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.