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Burnaby choreographer earns 2023 OVATION! Award

Here's who else from Burnaby and New West was nominated for the annual celebration of Metro Vancouver's musical theatre scene.
Grace Hight (front) — seen with Jaci McPhee, Pam Rochon, Raelyn Schatz and Mandy Knopp in Confessions of a Grocery Clerk — was up for Outstanding Newcomer honours in the 2023 OVATION! Awards.

A Burnaby choreographer walked away with honours at this year’s OVATION! Awards.

The awards are presented annually to recognize the best musical theatre in the Lower Mainland in 15 categories covering performance, direction, choreography and design. The 2023 awards ceremony was held Sunday, Jan. 22 at at the Vancouver Academy of Music.

Burnaby's Nicol Spinola, who was nominated twice for Outstanding Choreography — for Theatre Under the Stars' Something Rotten and for Raincity Theatre's Cabaret — took the award for the TUTS production of Something Rotten, which also earned Outstanding Production honours in the community theatre category.

The Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Kinky Boots, which ran at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in June and July, walked away with top honours for Outstanding Production in the professional category.

Several New Westminster and Burnaby locals had been nominated for their roles in the production but didn't come home with wins, including New Westminster’s Sayer Roberts for Outstanding Lead Performance; fellow New Westie Kelli Ogmundson for Outstanding Supporting Performance; Barbara Tomasic, originally from New Westminster, for Outstanding Direction; and Burnaby’s Ken Cormier for Outstanding Music Direction.

The Vagabond Players and Capricorn Theatre Productions’ Confessions of a Grocery Clerk was up for Outstanding New Work and for Outstanding Newcomer, for lead performer Grace Hight. (Hight also appeared in Anything Goes with Fraser Valley Musical Theatre.) Confessions of a Grocery Clerk ran at the Bernie Legge Theatre in Queen’s Park in December.

In the end, the Outstanding New Work award went to String of Pearls, while Jessica Spenst took the Outstanding Newcomer honours.

Other New West and Burnaby connection among the nominees:

  • Outstanding Lead Performance: Burnaby’s Chelsea Rose was nominated for her performance as Maria in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s The Sound of Music. The award went to Alex Gullason in Raincity Theatre's Cabaret.
  • Outstanding Supporting Performance: Burnaby’s Anthony Santiago was up for his performance as Matthew in Gateway Theatre’s Anne of Green Gables, while Daniel Curalli (who grew up on the border of Burnaby and New West) was up for his work as Shakespeare in Theatre Under the Stars’ Something Rotten. The award went to Kamyar Pazandeh in Carousel Theatre's The Three Little Pigs.
  • Outstanding Music Direction: Burnaby’s Sean Bayntun was up for his work with Gateway Theatre’s Anne of Green Gables. The award went to Arielle Balance for Carousel Theatre's The Three Little Pigs.

Some local connections were also contenders for Audience Choice Awards.

In the Outstanding Panto category, one of the contenders was The Snow Queen: A Frozen Adventure, the Royal Canadian Theatre Company outing that played this past holiday season in Surrey and at New Westminster’s Massey Theatre. The award went to Fraser Valley Musical Theatre's Sleeping Beauty.

In the Outstanding Non-Juried Production/Cabaret/Revue/Concert or Special Event category, there were also some New Westminster contenders: Bear Grease, which played at the Massey Theatre in April, and Hey Viola!, which played at the Anvil Centre in March. The award went to UBC Theatre's Spamalot.

Find the full list of 2023 OVATION! Award nominees and winners online.

Did we miss anyone? We’ve included all the local connections that we’re aware of, but there may be others that have flown under our radar. If you know of any Burnaby and New Westminster connections that aren’t listed here, please let us know. Email Julie MacLellan.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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