Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Not as prestigious as the Oscars, and it’s definitely not the Tonys, but for a committed group of Sydney theatre goers, their yearly awards recognising the best in live drama is as noteworthy as any other award (full list of nominees and winners below). Calling themselves the Glugs (named after the characters in a CJ Dennis poem), the group of about 80 or so meet every month, and while enjoying good food and wine, discuss the virtues of the latest show, and generally hear from a luminary of the industry.

And so it is that this year the members praised the work of those who entertained us in 2010, with many of the winners taking the time to attend. This is not an awards project determined by committee, but rather by those who love the art and support it by attending shows as often as one each week…sometimes more. There’s neither pomp nor circumstance at the awards function. No 60 piece orchestra in the pit, no elaborate staging, no burlesque opening number. Rather, seventy guests squeeze into a small conference room on Sydney’s Castlereagh St, with ceiling fans for climate control, and plastic chairs to ease weary legs. Winners bustle their way forward through ‘standing room only’ to accept their award at the front of the room. Photos are taken by mini-digital cameras, or on an iPhone. This is recognition of the craft at its most pure, and for that reason, the awards really do represent recognition by those best positioned to present them: The Audience.

Such is the night, surprises are not few and far between. Topped with fedora, blue jeans and t-shirt, The Jersey Boys’ Bobby Fox (Frankie Valli) accepted his award (Best Actor in a musical), and insisted on breaking into iOTA's Come Back for Me, inspired after hearing it performed only just the night before. Without backing, without a sound system and lit only by typical fluorescent lights, he held the room and paced the number accompanied by only the clicking of his fingers. Rapturous applause followed.

So too was recognition given to Amanda Bishop. This incredible performer, children’s TV star and political satirist was delighted to be named Best Actress in a Musical or Cabaret (the Glugs refrain from naming female performers as ‘actors’), especially when pitted against the other nominees. We await to see what more this versatile performer can deliver over the coming years.

After the presentation, guests then retired downstairs, and sans-media, consumed freshly cut sandwiches, a cheese and fruit platter along with a cash bar. Performers mixed with their judges and peers and enjoyed an early night, wrapping around 9.30pm.

There are plenty of more noteworthy awards presentations to experience in the entertainment industry, but few reflect a performer’s connection with the audience as well as these. Without prejudice or pretence, without lobbyists or publicists, the Glugs’ Awards for Excellence in the Performing Arts represent what theatre enthusiasts really think and what they really feel. And it’s a feeling of which all nominees and winners should be proud.

Results (winner in bold): 

Norman Kessell Memorial Award for best performance by an Actress/Actor:

  • Zoe Carides - Murderes (Ensemble)
  • Essie Davis - Tot Mom (STC)
  • Judi Farr - August: Osage County - Steppenwolf Theatre Company in association STC   
  • Julie Forsyth - Book of Everything (Belvoir)
  • Susie Porter - That Face (Belvoir)
  • Wayne Blair - True West  (STC)
  • Richard Roxborough - Uncle Vanya (STC)
  • Daniel Mitchell - Rain Man (Ensemble)
  • Hugo Weaving - Uncle Vanya (STC)
Jeffry Joynton-Smith Memorial Award for Best Supporting Actress/Actor:
  • Pamela Jikiemi  - The God Committee (Ensemble)
  • Alinta Chidzer - West Side Story
  • Lenore Smith - The Chronic Ills of Robert Zimmerman
  • Mitchell Butel  -  The Grenade (STC) 
  • Peter Carroll - Book of Everything (Belvoir)
  • Danny Mitchell (Brooklyn Boy)
  • Edwin Hodgman (Codgers)
  • Derek Lynch - Albert Namajerah (Belvoir)
Colleen Clifford Memorial Award for Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Cabaret -
  • Amanda Bishop - The Wharf Revue
  • Alinta Chidzer - West Side Story
  • Marika Aubrey - Red Head
  • Bobby Fox - Jersey Boys
  • Drew Forsythe - The Wharf Revue
  • Josh Piterman -   West Side Story
Most Outstanding Production:
  • Uncle Vanya - STC
  • Jersey Boys - Theatre Royal
  • Book of Everything - Belvoir
  • Rain Man - Ensemble
Hayes Gordon Memorial Award for Important Contribution to Theatre (Sponsored by Carolyn and Peter Lowry):
  • Wayne Harrison
Award for Young People's Theatre (sponsored by Rose Peterson):
  • Fox - A Monkey Baa production in association with Siren Theatre Co.
Taffy Davies Memorial Award for best new Australian Production (Sponsored by Beverley Davies):
  • Angela’s Kitchen by Paul Capsis & Julian Meyrick
 The Seaborn, Broughton and Walford Life Achievement Award:
  • Jacqueline Kott
 Chief Glug's Award (Lee Young) for Excellence Behind the Scenes:
  • Graham Maclean  (Designer)