Celebrating the Professional Theatre in Edmonton

Top right: 2014 Sterling Gala hosts Beth Graham and Andrew MacDonald-Smith

Top to bottom above: Thomas Peacocke gives Patricia Casey her Sterling for Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Edmonton, 2008

Elizabeth Sterling Haynes

2014 presenters; Edmonton’s own first lady Sarah Chan and beloved actor/improvisor/voice artist Mark Meer

Leah Paterson, Amber Bissonnette and Jason Hardwick perform Tap Your Troubles Away from musical nominee Mack and Mabel at the 2014 Sterling Gala.

The 28th Annual Sterling Gala was Monday June 22nd, 2015!

Click here for the 2014/2015 recipients!

  1. PricewaterhouseCoopers & the 2015 Sterling Committee are proud to present the 28th Annual Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards, celebrating the professional theatre in Edmonton.The Sterling Awards were created in 1987 to enhance the profile of live professional theatre and bring about a greater awareness of the performing arts in this remarkably dynamic city. Elizabeth Sterling Haynes, or Mrs. Haynes as she was known to her many students, was a pioneer in the development of theatre and theatre education in Alberta, and is the perfect example of the dedication and achievement we seek to celebrate.

  1. The 28th Annual Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards will take place at The Mayfield Dinner Theatre, 16615 - 109 Avenue on Monday June 22nd beginning at 4:30pm for cocktails with dinner at 5:00pm and show promptly at 6:30pm. After the show we will celebrate with dancing and regaling ‘till all hours in the Mayfield Conference Centre!

  1. The show will be written by Jana O’Connor and Ellen Chorley, and directed by Belinda Cornish. Ariel Spanier will be production manager.

  1. This year’s Sterling Hosts will be putting together a sensational evening with our creative team: we’re delighted to announce that this years gala will be hosted by none other than the multiple- Sterling award winning star of the Freewill Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Coriolanus”, Citadel leading man John Ullyatt, on whose arm will be the First Lady of Edmonton herself, the incomparable Mayoress, Ms. Sarah Chan!

  1. Tickets are $65+GST, include full buffet, a spectacular show & dance, and are available by calling the Mayfield Dinner Theatre box office (780-483-4051) starting Tuesday June 2nd.

• Questions? Interviews? Need more info? E-mail us at or call Judy Unwin at 780-484-6003. Or... log on to our website:

Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Edmonton

The Citadel Theatre

The award for Outstanding Contribution to theatre in Edmonton is the greatest honour that we can bestow, and this year’s recipient is an institution whose invaluable influence upon the Edmonton Theatre landscape and long legacy has never been more gloriously evident than this year, when they launch their 50th anniversary season:The Citadel Theatre.

The original Citadel Theatre was founded on October 12th, 1965, in the old Salvation Army Citadel on 103rd Street - Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the Citadel’s inaugural production, opened on November 10th of the same year.

The Citadel moved to its current location, in the midst of the Edmonton Arts District, in 1976.The huge new complex encompassed five performance spaces, enabling the company to produce an incredibly diverse season of plays year after year - from sweeping classics to intimate dramas to immense musicals. Over the years, the theatre’s host of remarkable artistic directors - from the great John Neville, to one of her founders, Joseph Shoctor, to our very own Bob Baker - have brought us masterpieces from renaissance to restoration, gorgeous plays from the pens of twentieth century virtuosos and sparkling new works from homegrown talent, giving Edmonton audiences the opportu- nity to see great theatre on a grand scale, productions built by visionary teams and per- formed by some of the finest actors in the world; the impeccable cannon includes the likes of Glynis Johns, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Nicol Williamson and Fiona Reid, not to mention Edmonton’s own world-class performers.

The Citadel also takes an active part in the creative development of both professional artists and youth theatre: the Robbins Academy’s four influential training programs, which mentor and train evolving young performers, nourish emerging and working profession- als, and offer playwrights at all levels the opportunity to develop new work in a sup- ported and inspiring environment of peers.

