Geelong’s inaugural Theatre Awards Night, held at Drysdale’s Potato Shed on Sunday November 26, 2017 was a night to remember.
It was hosted by this website’s editor and chief reviewer Colin Mockett, who declared the evening ‘as remarkable for its goodwill as it was for its glamour’.
The venue had been rejigged for the occasion, with traditional award-night touches, decorations and a media wall for photographs. But given this trimming, the event was low-key and low-cost for participants.
Representatives from nine Geelong regional theatre companies - plus plenty of unaffiliated theatricals - were seated at company tables, cabaret-style, that rose from the floor into the theatre’s risers. But it didn’t take long before members of the groups began mingling.
Many people remarked that this was probably the first occasion Geelong’s theatricals had assembled together - ever.
The initial foyer entertainment was low-key, from solo violinist Matiss Schubert, who played as people found their bearings or were posed before the media wall by our professional media photographer.
The evening began with a breakdown from MC Colin revealing that the Geelong region’s 33 theatre companies staged upwards of 60 different productions annually, bringing more than $2 million to the region’s economy. This could be doubled if tourism benefits were added - when, for example, theatregoers bought pre-show meals or built a weekend’s stay around attending a show.
‘So you, Ladies and gentlemen, are significant players in the region’s economy...’
Before the awards ceremony began, there was a moving moment when Theatre Of Winged Unicorn’s founder Elaine Mitchell was inducted into the Geelong Theatre Hall Of Fame. This drew warm and sustained applause. Elaine wasn’t there in person - she was suffering a sore throat and loss of voice, so ToWU’s Georgia Chara accepted on her behalf, a framed replica of the Hall Of Fame entry from Cr Stephanie Asher. Georgia made a moving speech crediting Elaine’s mentorship as beneficial to her own career.
As a lead-in to the evening’s non-musical Awards, Bryan Eaton presented a fragment from Geelong Rep’s first play for 2017, Quartet, with MC Colin remarking ‘following that opening play we all knew that we were in for a season of rare promise.’
He announced that the brand new awards were in the form of slim, free-standing black picture frames containing all the information and named after Geelong-born theatrical Oscar Asche, who was a world star in the early years of the 20th Century.
Fitting with the evening’s ‘glamour at a budget price’ theme, the ceremony had just one celebrity - Cr Stephanie - who bestowed the first award.
After that, each recipient became an ‘instant celebrity’ reading out the nominees, and handing over the next award. This system kept the ceremony moving along at a brisk pace.
Following the last non-musical award, the ‘Best Production In Geelong’, there was a short break in proceedings, before a surprise guest appearance from Geelong-born musical star Amy Lepamer, speaking from her dressing room in Sydney’s Lyric Theatre before taking the stage to appear in ‘Beautiful - The Carole King Musical’.
As a lead-in to the Geelong Musical Theatre Awards, songstress Shandelle McGennisken delivered a neat, jazz-flavoured take on the classic Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
In all, the evening saw 22 awards bestowed and a great deal of goodwill shared.
The general consensus was that the low-cost high-glamour concept was a winner and that the evening had been a glittering addition to the region’s theatrical calendar.
See all the winners and nominees for Geelong’s 2017
Non-Musical Theatre Awards HERE.
See all the winners and nominees for Geelong’s 2017 Musical Theatre Awards HERE.