The 29th annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, celebrating the very best in Vancouver theatre, are taking place tonight at the Commodore Ballroom. As I did last year, I am sponsoring a live blog of the awards ceremony in order to show support and promote our city’s lively community.
The ceremony will begin around 6:45pm and I will be updating each category as the winners are announced. Each update will be time-stamped and I will try to get in a few quotes from award recipients.
Update 6:15pm The tag for tonight appears to be #Jessies on Twitter. You can follow along to see what guests are talking about online. The Commodore is filling up quickly as guests arrive and take their seats at the banquet tables on the ballroom floor. I have taken to my seat and have just arranged all award categories in the order that they will be handed out.
Update 6:35pm I just ordered red wine at the Commodore and it came in a can. We’ll see how this plays out. On another note, GayVancouver.net is here snapping photos around the audience. Follow along @GayVancouver on Twitter.
Update 6:50pm The award are getting underway with a little music from U2 (Where the Streets Have No Name)… I’m expecting the Canucks to hop out on stage and start doing laps. The song has almost become and anthem for Vancouver. Productions nominated for awards tonight are now being showcased on the large screens that flank the stage on both the left and right side of the venue.
Update 7:00 Camilla Tibbs, President of the Jessie Richardson Theatre Society, welcomes everyone to tonight’s event. She starts by saying that although you’d think theatre production would be down in recent years, there were 32% more shows up for consideration this year over the 2008-2009 season. “This speaks to our resilience as a community and our determination to make theatre happen no matter the circumstances.”
The first awards are handed out by Andy Toth and Jay Brazeau who both play Edna in The Arts Club’s Hairspray this season. Toth, Brazeau’s understudy, took over after Brazeau took ill during one of the first performances although he has returned to the show since.
Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition, Large Theatre
Recipient: Ivory Sky, The Graduate, Arts Club Theatre Company
Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition, Small Theatre
Recipient: David Mesiha, The Busy World Is Hushed, one2theatre
Outstanding Costume Design, Small Theatre
Recipient: Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh, Mimi, or A Poisoner’s Comedy, Touchstone Theatre
Outstanding Costume Design, Large Theatre
Recipient: Phillip Clarkson, The Philanderer, Arts Club Theatre Company
Sasa Brown has come on stand to announce the new Colin Campbell award for technical excellence in theatre that will be awarded starting next year.
The Sydney Rick Prize for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Playwright
Recipient: David Deveau My Funny Valentine, Tiny Replicas, Nelly Boy
Mary Phillips Award for Behind-the-Scenes Achievement
Recipient: Cheryl Hutcherson Theatre Under the Stars
“I want to thank everyone here because chances are I’ve seen you at everything!”
The Ray Michael Prize
Recipients: Anita Rochon Vancouver Opera, Théâtre la Seizième
Significant Artistic Achievement, Large Theatre
Recipient: Outstanding Ensemble Performance: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Arts Club Theatre Company
Significant Artistic Achievement, Small Theatre
Recipient: Curation and Execution of an Outstanding Season of Theatre: Pacific Theatre
Significant Artistic Achievement, Theatre for Young Audiences
Recipient: Outstanding Design Team: Pharaoh Serket & The Lost Stone of Fire, Carousel Theatre
Outstanding Lighting Design, Large Theatre
Recipient: Alan Brodie and Brian Johnson, Tear the Curtain!, Arts Club Theatre Company (in association with Electric Company Theatre)
Outstanding Lighting Design, Small Theatre
Recipient: Itai Erdal, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Glass City Theatre
A video clip came onto the screens as a spoof of Dog: The Bounty Hunter played out as “Dog” and his wife chased down Rod Johnson as he hadn’t paid his dues. A chase scene ensues and, as everyone in the room can agree, Rod said one of the best lines of the night. He said he has paid his dues, “I’ve even done Storyeum!”
The Georgia Straight Patron of the Arts
Recipient: Jane Penniston (who is 94, was assisted up to the stage among an emotional round of applause).
Career Achievement Award
Recipient: Bernard Cuffling (presented by The Arts Club’s Bill Millerd). “We in Vancouver are unique, and we are part of this incredible family that I will never, ever leave. I thank you so much for this and in particular it would be remiss of me not to thank a man that doesn’t say very much, but who champions me all the time… …it is Bill Millerd that I owe so much to.”
