're working from scripts, their ad-libs can be the funniest parts of the evening. Those off-the-cuff remarks erupt from the award recipients, too, whose happy surprise at winning sparks unexpected humour.
My favourite and the most informal Dora evening was held years ago at the Palais Royale, where the audience sat at tables decorated with festive paper. Producer Marlene Smith had just announced that she was going to mount Cats in Toronto. Fiona Reid, not known as a musical performer, though she later proved in Sweeney Todd that she has a way with a song, wandered the aisles singing Memory, trying to audition for Smith.
Among the funniest presenters have been Jeffrey and Geoffrey (at various times Jim Warren, Andy Massingham and Guillermo Verdecchia ), those fusty Elizabethan-style performers who think Canadian theatre is a contradiction in terms and regularly shout to people to get off the stage. Their tart remarks about funding and acerbic critiques of productions have caused donors, sponsors and the occasional theatre artist to cringe in their seats.
And then there was the year that Maria Vacratsis won a performing award for Deanne Taylor's Second Nature. The naturally funny Vacratsis arrived on the stage shocked, and the first thing that popped out of her mouth was, "Glad I wore underpants tonight - I might just pee myself."
There's musical entertainment at this year's Doras, too. Danny Marks leads the house band. With luck, the talented Pitre, celebrated for her Mamma Mia! work on Broadway as well as here, will join them in a number or two.
Whatever else happens, the audience will party hearty at the post-show shindig at Metro Square after the two-hour ceremony.