Here's everyone who won at Theatre Nova Scotia's Merritt Awards this week

Spoiler alert: Neptune's production of The Color Purple cleaned up.

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The Color Purple's director Kimberley Rampersad, left, with actors Tara Jackson and Karen Burthwright. - ALEXA CUDE
  • ALEXA CUDE
  • The Color Purple's director Kimberley Rampersad, left, with actors Tara Jackson and Karen Burthwright.
While COVID-19 meant that the local theatre scene couldn't gather IRL to celebrate another smashing year of stage productions, that doesn't mean the (awards) show wouldn't go on. Rather, Theatre Nova Scotia crowned the best plays, performers and producers (to name a few) via streaming on Monday night. As theatre as a form feels threatened by social distancing (it doesn't translate to a live stream as seamlessly as music, say), let this stand as a reminder of the breadth and depth of live performance in Halifax—and as a promise to see a show or two when all this is over.

The night's biggest winners were Shauntay Grant's play The Bridge—a story of two brothers reunited for a funeral in an unnamed Black Nova Scotian community—and Neptune's 2018-2019 season closing musical, The Color Purple.

"Love, betrayal, finding yourself, coming into your own, being broken up with, being abused, having your family literally ripped apart from you, being in an unrequited relationship where there's no equality or respect, sexism, homophobia—it's all these things," Karen Burthwright, supporting actor in The Color Purple told The Coast of the play back as it made its debut in April 2019. "You think about the work, what's on the page? And you have to imbue every moment and choice and opportunity with that. And be barefoot, grounded and planted to the earth, literally." Burthwright won a Merritt award for her turn as Shug Avery in the musical based on Alice Walker's famed novel.

Outstanding Lighting Design: Leigh Ann Vardy for The Bridge (a 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre co-production). (Read more about The Bridge—the story of Black Nova Scotia that took Shauntay Grant years to perfect—here.)

Outstanding Stage Manager: Robin Munro for Frankenstein by Fire (a Two Planks and a Passion Theatre production).

Outstanding Costume Design: Tamara Marie Kucheran for The Color Purple (a Neptune Theatre production that was the regional premiere of the decorated musical).

Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role: Tara Jackson in The Color Purple (a Neptune Theatre production).

Outstanding Sound Design: Aaron Collier for Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) (a Neptune Theatre production).

Outstanding Technician: Thomas Brookes for The Last Wife (a Neptune Theatre production). (We also couldn't get enough of Stephanie MacDonald's turn as Catherine Parr in the production—read why here.)

Outstanding Original Score or Composition: Allen Cole & Ken Schwartz for Frankenstein by Fire (a Two Planks and a Passion Theatre production).

Outstanding Direction: Kimberley Rampersad for The Color Purple (a Neptune Theatre production).

Outstanding Choreography: Tracy Fanous for Miss 'N Me (an Eastern Front Theatre production).

Outstanding Musical Direction: Sean Mayes for The Color Purple (a Neptune Theatre production).

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role: Karen Burthwright and Janelle Cooper in The Color Purple (a Neptune Theatre production).

Outstanding Production by a New or Emerging Company: The Children (a Keep Good Theatre Company production). (Read about it here.)

Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role: Jacob Sampson in The Bridge (a 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre co-production). 

Outstanding Scenic Design: Rachel Forbes for The Bridge (a 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre co-production).

Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian: Shauntay Grant for The Bridge (a 2b theatre and Neptune Theatre co-production). (At risk of editorializing, no one could've deserved this one more. Read more about the story behind Grant's play.)

Outstanding Production: The Color Purple (a Neptune Theatre production).

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