Slotkin`s 2015 TOOTSIE AWARDS

by Lynn on December 27, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

lollipop2015 Tootsie Awards

I don’t do top 10 lists of the best theatre, performances of the year. I do The Tootsie Awards that are personal, eclectic, whimsical and totally heartfelt. As many of you know for years I have given out Tootsie Pops to people in the theatre as a way of saying ‘thank you for making the theatre so special for me.’ Last year I created the Tootsie Awards as a public shout-out to those folks I thought went above and beyond the call.

Here are this year’s winners:


The Guts of a Bandit Award

Prince Amponsah

He survived a devastating fire in 2012 and overcame horrible burns to his body to heal and get back to acting. He played the mysterious and elegant Drogheda, the Angel bringing news of doom, in the Desiderata Theatre’s production of Lot and His God.

Diana Bentley and Ted Dykstra curators of Coal Mine Theatre

For not cancelling their production of The River when they learned only one month before rehearsals were to begin that their theatre would be under renovation and unavailable. In short order they found a new venue, moved in with the help of the theatre community and opened their splendid production on time.

Mitchell Cushman and Julie Tepperman

They conceived, wrote and directed Brantwood 1920 – 2020, a huge project that illuminated the history of the fictional Brantwood High School and its students, over a 100 year span. This was the final year project of the acting students at Sheridan College. It was sites specific in an abandoned building and refitted perfectly to a school. And it was a musical. And terrific.

The John Harvey/Leonard/McHardy Mensch Award
(Named after John Harvey and Leonard McHardy who gave us TheatreBooks for 40 years and showed us what class, graciousness and being a mensch was all about)

To the Toronto Theatre Community

They came together and helped The Coal Mine move its production of The River up the Danforth from its former venue to its new one when the company was suddenly told a month before rehearsals began, that the space would be extensively renovated and unavailable.

Harrison Thomas

The director of Lot and his God for casting Prince Ampansah as Drogheda, the Angel bringing news of doom. Ampansah survived a horrific fire in 2012. His wounds were devastating but his talent still burns bright.

Steve Fisher

Writer for The Torontoist and @GracingTheStage for spearheading a campaign to make Brantwood 1920-2020 eligible for Dora Award consideration. Since it was the final student production of the graduating acting class at Sheridan College and not a professional company that was a member of TAPA, it wasn’t eligible. But Fisher prevailed, organized a write in campaign, and that glorious, mammoth, site-specific production won the Audience Choice Award for Outstanding Production.

The One(s) to Watch Award

Sina Gilani

For his quiet, watchful, dangerous performance in The 20th of November, of a young man who went to his high school one morning and opened fire with an arsenal of weapons. It played at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Chilling.

Charlotte Dennis

She played the emotional, flirty, impish Maid in Boston Marriage produced by Headstrong Theatre Company at the Campbell House Museum. She was focused, unflappable playing at such close quarters to the audience and totally in the moment.

Please Don’t Go Award

Brendan Healy

He stepped down as Artistic Director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre after six years of producing and directing provocative challenging and stunning work that always pricked the imagination and curiosity of his audiences. He is seeking other challenges by enrolling in an international arts administration course that will take him to Texas, Milan and Montreal.

Ross Petty

The force behind the fractured fairy-tales family fare musicals that have been delighting audiences for more than 20 years, is taking his collection of glue-on beards, his lipstick and falsies as he withdraws from performing the characters we love to boo. He plays Captain Hook in Peter Pan in Wonderland this year. He will occupy his time next year producing the shows.

They Engage Our Younger Audiences Award

Lynda Hill

Artistic Director of Theatre Direct that introduces young children to the wonderful world of theatre and its etiquette by producing sweet, thoughtful works such as Beneath the Banyan Tree.

Allen MacInnis

Artistic Director of Young People’s Theatre who programs plays that speak universally to young people anywhere. Plays such as: Hana’s Suitcase, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang and P@ndora dealt with the holocaust; being a little kid trying to be heard in a large family; and the challenges of teens dealing with their budding sexuality and peer pressure.


Ann and David Powell are the brother and sister co-creators of this wonderful puppet company that produces shows that are sweet gems. The present case in point is Cinderella in Muddy York that relocates the celebrated story to Muddy York (before it was called Toronto). The puppets are charming and Ann and David Powell add their own wit and whimsy to the proceedings.

