Recipients of the 13th Annual Betty Mitchell Awards were announced during a gala event at the Max Bell Theatre in the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts on Monday, August 30, 2010.
The evening of awards honouring Calgary’s 2009/2010 professional theatre season were hosted by local performer/improviser AJ Demers and double-award nominee Julie Orton who ended up carrying off the award for Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in Alberta Theatre Projects’ Shakespeare’s Dog. Special guests, Alderman Chabot, Alderman Pincott and Alderman McIvor, joined in celebration as the evening paid homage to 86 nominations in 16 award categories from 59 eligible productions.
With 4 Betty Mitchell awards to its credit, Shakespeare’s Dog amassed more awards this year than any other single show. In addition to Orton’s award, other awards carried off for work on this production were Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role going to David Lereaney, Outstanding Costume Design going to John Pennoyer, and Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Drama shared between Haysam Kadri for his role in Shakespeare’s Dog and Frank Zotter for his role in Sage Theatre’s Filth.
Theatre Calgary’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee followed closely with 3 Betty Mitchell Awards: Outstanding Musical Direction (Joe Slabe), Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical (Kevin Corey), and Outstanding Production of a Musical.
Tied for the honour of Outstanding Production of a Play were Vertigo Theatre with their production of Evelyn Strange, and partnering companies Alberta Theatre Projects and Ghost River Theatre for their co-production of The Highest Step in the World. The Highest Step in the World also garnered the award for Outstanding Choreography or Fight Direction (Adrian Young).
Additional honours for performances were awarded to Rebecca Northan who received the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her self-created work in Blind Date, and Valerie Planche who received the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Drama for her role in Alberta Theatre Projects’ Communion. The final award for an Alberta Theatre Projects presentation was the award for Outstanding Direction going to Chris Abraham for his work on I, Claudia.
One of the smaller and newer companies on the Calgary Theatre scene managed a great feat at this year’s Betty Mitchell Awards. The Downstage Creation Ensemble (a collection of artists comprised of Ethan Cole, Ellen Close, Col Cseke, Anton deGroot, Nicola Elson, Braden Griffiths and Simon Mallett) walked away with the award for Outstanding New Play for their collective work in creating In the Wake.
Rounding out the awards ceremony were the awards for Outstanding Lighting Design going to Kevin Lamotte and Alan Brodie (Beyond Eden, Theatre Calgary), Outstanding Sound Design or Composition awarded to Andrew Blizzard (Woman in Black, Vertigo Theatre), and Outstanding Set Design awarded to Bretta Gerecke (Beyond Eden, Theatre Calgary).
In addition to the 16 award categories comprising the bulk of the ceremony, 4 special adjudicated awards were also announced on Monday night. The Duval Lang Theatre for Young Audiences Award was presented toLana Skauge. The Greg Bond Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre in Calgary was presented to Doug McKeag. The Dean Ott/Debbie Boult Award honouring Outstanding Achievement in Technical Production was presented to Tom McCarthy. And in recognition of a unique contribution to the theatre community, The Betty Mitchell Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Vicki Stroich.
The Betty Mitchell Awards media sponsor, Fast Forward Weekly, presented the Fast Forward Weekly Readers’ Choice Award to Alberta Theatre Projects for their production of I, Claudia.
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 at the Betty Mitchell Awards website here.