Two Halifax musicals dominate nominations for this year’s professional theatre awards

Halifax theatre companies are well represented as Theatre Nova Scotia announces the nominees for the 2020 Robert Merritt Awards

The Bridge (2b theatre and Neptune Theatre in association with Obsidian Theatre) and The Color Purple (Neptune Theatre) received eleven nominations each for this year's Robert Merritt Awards.
The Bridge (2b theatre and Neptune Theatre in association with Obsidian Theatre) and The Color Purple (Neptune Theatre) received eleven nominations each for this year's Robert Merritt Awards.

Halifax theatre companies are well represented as Theatre Nova Scotia announced the nominees for the 2020 Robert Merritt Awards, the province’s annual celebration of excellence in professional theatre.

Among the local professional companies to score multiple nods is the 2b theatre/Neptune Theatre/Obsidian Theatre production of Shauntay Grant’s The Bridge, the gospel-infused tale of two estranged brothers set in a rural Black community. Neptune also scored big for its production of the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Both productions received eleven nominations each, including outstanding direction, musical direction and production.

Indie theatre company Keep Good [Theatre] Company walked away with nine nominations for its production of The Children, Lucy Kirkwood’s cautionary drama about the aftermath of a nuclear meltdown.

The Children is also vying for a trophy alongside the Halifax-based Xara Choral Theatre’s Rings Through Water and Kick At The Dark Theatre Co-Operative production of Every Brilliant Thing for outstanding production by a new or emerging company.

Neptune Theatre is also nominated for its productions of Peter Pan, Pleasureville, The Last Wife, Noises Off and Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells).

Other local theatre companies receiving nominations include KAZAN CO-OP’s The Realistic Joneses, Eastern Front Theatre’s Miss ‘N Me, Below The Salt’s Hamlet, The Villians Theatre production of Fox, Halifax Theatre for Young People‘s Brundibar, Zuppa Theatre’s tiny and Terra Novella Theatre’s Firebird: The Musical.

The outstanding new play by a Nova Scotia category saw three local productions – The Bridge, An Ordinary Afternoon in 1974 and Zomblet – all receiving nominations.

Among the other awards to be announced at the awards ceremony later this month include outstanding technician, stage manager, volunteer and the Theatre Nova Scotia Legacy Award.

“Theatre Nova Scotia is proud to promote the talents and creativity of theatre practitioners
working in this province,” says Nancy Morgan, Theatre Nova Scotia’s executive director in a media release. “From original works to classical repertoire, there is a vibrant theatre community in Nova Scotia.”

A complete list of nominees follows.

The 2020 Robert Merritt Awards will take place at the Dalhousie Student Union in Halifax on March 30 to coincide with International Wolrd Theatre Day. Visit theatrens.ca for tickets and more information.

Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role

Name Show Company
Jacob Sampson The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Ronica Sajnani A Brimful of Asha Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre
Mauralea Austin The Children Keep Good [Theatre] Company
Martha Irving The Children Keep Good [Theatre] Company
Tara Jackson The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Burgandy Code Hamlet Below The Salt
Jackie Torrens Hamlet Below The Salt
Burgandy Code In This Light Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Taylor Olson Monster That’s Us Collective
Kelly Holiff Peter Pan Neptune Theatre

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role

Name Show Company
Jim Codrington The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Daniel Ellis The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Sophia Walker The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Karen Burthwright The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Janelle Cooper The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Samantha Walkes The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Breton Lalama Pleasureville Neptune Theatre
Sherry Smith Pleasureville Neptune Theatre
Gil Anderson The Realistic Joneses KAZAN CO-OP
Matthew Lumley The Realistic Joneses KAZAN CO-OP

Outstanding Choreography

Name Show Company
Veronique MacKenzie Ben Hur Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre
Veronique MacKenzie The Children Keep Good [Theatre] Company
Tracy Fanous Miss ‘N Me Eastern Front Theatre
Stephanie Graham Peter Pan Neptune Theatre
Sarain Fox Rings Through Water Xara Choral Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design

Name Show Company
Rachel Forbes The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Tamara Marie Kucheran The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Kaelen MacDonald Fox The Villians Theatre
Janet MacLellan The Last Wife Neptune Theatre
Emlyn Murray Miss ‘N Me Eastern Front Theatre

Outstanding Direction

Name Show Company
Pamela Halstead Bed and Breakfast Ship’s Company Theatre
Anthony Black The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Laura Vingoe-Cram The Children Keep Good [Theatre] Company
Kimberley Rampersad The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Heidi Malazdrewich He’d Be Your Mother’s
Father’s Cousin
Theatre Baddeck

Outstanding Lighting Design

Name Show Company
Leigh Ann Vardy The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Vicky Williams The Children Keep Good [Theatre] Company
Leigh Ann Vardy The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Ingrid Risk The Last Wife Neptune Theatre
Vicky Williams Peter Pan Neptune Theatre

Outstanding Musical Direction

Name Show Company
Murleta Williams The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Eszter Horvath Brundibar Halifax Theatre for Young People
Sean Mayes The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Lisa St. Clair Peter Pan Neptune Theatre
Christina Murray Rings Through Water Xara Choral Theatre

Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian

Name Show Company
Shauntay Grant The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre in association with Obsidian Theatre
Catherine Banks (based on Enemy of the People
by Henrik Ibsen)
In This Light Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Daniel MacIvor An Ordinary Afternoon in 1974 Mulgrave Road Theatre
Gillian Clark The Ruins Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Dan Bray Zomblet The Villains Theatre

Outstanding Original Score or Composition

Name Show Company
Aaron Collier Bed and Breakfast Ship’s Company Theatre
Carolyn Curry Firebird:  The Musical Terra Novella Theatre
Allen Cole and
Ken Schwartz
Frankenstein by Fire Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Keke Beatz Miss ‘N Me Eastern Front Theatre
Jenny Trites and
Deantha Edmunds
Rings Through Water Xara Choral Theatre

Outstanding Scenic Design

Name Show Company
Rachel Forbes The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre
in association with Obsidian Theatre
Stephen Olser,
assisted by Patricia Vinluan
The Children Keep Good [Theatre] Company
Tamara Marie Kucheran The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
John Dinning Noises Off Neptune Theatre
Jess Lewis and Anna
Shepard (video)
tiny Zuppa Theatre presented by
Eastern Front Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design

Name Show Company
Aaron Collier Bed and Breakfast Ship’s Company Theatre
Tori Morrison The Children Keep Good  [Theatre] Company
Miquelon Rodriguez The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
Aaron Collier Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) Neptune Theatre
Aaron Collier Miss ‘N Me Eastern Front Theatre

Outstanding Production by a New or Emerging Company

Show Company
Bunny Highland Arts Theatre
The Children Keep Good [Theatre] Company
Every Brilliant Thing Kick At The Dark Theatre Co-Operative
He’d Be Your Mother’s Father’s Cousin Theatre Baddeck
Rings Through Water Xara Choral Theatre

Outstanding Production

Show Company
The Bridge 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre in association with Obsidian Theatre
A Brimful of Asha Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre
The Children Keep Good [Theatre] Company
The Color Purple Neptune Theatre
In This Light Two Planks and a Passion Theatre