Nominations for the 39th City of Newcastle Drama Awards revealed ahead of 2017 event night

Celebrate success: Finalists James Tolhurst, CONDA artistic director Rachelle Schmidt Adnum and finalists Dan Wilson and Amy Wilde. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
Celebrate success: Finalists James Tolhurst, CONDA artistic director Rachelle Schmidt Adnum and finalists Dan Wilson and Amy Wilde. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

MUSICALS Les Miserables and Mary Poppins have been named major players in the upcoming City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDAS), where each has received 11 nominations.

Judges Shane Bransdon, Michael Cooper, Michelle Gosper, Carl Gregory and Ken Longworth said 25 Lower Hunter theatre companies and staging groups were represented among the 39 shows selected for 126 nominations.

Ken Longworth, CONDA’s judging committee chairman and one of the founding members of the panel, believes that the long list of nominations was a testament to the quality of Newcastle theatre, a trend that has been growing in recent years.

“The quality of theatre in the Newcastle and Lower Hunter areas is just amazing, it just gets better and better and it makes it very hard when we have our judging sessions to pick the winners,” Mr Longworth said. “It’s great to have that situation though because it means that people going to the theatre have a fantastic list of selections.”

“Since the CONDAs have been introduced, things have gotten more interesting and unusual and the quality that performing artists here in Newcastle come up with is amazing. It does make choosing the winners very hard because there’s so many different style shows that are all quite good.”

Mr Longworth revealed that the winners are always difficult to choose behind the scenes, and that the judges often take a long time through discussion and talks to pick the eventual top honours.

“Some people say that it’s about the nominations, but that’s not necessarily so,” Mr Longworth said. “When we have our judging sessions we (the CONDA judges) all have very lively discussions about each of the nominations, and we have to sort out all the difference choices from there.”

“It’s a complicated process that’s just made harder because of the fantastic choices that get brought to us. I think that it’s more than just a nice award, so we want to make sure that we name the best of the nominees. There’s been so many amazing entries since 1979.”

Overall, 63 shows were entered for consideration across the 22 award categories, with musicals the clear stand-outs. Eight different shows are also in line for the Best Musical Production CONDA, including two stagings of Rent that each collected five nominations.

The 39th annual CONDA Awards night will include the presentation of the CONDA Inc Award for Outstanding Achievement & Contribution to Theatre, and will be held at Wests New Lambton on December 2.

250 tickets were made available for the event at Wests, and as of Tuesday, November 14 less than 50 tickets are available to purchase. Remaining tickets are available online at proticket.com.au or on 4935 1200.

IMPRESSIVE: Rachel Parish, Chris Maxfield and Stephanie Priest in Metropolitan Players Les Miserables

IMPRESSIVE: Rachel Parish, Chris Maxfield and Stephanie Priest in Metropolitan Players Les Miserables

CONDA Nominations

Best Dramatic Production

  • The Crucible, Lindsay Street Players, in association with Young People’s Theatre 
  • The Diary of Anne Frank, Maitland Repertory Theatre 
  • Grace, Knock and Run Theatre
  • Picnic, Newcastle Theatre Company

Best Musical Production

  • Blood Brothers, Newcastle Theatre Company
  • Don Giovanni, Opera Hunter
  • Heathers: The Musical, WEA Hunter Academy of Creative Arts
  • Les Miserables, Metropolitan Players
  • Mary Poppins, St Philip’s Christian College
  • You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Young People’s Theatre
  • Rent, Hunter Drama
  • Rent, Pantseat Performing Arts

Best Special Theatrical Event

  • Mapping the Lake, Tantrum Youth Arts, in partnership with Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery
  • Micro Theatre Festival 2017, Micro Theatre Pty Ltd 
  • Star Struck – Shine On, Public Schools New South Wales

