2011 Betty Mitchell Award Recipients Announced!
Recipients of the 14th Annual Betty Mitchell Awards were announced during a gala event at Stage West Theatre Restaurant on Monday, August 8, 2011.
The evening of awards honouring Calgary’s 2010/2011 professional theatre season were hosted by talented Calgary theatre performers Karen Johnson-Diamond and Kevin Rothery. Special guest, Alderman Peter Demong, joined in the celebration of Calgary’s theatre achievements with an address to the crowd conveying his respect and admiration for the fine work that graces the city’s stages throughout the year. This year’s award ceremony paid homage to 80 nominations in 16 award categories from 57 eligible productions.
The acting awards were a testament to the shear versatility of Calgary’s theatre performers. From a woman playing a man in Alberta Theatre Projects’ Penelopiad (Jamie Konchak, Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role) to a man playing a drag queen in Lunchbox Theatre’s With Bells On and a man playing a multitude of roles in Vertigo Theatre’s The 39 Steps (Paul Welch and Christopher Hunt, respectively-co-recipients of the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical), the 2010/2011 season gave performers an opportunity to show their acting chops. Other acting hardware went out to Allison Lynch (Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Comedy or Musical), Esther Purves-Smith (Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Drama), and Patrick MacEachern (Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Drama).
A particular highlight of the night was the presentation of the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. For years, Trevor Rueger, now Chair of the Betty Mitchell Awards, has worked tirelessly in orchestrating the awards show and promoting the work of Calgary’s theatre artists. Rueger was nominated for his performance in Theatre Calgary’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-his first nomination-and the crowd reaction when took the award was truly enthusiastic.
Though no one production gleaned the hardware in landslide proportions, Ghost River Theatre/Redtoblue Performance’s ONE received more awards than any other single production. The play was honoured with the awards for Outstanding Lighting Design (Snezana Pesic with Lester Lee), Outstanding Sound Design or Composition (Matthew Waddell), and Outstanding Production of a Play.
With 4 Betty Mitchell Awards to their credit, Vertigo Theatre amassed more awards this year than any other company. In addition to Christopher Hunt’s award, other awards carried off for Vertigo productions were Outstanding Costume Design (Bretta Gerecke), Outstanding Direction (Mark Bellamy), and Outstanding Production of a Musical.
Rounding out the awards ceremony were the awards for Outstanding New Play going to Mieko Ouchi (Nisei Blue, Alberta Theatre Projects), Outstanding Musical Direction awarded to Joe Slabe and Kris Demeanor (Twisted, Forte Musical Theatre Guild and The Bitter Suite Society), Outstanding Choreography or Fight Direction awarded to Adrian Young (Kung Fu Panties, Ground Zero Theatre and Hit & Myth Productions). And one final award, Outstanding Set Design, was presented to often nominated but first time recipient, Deitra Kalyn for her work on reasons to be pretty (Ground Zero Theatre and Hit & Myth Productions).
In addition to the 16 award categories comprising the bulk of the ceremony, 3 special adjudicated awards were also announced on Monday night. The Duval Lang Theatre for Young Audiences Award was presented to Daniel Hall. The Greg Bond Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre in Calgary was presented to Tory Doctor. The Dean Ott/Debbie Boult Award honouring Outstanding Achievement in Technical Production was presented to Kira Campbell.
The Betty Mitchell Awards media sponsor, Fast Forward Weekly, presented the Fast Forward Weekly Readers’ Choice Award to Ground Zero Theatre and Hit & Myth Productions for their production of Rebecca Northan’s new work, Kung Fu Panties.
Vanessa Porteous, Artistic Director of Alberta Theatre Projects, delivered a touching and personal tribute to the life and work of Gina Wilkinson. The recently passed director worked on numerous Calgary productions and will be missed by all who knew her.
The Betty Mitchell Awards are a significant annual event for Calgary’s professional theatre community. These awards recognize the continued level of excellence in our theatres, raise the profile of live performance in our city, and encourage audience growth.
The complete list of nominees and award recipients can be accessed here.