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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

News: MECCAs Party

The entertainers: Matt and Kyle and Matt
(l-r or r-l)

Greeks and Geeks
by Sarah Deshaies

While Medea may have tragically lost it all - her husband, her children, her sanity - Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre’s production of the Euripidean hit at The Centaur picked up a pair of accolades at Monday’s MECCA ceremony, snagging the Best Production award. 

France Rolland, who humbly declined to go on stage for the acceptance of the Production award, was anointed Best Actress for her fiery portrayal of Medea earlier in the evening, saying of her alter ago, “I loved every second I spent on stage with her.” Rolland triumphed over Ranee Lee in Black Theatre Workshop’s A Raisin in the Sun, and Michaela di Cesare in 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived.
Theatre Ste-Catherine was nicely packed from wall to exposed brick wall for the 14th edition of Montreal English Critics Circle Award, recognizing the best in English theatre in Montreal for the 2010-2011 season. 



“What makes a great actor... is an actor... who is able to win awards... with their acting abilities...”

Comedic trio Matt, Kyle and Matt shepherded the audience through 10 different categories, while handing out the hardware (framed certificates) to winners. The hosts-slash-band are also known as Matt Raudsepp, Kyle Gatehouse and Matt Gagnon, and their slightly gauche approach was a nice comedic touch. (Cue preamble for Best Actor award: “What makes a great actor... is an actor... who is able to win awards... with their acting abilities...”)

At the start of the night, Jody Burkholder picked up Best Lighting for Tableau d’Hote Theatre’s production of Daniel MacIvor’s Humans. Liz Valdez soon added to Humans’ award collection, as she garnered a MECCA for Best Director. (Humans was also nominated for Best Production and Best Ensemble.) 

Also nominated in that category was directing team Andreas Apergis and Alison Darcy for Medea, and Emma Tibaldo, director of The Flood Thereafter. The Talisman Theatre production racked up four noms, including Best Production, but went home empty-handed.

SideMart’s Andrew Shaver picked up the award for Chuipka. (“He’s not there, we love him - here’s to Chip.”)

Michaela di Cesare, newly returned to the Montreal scene after a year studying theatre at University of Toronto, was nominated in three categories, including Best Actress and Revelation. But she ultimately won Best Text for her semi-autobiographical Fringe play, MaryBeth Productions’ 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived, which will be remounted in the Spring.

Chip Chuipka was honoured as Best Actor for his performance in SideMart Theatrical Grocery’s Gordon, beating out Theodore Bikel for Lies My Father Told Me and Tony Nardi in A View From the Bridge. SideMart’s Andrew Shaver picked up the award for Chuipka. (“He’s not there, we love him - here’s to Chip.”)

Lavoie was nominated for Lies My Father Told Me at the Segal, and Centaur’s Schwartz’s: The Musical. He lost to himself for the former.

The many faces of the intricate, greasy spoon decor of Schwartz’s: The Musical at Centaur Theatre received the nod for Best Set Design, with the honour going to longtime designer John C. Dinning. The other nominees were James Lavoie for Geordie’s Beethoven Lives Upstairs, and Mathieu Poirier-Galarneau for Manga, by Belzebrute Productions.

James Lavoie was notably graceful in picking up the Best Costume award: “I’m a bit torn, having won and lost tonight...” he said at the podium. Lavoie was nominated for Lies My Father Told Me at the Segal, and Centaur’s Schwartz’s: The Musical. He lost to himself for the former.

Sabrina Miller was the other nominee for Best Costume, for her work in MainLine Theatre’s Sexy Dirty Bloody Scary. Miller also picked up a nom for Revelation, a category that recognizes an artist with potential, who has also happened to have had a breakout year. 

Robin Henderson picked up the award with some of her cast for the Best Ensemble award.

But previous winner Paul Van Dyck handed this year’s Revelation award to Sarah Mahoney, who creatively spearheaded C’est La Vie Theatre, a radio drama podcast. Mahoney was not available to pick up her award, but had a good reason, as revealed by Van Dyck: her sister went into labour Monday afternoon. (Congratulations times two!)

Robin Henderson picked up the award with some of her cast for the Best Ensemble award. Her Fringe show The Only Bar, a rock-inspired musical on “barflies, love, life and aprons,” beat out Humans and Lies My Father Told Me. 

To cap off the night, Andrew Shaver of SideMart Theatrical Grocery presented the award to Medea for Best Production, but not before rightly pointing out that something was missing in this year’s award ceremonies: the vacancy for Best Sound Design.

Especially for a season that was distinguished by musicals and plays with original music, Shaver pointed out the anomaly that no play received nods for sound, listing several successful shows, including Schwartz’s: The Musical, Billy Bishop Goes to War, Medea, Equus, A View from the Bridge... MECCA organizers explained at the end of the show that the lack of category was created by the 12 votes from critics for 12 different plays. 

Shaver also mentioned the omission from this year’s awards of Greg MacArthur, a Toronto-born Montrealer who had a banner year this season with two plays showing in translation in Montreal: RĂ©habilitation and Toxique. MacArthur is currently playwright-in-residence at University of Alberta.
Another category absent this year: Best Visiting production. No worries on this front: Matt, Kyle and Matt selected a scene from their favourite out-of-town production, “Kremlin BrulĂ©e.” Outfitted with blond wigs and donning Russian accents, the trio pantomimed an anti-drunk driving message with a Slavic slant.

Greek tragedy, a birth (offstage), an honest dressing down of the voting process, and a touch of the silly, wrapped in wigs: that was the MECCAs this year.

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