Philanthropic outreach is yet another feature of the Citadel’s activity in the community: among them, the food and donation collection performed each year by the company of “A Christmas Carol”.To date, this program has brought almost $700,000 in donations to the Edmonton Food Bank.

Over its five decades,The Citadel has grown exponentially: in recent years, it has invited both Rapid Fire Theatre and Catalyst Theatre to take up residence within its walls, mak- ing the big red building even more of an artistic hub; and, with well over 100 thousand people now walking through its doors each year, the Citadel is a flagship of our community, and has truly earned its place as one of the top three regional theatres in Canada.

The 2015 Sterling Committee is honoured to recognize the extraordinary and magnificent edifice that is The Citadel Theatre.

The Margaret Mooney Award for Outstanding Achievement in Administration

Penny Ritco

The Margaret Mooney Award for Outstanding Achievement in Administration honours an administrator who has most embodied the hard work and excellence the professional theatre demands.

This year’s recipient has a career that spans four extraordinary and artistically assiduous decades.After graduating from the National Theatre School’s Production Section, she spent fifteen years working in many diverse disciplines within her field, as stage manager, production manager, producer, tour coordinator, lending her skills to a multitude of theatres and artistic venues across the country.

In the 80s, she joined the National Film Board; there began another branch to her sto- ried career, wherein she produced and co-produced a wide range of highly acclaimed documentary programs - first in Montreal, and then as the Vice-President of Program- ming for Great North Productions here in Edmonton.

In 2003, she joined the Citadel Theatre as executive director - rekindling her strong working partnership with artistic director Bob Baker, with whom she had previously worked at Stratford - bringing her expansive knowledge and experience of Canadian theatre with her. In 2006, she received the Maclab Enterprises Award for Excellence in Arts Administration at the Mayor’s Evening for the Arts, and, in 2010, the Rozsa Award for Innovation. She was also recently appointed a TRG Arts VIP and nominated for a Women of Vision Award.

Her peerless energy, support and irrepressible devotion to the arts is truly remarkable, and the 2015 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards Committee is delighted to honour Penny Ritco.

The Ross Hill Award for Outstanding Achievement in Production

Richard Sims

The Ross Hill Award for Outstanding Achievement in Production honours the experts behind the scenes for a body of work exemplifying a career of distinction and accomplishment.This year’s recipient - a beloved and veritable renaissance man in the field of production - is the very epitome of this: we are delighted to celebrate Richard Sims.

Richard began his career as a scenic carpenter at the Shaw Festival, before moving to Edmonton to pursue his vocation; a move which would put him on a steep learn- ing curve at every turn, yet one which he was more than capable of mastering. His successive positions, in which he shifted nimbly from theatre to television to communications and consultancy and back, led him to employ an ever-growing array of skills. In his time at the Citadel, he

deftly moved from production manager to technical director to resident designer. He spent 20 years with the Edmonton Opera - first as their technical director, then director of production and sometime general manager; he also designed the stunning lights and set for their production of “The Pearl Fishers”. In recent years, as a freelancer with his consulting company, Sims International Incorporated, he has lent his considerable acumen to many projects, including the complete refit and revitalization of the heritage vaudeville house, the Bailey Theatre, in Camrose, and the oversight of a thorough review and renovation of the theatre production facilities in 13 schools throughout the city. Somehow, he has also managed to find time to purchase and revitalize an impoverished sandwich franchise, and run a highly successful branch of M&M Meat Shops.

Over forty years, Richard has not only lent his remarkable and multifarious craft to Edmonton theatre, he has truly left his mark. In fact, two previous recipients of this award were drawn into the theatre fold by Richard - intrepid teenager Barbara Becker, and one ETS bus driver named Bill Heron. It is also a rather delightful coincidence that Richard was offered his first professional contract - as master carpenter at the old Citadel in 1974 - by this award’s namesake, Ross Hill himself.

