The Toronto production of the musical Caroline, or Change, staged earlier this year by Acting Up Stage and Obsidian Theatre, is a leading contender for the Dora Mavor Moore Awards with 10 nominations.

Nominations for the Dora Awards for excellence in Toronto theatre were announced Tuesday, with productions such as War Horse, Penelopiad and Crash gaining multiple nominations.

Selected Dora nominees

Best theatre production

  • War Horse
  • The Penelopiad
  • Topdog Underdog
  • The Golden Dragon
  • Crash

Best musical production

  • Caroline, or Change
  • I Love You Because
  • Seussical

Best opera

  • Rigoletto
  • Iphigenia in Tauris
  • A Florentine Tragedy
  • Armide
  • SVADBA- Wedding

Best independent production

  • A Fool's Life
  • The Story
  • The Ugly One
  • Morro and Jasp: Go Bake Yourself
  • The Life and Times of Mackenzie King

Best new play

  • Those Who Can't Do by Erin Fleck.
  • Ajax & Little Iliad by Evan Webber.
  • Kim's Convenience by Ins Choi.
  • Crash by Pamela Mala Sinha.
  • One Thousand and One Nights by Tim Supple and Hanan al-Shaykh.

A past winner of Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards in New York and London, Caroline, or Change follows the story of a black maid working for a Southern Jewish family. She struggles to survive economically, while the son of her employer must adjust to the death of his mother.

For the upcoming Doras, the Toronto production is nominated for best musical as well as its direction, musical direction and choreography. It dominated the acting categories for musical theatre, with six members of the company earning nominations: Michael Levinson,  Sterling Jarvis, Arlene Duncan,  Deborah Hay, Neema Bickersteth and Sabryn Rock.

In the race for best musical theatre production, it is competing with the Dr. Seuss-inspired family show Seussical by Young People's Theatre (which earned six nominations overall) and I Love You Because by Angelwalk Theatre (which earned two).

Obsidian Theatre's Topdog Underdog

Obsidian Theatre also gained recognition for a production of Topdog Underdog, the Pulitzer-winning play by Suzan-Lori Parksit the company shared with the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Both male leads — Kevin Hanchard and Nigel Shawn Williams — in the play about two competitive brothers are nominated for acting awards. The production is also a candidate for best general theatre production.      

Nightwood Theatre's staging of the Margaret Atwood play The Penelopiad also had a strong showing with six nominations, including for best production, ensemble cast and a director nod for Kelly Thornton.

Crash by Theatre Passe Muraille also is a contender for best production, as well as best new play and for its direction.

Rounding out the contenders for best theatre production are War Horse, the Mirvish stage drama involving elaborate horse puppets (with four nominations overall) and The Golden Dragon by Tarragon Theatre (with three nominations in total).

The best new play category also pits Kim's Convenience, the Ins Choi work reflecting Toronto immigrant experiences, against One Thousand and One Nights, a 2011 Luminato production based on the tale of Scheherazade.

Winners of the Dora Awards will be announced June 25 at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto. The evening will also include the presentation of several special awards, including:

  • George Luscombe Award for mentorship in theatre to Ruth Howard, founding artistic director of Jumblies Theatre, which fosters theatre skills among disadvantaged communities.
  • Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for theatre, dance and opera administrators to Leslie Lester, executive director of Soulpepper Theatre.
  • Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award for an advocate for performing arts in Canada to Richard Rose, artistic director of Tarragon Theatre.

That last choice, made by Dora organizing group Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, could prove controversial, as Rose and playwright-actor Michael Healey were at loggerheads earlier this year after Rose declined to mount Healey's satirical play Proud, about an unnamed prime minister.