‘CATs’ go ahead minus the feathers

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Gold Cat 2019, Michelle Heine.

THE annual CAT Awards for theatre went ahead tonight (April 18) virtually, minus the usual showbiz glitz, sparkle and feathers.

Initially to have been held in February, the CATs were postponed because of the bushfires raging in the regional towns that have always been the backbone of the big amateur theatre awards, but organisers had been confident they would go ahead with all the usual pizzazz in Llewellyn Hall on April 18 before COVID-19 struck.

It was not to be. The rippling effects of the virus on the CATs community, now marking its 25th year, meant the cancellation of the live event but not the awards themselves, which went ahead tonight as CATs board chair Dennis Martin outlined in his online announcement.

CAT mother and founder of the awards, Coralie Wood, told “CityNews”: “I’m so sad that this has happened in our 25th year… all those years ago we didn’t have the internet and email, so now we can put it online and I’m very happy about that, but sad that our guests Simon Gallaher and John Wood can’t come.”

Preceding the announcements, the judges and board members for the CATS conferred a unique “Diamond CAT“ award on founder Coralie Wood for her 25 years of service to the awards.

The awards of the night revealed that 2019 had been a packed year of theatre in the regions, so much so that the CAT judges couldn’t make up their minds in several categories, and had triple winners for the three top actors in “Art”, by Pinnacle Players from Orange.

The top Gold CAT award went to veteran choreographer Michelle Heine, who burst onto the local scene years ago with Colin Anderson’s production of “Les Miserables” to become the choreographer of choice for most of Canberra’s big musicals.

In recent years she has won accolades for her work on “42nd Street” and “Kinky Boots”, both shows in which dance takes centre stage. Her citation praises her for “fostering the love of dance among people of all ages, including people with special needs, particularly through LEGS Dance”.

The second big award of the evening, The Silver Cat, went to husband and wife team Russell and Jeanette Brown, “for their pivotal roles over many years in Canberra Repertory’s set and costume departments, allowing REP to continue to present six shows a year with consistently high production standards”.

And would, as some had whispered, this 25th year be the last for the CATs?

“Certainly not,” Wood said. “We will continue on.”