They Can Do Anything Award

Kawa Ada

He played the wild man of a thousand stories in The Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Apsara, the elegant, beautifully graceful young woman dancer in Bombay Black. And he choreographed the dancing as well.

David Ferry

He conceived of the idea and directed the wonderful production of The Postman about Albert Jackson, Canada’s first black postman. The audience followed the action along selected streets in Toronto as scenes took place on various porches. And as an actor he gave a layered, compelling performance in the Coal Mine Theatre’s production of The River, and provided a lesson in how to gut, dress and cook a fish as well.

Daren A. Herbert

For his tough performance as Burns in The Wild Party for Theatre20 and his playing of all the characters in Stop the World I Want to Get Off including Littlechap and his wife for Talk is Free Theatre in Barrie, Ont. Herbert sings like a dream and has the acting chops that could cast him in anything.

He Found His Bliss Award

Gil Garratt

Artistic Director of the Blyth Festival, a job for which he is perfectly suited. He carries on the tradition of doing original Canadian works but in his first year on the job has raised the standard with such productions as Fury and Mary’s Wedding (which he also directed). Next year he has programmed four world premiers.

They Rocked My World Award

Franco Boni and Ravi Jain

Franco Boni is Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre and Ravi Jain is Artistic Director of Why Not Theatre, for producing three brilliant productions as part of the November Ticket: Butcher by Nicolas Billon, We Are Proud To Present… by Jackie Sibblies Drury, and Late Company by Jordan Tannahill. Producing just one of these with such quality is an accomplishment. Two is great fortune. Three is just brilliance.

Antoni Cimolino

Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival for keeping the bar of quality high with his mix of actors, directors and creative teams to produce such productions as: Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, She Stoops to Conquer, The Alchemist, The Physicists and The Last Wife, to name a few. And the many forums and discussions aimed at engaging the audience.

Peter Hinton

For his re-imagining of Pygmalion at the Shaw Festival in which Higgins is still smug and self-absorbed but is terribly shaken when Eliza leaves and Eliza is compassionate but strong-willed and knows her worth; and his exquisite direction in Bombay Black for the Factory Theatre’s Naked season. He created the world of the play with perfect casting and the most exquisite lighting (Jennifer Lennon).

Eda Holmes

For her meticulous, throat-grabbing direction of The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, a sell-out hit at the Shaw Festival and for a change of pace, Tom at the Farm, a deeply moving play about loss and coming to terms with it and who you are. Eda Holmes made both plays resonate with her stunning direction.

Jackie Maxwell

Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival who continues her archaeology by finding gems such as The Twelve Pound Look, a play about marriage, assumption and the importance of women earning their own money, and maintaining the high level of quality of the Festival as a whole.

Don Shipley

The Creative Director, Arts and Cultural, PANAMANIA, and Special Event. Who programmed 35 days of challenging, provocative theatre, dance and musical events from here and abroad as the cultural component of the Pan Am Games. He commissioned many Canadian works, for example: The Watershed, The Postman, Gimme Shelter, 887 (this last from Robert Lepage) and brought the wonderful Ping Chong from the States to create and direct PUSH, stories from athletes with physical challenges.

What Were You Thinking Award

To the well-meaning but misguided indie theatre creators (both novices and veterans)

Who scheduled their shows to open for short runs in the same two weeks in November (16 openings in one week, 14 in another) thus saturating the already packed theatre scene and making it impossible for audiences to see it all. I ask you, “What were you thinking??” Don’t you talk to each other to find out who’s doing what when and can plan accordingly? Don’t you want people to see your shows? My calendar has 12 months in it, not just November. How about yours?


The Heart in the Darkness Award

Yours Forever, Marie-Lou

Diana Leblanc directed this new translation for Soulpepper Theatre Company and realized the sad, beating heart of the play, not just the raging anger of the characters. It resulted in a tender, compassionate production that still shook you to your bones, but you truly understood the disappointment of the characters as well.

The Perfect Collaboration Award


Nicolas Billon is the playwright and Weyni Mengesha is the director who both worked seamlessly to create a production that gripped the audience’s imagination and sphincter. Part of The November Ticket at the Theatre Centre.

The Best End of Year Present Award

The Chasse-Galerie

The foot-stomping, hand-clapping, whiskey soaked joyous production from Red One Theatre Collective. Based on the old French Canadian tale about four guys who sell their souls to the devil to go to Montreal in a flying canoe but with a twist. This is 2015 eh, so the guys are now women, the devil is still dastardly but they get him.

Leave a Comment