All the winners at The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards

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WHILE KickStArt Theatre Company walked off with the lion’s share of the prizes at The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Monday, November 23, this year’s event also saw a host of new talent picking up awards.

Steven Stead, KickStArt’s artistic director, picked up directing awards for Aladdin, Shrek The Musical and Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, and his partner, Greg King, was rewarded with the prizes for set and costume design for Aladdin and Jeeves and Wooster, respectively.

KickStArt also won prizes for children’s theatre production for Aladdin, musical theatre production for Shrek The Musical and drama/comedy for Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense.

Speaking about Aladdin, Stead said: “The pantomime is always a great pleasure to produce every year. It’s also a lot of hard work, but so worthwhile… We started doing pantos in 2004 and we are now rehearsing for our 10th panto [Puss in Boots] and 12th festive season production, but I have to say that Aladdin really pushed us out of our comfort zone!”

Another show which proved challenging was Shrek The Musical. “It takes a particular kind of stupid courage to decide to put on a Broadway show like this on a much smaller stage,” said Stead. “I want to thank Greg for creating such a special set and the cast who worked like Trojans … Lyle [Buxton] and Rory [Booth] you guys really worked!”

Stead also thanked Pieter Torien for getting the rights to Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense and then persuading them to put it on the stage.

He added that he and King were honoured to have been nominated alongside their fellow nominees. “All the productions nominated this year are of a very high quality. I have huge respect for all the people who made them happen – keep doing it!,” Stead said.

Among the night’s other big winners was Mashu The Musical, written by playwright, Lucky Cele, and directed by Themi Venturas. The musical tells a moving yet harrowing tale of the trials and tribulations of two brothers who are caught up in the madness that shattered the lives of the people of KwaMashu in the mid-90s.

Cele, who won for choreography, described the awards –  which included one for  Sergeant Malishe for musical direction and another for Samkelisiwe Hlope for supporting actress – as amazing.

Also winning three awards on the night was The Working Man, written by Sboniso Msimango and directed by Brandon Moulder,


which depicts the life story of Sipho, a young man who dreams of becoming a dancer but is pressured by both the community in which he lives and by his father, to work in the mines because that’s what a “real man” does.

Both Nqobile Mthembu, who was named best newcomer – female, and Mfundiseni Ndwalane, who won the award for best newcomer – male, were shocked and delighted by the news. Sboniso Msimango, who won best supporting actor (drama/comedy) summed up their feelings when he said: “This is really big for us… thanks must go to Brandon for making this work a reality.”

Mariztburg-born playwright Clinton Marius and the team at CopyDog Productions, were also celebrating. Marius took home the award for new South African script for the acclaimed one-hander, B!#ch Stole My Doek, and it’s star, Shona Johnson, received the awards for comedic performance – female and lead actress.

Marius said: “Of all the categories this is one I coveted… but none of this would have been possible without the force of nature that is the incredible actress Shona Johnson!”

Other winners on the night included Nhlakanipho Manqele, who won for lead actor in children’s theatre for his work in Skunkpoomery. Accepting his prize he thanked director Ralph Lawson for giving him the chance to do a second children’s show and his wife, “who saw me showing my undies in public and is still married to me!”

Maritzburg-born Caitlin Kilburn, nominated for her work in Snoopy The Musical and a winner for supporting actress in Aladdin said: “This is very cool. Thank you to the judges panel, and Steven and Greg and the KickStArt team for consistently producing shows of this calibre.

“And a special thank you to my parents for all their support. They have always said: ‘Do what makes you happy.’ And that is very special.”

This year’s awards saw 27 productions, presented during the period October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015, up for nomination. Although fewer productions were considered by the judges this year, the quality and number of new works was great news for the local theatre industry.

The awards evening included a slam poetry performance by Iain ‘ Ewok’ Robinson accompanied by young dancers, choreographed by Janine Bennewith, and music from Rory Booth, a winner for his work in Aladdin, who sang Stand By Me.

Madala Kunene_photo supplied

Madala Kunene received the Monica Fairall Memorial Trust award. Photo: Supplied

  • The full list of winners is below:
  • Poster Design: Artworks Communications – Skungpoomery.
  • Sound Design: Stephanie Pais – Shrek The Musical.
  • Lighting Design: Tina le Roux – Shrek The Musical.
  • Costume Design: Greg King – Aladdin.
  • Set Design: Greg King – Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense.
  • New Performer – Female: Nqobile Mthembu – The Working Man.
  • New Performer – Male: Mfundiseni Ndwalane – The Working Man
  • Supporting Actress: Caitlin Kilburn – Aladdin.
  • Supporting Actor: Rory Booth – Aladdin.
  • Lead Actress: Georgina Mabbett – Aladdin.
  • Lead Actor: Nhlakanipho Manqele – Skungpoomery.
  • Director: Steven Stead – Aladdin.
  • Production: Aladdin – KickstArt.
  • Choreography: Lucky Cele – Mashu The Musical.
  • Performer: Music Revue/Cabaret: Lisa Bobbert and Aaron McIlroy – Defending the Planet #2.
  • Supporting Actress: Musical Theatre: Samkelisiwe Hlophe – Mashu The Musical.
  • Supporting Actor: Jacobus van Heerden –  Shrek The Musical.
  • Lead Actress: Jessica Sole – Shrek The Musical.
  • Lead Actor: Musical Theatre: Lyle Buxton – Shrek The Musical.
  • Musical Director: Sergeant Malishe – Mashu The Musical.
  • Director: Steven Stead – Shrek The Musical.
  • Music Revue Production: Defending the Planet #2 – MacBob Productions.
  • Musical Theatre Production: Shrek The Musical – KickstArt.
  • New South African Script: Clinton Marius – B!#ch stole my doek.
  • Supporting Actress: Danica Delaray – Secret Valley of Great Kings.
  • Supporting Actor: Sboniso Msimango – The Working Man.
  • Comedic Performance by a Female: Shona Johnson- B!#ch stole my doek.
  • Comedic Performance by a Male: Robert Fridjhon – Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense.
  • Lead Actress: Shona Johnson – B!#ch stole my doek.
  • Lead Actor: Graham Hopkins – Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense.
  • Director: Steven Stead – Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense.
  • Production: Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense – KickstArt in association with Pieter Toerien Productions.
  • The Monica Fairall Memorial Award: Madala Kunene.
  • Judges Award: Tiki Nxumalo (posthumous award).
  • The Mercury Theatre Personality of the Year Award: Aaron McIlroy.

The Judging Panel includes Stavros Anthias, Musa Hlatshwayo, Glynis Horning, Debbie Lutge, Sally Scott, Caroline Smart, Billy Suter, Jean van Elden and Janet Whelan. The awards are administered by Peter Taylor.



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