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2020 Jessie Award Winners Announced Virtually

2020 Jessie Award Winners Announced Virtually

Pivoting to the current new normal, the 38th annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards were celebrated virtually this year, acknowledging the excellence in professional theatre and saluting the talent who contribute to Vancouver's dynamic theatre landscape. The Art Left produced the first ever livestream Jessie Awards from the Firehall Arts Centre, Monday, June 29th streamed to YouTube and Facebook Live Facebook Live. The talented hosts actor, writer, and slam poet Omari Newton, singer/songwriter Sara Vickruck, alongside the musical talent of the incomparable, Ben Elliott, made it a memorable event that included some pre-recorded material.

Without any audience or nominees present, the winners were invited to a curb side pick-up of the awards at the Firehall Art Centre at a later date and asked to submit a 30-45 second acceptance speech to be included in a video to be shared later also.

The Jessie Awards are divided into three categories - Large Theatre, Small Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences - along with a variety of special awards and prizes.

In the Large Theatre category, The Arts Club Theatre Company took the lead winning 8 Jessies divided between six nominated productions. Noises Off, the comic farce, won 3 Jessies which include a win for Outstanding Production, along with Tess Degenstein for her comedic performance and Scott Bellis for Outstanding Direction. Additional wins for the Arts Club Theatre Company productions include partnerships with other theatre companies: Deena Aziz for her performance in a lead role in A Thousand Splendid Suns, (in partnership with Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre), John Ullyatt for his outstanding supporting performance in Matilda (in partnership with Citadel Theatre & Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre), and Drew Facey for Set Design in Cost of Living (in partnership with Citadel Theatre). Alessandro Juliani won for Outstanding Sound Design for The Great Leap and The Sound of Music garnered a win for Outstanding Production of a Musical.

Remaining awards in the Large Theatre category include Robert Salvador for his performance in Pacific Theatre's Best of Enemies, Gerald King Lighting Design of Kuroko by Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, Cory Sincennes for Costume Design in Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival's Shakespeare in Love, and a Jessie for Significant Artistic Achievement went to Inheritance: a pick-the-path experience by Alley Theatre and Touchstone Theatre (in association with Vancouver Moving Theatre and community partnership with Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre), winning for their innovative and immersive storytelling.

Five shows were awarded Jessies in the Small Theatre category. The Father by The Search Party received the most wins with 6 Jessies that include Kevin McNulty and Jillian Fargey for their brilliant and moving performances, Amir Ofek for Set Design, Itai Erdal for Lighting Design, Mindy Parfitt for Outstanding Direction and the show also won for Outstanding Production. Raincity Theatre won three Jessies for their presentation of another delicious Stephen Sondheim musical, Company. Christina Sinosich & Donnie Tejani won for Costume Design, and the incredibly talented 14 member ensemble earned a win for Significant Artistic Achievement, in addition the show nod for Outstanding Musical Production.

Outstanding Performances were acknowledged to Chris Francisque for his scintillating performance in Ensemble Theatre Company's Superior Donuts and to Elizabeth Kirkland for her supporting role in the wildly creative, The Sea by Slamming Door Artist Collective. A Jessie was given to Rick Colhoun for Sound Design in Wireless Wings Radio Ensemble's refreshing new take in Frankenstein: Lost in Darkness.

The Theatre for Young Audiences had four winning productions. Axis atre Company's, Th'owxiya: Hungry Feast Dish, an engaging story steeped in tradition, won two Jessies: one for Outstanding Production and the other to Jillian Perry for Significant Artistic Achievement. Marlene Ginader won for her fabulous triple-character performance in Carousel atre for Young People's production of Bad Hats atre's Peter Pan and Jay Dodge's video design garnered an award in Iron Peggy by Vancouver International Children's Festival and Boca del Lupo (in association with red diva projects). A Jessie for Outstanding Artistic Creation went to Ian Harmon for Love You Forever and More Munsch by Beach House atre, a heartfelt rumination on the devotion and love of parents.

There were also a number of additional awards. The Vancouver Now Representation and Inclusion Award was given to Heidi Taylor for her tireless work in creating collaborative relationships and inclusive initiatives. Ken Gracie & Phillip Waddell received the Patron of the Arts Award and Connor Moore was acknowledged for his supportive work by receiving the Mary Phillips Award for Behind the Scenes Achievement. Gerry Mackay was awarded the John Moffat & Larry Lilo Prize and Wendy Bross Stuart received the GVPTA Career Achievement Award for bringing her passion, expertise and musical contribution to theatre.

Theatre's Certified nabbed two special awards - one to Jan (JD) Derbyshire for Outstanding Original Script and also the Critics' Choice Innovation Award. Derek Chan's Chicken Girl by rice & beans theatre (in partnership with Playwrights Theatre Centre) won the Sidney J. Risk Prize for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Playwright.

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