Best New Play or Musical Written for a Newcastle Company

  • Do Your Parents Know You’re Straight?, by Riley McLean (Eclectic Productions)
  • Festive Spirit, by Sally Davies (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Home, created by the ensemble: Sara Barlow, Thomas Lonsdale, Roger Ly, Meghan Mills, Meg O’Hara, Taylor Reece, Stephanie Rochet-Cuevas, Alexandra Rose, Rosie Scanlan, Clare Todorovitch, Phoebe Turnbull. (Tantrum Youth Arts, in collaboration with PACT)
  • Mrs Monacelli’s Christmastime Spectacular, by Theo Rule (The Grainery Theatre)
  • Post, by Jerry Bowden and Ann Croger (Upstage Theatre, in partnership with The Lock-Up)

Excellence by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Drama or Comedy

  • Lindsay Carr, Inherit the Wind (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Mitchell Cox, The Crucible (Lindsay Street Players, in association with Young People’s Theatre)
  • Derek Fisher, Love’s Labour’s Lost (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Mathew Lee, Grace (Knock&Run Theatre)
  • Kris McCord, Picnic (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Richard Murray, Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Jerry Ray, The Age of Consent (Two Tall Theatre)
  • Ian Robinson, The Diary of Anne Frank (Maitland Repertory Theatre)  

Excellence by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Drama or Comedy

  • Katy Carruthers, Inherit the Wind (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Janet Gillam, Neighbourhood Watch (Stooged Theatre)
  • Samantha Lambert, Grace (Knock&Run Theatre)
  • Sally Smith, Picnic (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Amy Wilde, The Age of Consent (Two Tall Theatre)

Excellence by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Liam Bird, Rent (Pantseat Performing Arts)
  • Chris Maxfield, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)
  • Conagh Punch, Heathers: The Musical (WEA Hunter Academy of Creative Arts)
  • Jarrod Sansom, Chicago: The Musical (Theatre on Brunker and Novocastrian Players)
  • Alex Sefton, Don Giovanni (Opera Hunter)
  • Marty Worrall, Rent (Hunter Drama)

Excellence by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Renee Berger, Daddy-O, Don’t You Dare: Channeling Peggy Lee (David Baker and The Royal Exchange)
  • Jacquelyn King, Blood Brothers (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Konstanze Koedam, Heathers: The Musical (WEA Hunter Academy of Creative Arts)
  • Konstanze Koedam, Rent (Pantseat Performing Arts)

Excellence by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Tristan Entwhistle, Don Giovanni (Opera Hunter)
  • David Geise, Rent (Hunter Drama)
  • Chris Henderson, The Diary of Anne Frank (Maitland Repertory Theatre)
  • Michael Nolan, The Vicar of Dibley (DAPA)
  • Simon Redhead, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)

Excellence by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Katy Carruthers, Bed (Pencil Case Productions)
  • Katy Carruthers, Picnic (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Alison Cox, Picnic (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Karen Lantry, Post (Upstage Theatre, in partnership with The Lock-Up)
  • Stephanie Priest, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)
  • Maddie Richards, Blood Brothers (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Stephanie Rochet-Cuevas, Home (Tantrum Youth Arts, in collaboration with PACT)
  • Marissa Saroca, Rent (Hunter Drama)

Excellence by a Male Actor Under 18

  • Mikali Anagnostis, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)
  • Declan Dowling, Catch Me If You Can (Hunter School of the Performing Arts)
  • Ned Keogh, The Hoarders Next Door (Aspire: Catholic Schools Office)
  • Oliver MacFadyen, Bed (Pencil Case Productions)
  • Hamish Pickering, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)
  • Nicholas Thoroughgood, One Man, Two Guvnors (Hunter School of the Performing Arts)

Excellence by a Female Actor Under 18

  • Phoebe Bayliss, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)
  • Alexandra Jensen, The Crucible (Lindsay Street Players, in association with Young People’s Theatre)
  • Rose Lancaster, The Hoarders Next Door (Aspire: Catholic Schools Office)
  • Abbey Matt, The Diary of Anne Frank (Maitland Repertory Theatre)  
  • Maxine Mueller, Picnic (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Zoe Walker, Heathers: The Musical (WEA Hunter Academy of Creative Arts) 
  • Jordan Warner, The Crucible (Lindsay Street Players, in association with Young People’s Theatre)
  • Caitlin Weld, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)

