Celebrating theatre in style as the Jessie Awards take over Commodore Ballroom

Women donning colourful tulle dresses, brazenly tight minis, high heels, and accessories galore.
Men equipped with dress shirts and ties, suits, shiny shoes, and sharp haircuts.

Like a sight straight out of the Oscars, the 32nd Annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards took over the Commodore Ballroom in a glamorous and swanky way on June 23rd. As guests spilled into the venue and checked their bags, lines quickly formed at the bars as staff ran food and poured wine.

It was only a Monday, but it was clearly time to celebrate.

Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards

The ceremony was produced and directed by Vancouver Theatre Sports – complete with awards, music, dancing, and games.

After a quick introduction to the Jessie Awards and the individuals behind the ceremony, it was time to get the ball rolling with some live, satirical music.

Let it go, let it go,
Yes it sucks to lose, I know,
Let it go, let it go,
And applaud the winning show…

…Be good sports,
And lose with grace.
Let your rage move on,
Add the nomination to your résumés.

Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards

Entertainment by J.R. & the 30 Somethings

The night had just begun, and the winners were yet to be announced, so spirits were high and interactions were as if between friends, rather than nominees in competition. Hugs and kisses “hello” (plus a couple of glasses of wine) paved way for the lively chatter and cheer that enveloped the room as winners of the Jessies were announced. Acceptance speeches were entertaining (see snippets below) and those accepting them were humble, though beaming. Ecstatic “congratulations” flew between guests (be they “winners” or “losers”), and a dance party ensued, wrapping the event up in a whirlwind of bright lights and twisting hips.

If there was one thing that could be taken away from the event it was not that Drew Facey is a talented set designer (though he was nominated for seven, and awarded three), it was that the theatre community is just that – a community. They celebrate each others triumphs and share the common goal of keeping their industry thriving.

If only all industries could mimic their camaraderie…


Patron of the Arts Award 
Darlene Howard

“There is so much time, talent and treasure that people donate and contribute to local theatre…they deserve this far more than I do.”

Mary Phillips Prize for Behind-the-Scenes Achievement
Bonnie Allan

“Highly skilled, incredibly knowledgeable, discreet, tactful and takes a personal interest in each and every one of us.” – (About Bonnie Allan, according to the Arts Administrator)

Sam Payne Award for the Most Promising Newcomer
Jay Clift

“Holy shit. I was not expecting this… There have been so many people who have helped me carry on in my career. I’m so grateful for all of your support.”

John Moffat & Larry Lillo Prize
Richard Wolfe [currently in Halifax]

“ I hope everyone is having a great time celebrating theatre in Vancouver. I know there is plenty to celebrate!” 

GVPTA Career Achievement Award
Christopher Gaze

“Well, it’s not over yet. I love theatre, and I know you do too. I am so grateful for my mother and my father for giving me everything. I remember one day telling him that he must be disappointed in me for my career choice. To which he answered,  my dear boy, you’re doing what you want to do – you followed your passion!”

Sydney Risk Prize
Billy Marchenski

Colin Campbell Award for Excellence in Technical Theatre
David Kerr

“I wasn’t going to come…but then I was told that I had to. Now I know why.”

Ray Michal Prize for Most Promising New Director
Brian Cochrane

My wife is nominated for an award, which means she kept this a secret from me… Claire, I love you, you secret keeper.”



Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role – Large Theatre

John Voth | The Foreigner | Pacific Theatre

“Oh man. A room full of drunk, beautiful people… To all of the other theatres, create more opportunities for young people, especially women. Now that I’ve said all that, I can go drink.”

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role – Large Theatre
Colleen Wheeler | Elizabeth Rex | Bard on the Beach

“It is a team effort, and this was a massive team effort. Everyone was actively involved…it was an amazing experience.”

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Large Theatre
Peter Carlone, The Foreigner, Pacific Theatre

“When I was younger, someone asked me who my hero was. I didn’t know, so I told them I’d get back to them. When she asked me again, I told her it was me in ten years. In ten years she came asked me if I was still my same hero, to which I replied “No, not even close. My hero is me at 35 years… My hero will always be ten years away, as a reminder to keep moving forward, and JUST KEEP LIVING.”

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Large Theatre
Erla Faye Forsyth | The Foreigner | Pacific Theatre

“Thank you to Pacific Theatre who spawned and nurtured me.”

Outstanding Lighting Design – Large Theatre

Jeff Harrison | Floyd Collins | Patrick Street Productions

Outstanding Set Design – Large Theatre
Drew Facey | Art | Gateway Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design – Large Theatre
Barbara Clayden | Proud | Firehall Arts Centre

Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition – Large Theatre
Torquil Campbell & Chris Dumont | Hamlet | Bard on the Beach

“He did a brilliant job and he was fucking crazy, and I’d work with him again if I was brave. Hurray!”

