BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN theatre company KickstArt failed to win a Naledi Award last night for its 2019 touring production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, but the show’s star, Kate Normington, collected a Best Actress in a Musical Naledi for her role as The Witch in the clever production. Also, the musical, nominated for 12 Naledis, took the award for Best Musical Director, Drew Bakker.
The awards, recognising outstanding shows staged in Gauteng last year, were presented live online last night.
Marc Lottering was named as Best Actor in a Musical for his hilarious title role in his original Aunty Merle the Musical, while the award for Best Musical went to Angola Camp 13. The award for best play and best new South African script went to Xova, while named as Best Actor in a play was Sven Ruygrok as the tormented teenager in Equus. There was a tie for Best Actress in a Play, the awards going to Lynita Crofford as Alice B Toklas and Shirley Johnston as as Gertrude Stein in Gertude Stein and a Companion.
All the award-winners are listed at the end of this article.
Last year proved to be another exceptional year in South African theatre history. “What has been particularly wonderful to see, is the continued high standard of home-grown work being presented” said Naledi chairperson, Kgomotso Christopher. “With the additional categories under review and the expanded panels covering six genres, we have been able to acknowledge and reward world class excellence in Theatre, across the board.”
Executive Director/Legal, Lihan Pretorius, added” “Whilst we held out as long as possible to see if a live event would be possible during this strange year, we were thrilled that we were able to join the trend and go online with the awards. A special thank you goes to Adcock Ingram OTC Sponsors of Brave, The South African State Theatre, the Market Theatre, the Weekly Mail & Guardian, Dan Stillerman of the Excel Academy, Lungile Michael Themba of Nal’ithemba Productions and our long term technical partner, Alistair Kilby of Splitbeam, all of whom made this memorable event possible.”
“Whilst we missed the glittering social event that personifies the awards, we were thrilled to include fabulous entertainment in this year’s event,” said Dawn Lindberg, CEO and artistic director of the Naledis.
This included a spectacular item from Chicago, performed by Sam Peo and Carmen Pretorius, the finale of Don Quixote performed by Shannon Glover and Ruan Galdino, There’s a Fine, Fine Line from Loving You; Kate Normington singing Children will Listen from Into the Woods, and You Can Call Me Al from the sell-out show, Here’s to You.
The ceremony’s In Memoriam section was particularly moving this year, said Lindberg – “Not only in honouring so many beloved people in our industry who gave their final bows during the year under review, such as Mary Twala and Johnny Clegg, but also because the images were accompanied by the Roedean choir performing Hallelujah, under the critically acclaimed Ralf Schmitt.”
Special Awards included the Lesedi Spirit of Courage Award (given to a leading dancer from the Vuyani Dance Theatre company, Musa Motha, who lost a leg 12 years ago after a virulent cancer of the bone.
The Innovation in Theatre Award went to Rudi Sadler and Johan van der Merwe for their cutting-edge one on one productions in site specific venues, Deurnis, while the Technical Life Time Achievement Awards were made to Graham Brune, veteran retired stage manager of the Lyric Theatre, and Stan Knight, who designed lighting and sets for some 120 productions over the past few decades.
The Life Time Achievement Award was given to multi-talented Annabel Linder, who has spent almost 60 years in the industry, and the World Impact Award went to one of the most respected and loved playwrights in the world, Athol Fugard.
The full list of winners of the 2020 Naledi Awards for productions staged in 2019 are:
BEST PRODUCTION OF MUSICAL: ANGOLA CAMP 13
BEST PLAY: XOVA
BEST NEW SA SCRIPT: XOVA
BEST DIRECTOR OF MUSICAL: SELLO AMOS MASEKO – ANGOLA CAMP13
BEST DIRECTOR OF PLAY: JOSEPH KOMANI – XOVA
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE IN MUSICAL (MALE) : MARC LOTTERING as Auntie Merle – AUNTIE MERLE THE MUSICAL
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE IN MUSICAL (FEMALE): KATE NORMINGTON as The Witch – INTO THE WOODS
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE IN PLAY (MALE): SVEN RUYGROK as Alan Strang – EQUUS
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE IN PLAY (FEMALE): Joint winners: LYNITA CROFFORD as Alice B Toklas and SHIRLEY JOHNSTON as Gertrude Stein – GERTRUDE STEIN AND A COMPANION
BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE: BILLY LANGA as Narrator – TSWALO
BEST SUPPORT/FEATURED PERFORMANCE IN MUSICAL (MALE): CRAIG URBANI as DENNIS – ROCK OF AGES
BEST SUPPORT/FEATURED PERFORMANCE IN MUSICAL (female): MARLEE VAN DER MERWE as URSULA KOEKEMOER – ASPOESTERTJIE
BEST SUPPORT/FEATURED PERFORMANCE IN PLAY (MALE): YAMIKANI MAHAKA-PHIRI as MR M – MY CHILDREN MY AFRICA!
BEST SUPPORT/FEATURED PERFORMANCE IN PLAY (FEMALE): ZIMKHITA NYOKA as THOZAMA – XOVA
BEST ENSEMBLE: ANGOLA CAMP 13
BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR: DREW BAKKER – INTO THE WOODS
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE/ADAPTATION/ARR: CROMWELL MODISE MODUNGWA – ANGOLA CAMP 13
BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: MDUDUZI VINCENT NHLAPO – ANGOLA CAMP 13
BEST BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: ANN MASINA – VENUS VS MODERNITY
BEST SOUND DESIGN/SOUNDSCAPE: BLESSING JIYANE – ANGOLA CAMP 13
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN: OLIVER HAUSER – METAMORPHOSIS
BEST COSTUME/PROPS DESIGN: KOKETSO KEKANA – XOVA
BEST SET DESIGN: UJ DESIGN ACADEMY, MENTORED BY PROF SARAH ROBERTS – METAMORPHOSIS
BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN & YOUNG AUDIENCES (0-16): TINY THE TOKOLOSHE & OTHER AFRICAN TALES
BEST PERFORMANCE IN PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG AUDIENCES (0-16): ROBERTO POMBO as WILLY WONKA & NARRATOR in CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
BEST CONTEMPORARY DANCE/BALLET: CION: REQUIEM OF RAVEL’S BOLERO
BEST INDEPENDENT/FRINGE: NO EASTER SUNDAY FOR QUEERS
BEST TERTIARY/INCUBATOR PRODUCTION: ECLIPSED