It was a great night honor the best in theatre over the past year at the 2016 Naledi Theatre Awards held at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on Tuesday (April 19) in Johannesburg, Gauteng.
For the first time in the Awards 12-year history, the same actress has won the Best Lead Performance in a Play (Female) for two different plays.
Fiona Ramsay, one of South Africa’s most prominent performers, received her award for her roles in Miss Dietrich Regrets and Doubt. Her co-star in Doubt, Janna Ramos-Violante, won the Best Supporting Actress award.
Another exciting ‘first’ for the Naledi’s was the overwhelming success of Moagi Modise’s Lepatata. It won the Best Ensemble category, making South African theatrical history in the process as the first Setswana play to win a major theatre award. The play was directed by Makhaola Ndebele.
Another innovation this year by Naledi’s Executive Director, Dawn Lindberg, was the Lesedi Spirit of Courage Award which went to Gaynor Young, who was seriously injured during a production of the musical, Camelot at the SA State Theatre some years ago.
On winning the awards, she says: “I am overwhelmed! I am humbled at being awarded the very first Lesedi Spirit of Courage Award. Courage! That is such a noble and powerful word suggesting bravery and fearlessness. I possess neither! I am simply taking part in this wonderful thing called life. Like everyone, I have experienced downs as well as ups. I am unbelievably fortunate in that my life is surrounded by love. And that has made all the difference.”
Top honours this year went to Lara Foot’s magnificent staging of Fishers of Hope (4 awards), including Best Production of a Play. The dark musical Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street won three awards, and Nataniël’s innovative musical After Animals took home five awards. Janice Honeyman’s effervescent musical Sister Act garnered three awards, and Greg Homann’s thought-provoking Alan Paton drama, A Voice I Cannot Silence, also walked away with three awards.
Ralph Lawson, who portrayed controversial author and poet Alan Paton in Cry the Beloved Country, took the top acting accolade for Best Lead Performance in a Play (Male). Bright new face, Menzi Mkhwane, won The Brett Golden Award for Best Newcomer/Breakthrough award for the same production. Gregg Homann and Lawson also won the award for Best New SA Script.
Apart from winning the Best Production of a Play category, Fishers of Hope also provided other winners; Phillip Tipo Tindisa (Best Supporting Actor), Patrick Curtis (Best Set Design) and Grant van Ster (Best Original Choreography).
Khayelihle Dominique Gumede was named Best Director of a Play for his vivid interpretation of the evergreen Crepuscule about love across the colour line.
The versatile Jonathan Roxmouth once again shone on Naledi night, walking away with the Best Performance in a Musical award for his captivating lead role in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Director Steven Stead was voted Best Director of a Musical/Revue for this production, which also received The Joan Brickhill Award for Best Production of a Musical Sponsored by Carolyn Steyn.
Veteran musical maestro, Nataniël, once again stunned audiences with his out-of-the-box production of After Animals, which received a host of technical awards. These were for Best Lighting Design (Kevin Stannet), Best Sound Design (Larry Pullen) and Best AV/Animation (JanHendrik Burger), and the Best Score/ Arrangement/ Adaptation, while the award for Best Costume Designer went to Floris Louw.
Sister Act allowed singer and actress Candida Mosoma to show her true mettle and she danced off with Best Performance in a Musical, while Rowan Bakker, no stranger to award ceremonies, won Best Musical Director. Phumi Mncayi was named Best Support/Featured Performance for her part in Sister Act.
The award for Best Production for Children (0-12) (Supported by Assitej SA) went to Shrek, The Musical JR, which was staged by Jill Girard and Keith Smith’s People’s Theatre, while Making Mandela took the honours in the Best Production for Young Audiences (13-17) (Supported by Assitej SA) category.
Gamelihle Bovana was recognised for his performance in James and the Giant Peach and received an award for Best Performance in a Childrens’ Theatre Production (Supported by Assitej SA).
Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny received the Best Production: Cutting Edge nod for writer and co-director Craig Morris.
At this year’s glittering ceremony, Lifetime Achievement Awards were given posthumously to the late Taliep Petersen and to Cape Town’s illustrious entertainer Alvon Collison, while the World Impact Award went to the internationally renowned acapella group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Thembi Mtshali, who has made a vast contribution to the arts over the years, and in particular to the empowerment of women, was given the Executive Director’s Award.