Outstanding Direction – Large Theatre
Kim Collier | Hamlet | Bard on the Beach

“The Jessies come and go, but this one means a lot to me, because this show means a lot to me.”

“Don’t do Hamlet, unless you have a Hamlet.”

Outstanding Production Musical- Large Theatre
Avenue Q | Arts Club Theatre Company

“Thank you Vancouver for accepting puppetry into your heart. We like Peter. And we like porn.”

Outstanding Production Play- Large Theatre
The Seafarer | Pacific Theatre

“As a director, all you want to do is shape and tell a story and these people made it really easy.”

Significant Artistic Achievement – Large Theatre
Scott Bellis, Jeny Cassady, Shannon Chan-Kent, Kayla Dunbar, Evangelis Kambites, Andrew MacDonald Smith, Andy Toth | Avenue Q | Arts Club Theatre Company | Outstanding Ensemble Performance



Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role – Small Theatre

Bob Frazer | Whose Life is it Anyway? | Realwheels Theatre

“This is all a bit ‘fuckterized’; I was really just a corporeal body who memorized words. You need soul to win the award…James deserves this. “

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role – Small Theatre
Emmelia Gordon | Dissolve | Shameless Hussy Productions

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Small Theatre
Alec Willows | Of Mice and Men | Hardline Productions

“I’ve never won anything. I won a three-legged race in Grade 5…you figure it out…do the math.”

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Small Theatre
Meaghan Chenosky | Killer Joe | ITSAZOO Productions

Oh man, I should’ve written it down. Thank you to all of the other women in the category – you’re the bomb. I’m so humbled, lucky and happy to be part of this medium and community.”

Outstanding Lighting Design – Small Theatre
Adrian Muir Whose Life is it Anyway? | Realwheels Theatre

Outstanding Set Design – Small Theatre
Drew Facey | Penelope | Rumble Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design – Small Theatre
Marti Wright | Uncle Vanya | Blackbird Theatre

“Thank you Marti for making $1.50 stretch to an entirely, beautiful production.”

Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition – Small Theatre
Matthew MacDonald-Bain, Malcolm Dow | Of Mice and Men | Hardline Productions

“We got to create our magical play in a little pit of a theatre: mold, grime, stench. There were a few hiccups, but the actors were relatively focused. All things considered, I think it worked out pretty well.” 

Outstanding Direction – Small Theatre
Richard Wolfe | Inside the Seed | Upintheair Theatre

Outstanding Production – Small Theatre
Killer Joe | ITSAZOO Productions

“The thing we did was really hard. We built a trailer park in a rat-infested portable and asked people to get raped and murdered and get naked. Lots of naked.”

Significant Artistic Achievement – Small Theatre
Keith Murray, Mark Sylvester, Christine Reimer, Philip Birkby, Danielle Marlene Gotell, Samantha Tsang, Bill Moysey, Eric Rhys Miller, William Hales, Paul Dutton, Maziar Mehrabi | Nothing But Sky | The Only Animal | Outstanding Achievement in Integrated Design



Outstanding Performance – Theatre for Young Audiences
Dominic Duchesne and Lauren Jackson | Extra-Céleste | Théâtre la Seiziéme

“You are responsible for some of the most beautiful cultural work in the country…not just because it’s French.”

Outstanding Design – Theatre for Young Audiences
Cathy Nosaty, Graham Ockley, Stephanie Kong, Al Frisk, Carolyn Rapanos, Mac Hiller Design Ensemble | Jack and the Bean | Presentation House Theatre

Outstanding Artistic Creation – Theatre for Young Audiences
Anita Rochon | Direction | Extra-Céleste | Théâtre la Seiziéme

“I would just like to encourage those who are practiced in using our voices to…use our voices. We toured Northern BC and along where the proposed Enbridge Pipeline. “ 

Outstanding Production – Theatre for Young Audiences
Busytown | Carousel Theatre for Young People

“It doesn’t feel like work, we just play. It’s silly. At the end of the day it’s about community… It’s a story where every job matters and it’s celebrated.”

Significant Artistic Achievement – Theatre for Young Audiences
Drew Facey, Outstanding Body of Work

Outstanding Original Script
Jason Patrick Rothery | Inside the SeedUpintheair Theatre

“I’ve always told people that what I love most about theatre is that it is inherently collaborative… There are always so many people to thanks, indeed it takes a village.”

Georgia Straight Critics’ Choice Innovation Award
This Stays in the Room | Horseshoes and Hand Grenades Theatre

“We came here 11 years ago and we were embraced, cared for, and supported. We just want to thank all of you. You’re an amazing city full of great artists.”



The Jessies began in 1983 and takes its name from Jessie Richardson, one of Vancouver’s theatre pioneers.  The awards acknowledge bodies of work in the Large Theatre, Small Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences, all whose work has contributed to make Vancouver a vibrant city.

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