Critter Award nominations highlight the best on Calgary’s stages this past theatre season

Critics of the Calgary theatre scene converge to determine who will win the coveted “Critter Award” for the 2018/2019 theatre season.

The Calgary Critics met this week in a secure location (OK, it was a Starbucks) to come up with the nominees and a winner for this year’s Critter Award – a nod to our city’s theatre community by those who attend and review the shows throughout the theatre season. Heading up the Calgary Theatre Critics Association this year is Postmedia’s Louis Hobson, CBC Eyeopener’s Jonathan Love and myself. This year’s Critter Award will be handed out at the 2019 Betty Awards to be held at Vertigo Theatre June 24, however rumours are rife that the awards may return to their full splendour for 2019/2020. (The year of hindsight jokes?)

Cutting to the chase, in alphabetical order, the nominees are:

Mark Bellamy for his work as director on A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder produced at Stage West. The committee talked about the quality of the show, the casting, especially the set that pushed the boundaries of dinner theatre and showcased this Tony Awar- winning show. In my original review I said “Nobody does it better.”

Birnton Theatricals — producing a second stage of adult shows in the Lunchbox Theatre, this company makes magic. We concurred that their last show [title of show] was better in some cases than other musicals produced last year with 50 times the budget. 

Naughty but Nice by Forte Theatre Productions. Calgary’s snappy entertaining Xmas show, now in its fifth season is a welcome break from some of the schmaltzy productions of the season. This Slabe/Thibodeau formula is fast becoming a Calgary (anti)Christmas tradition.

The Shakespeare Company for their innovative, fresh and surprising twists on Hamlet five ways. Artistic producer Haysam Kadri, in collusion with his cohorts at Vertigo, the OYR High Performance Rodeo and Hit & Myth delivered an inspired lineup of depressed, mad, procrastinating princes which whether drunk or sober were genius.

Jamie Tognazzini for her powerful work in GiantMy cohort Louis B Hobson said, “From concept to execution, Ghost River Theatre’s Giant is an awe-inspiring achievement,” and Jamie Tognazzini won in the ring and on the stage.

The winner will be announced at this year’s Betty Mitchell Theatre Awards, June 24th at Theatre Calgary’s Max Bell Theatre.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here