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This article was published 13/11/2017 (1404 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The inaugural Winnipeg Theatre Awards, held at the West End Cultural Centre on Sunday evening, demonstrated that local theatre talent is not only worthy of its own awards, but holds its own against, well, anyone.
Local actress Sharon Bajer won a well-deserved award in the category of outstanding leading actress for her work in the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (RMTC) Warehouse comedy Hand to God against formidable non-Winnipeggers, including Fiona Reid (The Audience) and Broadway vet Ma-Anne Dionisio (Mamma Mia!).
In the category of outstanding leading actor, Ray Strachan received the award for his work as a slave confronting his former master after the Civil War in the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre (WJT) production of The Whipping Man. Strachan’s sturdy competition included Tom Keenan (Hand to God), Robb Paterson (The Birds and the Bees) and Cory Wojcik (Kill Me Now).
The RMTC Warehouse production of Brad Fraser’s Kill Me Now won for outstanding production, while the Warehouse production of Hand to God won in the category of best ensemble, a choice fortified by Toby Hughes’s award for outstanding supporting actor, playing the role of a church group bad boy who sets out to seduce Bajer’s lonely widow.
Rounding out the acting awards, Ellen David won outstanding supporting actress for playing multiple roles in My Name is Asher Lev at the RMTC Warehouse.
The Tom Hendry Warehouse scored an impressive six awards in 10 of the juried categories, including a win for Sara Garton Stanley, director of Kill Me Now.
In the category of outstanding choreography or fight direction, the winner was Lisa Stephens of the Rainbow Stage production of Mamma Mia! (for choreography more than fight direction).
In the category of outstanding design, Paul DeGurse, Brian Perchaluk and Scott Henderson got the prize for their work in WJT’s The Whipping Man.
And the award for outstanding new work went to Am I Not King?, a musical based on Shakespeare’s Richard II, from Zone41 Theatre in collaboration with the band Royal Canoe.
CBC anchor Janet Stewart officiated alongside comedian Dana Smith (H.U.N.K.S.). Originally scheduled co-host Gail Asper had to drop out because of another commitment.
Three previously announced honorary awards were handed to Evelyne Anderson (Lifetime Achievement Award), Joan Lees-Miller (Behind-the-Scenes Award), and Robin Dow and George Budoloski (Theatre Educator Award).
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In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.