Enough to keep you – Anticipating.

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It’s the end of the theatre season and therefore the Betty Michell Awards are coming up.
Just as a refresher, the Betty Mitchell Awards Nomination Commitee is an anonymous jury of twelve theatre members who select nominees in sixteen award categories from the eligible shows. The input is then tabulated and a list of nominees is then produced. The final ballots are then distributed to the same twelve member Nomination Committee and to anyone who has seen twenty five of the eligible productions.

So there were 61 eligible plays this year, and to get a vote you had to have seen 25.
I saw, this year – … (drumrolll please!) 31 eligible plays.
I’m unsure as to whether I will get my ballot, because I was super late in sending them my passport to get a vote, but let’s go through an analysis of the nomination in which I can vote for. I can vote in any category in which I’ve seen three or more plays.
Outstanding Performance by An Actress In A Supporting Role
▪    Anita Miotti – Hunger Striking – Urban Curves
▪    Myla Southward – Summer of My Amazing Luck – Sage Theatre
▪    Monice Peter – Race – Ground Zero/Hit and Myth Productions
▪    Allison Lynch – Ash Rizin – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Daniela Vlaskalic – Drama: Pilot Episode – Alberta Theatre Projects

I saw all the plays in this category. I didn’t do a write up for Hunger Striking as it was one of those writer burn out situations, or Drama as I saw it on preview and that was the reason I didn’t write anything on it, because I was too damn tired. But my review for Summer of My Amazing Luck is here, and Race is here, and Ash Rizin is here.
Miotti does a great job in Hunger Striking. She’s like a physical presence, a reflection of anorexia and I really really like the concept and execution of having her there.
Southward as Lish in Summer of My Amazing Luck is worthy of the nomination.
Peter was really great in Race, constrasting the two sharp lawyers. I had to look up who Vlaskalic was, so her performance was good, but didn’t hit me as hard as Lynch’s. She was truly great in Ash Rizin. She gets my vote.

Outstanding Lighting Design
▪    Harry Frehner – Moby-Dick – Calgary Opera
▪    Narda McCarroll – Mary’s Wedding – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Narda McCarroll – Sweeny Todd – Vertigo Theatre
▪    Cimmeron Meyer/Alexandra Prichard – The Queens – The Shakespeare Company
▪    Patrick Smith – n00b – Y Stage

(I didn’t see Calgary Opera or The Shakespeare Company entries)

It’s too bad I didn’t see Moby Dick, because I heard the set and production was insane. Mary’s Wedding wasn’t super blow me away for lighting design, and Sweeny did okay. I’m going with n00b on this one as it was the lighting design that gave that set a video game feel.

Outstanding Set Design
▪    Robert Brill – Moby-Dick – Calgary Opera
▪    Anton de Groot – Good Fences – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    David Fraser – Playing with Fire – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Narda McCarroll – Sweeny Todd – Vertigo Theatre
▪    Roger Schultz – True Love Lies – Alberta Theatre Projects

(Again, I missed Moby Dick)

Anton de Groot deserves this nomination because the set design for Good Fences was impressive. But there is no debate on this one. Playing With Fire gets it, and it’ll be the only thing that I think it deserves. Having Shaun Smyth go around on skates on synthetic ice was all kinds of amazing.

Outstanding Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role
▪    Kyle Jesperson – Ash Rizin – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Daniel Mallett – Peril in Paris – Lunchbox Theatre
▪    Joe Perry – Sia – Downstage
▪    Alexander Plouffe – True Love Lies – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Kevin Rothery – Fool For Love – Sage Theatre/ Shadow Theatre

(I didn’t see Perils)

Uhhhh. Why do they make me choose between incredible performances? Jesperson was so so so great. He transformed. He was amazing. But Plouffe in True Love Lies was so subtle, and he brought tears to your eyes. Rothery doesn’t really have competition on those two. Perry deserves this nomination because he was great.
Arg. Fine. I’m going with Plouffe. He was outstanding.

Outstanding Sound Design or Composition
▪    Ethan Cole – Peril in Paris – Lunchbox Theatre
▪    Kyprios – Ash Rizin – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Matthew Skopyk – Playing with Fire – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Joe Slabe – Jeremy de Bergerac – Forte Musical Theatre Guild
▪    Matthew Waddell – Mary’s Wedding – Alberta Theatre Projects

(I didn’t see Peril or Jeremy de Bergerac)

Okay, really? Why did Playing with Fire get a nomination for sound design? Really? (This may very well turn into a rant about how I don’t think that play should have got all the recognition that it did). I wish I would have seen Perils in Paris. It got a lot of nominations. Anyway, you look at Kyprios and Skopyk and you can’t even compare them. My vote goes to Kyprios.

