It may be an honour just to be nominated, but it sure as hell feels a lot better when you win.

In my senior year at high school they handed out varsity letters (or at least the Canadian equivalent). They made a big deal of it, inviting family and friends of the recipients to the ceremony. I was up for an arts award for my work in music and theatre. Little did I know that an earlier conversation in drama class about the superficiality of awards would lead to our teacher to announce at the ceremony that she would not be handing out any awards that year.

I still remember the look of real disappointment on some of my classmate’s faces.

That day has stuck with me, like so many other seemingly inconsequential moments in life. Today, I try to go out of my way to make sure someone is recognized for outstanding work. I’m not talking the trend towards everyone getting a participation ribbons, but our very real human need to be validated from time-to-time. It is good for the soul, for both giver and receiver.

As I reflect back on that day where the realities of life were still clouded by youthful enthusiasm, I realize just how important awards really can be, especially for those in the arts community. After all, there are few professions where one gives up so much to chase your passion. Let’s face it, making a living as an actor or artist is rarely the path to great monetary wealth. The real wealth comes from doing something they love, the occasional standing ovation, and once-a-year being recognized by their peers for a job well done.

That said, the annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards (“The Jessies”) are upon us.  Vancouver’s equivalent to the Tonys, the awards recognize excellence in professional theatre locally. While we won’t know until June 22 who walks away with the trophies, this is how I would pick them if I was choosing the winners. For the record, I have stayed away from Theatre For Young Audiences as I saw none of the shows in that category.

Good luck to all the nominees this year. The 33rd annual Jessie Awards will be presented at a ceremony on June 22 at the Commodore Ballroom. Tickets are available online.

Large Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role – Anton Lipovetsy, Cymbeline
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role – Meg Roe, Saint Joan
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Dean Paul Gibson, Saint Joan
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Marilyn Norry, The Concessions
Outstanding Lighting Design – Lauchlin Johnston, The Whipping Man
Outstanding Set Design – Drew Facey, The Whipping Man
Outstanding Costume Design  – Carmen Alatorre, Crazy For You
Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition – Benjamin Elliott, Cymbeline
Outstanding Direction – Anita Rochon, Cymbeline
Outstanding Production – Cymbeline, Bard on the Beach
Significant Artistic Achievement – Julie Tomaino, Crazy For You

Small Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role – Craig Erickson, Speed-the-Plow
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role – Diane Brown, The Duchess a.k.a. Wallis Simpson
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role  – Peter Carlone, Hunter Gatherers
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Colleen Wheeler, Since You Left Us
Outstanding Lighting Design – Jeff Harrison, Blasted
Outstanding Set Design – Drew Facey, Blasted
Outstanding Costume Design  – Mara Gottler, The Duchess a.k.a. Wallis Simpson
Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition – James Coomber, Indian Arm
Outstanding Direction – Craig Erickson, Dawn Petten, Bob Frazer, Quelemia Sparrow, John Shaw, Varya Rubin, Chris Cope, Lauren Jackson, Our Town
Outstanding Production (Musical) – Stationary: A Recession-era Musical, Delinquent Theatre
Outstanding Production  – Our Town, Osimous Theatre
Significant Artistic Achievement – Kim Selody, Winifried Wrede, and Karl-Heinz Stenz, Cat Killer
Outstanding Original Script – Hiro Kanagawa, Indian Arm
Georgia Straight Critic’s Choice Innovation Award – sorry, no spoilers here