……BY BILLY SUTER……
WITH another decade coming to an end, the BroadwayWorld website has compiled a Best of the Decade list of regional nominees in 20 categories, recognising talent and productions in South Africa over the past decade and from which the public is asked to vote.
Eligibility for The BroadwayWorld Regional Awards: South Africa is for productions which opened between 2011 and September 30, 2020, although productions from the earlier part of the decade seem to have been largely overlooked.
Voting online continues until December 31 and award recipients will be announced in January.
It is not explained on broadwayworld.com how the nominees in each category are decided but there are some glaring omissions and some distinct curiosities among the mix.
I find it hard to believe, for starters, that one of South Africa’s biggest stage stars of the past 10 years, Jonathan Roxmouth, fails to appear in a single category, even though nominations include productions in which he has starred. And where, for example, are the likes of Fiona Ramsay, Kate Normington, Charon Williams-Ros, Samantha Peo, Neil Coppen and Janna Ramos-Violante, all of whom have done much excellent work in the past decade?
Also, how can Durban’s widely acclaimed KickstArt theatre company, which features prominently among the nominees and which has toured many of its award-winning productions, not feature in the category for Theatre Company of the Decade – a category that nominates only Magnet Theatre, Pieter Toerien and Showtime Management? Unforgivable.
Still talking Durban’s KickstArt, as the company is from my hometown, how is it possible to overlook such wonderful productions as the touring successes Venus in Fur, Jeeves and Wooster, Red, Duet For One and, perhaps above all, Sweeney Todd?
Some curiosities on the list include categories for Best Pre/Post Show Dining (Restaurant) and Best Theatre Staff, but no category for Best Choreographer. Huh?
Also, some nominees for Performance of the Decade (Andrew Buckland in The Inconvenience of Wings easily wins my vote among those nominated) are very surprising. Especially so when one considers glaring oversights that instantly spring to mind – among them Gideon Lombard in Die Reuk van Appels, Didintle Khunou in The Color Purple, Janna Ramos-Violante in Venus in Fur, Marc Lottering in Aunty Merle The Musical and Jonathan Roxmouth in Sweeney Todd.
Durban does feature well, overall, with Liesl Coppin (incorrectly spelt as ‘Liezle’ on the nominations list) up for the country’s Performer of the Decade award for her supporting role as the ditzy Queen of Hearts in KickstArt’s 2019 pantomime, Alice in Wonderland.
Also nominated for Performer of the Decade is Mthokozisi Zulu, for his comic role in KickstArt’s production of The Play That Goes Wrong, while Pietermaritzburg singer-actor and dancer Jarryd Nurden is among contenders for Dancer of the Decade.
KickstArt’s Steven Stead is nominated three times for Director of a Musical of the Decade – for his 2018 reimagining of Chicago, his 2019 touring production of Into the Woods and the Durban-only musical, Camelot.
Greg King of KickstArt has the honour of having four of the eight nominations for Best Set Design of the Decade, with surprise omissions of his award-winning sets for Suddenly the Storm and The Ladykillers. His nominations are for Into the Woods, Camelot, The BFG and “various pantomimes”.
Other KickstArt productions nominated in various categories include Shrek the Musical, Charlotte’s Web, The BFG and James and the Giant Peach.
Steven Stead is a nominee for Arts Educator of the Decade, while the Durban-based Young Performers Project is nominated for Best Youth Theatre Camp/After-School Programme of the Decade.
Among other shows nominated in various categories are Chicago, Jersey Boys, Dreamgirls, West Side Story, Matilda, Kudu, Kinky Boots, Funny Girl, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Kat and the Kings, The Color Purple, King Kong, Tartuffe, Joseph and Langarm.
Also among shows nominated are The Sound of Music, Rock of Ages, Orpheus in Africa, Duck for President, The Road to Mecca, Shakespeare in Love, The Tragedy of Richard III, Danger in the Dark, My Children, My Africa and the 2013 production of The Rocky Horror Show
For the full list of nominations and an opportunity to vote for your favourites click https://www.broadwayworld.com/south-africa/voteregion.cfm