Spelling Bee wins 3 Vancouver theatre awards

A Vancouver production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was a big winner at the Jessie Richardson Awards Monday, taking three awards, including outstanding artistic achievement.

A Vancouver production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was a big winner at the Jessie Richardson Awards Monday, taking three awards, including outstanding artistic achievement.

The Jessies are named for Jessie Richardson, an actor, director and designer who contributed to Vancouver theatre for 40 years. The awards are presented annually for theatre excellence.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, co-produced by Arts Club Theatre and Belfry Theatre, took home awards for outstanding production and best direction for Michael Shamata. The musical earned a Tony Award for best book during its 2005 Broadway run.

In the small theatre division, the best production Jessie was won by Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train by Glass City Theatre, a young, artist-run company.

Written by New York playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, the play follows two imprisoned murderers discussing the role of Jesus in their lives. It earned the best actor award for Seattle-trained actor Robert Olguin, who portrays a confused young man taking advice from a serial killer. The production also took home the prize for best lighting design.

The Pacific Theatre was awarded a Jessie for outstanding achievement in small theatre for its entire season, which included 'A' Train.

In the theatre for young audiences category, the Jessies for outstanding production and best artistic creation went to Bird Brain.Produced by Carousel Theatre, the new work by Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen was adapted from a German children's story.

Carousel's Pharaoh Serket and The Lost Stone of Fire won an award for outstanding achievement.

Performance award-winners included:

  • Lead actor, large theatre: Gerard Plunkett, Glengarry Glen Ross.
  • Lead actress, large theatre: Deborah Williams, Becky's New Car.
  • Supporting actor, large theatre: Bob Frazer, Death of a Salesman.
  • Supporting actress, large theatre: Jennifer Clement, The Trespassers.
  • Lead actress, small theatre: Susan Bertoia, Mambo Italiano.
  • Supporting actor, small theatre: Simon Webb, Hamlet.
  • Supporting actress, small theatre: Barbara Pollard, A Lie of the Mind.
  • Best performance, children's theatre: Georgina Beaty, The Shape of a Girl.