Sunday, February 23, 2014

19TH ACTEWAGL CANBERRA AREA THEATRE AWARDS 2013

Produced by Coralie Wood
Directed by Stephen Pike
Llewellyn Hall 22 February 2014

Review by Len Power 22 February 2014



It doesn’t seem 19 years since the CAT awards first commenced but there we were again all dressed up on Saturday night at Llewellyn Hall to celebrate this unique and popular theatrical event.  The ACTEWAGL Canberra Area Theatre Awards honour a wide range of theatre practitioners, both on and off-stage.  School and Youth productions as well as Adult productions are considered for awards.

The CAT judges are very busy and committed people, travelling far and wide around New South Wales to places such as Albury, Orange and Wollongong, as well as Canberra, to assess the quality of productions.  A weighted point system ensures that every production has an equal chance of scoring nominations.  There are 49 CAT award categories and many of the categories have several nominations.  This year, two new categories were added for ‘Best Dance Performance by an Individual Or Ensemble’ and ‘Best Dance Direction’.

This year’s show was amongst the best.  Tightly directed by Stephen Pike, the show was consistently entertaining and moved at a good pace.  Well-known actor, John Wood, and Canberra musical director and CAT judge, Ian MacLean, made a great team as comperes of the evening.  The award winners all made mercifully short but interesting speeches and the spectacular lighting and clear sound by Chris Neal of Eclipse Lighting and Sound was especially notable.  Musical director, Garrick Smith, delighted the audience with a hilariously spectacular entrance in a huge Liberace-like white cloak.

There were some great moments amongst the entertainment presented between the award announcements.  Canberra’s Damien Bermingham, now professional actor/singer and previous CAT award winner, beautifully sang Andrew Lloyd Webber’s emotional, ‘Till I Hear You Sing’.  The beautiful Jenna Roberts reprised her performance as a sad and faded woman with the electrifying, ‘The Very First Dating Video Of Rose Ritz’ from the musical, ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’.  The cast of Free Rain Theatre’s upcoming production of ‘Forbidden Broadway’ gave us a delightful sneak preview of their show’s sendup of ‘Les Miserables’ and veteran actors Graham Robertson and Oliver Baudert demonstrated their years of stage experience with beautifully nuanced performances in a scene from their play ‘A Month Of Sundays’.

There seemed to be quite a number of double awards this year.  I wonder if that takes a bit of the shine off winning when you have to share an award?  Anyway, if you’d like to see the full list of winners for the CAT awards, go to the CATS website at www.catawards.com.au.

Running the CAT Awards costs big money, so it was good to see that the list of sponsors of the various awards is growing.  Local and New South Wales businesses and individual members of Parliament as well as solo sponsors are all showing their support.  Founder of the CAT Awards, Coralie Wood, closed the show with a heart-felt speech that should see the CATS continue for at least another 20 years!

Originally broadcast on ArtsoundFM's 'Dress Circle' program Sunday 5pm 23 February 2014

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