Outstanding Musical Direction
▪    Ethan Cole – Peril in Paris – Lunchbox Theatre
▪    Kyprios – Ash Rizin – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Joe Slabe – Jeremy de Bergerac – Forte Musical Theatre Guild
▪    Joe Slabe – The Wizard of Oz – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Stephen Woodjetts – Sweeny Todd – Vertigo Theatre

Oh musical theatre. I don’t feel I can say what was best musical direction. This one is a category that I feel like I’m shooting in the dark a little. So my shot in the dark goes to Sweeny Todd, mostly for the sheer musical component. And the last category went to Ash Rizin. Seriously. I didn’t say that my reasoning had to be sound at all times.

Outstanding New Play
▪    Ethan Cole and Eric Rose – Peril in Paris
▪    Downstage Creation Ensemble – Good Fences
▪    Karen Hines – Drama
▪    Kirstie McLellan Day – Playing with Fire
▪    Joe Slabe – Jeremy de Bergerac

Oh yes. I most certainly think that the biography of Theo Fleury on stage is the best new play. I want to say that if it wins I will eat my hat. But I don’t want to eat my hat. It just wasn’t that GOOD. It was alright. But did people embrace it because it’s a Calgarian story? The script is blah. Boring. A one man anecdote on stage. I’m the only critic who didn’t like it. Maybe I’m wrong. Five stars out of five wrong.
My vote goes to Drama. Good Fences was great, but not quite there.

Outstanding Direction
▪    Mark Bellamy – Sweeny Todd – Vertigo Theatre
▪    Ron Jenkins – Playing with Fire – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Kevin McKendrick – Race – Ground Zero Theatre and Hit and Myth Productions
▪    Vanessa Sabourin – Hunger Striking – Urban Curvz
▪    Bob White – Mary’s Wedding – Alberta Theatre Projects

I wonder if this will go to Bellamy, because it was his baby. And it’s quite possible. Like hell I would vote for Playing with Fire. Race deserves this, because it was quite well done. But so was Mary’s Wedding and Hunger Striking. I think you don’t have a much room in Mamet’s Race as you do in  Hunger Striking for artistic direction. And I just really love what they did with that play… So I’m going with the underdog in my opinion. Hunger Striking. Good luck Sabourin.

Outstanding Production of a Musical
▪    Ash Rizin – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Jeremy de Bergerac – Forte Musical Theatre Guild
▪    Peril in Paris – Lunchbox Theatre
▪    Sweeny Todd – Vertigo Theatre
▪    The Wizard of Oz – Alberta Theatre Projects

And we’re back to that musical category again. I would have to go with The Wizard of Oz. Mostly because I thought Sweeny was okay and Ash Rizin is a little too undeveloped to be the best in this category.

Outstanding Performance By An Actress In A Drama
▪    Shawna Lori Burnett – Jim Forgetting – Verb Theatre
▪    Jamie Konchak – Hunger Striking – Urban Curvz
▪    Jamie Konchak – Fool For Love – Sage Theatre / Shadow Theatre
▪    Julia Mackey – Jake’s Gift – Lunchbox Theatre
▪    Meg Roe – Mary’s Wedding – Alberta Theatre Projects

And the next three categories are the series of impossible decisions. I’m pleased that Jim Forgetting was nominated. I’m not surprised that Konchak is here, twice. She carried Hunger Striking, and done by someone else it wouldn’t have been as compelling. Julia Mackey is amazing in Jake’s Gift. But at the end of the day? I have to go with Roe. Mary’s Wedding was just a really really great play, and Roe was phenomenal in it.

Outstanding Performance By An Actor In A Drama
▪    Haysam Kadri – Jim Forgetting – Verb Theatre
▪    Braden Griffiths – Good Fences – Downstage
▪    Shaun Smyth – Playing with Fire – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    R.H Thomson – To Kill a Mockingbird – Theatre Calgary
▪    John Lachlan Stewart – Big Shot – Ghost River Theatre / Surreal SoReal Theatre

This one is a little easier. Kadri gets my nod because he did a great job, and so did Thomson in playing the great Atticus Finch. But Stewart blew me away. And yeah, maybe he’s just a carbon copy of Daniel MacIvor. But he’s really good at it. So Big Shot gets my vote

Outstanding Production of a Play
▪    Big Shot – Ghost River Theatre
▪    Jake’s Gift – Lunchbox Theatre
▪    Mary’s Wedding – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Penny Plain – Alberta Theatre Projects
▪    Playing with Fire – Alberta Theatre Projects

So how do you compare puppets, to a guy rambling on skates, to a play that has been produced for 10 years, to a war veteran story, to a one man show about a shooting on a Sky-Train?
You don’t think about it too much and go with the one that stuck the most?
Jake’s Gift. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.

I’ll actually highlight the winners, once they are announced and we’ll see how angry I get that Playing with Fire will win in multiple categories, though it doesn’t deserve to.

Ceremonies in August.
I’m sure you’ll be waiting in anticipation.

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