Executive Director, Dawn Lindberg, says of this year’s awards: “The standard of excellence gets higher and higher each year, making the judges’ job of selecting winners almost tortalogical; ALL the nominees are winners in our eyes!”
“The panel sees over 70 productions each year, with over 300 nominees on the list of excellence,” says Lindberg. “Judging takes place over several days with everyone on the panel allowed space to debate and discuss each and every of the 27 categories. The final votes are by secret ballot and verified by Zeridium.”
“The process of seeing, analysing and assessing all professional productions staged in Gauteng during each year is a full-time job which is not always acknowledged,” Lindberg continues. “Lack of sufficient financial support from Government and commercial sponsors is a constant battle, but Naledi is proud to be internationally recognised as the bench mark of excellence in SA live theatre.”
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Janna Ramos-Violante, Doubt
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Phillip Tipo Tindisa, Fishers of Hope
BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN (Supported by Assitej SA) (0 – 12): Shrek, The Musical. JR. Prod. by People’s Theatre. Based on book by William Steig, Dir. by Jill Girard & Keith Smith.
BEST PRODUCTION FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES (Supported by Assitej SA) (13 – 17) Making Mandela, Prod. by KBT Productions & Hello Elephant in ass. with the SA State Theatre & Daphne Kuhn for the A&G Theatre on the Square. Written & Dir. by Nick Warren & Jenine Collocott.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A CHILDRENS’ THEATRE PRODUCTION: Gamelihle Bovana, James and The Giant Peach
BEST NEWCOMER/BREAKTHROUGH (The Brett Goldin Award) Sponsored by Distell: Menzi Mkhwane, A Voice I Cannot Silence
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Floris Louw, After Animals
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN (Sponsored by Robe Lighting): Kevin Stannet, After Animals
BEST AV / ANIMATION: JanHendrik Burger, After Animals
BEST SET DESIGN (Sponsored by Dreamsets): Patrick Curtis, Fishers of Hope
BEST SOUND DESIGN (Sponsored by DWR Distribution): Larry Pullen, After Animals BEST SCORE / ARRANGEMENT / ADAPTATION: Nataniël, After Animals
BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Rowan Bakker, Sister Act
BEST PRODUCTION: CUTTING EDGE: Johnny Boskak Is Feeling Funny, Written by Greig Coetzee, Co-Dir. by Roslyn Wood-Morris & Craig Morris.
BEST ENSEMBLE: Lepatata, Prod. by Market Theatre & Windybrow Theatre. Written by Moagi Modise, Dir. by Makhaola Ndebele.
BEST ORGINAL CHOREOGRAPHY: Grant van Ster, Fishers of Hope
BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL / REVUE: Steven Stead, Sweeney Todd
BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY: Khayelihle Dom Gumede, Crepuscule
BEST SUPPORT/FEATURED PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL: Phumi Mncayi, Sister Act
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL (FEMALE): Candida Mosoma, Sister Act
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL (MALE): Jonathan Roxmouth, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY (FEMALE): Fiona Ramsay, Miss Dietrich Regrets | Fiona Ramsay, Doubt
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY (MALE): Ralph Lawson, A Voice I Cannot Silence
BEST NEW SA SCRIPT: A Voice I Cannot Silence. Prod. by Arts Trust of SA (ATSA). Written by Greg Homann & Ralph Lawson, Dir. by Greg Homann.
BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY: Fishers of Hope, Prod. by the Baxter Theatre Centre & Mopo Productions in ass. with the SA State Theatre. Written & Dir. by Lara Foot.
BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL (THE JOAN BRICKHILL AWARD): Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Prod. by Pieter Toerien & Kickstart by arr. with DALRO (Pty) Ltd. Written by Hugh Wheeler, Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Dir. by Steven Stead.
LESEDI SPIRIT OF COURAGE AWARD: Gaynor Young
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S AWARD: Thembi Mtshali
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Taliep Petersen (Posthumous)
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Alvon Collison
WORLD IMPACT AWARD: Ladysmith Black Mambazo
THE SOPHIE MCINGA EMERGING VOICE AWARD (SPONSORED BY THE MARKET THEATRE 40TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY): Thandazile ‘Sonia’ Radebe.