Outstanding Design, Theatre for Young Audiences
Recipient: Heidi Wilkinson, Bird Brain, Carousel Theatre
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Small Theatre
Recipient: Barbara Pollard, A Lie of the Mind, Main Street Theatre Equity Co-op
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Large Theatre
Recipient: Jennifer Clement, The Trespassers, Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company (co-production with the Belfry Theatre)
“I once won an armchair when I was 11!” “I’m so thrilled to be an actor, I love being a part of this community, and Bernard Cuffling you are my hero!”
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Small Theatre
Recipient: Simon Webb, Hamlet, The Honest Fishmongers Equity Co-op “I won in the first Jessie Awards in 1981… … I guess this means my dry patch is over!”
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Large Theatre
Recipient: Bob Frazer, Death of a Salesman, Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company “I want to make a special thank you and a congratulations to Bernard Cuffling… …I’m so proud of him for winning tonight.”
John Moffat and Larry Lillo Prize “They collected Jessies, and friends.”
Recipient: Susan McFarlane (who will be producing her own play that she’s been writing for the last three years).
Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer “The recipient is someone that Sam would welcome to our fold.”
Recipient: Evan Frayme “I feel truly blessed to be in the company of the people here tonight and I just want to say thank you, I love you all.”
Out next to present the next grouping of awards is Bard‘s Christopher Gaze and Nick Harrison. Nick, turns to Christopher and says, “I’m glad you’re so relaxed tonight because usually when I see you you’re in tents.”
Outstanding Artistic Creation, Theatre for Young Audiences
Recipient: Carole Higgins, Direction, Bird Brain, Carousel Theatre
Outstanding Original Script
Recipient: Kevin Kerr & Jonathon Young, Tear the Curtain!, Arts Club Theatre Company (in association with Electric Company Theatre)
Outstanding Set Design, Large Theatre
Recipient: Alison Green, The Philanderer, Arts Club Theatre Company
Outstanding Set Design, Small Theatre
Recipient: Drew Facey, Playland, Pacific Theatre
Critics’ Choice Innovation Award
(the critics always come out wearing an interesting get-up)
Recipient: Peter Panties, Neworld Theatre/Leaky Heaven Circus (the cast and crew all came bounding up to the stage with cheers and such excitement to accept the award from the critics).
Outstanding Direction, Large Theatre
Recipient: Michael Shamata, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arts Club Theatre Company (co-production with the Belfry Theatre) “Jennifer Clement I can do you one better, I’ve never even won an armchair.”
Outstanding Direction, Small Theatre
Recipient: Stephen Malloy, A Lie of the Mind, Main Street Theatre Equity Co-op
Outstanding Performance, Theatre for Young Audiences
Recipient: Georgina Beaty, The Shape of a Girl, Green Thumb Theatre
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role, Small Theatre
Recipient: Robert Olguin, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Glass City Theatre
The last two recipients, during their acceptance speeches, both talked about the first shows they attended and how they were inspired. Georgina said she wanted to “process the world through theatre”, and Robert said that he just remarked to himself, “I want to do that.” “I love seeing theatre in this city. What you people do is very, very important. Keep doing it,” added Robert.
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role, Large Theatre
Recipient: Gerard Plunkett, Glengarry Glen Ross, Arts Club Theatre Company
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role, Small Theatre
Recipient: Susan Bertoia, Mambo Italiano, Firehall Arts Centre (co-production with Western Canada Theatre)
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role, Large Theatre
Recipient: Deborah Williams, Becky’s New Car, Arts Club Theatre Company
Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences
Recipient: Bird Brain, Carousel Theatre “I just want to thank the kids that come to our shows. We do it because we love theatre and we love theatre for love audiences.”
Outstanding Production, Small Theatre
Recipient: Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Glass City Theatre “Thank you to all the playwrights in this room… …If you have the ability to write, please write, so that the rest of us can tell stories that really matter.”
Outstanding Production, Large Theatre
Recipient: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arts Club Theatre Company (co-production with the Belfry Theatre) “This really says something about co-productions,” says Bill Millerd. “We have to work together with all the cutbacks and budget restrictions… …This is acknowledging how great theatre is in British Columbia.”
Update When all is said and done, and the tables are parted to make room for the dance floor, one thing is clear. Vancouver’s theatre community (which I thought was strong last year) is only getting stronger. They promote their history, their patrons, playwrights, directors, and up-and-coming talent. Everyone’s ‘been there’ and everyone has a goal to reach. Goodnight from the Commodore. Here’s to another great year of shows in Vancouver!