Small companies win big at 2022 Dora Awards


Toronto’s smaller performing arts companies won big at the 2022 Dora Awards, the first in-person ceremony in more than three years.

Tapestry Opera’s world premiere of the science-fiction opera “R. U. R A Torrent of Light” picked up six awards, nearly sweeping the Dora’s opera division. Meanwhile, Talk is Free Theatre’s immersive production of “Sweeney Todd” and Bad New Days’ avant-garde “Italian Mime Suicide” each won five awards in the musical theatre and independent theatre divisions, respectively.

Resilience, it seems, was the overarching theme at Monday evening’s award ceremony at the Elgin Theatre, hosted by award-winning actor and director Sabryn Rock. It was an exuberant affair as the arts community gathered to celebrate an industry that has only begun to recover from the pandemic shuttering most theatres for nearly two years.

Last year’s ceremony was cancelled due to the pandemic and the 2020 iteration was entirely virtual. This year’s award show was pushed back to September — the ceremony typically occurs each June — to accommodate an extended timeline window for eligible productions due to the gradual return to in-person performances.

Some 100 productions were eligible for the 46 Dora Awards, which celebrate outstanding achievement in professional theatre, dance and opera.

Other winners Monday night include “Wildfire,” a dark comedy by Governor General Award-winning playwright David Paquet. The Factory Theatre production, translated into English by Leanna Brodie and directed by Soheil Parsa, received three Dora Awards in the General Theatre Division, including Outstanding Production, Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Direction for Parsa.

Mirvish Productions’ juggernaut “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which won both the Tony Award and Olivier Award for Best Play, was largely shut out, despite receiving eight nominations in the General Theatre Division. Lighting designer Neil Austin picked up the sole award for the production.

The jukebox musical “& Juliet,” which played at Mirvish’s Princess of Wales Theatre over the summer before a Broadway bow this fall, converted two of its eight nominations into wins, picking up the awards for Outstanding Musical Direction (Dominic Fallacaro) and Outstanding Achievement in Design (Soutra Gilmour).

The much-coveted award for Outstanding New Musical, however, was given to “Dixon Road,” Fatuma Adar’s semi-autobiographical work about a Somali Family settling in Toronto following the outbreak of the Somali Civil War. The musical, which was staged at High Park’s Amphitheatre this summer, was co-produced by the Musical Stage Company, Obsidian Theatre Company and Canadian Stage.

Top acting awards in the musical division went to two “Sweeney Todd” actors. Glynis Ranney picked up the award for Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role for her turn as the eccentric Cockney baker, Mrs. Lovett. Her co-star, Cyrus Lane, received the trophy for Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role for his portrayal of the devilish Judge Turpin.

Alexis Gordon’s tour-de-force performance in “Room,” a stage adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name, was recognized in the General Theatre Division. In the featured role category, Sheldon Elter was rewarded for his aching performance in Soulpepper and Native Earth Performing Arts’ co-production of “Where the Blood Mixes.”

In the dance division, “In My Body,” by acclaimed Canadian street dancer and choreographer Crazy Smooth, nabbed four awards, including Outstanding Production. Smooth himself was awarded the prize for Outstanding Choreography for the new work, which assembled an intergeneration troupe of dancers to explore “the evolution of self and the effects of aging on street dancers.”


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