Merritt Award-winners Janelle Cooper as Sofia with Tara Jackson as Celie in The Color Purple at Neptune Theatre. (Stoo Metz)
For its first time ever Theatre Nova Scotia went to YouTube to make sure this year’s Merritt Awards gala went ahead.
Over 950 people watched the live broadcast with hosts Kathryn McCormack and Henricus Gielis, a virtual red carpet and food and drink suggestions publicized pre-show.
Neptune Theatre’s season-closing musical The Color Purple won most of the awards with outstanding production; outstanding direction for Kimberley Rampersad: outstanding lead for Tara Jackson as Celie; outstanding supporting performance for both Karen Burthwright as Shug Avery and Janelle Cooper as Sofia; outstanding musical direction for Sean Mayes and outstanding costume design for Tamara Marie Kucheran.
(For the 2019 Merritt Awards celebrating excellence in professional Nova Scotia theatre the lead and supporting actor categories are non-gender and two people win from each category.)
Halifax playwright and poet Shauntay Grant won outstanding new play for The Bridge, produced by 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre, in association with Obsidian Theatre. Jacob Sampson won outstanding performance in a leading role for Jacob Sampson in The Bridge, and frequent Merritt-winner Leigh Ann Vardy won outstanding lighting design.
Writer Shauntay Grant, lead actor Jacob Sampson (in the centre of the bridge) and lighting designer Leigh Ann Vardy all won for The Bridge, produced by 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre, in association with Obsidian Theatre. (Stoo Metz)
Keep Good (Theatre) Company’s production of The Children at the Bus Stop Theatre won outstanding production by a new or emerging company.
Other award winners are: outstanding sound design, Aaron Collier, Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells), Neptune Theatre; outstanding scenic design, Rachel Forbes, The Bridge;
outstanding original score or composition, Allen Cole and Ken Schwartz, Frankenstein by Fire, Two Planks and a Passion Theatre; and outstanding choreography, Tracy Fanous, Miss ‘N Me, Eastern Front Theatre.
Also collecting awards are: outstanding technician, Thomas Brookes, The Last Wife, Neptune Theatre; outstanding stage manager, Robin Munro, Frankenstein by Fire, Two Planks and a Passion Theatre; Theatre Nova Scotia Scholarship, Logan Robins and Ursula Calder; Neptune Theatre Chrysalis Emerging Artist Award, Anna Shepard; Wes Daniels Design Award, Wesley Babcock with Matchstick Theatre; and Theatre Nova Scotia Legacy Award, Joan Craig.
To get to the show, which includes a Big Brother bit with Hello City improve, go to: https://www.youtube.com/TheatreNovaScotia2020