Although one third of the 2019-2020 season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto theatre critics have chosen the best of a season that did happen. And they’ve even honoured a work deemed “the most creative response to the pandemic.”
Among the year’s big winners are Obsidian Theatre, Outside the March and Crow’s Theatre.
Obsidian’s outgoing artistic director Philip Akin won two best director awards: for his work on Actually, a tense campus drama about consent and rape culture (produced by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre in association with Obsidian); and for Pass Over, a timely look at race relations produced by Obsidian at Buddies in Bad Times. Pass Over also won the TTCA for best performance by an ensemble in a play. In addition, Caroline, Or Change, Obsidian’s co-production with Musical Stage Company of the civil-rights-era musical, won awards for best lead performance in a musical (Jully Black) and best supporting performance in a musical (Vanessa Sears).
Crow’s and Outside the March’s co-production of The Flick took home four awards: best production of a play, best performance by an ensemble, best design and best international play for playwright Annie Baker.
Ghost Quartet, a co-production by Crow’s Theatre’s and Eclipse Theatre Company, won two TTCAs: best performance by an ensemble in a musical and best director for Marie Farsi.
And Outside the March won a special citation for “creative response to the COVID-19 pandemic” for its interactive phone call-based The Ministry Of Mundane Mysteries.
Other multiple winners included Mirvish Productions, whose touring production of The Band’s Visit won awards for best production of a musical and best lead performance in a musical (for Chilina Kennedy), and Girl From The North Country, which won best director of a musical for Conor Macpherson; and Soulpepper Theatre, whose productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Jesus Hopped The “A” Train won TTCAs for its respective leads, Amy Rutherford and Daren A. Herbert.
Remaining winners include Sarah Dodd, who won the TTCA for best supporting performance in a play for Marjorie Prime, and Anthony MacMahon and Thomas McKechnie for The Jungle, winner of the best new Canadian play award.
The 10th annual Toronto Theatre Critics Awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony on Monday, June 22, at 7 pm. It will be streamed live on the YouTube channel of the Actor’s Fund of Canada, a national charity with a mission to help Canadian entertainment professionals maintain their health, dignity and ability to work. The event will be a fundraiser for the AFC.
The jury, of which I am a member, consists of critics from nine print and online outlets.
Here is the full list of winners:
Best New Canadian Play
The Jungle by Anthony MacMahon and Thomas McKechnie (Tarragon Theatre)
Best International Play
The Flick by Annie Baker (Outside the March and Crow’s Theatre)
Best Lead Performance in a Play
Daren A. Herbert in Jesus Hopped The “A” Train (Soulpepper Theatre)
Amy Rutherford in A Streetcar Named Desire (Soulpepper Theatre)
Best Supporting Performance in a Play
Sarah Dodd in Marjorie Prime (Coal Mine Theatre)
Best Ensemble Performance in a Play
Colin Doyle, Amy Keating, Durae McFarlane and Brendan McMurtry-Howlett in The Flick (Outside the March and Crow’s Theatre)
Kaleb Alexander, Mazin Elsadig and Alex McCooeye in Pass Over (Obsidian Theatre)
Best Director of a Play
Philip Akin, Actually (Harold Green Jewish Theatre Co. and Obsidian Theatre Co.)
Philip Akin, Pass Over (Obsidian Theatre Co.)
Best Production of a Play
The Flick, produced by Outside the March and Crow’s Theatre
Best Lead Performance in a Musical
Jully Black in Caroline, Or Change (Musical Stage Co. and Obsidian Theatre Co.)
Chilina Kennedy in The Band’s Visit (Mirvish Productions)
Best Supporting Performance in a Musical
Vanessa Sears in Caroline, Or Change (Musical Stage Co. and Obsidian Theatre Co.)
Best Ensemble Performance in a Musical
Beau Dixon, Hailey Gillis, Kira Guloien and Andrew Penner in Ghost Quartet (Crow’s Theatre and Eclipse Theatre Co.)
Best Director of a Musical
Marie Farsi, Ghost Quartet (Crow’s Theatre and Eclipse Theatre Co.)
Conor McPherson, Girl From The North Country (Mirvish Productions)
Best Production of a Musical
The Band’s Visit, produced by Orin Wolf, Stylesfour Productions, Evamere Entertainment, Atlantic Theater Co. et al., presented by David Mirvish
Best Design, Play or Musical
Nick Blais, Nick Bottomley, Anahita Dehbonehie and Richard Feren for The Flick (Outside the March, Crow’s Theatre)
Special Citation – For Creative Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Ministry Of Mundane Mysteries by Outside the March