The Merritt Awards are a love-in with an edge. Actors are members of one big dysfunctional family, and it is never more apparent than on this one night of the year. The jokes are recycled year after year-Marty Burt's "reluctance" to host the event, Ron Ulrich's unidentifiable accent, the questionable hiring practices of Neptune Theatre, Jeremy Webb's relentless self-promotion-but they're funny just the same.
As MC, Charlie Rhindress proved to be a master of comedy, if not, by his own admission, of song and dance. The evening is a combination of patter, musical numbers, video clips, pictures from the past and, oh yes, award presentations.
Canning's Two Planks and a Passion Theatre was the night's big winner, with artistic director Ken Schwartz taking home the outstanding production and best director awards for Our Town. Two Planks also took home best costume and sound design awards for their production of Ami McKay's Jerome: The Historical Spectacle.
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Jeremy Webb, lago, Othello, Shakespeare by the Sea
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Sherry Smith, Winnie in Happy Days, Neptune Theatre
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Andrew Gillies, General Burgoyne in The Devil's Disciple, Neptune Theatre
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Mauralea Austin, Miss Rose, Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, Luna/Sea Theatre
Outstanding Direction Ken Schwartz, Our Town, Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Outstanding Set Design John Thompson, The Retreat From Moscow, Neptune Theatre
Outstanding Costume Design Denyse Karn, Jerome: The Historical Spectacle, Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Outstanding Lighting Design Martin J. Conboy, Happy Days, Neptune Theatre
Outstanding Sound Design or Original Music Allen Cole, Jerome: The Historical Spectacle, Two Planks and a Passion Theatre
Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian Playwright Chris Little, Grandma Noda's Tigers, Irondale Ensemble Project
Outstanding Production Our Town, Two Planks and a Passion Theatre Image: from Two Planks and a Passion Theatre's award-winning Jerome.