This year’s honourees, which include actors Martin Short, Michael J. Fox and crooner Michael Bublé, were feted with a fancy Colm Feore-hosted gala Thursday at Ottawa’s newly renovated National Arts Centre. It comes a day after the winners received their awards and gave speeches at Rideau Hall.
Jett, perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, was on hand to rock out alongside her friend Fox, just like they did in the 1987 film Light of Day. Vancouver actor Ryan Reynolds also gave Fox kudos in a taped tribute.
Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox rocking out together at the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards gala. Yes, THAT Joan Jett. #cbcent pic.twitter.com/BunMglep65
“I just want to say what a giving man this person is,” Jett said post-performance. She talked about starring alongside Fox in Light of Day, her acting debut. “He was the most generous, down-to-earth person you’d ever want to meet and you don’t find that a lot in Hollywood.”
“This is a special being you’ve got right here.”
Thursday’s gala was a much more laid-back affair compared to Wednesday’s formal ceremony at Rideau Hall. The honourees (who didn’t speak) were perched in the front row of the art centre’s balcony, sitting in big comfy chairs beside Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, Sharon.
There were tributes, continuous standing ovations and a lot of musical performances.
Innu singer-songwriter Florent Vollant played for Souri Durand, who was given a lifetime artistic achievement for theatre. Edmonton pop singer Ruth B. covered Bublé’s hit song, Home; Bublé was given the National Arts Centre award.
And to honour Short, comedian Sean Cullen belted out a reworked version of Til Him, a number from The Producers (both starred in the stage versions of the musical). Cullen’s take included lines about some of Short’s most memorable characters.
Short’s comedian colleagues Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin were also on hand to honour him while late-night host Jimmy Kimmel appeared in a video segment. Short was given a lifetime artistic achievement in broadcast.
Mulroney explained that in 2000, the struggling singer performed at his daughter Caroline’s wedding, where Bublé met Canadian producer David Foster. Foster ended up signing him to his record label and produced his debut.
The performing arts awards, which turn 25 this year, recognize Canadian artists from a host of disciplines like classical and popular music, theatre, dance, film and broadcasting, as well as arts volunteers and philanthropists.
Johnston spoke briefly and oversaw the awards, his seventh and final in office.
Highlights from the show will be shown on an hour-long CBC special, airing at 9 p.m. ET Friday on TV and online.