Jeremy Webb spent the summer as Iago, staring down Troy Adams's Othello in Shakespeare by the Sea. On March 23, the murderous villain won again.
"I feel great. It's a very strange feeling; I've never won an award before where you had to get up on stage," the north-end Halifax actor said after claiming his first Merritt Award. "Now I understand why Kate Winslet blubbed like a baby and got all breathy. It was a surreal moment."
Webb, a one-time Halifax Daily News columnist, was given the nod for Outstanding Performance: Lead Actor at the 10th annual Merritt Awards, which honour the best theatre in Nova Scotia. Other big winners included Sherry Smith as lead actress in Happy Days and Chris Little's Grandma Noda's Tigers for outstanding new play. Two Planks and a Passion Theatre won best production for Our Town and Poor Boy's Stewart Legere was named emerging theatre artist.
Webb had his acceptance speech in one pocket and fellow nominee Adams's in the other (Adams is working in a Winnipeg play).
The English actor, who has called Halifax home for almost 11 years, confided that the continual struggle of working in the arts had him on the verge of moving to the greener pastures of Toronto this year. In the end, he picked up the keys to his new north-end Halifax apartment the same day he won the Merritt.
"There's a big acting community in Toronto. A lot of people from Nova Scotia are there. It really is a Nova Scotian community. It's an annex of Halifax," Webb said.
"As an actor, you're a bit of a nomad, but I'm fighting the nomadic impulse with the idea that I want to have a home," he explained. "I just like living here. I'm going to be travelling around the country a lot more for gigs, but I thought I'd keep Halifax as my base. It's served me so well for 11 years now. I just love it here."
Webb calls 2008 "one of the highlights of my career." He understudied as Max Bialystock for The Producers, played Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, starred in two SBTS plays and pulled off a highly successful run of his one-man Christmas Carol. "Getting that award really does top it off nicely."
He said his Merritt has taken pride of place in his new home, seated proudly above the toilet.
Webb will be playing in the park again this summer.
"I'm playing Duncan, the king, in Macbeth. I think I get killed. In Love's Labour Lost it's Don Adriano De Armado, a great comedic role. There's some light stuff and also some bloodthirsty, sword-wielding drama."
He's also developing Shakespeare on Trial for schools, a play where William is confronted by four of his famous characters.
"They're angry that his writing doesn't seem relevant anymore," Webb explained, adding he will play all four characters, including fair Juliet.
"The beard is staying on," he insists, noting that in Shakespeare's day, males played all the female roles. "The actor playing Juliet is so fed up with playing Juliet for people who are bored that he's just let himself go."
For a complete list of winners of the 2009 Robert Merritt Awards, go to Merrittawards.ca