Calgary thes­pi­ans scoop up ‘Crit­ters’


The hits just keep on com­ing for Jane Austen.

That’s what Calgary’s theatre com­mu­nity dis­cov­ered Wed­nes­day night at Lib­er­tine, where the sec­ond an­nual Calgary Theatre Crit­ics Awards — a.k.a. the Crit­ters! — were handed out by Calgary’s theatre crit­ics (my­self, the Sun’s Louis B Hob­son and CBC Ra­dio’s Jessica Gold­man).

While the bud­gets of Calgary’s theatre com­pa­nies vary wildly, there was no dom­i­nant com­pany last night, when the 16 Crit­ics Awards (and one Spe­cial Achieve­ment Award) were evenly di­vided be­tween A Houses like Theatre Calgary (2), and gritty lit­tle in­de­pen­dent theatres like Sage (3). Stage West won three, the Shake­speare Com­pany and Al­berta Theatre Projects each took home a pair, while for­mer Lunch­box Theatre artis­tic di­rec­tor Pamela Hal­stead took home the first Evans Award given to a mem­ber of the Calgary theatre com­mu­nity who made an out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the theatre scene dur­ing the 2012-13 sea­son.

Third Street Theatre, the city’s new­est com­pany, was a win­ner in its first try, bring­ing home Best Solo Per­for­mance for Paul Welch’s great per­for­mance in I Am My Own Wife, while Calgary oph­thal­mol­o­gist and play­wright Arun Lakra con­tin­ued to rake in awards for Down­stage’s pro­duc­tion of Se­quence, which was named Best New Script.

There were other lo­cal win­ners too, such as Es­ther Purves-Smith (Best Fea­tured Ac­tress in a Play for Dust), Sto­ry­book Theatre’s in­terim artis­tic di­rec­tor J.P. Thi­bodeau (Best Ac­tor in a Mu­si­cal for The Last Five Years), Haysam Kadri (Best Di­rec­tor of a Play for Ham­let), Scott Sh­pe­ley (Best Fea­tured Ac­tor in a Musi- cal for Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Char­lie Brown), Frank Zot­ter (Best Fea­tured Ac­tor in a Play for Jack Goes Boat­ing), Terry Gun­vor­dahl (Best De­sign for Poly­graph), and Genevieve Pare (Best Ac­tress in a Play for Poly­graph).

Cal­gar­ian Chris­tian Gout­sis won for Ham­let (Best Ac­tor in a Play),

Kevin McK­endrick didn’t win, but if you got points for each Crit­ter nom­i­nated show you were in­volved with, he would have been in a dog­fight with Kadri, who won for his di­rec­tion in Ham­let and lost for Best Ac­tor in Down­stage’s Bashir Lazhar (and also starred in Wil­liam Shake­speare’s Land of the Dead).

McK­endrick, mean­while, di­rected Crit­ter win­ners I Am My Own Wife, and Se­quence (where he lost for Best Di­rec­tor to Kadri), as well as nom­i­nees Wil­liam Shake­speare’s Land of the Dead and A Steady Rain, where Brian Jensen — who starred in dou­ble Crit­ter win­ner Poly­graph as well — was nom­i­nated for Best Ac­tor.

There were also out-oftown win­ners like Sara Farb (Best Fea­tured Ac­tress in a Mu­si­cal for Theatre Calgary’s pro­duc­tion of Next to Nor­mal), Marisa McIn­tyre (Best Ac­tress in a Mu­si­cal for Chicago) and Max Reimer (Best Di­rec­tor, Mu­si­cal, for Stage West’s pro­duc­tion of Chicago).

Ice­land’s Ves­tur­port and the Lyric Theatre in Lon- don took home the best tour­ing pro­duc­tion for Me­ta­mor­pho­sis, which was part of the 2013 High Per­for­mance Rodeo.

This year’s High Per­for­mance Rodeo was ba­si­cally ded­i­cated to an Ice­land theme that ran through it, so it was per­fect, then, that Me­ta­mopho­sis de­buted in a flash bliz­zard at Theatre Calgary. A dram­edy adapted from the Franz Kafka clas­sic novel, it was un­doubt­edly one of the strangest — and most ex­hil­a­rat­ing — plays ever to reach the stage at Theatre Calgary, and was one of the high­lights of what was a pretty ex­hil­a­rat­ing year, over­all, for Calgary theatre.

And oh yeah! Jane. She was the author of the source ma­te­rial for Theatre Calgary’s Pride and Prej­u­dice, the Best Play of the 2012-13 Calgary theatre sea­son.

The show fea­tur­ing a new adap­ta­tion by Vic­to­ria play­wright Janet Mun­sil. Af­ter its suc­cess­ful Calgary run, it went on to an ex­tended run at the National Arts Cen­tre in Ot­tawa, and af­ter that, Calgary’s Tyrell Crews, who played Mr. Darcy, joined the com­pany at Strat­ford, where he’s about to open in The Mer­chant of Venice.

Next year, we might have to add a cat­e­gory: Best Calgary tour­ing pro­duc­tion, as 2013 has been a ban­ner year, in­clud­ing one Lon­don pro­duc­tion (Rebecca Northan’s Blind Date), two New York Mu­si­cal Theatre Fes­ti­val shows (David Rhymer and Blake Brooker’s Mata Hari in 8 Bul­lets and Joe Slabe’s Cross­ing Swords), and — open­ing next week — one Strat­ford Fes­ti­val pro­duc­tion (John Mur­rell’s Tak­ing Shake­speare). Dif­fer­ent mem­bers of the vis­ual art com­mu­nity con­tinue to sup­port flood re­lief in the city as well. The Gerry Thomas Gallery down­town is host­ing a fundraiser Fri­day that will raise money for the Al­berta Arts Flood Re­build cam­paign that Calgary Arts De­vel­op­ment has or­ga­nized. There will be a min­i­mum $10 do­na­tion at the door, with ad­di­tional fundrais­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in­side, where guests can hear two bands and en­joy tapas from the Can­vas Bistro, cock­tails and a silent auc­tion fea­tur­ing over 20 do­nated items. It takes place from 6:30-10:30 p.m., at the Gerry Thomas Gallery, 602 11th Ave SW. And an­other Calgary artist, Melissa McKin­non, was so moved by the im­ages emerg­ing from the flood that she cre­ated sev­eral orig­i­nal land­scape paint­ings, which she called To­gether We Stand. McKin­non auc­tioned the paint­ings in late June and do­nated $610, or 100 per cent of the money, to the Red Cross.

Gavin Young/calgary Her­ald

In their first en­counter, El­iz­a­beth Bennet, right, played by Shan­non Tay­lor glances to­ward Mr. Darcy, cen­tre, played by Tyrell Crews, as he talks with his friend Mr. Bin­g­ley played by Bren­dan McMurtry-Howlett.

Stu­art Gradon/calgary Her­ald

Calgary oph­thal­mol­o­gist and play­wright Arun Lakra won a Calgary Theatre Crit­ics Award for Best New Script for Se­quence.

Gavin Young/calgary Her­ald

Es­ther Purvis-Smith, cen­tre, was named Best Fea­tured Ac­tress in a Play.

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