The 2015 Sterling Committee is thrilled to honour Richard Sims.

A Special Sterling
Recognizing a Career of Extraordinary Performances

John Wright

In 1987, a fierce and fearless young man came to our shores: launching forth from a spectacular theatrical dynasty, and bright career in Saskatoon - where his sisters, Susan and Janet, had co- founded the Persephone Theatre - he brought to Edmonton every ounce of his remarkable cha- risma, talent, and onstage fire. His first play here was the lauded “A Lie of the Mind” at Phoenix Theatre, directed by Jim Guedo - and in that first performance alone, he blew the community away. It is then hardly surprising that he swiftly became one of the most respected and sought-after actors in the city.

For the past forty years he has brought his peerless dynamism, honesty, and visceral commitment to stages across the country - from Halifax’s Neptune Theatre to the late great Vancouver Playhouse - but it is Edmonton he has called home, and he has graced our theatres with some of the most magnificent performances we will ever see.A con- summate Shakespearean who has performed with the Freewill Shakespeare Festival for the past 20 years - often alongside or under the directorship of his equally remarkable wife, actor/director Marianne Copithorne - he has taken on many of the greatest and most challenging roles - Prospero, Leontes, Shylock,Titus Andronicus, Macbeth, and most recently King Lear - breathing a unique life into each one, creating complete, beautiful, flawed and truly human beings.

A four-time Sterling award recipient, he has also been prolific in his work on new Cana- dian plays - premiering Eugene Stickland’s “Excavations”, and Collin Doyle’s “The Mighty Carlins” - and lending his voice to the works of Michael Healey, Katherine Koller, David Belke, Judith Thompson, to name a few. For almost four decades, he has delivered singular performances replete with truth and magnetism.Those of us who have been fortunate enough to share the stage with him never forget his humility and generosity, his leadership and mastery. He inspires playwrights and directors alike - as his colleague, James MacDonald, said, “he is the actor who taught me how to direct actors, the Shakespearean who taught me how to direct Shakespeare.”

John chose to retire from the stage earlier this year, but he will always be integrally woven into the fabric of our community - he has set the bar high for us all, and it will ever be our pleasure to strive to reach it.

The 2015 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards Committee is delighted to honour John Wright.

2015 Sterling Committee

Belinda Cornish, Kristi Hansen, Jason Hardwick, Mathew Hulshof, Judy Unwin

Show Committee 2015

Belinda Cornish, Pat Burden, Mary Hulbert, Ellen Chorley, Mat Busby, Kristi Hansen, Ariel Spanier

Our Sterling Sponsors

Without the following award sponsors we would not be able to put on the tremendous celebration of the theatre in our city that the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards has become:

The Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology Edmonton Arts Council
Players de Novo
Theatre Alberta
Rapid Fire Theatre
The Mayfield Dinner Theatre
Monarch Exterior Centre
Exterior Pride
The Nastys
Loie Unwin & Drumawillan Management Inc. Dimensions Graphics
Mosaic Entertainment
Production World
The Next Act
PriceWaterhouse Coopers

The Sterling Awards were created in 1987 to celebrate outstanding professional theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They are named in honour of Elizabeth Sterling Haynes, director, actress, educator and architect of innumerable theatre programs and schools throughout the province. As renowned western playwright Gwen Pharis Ringwood wrote, Elizabeth was a force, a creative energy unleashed at a time when creativity was suspect and at a place where creativity was often ignored in the hope that it would go away....Her theatre exists in the people whose lives she touched.

We seek to honour the outstanding legacy of Mrs. Haynes every season here in one of Canada’s most vibrant theatre cities. Click around above, check out our updated archives in History, biographies of Mrs. Haynes. Margaret Mooney and Ross Hill as well as our Sterling guidelines and contacts.


The 29th Annual Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards will take place Monday, June 27th, 2016 at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre!

Stay tuned for the date, time, and location of  2015/16 nominees’ announcement!