Thursday, December 8, 2022

Fat Juliet & Controlled Damage top nominations for this year’s Merritt Awards

Celebrating Nova Scotia's outstanding talent in the theatre industry, the annual awards will be handed out on April 11.

An adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and a story of a Nova Scotia civil rights trailblazer lead the nominations at this year’s Merritt Awards.

Marking the 20th-anniversary of Nova Scotia’s annual celebration of excellence in professional theatre, the Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre production of Fat Juliet scored twelve nominations.

Halifax-based playwright Stevey Hunter’s contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragic love story captured the nod for best production and trophies in other categories, including outstanding ensemble, new Nova Scotia play, direction, and more.

For Eastern Front Theatre’s (EFT) artistic director Kat McCormack the nominations have validated the company’s work. “Taking on EFT and trying to do right by the local community has been a huge responsibility, so to be recognized by our peers feels a little bit like we’re on the right path with our programming,” says McCormack.

With the hope for a remount of Fat Juliet and to see it go on tour, McCormack believes the nominations will help to bolster its appeal.

“I think we’re all hugely proud of what we’ve created, and it’s amazing to think that we earned a place among the many fantastic shows to come out during COVID [and] we can’t wait to come together and celebrate the entire community at the Merritts,” she says. “As they say, it’s an honour just to be nominated.”

For Fat Juliet playwright and actor Stevey Hunter, the fact the majority of the team responsible are emerging artists makes the nominations that much more special.

“I also am honoured to be representing the fat community and to have created a piece all about fatphobia, body dysmorphia, and self-love,” they say. “Very often fat people are left out of our stories entirely, so to have our show that celebrates bodies for whatever shape they are be recognized feels really exciting and rewarding in itself.”

The Neptune Theatre and b current Performing Arts production of Andrea Scott’s Controlled Damage is not far behind, with eleven nominations. The story of Nova Scotia civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond received nominations in the outstanding production, performance, ensemble, and direction categories, among others.

“I really felt like a winner two years ago when the three-week run of the play sold out before opening night,” says Scott. “To have that joy extended with these eleven nominations, which proves that the play lived on in people’s hearts and minds, even through the pandemic, makes me very very happy. I had a fantastic team that made the show the success people are still talking about today.”

Deborah Castrilli and Ryan Allen in the Neptune Theatre production of Controlled Damage. Photo by Mark Robins.
Deborah Castrilli (nominated for outstanding performance in a leading role) and Ryan Allen in the Neptune Theatre production of Controlled Damage. Photo by Mark Robins.

Celebrating Nova Scotia’s outstanding talent in the theatre industry, the annual awards named after late Dalhousie Theatre professor Robert Merritt will be presented on April 11 in a ceremony at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The awards evening, open to the public, will include an all-new emerging artist showcase featuring costumes, set designs, sound, and digital performances. Visit merrittawards.ca for tickets and information.

A complete list of nominees follows (e&oe).

Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role

Jacob Sampson | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Shakespeare by the Sea
Allister MacDonald | Alice In Pantoland | Neptune Theatre
Mark Delaney | Billy Bishop Goes to War | Highland Arts Theatre
Deborah Castrilli | Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Ann‐Marie Kerr | Footnotes: an Evening of 3 Short Plays by Hannah Moscovitch | Matchstick Theatre Company
Breton Lalama | Fully Committed | Neptune Theatre
Melanie LeBlanc | Macbeth | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Hilary Adams | Schoolhouse | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Martha Irving | The December Man | HomeFirst Theatre
Hugh Thompson | The December Man | HomeFirst Theatre

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role

Jade Douris‐O’Hara | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Shakespeare by the Sea
Sharleen Kalayil | Calendar Girls | Neptune Theatre
Jeremiah Sparks | Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Sarah Richardson | Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Peter Sarty | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Nathan Simmons | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Melanie LeBlanc | Schoolhouse | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Ursula Calder | Schoolhouse | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Matthew Lumley | Schoolhouse | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Ryan Rogerson | Schoolhouse | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble

Calendar Girls | Neptune Theatre
Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Hansel und Gretel in: Der Garten Von Edible Horrors: a Terrible Parable | The Villains Theatre and North Barn Theatre Collective
Schoolhouse | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre

