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Topdog Underdog on top at Dora Awards

06/25/2012 11:59 EDT | Updated 08/25/2012 05:12 EDT
Topdog Underdog was a big winner in the general theatre division at Toronto’s Dora Mavor Moore Awards Monday evening.

The co-production by Obsidian Theatre and the Shaw Festival took three awards, including best production, at the annual awards for the best in Toronto theatre.

Caroline, or Change was best musical production, Ride the Cyclone took best touring production and Iphigenia in Tauris was best opera as the Doras were presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts.

Topdog Underdog, a Pulitzer-winning play by Suzan-Lori Parks about two competitive black brothers, took best direction for Philip Aikin. Nigel Shawn Williams, who is currently starring as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in the Shaw Festival's production of Ragtime, won the award for best male actor for his turn as Lincoln in Topdog.

Among the high-profile contenders in the general theatre division, War Horse took two awards for its choreography and the costume design — in particular the effective horse costumes from the Handspring Puppet Co. in the U.K.

Audience Choice Award

War Horse also won the Audience Choice Award for outstanding production, voted on by audiences.

Crash, Pamela Mala Sinha’s one-woman play, which she performed for Theatre Passe Muraille, took the Dora for best new play. It beat out four other new plays, including Ins Choi’s Kim’s Convenience.

Sinha plays a woman dealing with a past trauma and looks at the role of memory in working out the losses of the past. She earned the Dora award for best female performance. Crash took a total of four Doras, including best lighting and sound design.

Caroline, or Change was recognized for best musical direction and best production in the musical theatre division.

Musical Caroline, or Change

Staged earlier this year by Acting Up Stage and Obsidian Theatre, the musical follows the story of a black maid working for a Southern Jewish family, who is struggling to survive economically. Meanwhile the son of her employer must adjust to the death of his mother.

A past winner of Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards in New York and London, Caroline, or Change went into the Doras with 10 nominations. Two of its performers earned awards – Arlene Duncan as the maid Caroline and Sterling Jarvis as the singing dryer and bus.

Ana Kokolovic’s SVADBA – Wedding was named best new musical.

In the independent theatre division, Theatre Smash’s The Ugly One took outstanding production and best set. The play by Marius von Mayenburg is a witty take on getting ahead in consumer culture, translated by Maja Zade.

Richard Donat wins

Richard Donat, the veteran Canadian actor who came home to play Tennessee Williams in a production of His Greatness at Factory Theatre, was rewarded with a Dora Award for best male performance. He plays the American playwright at the end of his career in Daniel MacIvor’s play.

Best actress was Astrid Van Wieren for This Wide Night, a bleak drama about two women who knew each other in prison dealing with life on the outside.

The outstanding new play was Tomasso’s Party by debut writer Jules Lewis, part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival.

In the dance division Lina Cruz and Fila 13 Productions’ Soupe du Jour had two wins – for best choreography and best musical composition.

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