CAT AWARDS WINNERS 2019

BEST SET FOR A PLAY: Andrew Kay (design) and Russell Brown (coordination), “The Art of Coarse Acting”, “A Doll’s House”, and (with The Q) “Waiting in the Wings”, Canberra Repertory Society; BEST SET FOR A MUSICAL, VARIETY OR DANCE PRODUCTION: Amy Copeland, “Into The Woods”, So Popera Productions, Wollongong; BEST COSTUMES FOR A PLAY: Anna Senior (design) Jeanette Brown, (coordination) “The Woman In The Window”, Canberra Repertory Society and (with The Q) “Waiting in the Wings”, Canberra Repertory Society; BEST COSTUMES FOR A MUSICAL OR VARIETY SHOW: Amy Copeland, “Into The Woods”, So Popera Productions, Wollongong; BEST COSTUMES FOR A SCHOOL OR YOUTH PRODUCTION: The Costume Team, “Toys: To Infinity & Beyond”, Bom Funk Dance Studio, Jerrabomberra; BEST LIGHTING: Chris Ellyard, “The Woman In The Window”, Canberra Repertory Society; TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT: John Webb, Design And Construction Of The Rain System, “Singin’ In The Rain”, So Popera Productions, Wollongong; JOHN THOMSON THEATRE MAGIC: Entry and assembly of the flying house, “Wicked”, Canberra Girls Grammar School; BEST ORIGINAL WORK: Alex Wood, Ben Harris, Gabriella Gross, Kathryn Parker and Will Dunlop, Script for “How To Train Your Doctor”, ANU Med Revue, Canberra; BEST ORIGINAL WORK FOR A SCHOOL OR YOUTH PRODUCTION: Bill Dickson, Original music, “The Treasure of Peter Pan”, Daramalan Theatre Company, Canberra; BEST ENSEMBLE IN A PLAY: The Residents Of The Wings, “Waiting In The Wings”, Canberra Repertory Society and Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre; BEST ENSEMBLE IN A SCHOOL OR YOUTH PRODUCTION: the cast, “STILL, WE RISE, THE AUSTRALIAN VOICE COLLECTIVE”, CANBERRA; BEST ENSEMBLE IN A MUSICAL OR VARIETY SHOW: The cast and band, “The World Goes ‘Round”, Canberra Repertory Society; PATRICIA KELSON ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD: Imogen Steele, Fiona, “Shrek the Musical Jr”, Parkes Musical & Dramatic Society; BEST YOUTH ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY: Brad Worthington, as Reverend John Hale in “The Crucible”, Oxley College, Bowral; BEST YOUTH ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Luke McClay, as Brit in “We Will Rock You”, Chevalier College, Bowral; BEST YOUTH ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY: Claire Allan, as Tituba in “The Crucible”, Oxley College, Bowral BEST YOUTH ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Annie Turner, as Scaramouche in “We Will Rock You”, Chevalier College, Bowral; BEST YOUTH ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY: Thomas Rapp, as John Proctor in “The Crucible”, Oxley College, Bowral BEST YOUTH ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY: Jade Gillis, as Elizabeth Proctor in “The Crucible”, Oxley College, Bowral BEST YOUTH ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Max Kielly, as Jafar in “Aladdin Jr”, Junior Albatross Musical (JAM), Nowra and as The Beast in “Beauty and the Beast”, Nowra Anglican College; BEST YOUTH ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Georgia Brian, as Lisa in “Ladies in Black”, Spectrum Theatre Group, Merimbula; BEST VARIETY PERFORMANCE BY AN INDIVIDUAL OR ENSEMBLE: Adam Salter, In “‘A Ten Minute Mystery’, Hang on a Second: A night of short plays (and one song)”, Have a Butchers Productions, Canberra; BEST DANCE PERFORMANCE BY AN INDIVIDUAL OR ENSEMBLE: Level 2 and Level 3, acro, “Machinery, Peter Pan” and “Our Lost Treasures”, LEGS Dance, Canberra; BEST ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY: Michael Sparks, as Korzh in “The Woman in the Window”, Canberra Repertory Society, Canberra; BEST ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Garrett Kelly, as Horse in “The Full Monty”, Supa Productions, Canberra; BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY: Lainie Hart, as Lili Kalinovskaya in “The Woman in the Window”, Canberra Repertory Society; BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Michelle Pettigrove, as Magda in ”Ladies in Black”, Spectrum Theatre Group, Merimbula; BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY: Alvaro Marques, as Marc, Mark Coster as Yvan and Nick Tucknott as Serge in “Art”, Pinnacle Players, Orange; BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Jason Bensen, as Leo Bloom in “The Producers”, Dramatic Productions, Canberra; BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY: Karen Vickery, as Anna Akhmatova in “The Woman in the Window”, Canberra Repertory Society; BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL: Hannah Garbo, as Galinda/Glinda in “Wicked,” Albatross Musical Theatre Company, Nowra and Molly Stewart as Little Red Riding Hood in “Into The Woods”, So Popera Productions, Wollongong and as Elphaba in “Wicked,” Albatross Musical Theatre Company, Nowra; BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: Teagan McKeen and Dane Sanderson, “Singin’ in the Rain”, So Popera Productions, Wollongong; BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION FOR A SCHOOL OR YOUTH PRODUCTION: Barbara Griffin, “We Will Rock You,” Chevalier College, Bowral; BEST DIRECTION OF A SCHOOL OR YOUTH PLAY: Belinda Quick, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Bay Theatre Players Youth Theatre Group, Batemans Bay; BEST DIRECTION OF A SCHOOL OR YOUTH MUSICAL: Julia Armstrong, “Aladdin Jr, Junior” Albatross Musical (JAM), Nowra; BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION: Alexander Unikowski, “The World Goes ‘Round”, Canberra Repertory Society; BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY: Liz Bradley, “The Woman in the Window”, Canberra Repertory Society; BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL OR VARIETY SHOW: Amy Copeland, “Into The Woods”, So Popera Productions, Wollongong; and Jarrad West, “The World Goes ‘Round”, Canberra Repertory Society; BEST DANCE PRODUCTION: “The Land of Stories”, Classical Ballet Centre Canberra, Canberra; BEST PRODUCTION OF A SCHOOL OR YOUTH MUSICAL: “Aladdin Jr”, Junior Albatross Musical (JAM), Nowra and “Beauty and the Beast”, Nowra Anglican College; BEST PRODUCTION OF A SCHOOL OR YOUTH PLAY: “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Bay Theatre Players Youth Theatre Group, Batemans Bay; BEST PRODUCTION OF A VARIETY SHOW OR OTHER MUSICAL THEATRE PIECE: “The World Goes ‘Round”, Canberra Repertory Society; BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY: “Art”, Pinnacle Players, Orange BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL: “Into The Woods”, So Popera Productions, Wollongong; SILVER CAT AWARD: Russell and Jeanette Brown; GOLD CAT AWARD: Michelle Heine.

CAT AWARDS COMMENDATIONS

Cowra Music and Dramatic Society, For donating proceeds from the production of “Agatha Crusty and the Village Hall Murders” to maintain the 103-year-old Billimari Hall; Daramalan Theatre Company, Canberra, For donations to youth health initiatives, through “The Treasure of Peter Pan”; Dramatic Productions, Canberra, For donating $16,281.60 from proceeds of “The Producers” to Dainere’s Rainbow, The Newborn Intensive Care Foundation, Soldier On, Kippax Uniting Care, Canteen, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, Diversity ACT, The Canberra Hospital Foundation, Everyman, GIVIT ACT, RSPCA ACT and HOME Queanbeyan; Griffith & Regional Association for the Performing Arts (GRAPA), For attracting a youthful cast and audience to Shakespeare with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; Matthew Burge, Wollongong, For exceptional contribution to “Come Alive: Southern Stars 2019”. A Year 11 student at Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts and a member of the Southern Stars orchestra since Year 5, Matthew featured this year as a cello soloist, conducted the orchestra for three items, and arranged the music for several items. Matthew is currently playing in the Sydney Youth Orchestra and is studying for his Licentiate Diploma in bassoon; Parkes Musical & Dramatic Society, For making productions accessible to people with special needs through presenting a special autism-friendly performance and providing closed captioning for the hearing-impaired; Renee Newton, production manager, and creative team, ACT Education Directorate, For coordinating over 2000 students, teachers, parents and others to create a seamless and professional production of “Soaring: Step Into the Limelight”; Revolution Theatre, Albury, For donating 50 per cent of proceeds from all shows to Albury Wodonga Community Chest; Rising Arts Productions, Camden, For support for Headspace through the production of “Heathers the Musical”; and Wagga Wagga School of Arts Inc SOACT, Celebrating 160th anniversary of the Wagga Wagga School of Arts.

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