The Arts Club's Noises Off (left photo by David Cooper) and The Search Party's The Father (photo right by Tim Matheson) were among the biggest winners at this year's Jessie Awards.
The Arts Club's Noises Off (left photo by David Cooper) and The Search Party's The Father (photo right by Tim Matheson) were among the biggest winners at this year's Jessie Awards.

The established Arts Club Theatre Company and newcomer The Search Party were the big winners as the 38th annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards were announced during a live-stream ceremony earlier today.

Hosted online by actor, writer, and slam poet Omari Newton and singer-songwriter Sara Vickruck, the two were joined by musician and theatre artist Ben Elliott from the Firehall Arts Centre in East Vancouver. Known simply as “The Jessies”, the annual awards recognize the best of Vancouver’s professional theatre from the past year.

With physical distancing restrictions in place, the winners will pick-up their awards curbside at the Firehall at a later date and are being asked to submit their acceptance speech which will be included in a compilation video to be released at a later date.

Trophies were handed out in 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, it was The Arts Club Theatre Company who walked away with the biggest haul of the night with eight awards spread over half a dozen shows. Among the awards were three wins for its production of Noises Off including best production, direction (Scott Bellis) and support actress (Tess Degenstein).

Additional wins for the Arts Club 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 went to Robert Salvador for his performance in Pacific Theatre’s Best of Enemies, Gerald King’s lighting design for Vancouver Asian Theatre’s Kuroko and Cory Sincennes for costume design in Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare in Love. The award for significant artistic achievement went to co-production of Inheritance: a pick-the-path experience from Alley Theatre and Touchstone Theatre, in association with Vancouver Moving Theatre and community partnership with Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

In the small theatre category, it was the inaugural production from The Search Party taking home the largest number of trophies, with six awards going to its production of The Father including outstanding lead performances (Kevin McNulty and Jillian Fargey), set design (Amir Ofek), lighting design (Itai Erdal), and outstanding direction (Mindy Parfitt). The play also took home the award for outstanding production.

Raincity Theatre also took home multiple awards, winning three for its production of the Stephen Sondheim musical, Company, including outstanding musical production. Christina Sinosich & Donnie Tejani took home the award for costume design and the 14-person ensemble was recognized in the significant artistic achievement category.

Outstanding supporting performance trophies were handed out to Chris Francisque for his performance in Ensemble Theatre Company’s Superior Donuts and to Elizabeth Kirkland for her role in The Sea from the Slamming Door Artist Collective. In addition, Rick Colhoun took home the sound design trophy for Wireless Wings Radio Ensemble’s Frankenstein: Lost in Darkness.

The Theatre for Young Audiences category had four winning productions.  Axis Theatre Company’s Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish received two Jessies for outstanding production and Jillian Perry received one for significant artistic achievement.  Marlene Ginader won for her performance in Carousel Theatre for Young People’s production of Bad Hats Theatre’s Peter Pan and Jay Dodge’s video design garnered an award for Iron Peggy from the Vancouver International Children’s Festival and Boca del Lupo, in association with red diva projects.  The Jessie for outstanding artistic creation went to Ian Harmon for Love You Forever and More Munsch from Beach House Theatre.

There were a number of additional awards handed out during the virtual ceremony including the Vancouver Now Representation and Inclusion Award going to Heidi Taylor for her work in creating collaborative relationships and inclusive initiatives.  Ken Gracie & Phillip Waddell received the patron of the arts award and Connor Moore was acknowledged with 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.

Touchstone Theatre’s Certified nabbed two special awards for outstanding script (Jan Derbyshire) and 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 the outstanding original script by an emerging playwright.

A complete listing of winners follows:

Large Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role
Robert Salvador – Best of Enemies – Pacific Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role
Deena Aziz – A Thousand Splendid Suns – Arts Club Theatre Company in partnership with Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
John Ullyatt – Matilda – Arts Club Theatre Company in partnership with Citadel Theatre & Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Tess Degenstein – Noises Off – Arts Club Theatre Company

Outstanding Lighting Design
Gerald King – Kuroko – Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre

Outstanding Set Design
Drew Facey – Cost of Living – Arts Club Theatre Company (in partnership with Citadel Theatre)

Outstanding Costume Design
Cory Sincennes – Shakespeare in Love – Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival

Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition
Alessandro Juliani – The Great Leap – Arts Club Theatre Company

Outstanding Direction
Scott Bellis – Noises Off – Arts Club Theatre Company

Outstanding Production
Noises Off – Arts Club Theatre Company

Outstanding Musical Production
The Sound of Music – Arts Club Theatre Company

Significant Artistic Achievement
Outstanding Innovative and Immersive Storytelling – Inheritance: a pick-the-path experience – Alley Theatre and Touchstone Theatre in association with Vancouver Moving Theatre and community partnership with Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre

Small Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role
Kevin McNulty – The Father – The Search Party

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role
Jillian Fargey – The Father – The Search Party

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Chris Francisque – Superior Donuts – Ensemble Theatre Company

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Elizabeth Kirkland – The Sea – Slamming Door Artist Collective

Outstanding Lighting Design
Itai Erdal – The Father – The Search Party

Outstanding Set Design
Amir Ofek – The Father – The Search Party

Outstanding Costume Design
Christina Sinosich & Donnie Tejani – Company – Raincity Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition
Rick Colhoun – Frankenstein: Lost in Darkness – Wireless Wings Radio Ensemble

Outstanding Direction
Mindy Parfitt – The Father – The Search Party

Outstanding Production
The Father – The Search Party

Outstanding Musical Production
Company – Raincity Theatre

Significant Artistic Achievement
Outstanding ensemble performance (Caitlin Clugston, Graham Coffeng, Nick Fontaine, Janet Gigliotti, Alex Gullason, Warren Kimmel, Steve Maddock, Jennie Neumann, Anthony Santiago, Madeleine Suddaby, Jennifer Suratos, Lindsay Ann Warnock, Jonathan Winsby, Katey Wright) – Company –
Raincity Theatre

Theatre for Young People

Outstanding Performance
Marlene Ginader – Bad Hats Theatre’s Peter Pan – Carousel Theatre for Young People

Outstanding Design
Jay Dodge – Video Design – Iron Peggy – Vancouver International Children’s Festival and Boca del Lupo in association with red diva projects

Outstanding Artistic Creation
Ian Harmon – Direction – Love You Forever and More Munsch – Beach House Theatre

Outstanding Production
Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish – Axis Theatre Company

Significant Artistic Achievement
Outstanding stage management – Jillian Perry – Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish –
Axis Theatre Company

Additional Awards

Outstanding Original Script
Jan (JD) Derbyshire – Certified – Touchstone Theatre

Patron of the Arts
Ken Gracie & Phillip Waddell

GVPTA Career Achievement Award
Wendy Bross Stuart

Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Heather Barr

Mary Phillips Award for Behind-the-Scenes Achievement
Conor Moore

Critics’ Choice Innovation Award
Certified – Touchstone Theatre

Sidney J Risk Prize for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Playwright
Derek Chan – Chicken Girl rice & beans theatre in partnership with Playwrights Theatre Centre

Ray Michal Prize for Outstanding Work and/or Body of Work by an Emerging Director
Chris Lam

John Moffat & Larry Lillo Prize
Gerry Mackay

Vancouver Now Representation and Inclusion Award
Heidi Taylor

Colin Campbell Award for Excellence in Technical Theatre
Elia Kirby

Gordon Armstrong Playwright’s Rent Award
Deborah Williams & The Flame