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Kayla Gordon

Michael Nathanson
Photo by Dylan Hewlett Photography

Photo by Dylan Hewlett Photography

Judith Putter presenting award to Kayla Gordon
Photo by Dylan Hewlett Photography



by Rhonda J. Prepes, P. Eng, June 7, 2011

Two hundred supporters of the Winnipeg Jewish theatre (WJT) came out to the Berney Theatre on June 1, 2011 to honour Kayla Gordon. The WJT fundraiser celebrated the many theatrical achievements of  Gordon, the long time WJT artistic director from 1995 to 2004.

Michael Nathanson, current artistic producer of the WJT was the emcee for the evening. To thank her for her invaluable contributions to Winnipeg’s theatre community a wonderful collection of young musical talent was assembled to sing some of her favourite songs from shows she has directed. These included “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors, “The I Love You Song” from the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a medley from “Zanna, Don’t”, “Something About You” from the Altar Boyz, “The Temp and the Receptionist”, and “What I Did For Love” from a Chorus Line. 

“Tonight we all pay tribute to the immense impact Kayla Gordon has had on this theatre… Winnipeg theatre as a whole and we pay tribute to the immense impact she has had on each of us individually,” began Nathanson.

“Ultimately, Kayla is about bringing people together. This is clear in everything she touches. People come together,” he added

Gordon is the Co-founder of the Manitoba Drama Youth Festival,  a past Artistic Director of Winnipeg Jewish Theatre from 1995-2004,  a past Director of the Winnipeg Jewish Film Festival from 2004-2006, and a  past Executive Director of the Association of Jewish Theatres from 2006-2008. She has taught musical theatre and acting at the University of Winnipeg from 2000 and on, and is the Artistic Director of Winnipeg Studio Theatre.

Gordon's directing credits number well over 50 professional productions and her work has always been notable for her innate talent in bringing people together.  She won the Governor General's Award for her work on Tangled Souls, a truly visionary project which brought together students from Winnipeg and Norway House.

“Whether it was producing fundraisers for the Guardian Angel Balls for women’s cancer or directing the recent Japan Relief Benefit concert, Kyla is involved because it is the right thing to do,” said Nathanson.

Between songs, Nathanson read congratulatory emails to Gordon from such people as Nia Vardalos - actress, writer, producer, and director; Jonas Chernick – actor, screen writer and professional story editor; Harry Nelken - actor; Howard Wiseman – writer and director; and Sophia Constantine - actress.

Mystery Guest Debbie Maslowsky paid tribute to Gordon by saying, “The thing that is most incredible with Kayla is her support of local talent.”

She was then coerced into singing “Harvey and Sheila Harvey” from Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda by Nathanson.

In closing, Judith Putter presented Gordon with her Excellence in Theatre award from the Board of Directors and Staff of the WJT. Desserts and wine were served at a reception after the entertainment.

Nathanson summed up the rationale for the evening’s tribute by saying, “Thank you to Kayla… for her talent, spirit, her generousity, her drive, her vision…”

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.