Too Close to Call on Newcastle’s Best Musical
The judges for Newcastle’s 31st annual CONDA (City of Newcastle Drama Awards), presented at the Civic Theatre on Thursday December 4th, were deadlocked on the question of the city’s best musical. Pantseat Productions’ Lucky Stiff, tied with Newcastle Theatre Company’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for the best non-professional musical production. The two small cast musicals shared more than the award, with three cast members in common.
Pantseat Productions’ Lucky Stiff was the night’s biggest winner, with four CONDAs in non-professional categories.
Three shows each collected two awards each, Newcastle Festival Opera’s The Magic Flute, Stray Dogs Theatre’s Henry IV Part 1 and Hunter TAFE Performing Arts production Kafka! Kafka!
All up, 58 productions were eligible for CONDA consideration in the 12 months to October 31. Thirty-nine of those productions won a total of 133 nominations. And 23 companies were represented in the nominations. The awards were also spread widely, with fifteen shows and 12 companies taking out trophies.
Testimony to the fertility of the Novocastrian theatre community, local talents treading the boards nationally – Erin James, Tyran Parke and Glenn Hazeldine – returned to their home town as presenters.
Former Newcastle University student Brendan O’Connell, now the Artistic Director of youth group Tantrum Theatre, was awarded the 2009 Newcastle City Council Award for Outstanding Achievement in Newcastle Theatre. CONDA judges Michelle Gosper, Sue Leask, Ken Longworth and Pamela Whalan cited O’Connell’s “enthusiasm, energy and his love and understanding of Newcastle.”
Entertainment highlights included the terrific skills of Circus Avalon cast members on the trapeze, and with Hula Hoops and Diobolo.
2009 CONDA WINNERS
Newcastle City Council Award for Outstanding Achievement in Newcastle Theatre: Brendan O’Connell
Production: The Magic Flute, Newcastle Festival Opera
Actor: Carl Caulfield, Henry IV Part 1
Actress: Rebecca Sheldon, Henry IV Part 1
Director: David Brown, Work – Fight - Unite
Technical achievement: Ian Cook, musical direction, The Magic Flute
Best new play written for a Newcastle company: The Suitcase, Paul Russell
Dramatic production: Kafka! Kafka!, Hunter TAFE Performing Arts
Musical production: Lucky Stiff, Pantseat Productions, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Newcastle Theatre Company (joint winners)
Actor in a leading role in a drama or comedy: Liam Bird, Brighton Beach Memoirs
Actress in a leading role in a drama or comedy: Carrie Manen, Wait Until Dark
Actor in a leading role in a musical: Gareth Hudson, Buskers and Angels
Actress in a leading role in a musical: Alicia Paterson, Lucky Stiff
Actor in a supporting role: Howard Rawlinson, Shadowlands
Actress in a supporting role: Giverny Lewis, Lucky Stiff
Ensemble acting: Kafka! Kafka!, Hunter TAFE Performing Arts
Director: Daniel Kavanagh, Lucky Stiff
Achievement in music and movement: Silvia Martinez and Nicole Maslowski, choreography, Fame
Achievement in costume design and make-up: Wendy Ratcliffe, costume design, Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical
Achievement in set design: Brian Lowe and Chris Bird, Wanted - One Body
Achievement in lighting and sound design: Matthew Bevan, sound design and visual effects, Dags
Photo - Left to right: Matthew Bevan, winner for best non-professional achievement in sound and lighting design, for his sound design and visual effects for Dags (Young People's Theatre): Giverny Lewis, best supporting non-professional actress for Lucky Stiff (Pantseat Productions); and Daniel Kavanagh, best non-professional director for Lucky Stiff.