Outstanding New Nova Scotia Play

The Company. ASL Translation by Catherine MacKinnon | At This Hour | Zuppa Theatre
Stevey Hunter | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Aaron Collier with Stewart Legere and Francesca Ekwuyasi | Frequencies | Heist
Richie Wilcox | Good Grief | Ship’s Company Theatre
Andrea Boyd and Laura Teasdale | Robin Hood: The Great Escape | Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre

Outstanding New Nova Scotia Adaptation

Jeremy Webb | Alice In Pantoland | Neptune Theatre
Wesley J. Colford | As You Like It ‐ A New Musical Adaptation | Highland Arts Theatre
Dan Bray | Hansel und Gretel in: Der Garten Von Edible Horrors: a Terrible Parable | The Villains Theatre and North Barn Theatre Collective
Dan Bray | Observatory Mansions | The Villains Theatre
Andrea Boyd and Laura Teasdale | Robin Hood: The Great Escape | Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre

Outstanding Direction

Ben Stone with Catherine MacKinnon, ASL Coach | At This Hour | Zuppa Theatre
Nigel Shawn Williams | Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Kat McCormack | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Andrea Boyd | Robin Hood: The Great Escape | Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre
Mary Vingoe | The December Man | HomeFirst Theatre

Outstanding Choreography

Jade Douris‐O’Hara | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Shakespeare by the Sea
Franziska Glen and Lily Falk | A Tale on Two Wheels | Gale Force Theatre
Tracy Fanous | Alice In Pantoland | Neptune Theatre
Lesley MacLean | As You Like It ‐ A New Musical Adaptation | Highland Arts Theatre
Zomi Tombing | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design

Helena Marriott | Alice In Pantoland | Neptune Theatre
Brandon Kleiman | Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Jennifer Goodman | Macbeth | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Elizabeth Perry | Robin Hood: The Great Escape | Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre
Jennifer Goodman | Schoolhouse | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre

Outstanding Musical Direction

Kurtis McAllister | A Tale on Two Wheels | Gale Force Theatre
Sarah Richardson | Alice In Pantoland | Neptune Theatre
Chuck Homewood | Billy Bishop Goes to War | Highland Arts Theatre
Allen Cole | Macbeth | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Lisa St. Clair | The Last Five Years | Neptune Theatre

Outstanding Original Score or Composition

Kurtis McAllister | A Tale on Two Wheels | Gale Force Theatre
Jackson Fairfax‐Perry | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Aaron Collier | Frequencies | Heist
Ian MacFarlane, Dan Bray, and Rachel Lloyd | Hansel und Gretel in: Der Garten Von Edible Horrors: a Terrible Parable | The Villains Theatre and North Barn Theatre Collective
Allen Cole | Macbeth | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design

Brian Riley | At This Hour | Zuppa Theatre
Deanna H. Choi | Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Jackson Fairfax‐Perry | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Aaron Collier | Frequencies | Heist
Aaron Collier | Princess’ Pride’ N’ Joy | Heist

Outstanding Lighting Design

Anna Shepard | At This Hour | Zuppa Theatre
Jessica Lewis | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Carmen Lee | Good Grief | Ship’s Company Theatre
Vicky Williams | Observatory Mansions | The Villains Theatre
Garrett G. Barker | The Woman in Black | Neptune Theatre

Outstanding Projection Design

John Dinning | Calendar Girls | Neptune Theatre
Brandon Kleiman | Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Ell Zagar | Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Wes Babcock | Footnotes: an Evening of 3 Short Plays by Hannah Moscovitch | Matchstick Theatre Company
Jean‐Pierre Cloutier | Good Grief | Ship’s Company Theatre

Outstanding Independent Production

Footnotes: an Evening of 3 Short Plays by Hannah Moscovitch | Matchstick Theatre Company
Frequencies | Heist
Hansel und Gretel in: Der Garten Von Edible Horrors: a Terrible Parable | The Villains Theatre and North Barn Theatre Collective
Little One | Highland Arts Theatre
The December Man | HomeFirst Theatre

Outstanding Production

At This Hour | Zuppa Theatre
Controlled Damage | Neptune Theatre & b current Performing Arts
Fat Juliet | Shakespeare by the Sea and Eastern Front Theatre
Good Grief | Ship’s Company Theatre
Schoolhouse | Two Planks and a Passion Theatre

Awards for outstanding technician, stage manager, and the Theatre Nova Scotia Scholarship, Neptune RBC Chrysalis Emerging Artist Award and Theatre Nova Scotia Legacy Award will also be presented on April 11.

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