2011 will be known as the “fun and funny” Merritt Awards. Gone are the days when hosts spewed vitriol from the podium and the targets hid their tears behind false laughter. (But never fear, the Nigel Bennett “always a bridesmaid but never a bride” joke lives on.) Instead, host Marty Burt kept the tone light and celebratory, mixing humour, praise and clever musical numbers.
2011 also marks the year when Two Planks and a Passion loosened its three-year stranglehold on the outstanding production category (although The Crucible was recognized with a Best Actor Award for Graham Percy and a Best Supporting Actor award for John Beale). The Outstanding Production Award this year went to Zuppa Theatre’s dreamy Five Easy Steps to the End of the World, for which Susan LeBlanc Crawford also picked up the Best Actress Award and Louisa Adamson took home the award for Outstanding Lighting Design.
Martha Irving, recipient of the Mayor’s Award for Achievement in Theatre, gave a beautifully phrased inspirational speech about the value of art and artists to our community, a sentiment that was echoed by the Theatre Nova Scotia Scholarship winner Sebastian Poissant Labelle in a more rambling form.
Thom Fitzgerald garnered the Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian Award for Cloudburst, the first production at Halifax’s Plutonium Playhouse, a venue that has quickly become an integral part of the Halifax theatre scene.
For a complete list of the nominees and winners for the 2011 Merritt Awards, visit http://www.merrittawards.ca/