Canberra Area Theatre Awards 2016Share Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
The Cat Awards, officially the Canberra Area Theatre Awards, celebrated 21 years of awarding at Llewellyn Hall on Saturday night with a 5pm start to proceedings and a program of performances, speeches, a cavalcade of recipients in more categories than you can imagine and a smattering of stars to bring glitz, glamour and bling to the event.
The indefatigable doyenne of this unique event, Coralie Wood, was sparkling in her favourite red lace, ensconced at the after party on a comfy chair in front of her huge portrait that spends most of the time in the exclusive ‘back room’ at Teatro Vivaldi with a cake to cut and accolades to hear.
That this event has grown to expand to theatre events in far flung centres of NSW as well as the ACT is recognition of the ‘area’ in the title, (Canberra Area Theatre Awards) brings talent to the stage we have no idea about. Substantial subsidies from the NSW government recognizes the hard yards done by community theatre groups and schools to nurture local talent and those efforts were reflected in the awards for 2016.
The judges, and there’s a formidable number of them, pack their bags, load the car, gather the refreshments and tootle off for a night at the theatre in places like Bowral, Merimbula, Molong and Cowra. Then on awards night we locals get to know the who what and where of those regional nominees while being just a tad confused by the categories and diversity of nominations.
But it all works out in the end. And that can be attributed to some sensational production and direction from a formidable talent pool that sees Stephen Pike shine as the man that can make this unwieldy program zip along. So too the efforts of the unlikely duo of John Wood and Ian McLean as co-presenters who are a yin and yang combo that handles every aspect with aplomb.
The stars which came to play included Craig Bennett, yes the one and only star of daytime television, who helped me through the night with his humour and sardonic wit. Normie Rowe, a 60’s pop idol, Vietnam Veteran and so charming with a memorable television performance on daytime television we all still talk about but on this occasion I hauled him from one side of the foyer to the other so he could catch up with Bronwyn Sullivan to reminisce about their performance in Canberra, with Ian McLean the musical director, way back when in Annie. And Simon Gallaher forever linked to those rollicking Gilbert and Sullivan stage shows and a formidable theatre career.
My favourite theatre moment for this night was Jumbo the Elephant. What an impressive beast with the gait and girth of a well fed real one and a stage presence to match. And that’s what theatre is all about. The moments, the excitement, the staging, the lights, the performers, the costumes, the sound and the story. We sit back, and let them entertain us. We expect so much and are well rewarded by the individuals and these companies of performers who bring so much to our lives.
Congratulations to all the winners, there are way too many for me to list them here and keep the dreams alive.