Best Ensemble Acting

  • All in the Timing, Stooged Theatre
  • Festive Spirit, Newcastle Theatre Company
  • The Golden Antelope, Footlice Theatre Company 
  • Les Miserables, Metropolitan Players 
  • Love and Information, Stooged Theatre 
  • Mary Poppins, St Philip’s Christian College 
  • Picnic, Newcastle Theatre Company
  • Seussical KIDS, Hunter Drama

Excellence by a Director (Drama or Comedy)

  • Julie Black, Picnic (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Janie Gibson, Home (Tantrum Youth Arts, in collaboration with PACT)
  • Merilyn Hey, The Golden Antelope (Footlice Theatre Company)
  • Richard Murray, Love’s Labour’s Lost (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Guil Noronha and Lesley Coombes, The Diary of Anne Frank (Maitland Repertory Theatre)
  • Nicholas Thoroughgood, The Crucible (Lindsay Street Players, in association with Young People’s Theatre)
  • Amy Wilde, Dropped (Two Tall Theatre)
  • John Wood, Grace (Knock&Run Theatre)

Excellence by a Director (Musical)

  • Julie Black, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)
  • Lia Bundy, Heathers: The Musical (WEA Hunter Academy of Creative Arts)
  • Cassie Hamilton and Riley McLean, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (Young People’s Theatre)
  • Riley McLean, Rent (Pantseat Performing Arts)
  • Adelle Richards, Blood Brothers (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Robert Stuart, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)

Excellence by a Musical Director or Vocal Director

  • Lindy Connett, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)
  • Brent Hanson, Rent (Pantseat Performing Arts)
  • Susan Hart, Don Giovanni (Opera Hunter)
  • Greg Paterson, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)
  • Bruce Rowlett, Catch Me If You Can (Hunter School of the Performing Arts)
  • Daniel Wilson, Rent (Hunter Drama)
  • Daniel Wilson, Star Struck – Shine On (Public Schools New South Wales)

Excellence by a Choreographer

  • Eva-Marie Irwin and Natalie Baker, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)
  • Timothy Shaw, Singin’ in the Rain (Hunter Drama) 

Excellence in Costume Design

  • Leilani Boughton, Peter Pan (Maitland Repertory Theatre)
  • Jen Ellicott, Love’s Labour’s Lost (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Bev Fewins, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)
  • Dianne Garred, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)
  • Melanie Hunt, Seussical KIDS (Hunter Drama)
  • Coralie Lewis and Amanda Buck, Don Giovanni (Opera Hunter)
  • Chelsea Willis and Michelle Horswood, Cats: Abridged (Young People’s Theatre)

Excellence in Hair, Make-up and Wigs

  • Rochelle Carpenter, Seussical KIDS (Hunter Drama)
  • George Francis, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)
  • Claire Thomas, Cats: Abridged (Young People’s Theatre)

Excellence in Set and Props Design

  • Graeme Black and Donna Nipperess, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)
  • Leilani Boughton, Jane Johns and Helen Hopcroft, Peter Pan (Maitland Repertory Theatre)
  • Matthew Lockyer, Picnic (Newcastle Theatre Company)
  • Guil Noronha, The Diary of Anne Frank (Maitland Repertory Theatre)
  • Lucy Shepherd, Home (Tantrum Youth Arts, in collaboration with PACT)
  • Nicholas Thoroughgood and Amy Hill, The Crucible (Lindsay Street Players, in association with Young People’s Theatre)
  • Two Tall Ensemble, Dropped (Two Tall Theatre)

Excellence in Lighting and Audio Visual Design

  • Scott Allan, Post (Upstage Theatre, in partnership with The Lock-Up)
  • Lyndon Buckley, Mary Poppins (St Philip’s Christian College)
  • Jacob Harwood, Les Miserables (Metropolitan Players)
  • Guil Noronha, Vic Thompson and Lesley Coombes, The Diary of Anne Frank (Maitland Repertory Theatre)
  • Alex Waye, The Crucible (Lindsay Street Players, in association with Young People’s Theatre)

Excellence in Sound Design

  • Heath Anderson and Scott Eveleigh, Love and Information (Stooged Theatre)
  • Huw Jones, Home (Tantrum Youth Arts, in collaboration with PACT)
  • John Wood, Grace (Knock&Run Theatre)