The city's theatre community celebrated the best in theatre at the Jessies gala Monday evening, naming winners from 70 productions staged over the past year.
The Light in the Piazza took four Jessies – winning awards for set design and lighting as well as best production. It also took the award for significant artistic achievement for its music and musical direction.
The musical, adapted from Elizabeth Spencer’s 1960 novella, is about a young woman who falls in love with an Italian man while touring Italy with her mother. As the romance blossoms, the mother is forced to reconsider her own regrets. First developed as a musical in Seattle in 2003, The Light in the Piazza — featuring songs and lyrics by Adam Guettel — went on to become a Broadway hit.
Patrick Street Productions, a small artist-driven company formed in 2007 by Peter Jorgensen and Katey Wright, specializes in musical theatre.
The now-defunct Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Co. had one win in the large theatre category: best actor in a lead role for Greg Armstrong-Morris of La Cage Aux Folles. The city-owned Vancouver Playhouse Theatre closed in March due to financial difficulties and efforts to revive it by the artistic community have so far gone nowhere.
Kudos for All the Way Home
Electric Co.’s All the Way Home was the big winner in the small theatre division, while Le portrait Gooble by francophone troupe Théâtre la Seizième was declared best production for young audiences.
The Penelopiad by Arts Club Theatre took two performance awards: outstanding lead actress for Meg Roe and outstanding supporting actress by Colleen Wheeler.
Roe was a best actress-winner in the small theatre category as well, taking the Jessie for her performance in All the Way Home.
Electric Company was richly rewarded for its innovative production of All the Way Home, in which the audience sat onstage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre while the actors moved around them.
The production won six Jessies in total and also took the Critic’s Choice Innovation Award.
The action of the 1961 play, by American playwright Tad Mosel, was moved to First World War-era British Columbia, where an extended family is shaken to its core with the accidental death of one member.
Kim Collier recognized
Kim Collier, winner of the 2010 Siminovitch Prize and among Canada’s brightest theatre innovators, took the Jessie for directing All the Way Home. Nicola Lipman won the best supporting actress award for the same production.
The Bomb-itty of Errors, a Vancouver Fringe project that offered a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, took two awards in the small theatre division: best costume and significant achievement for the ensemble performance.
In the young people’s category, Le portrait Gooble nabbed three awards: best performance for Vincent Forcier, best direction and best production. The play, performed in Vancouver schools, follows a brother and sister who compete to see who is the best painter.
Presented Monday evening at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, the annual awards are named after Jessie Richardson, a creative force in the Vancouver theatre scene for 40 years, beginning in the 1930s.