Illawarra sweeps Canberra theatre awards

Illawarra theatre companies cleaned up at the Canberra Area Theatre (CAT) Awards over the weekend, taking out 11 gongs including best lead actor and actress, best director and best production of a musical.

Wollongong's MoonGlow productions took out six awards for its November 2013 show Hairspray, including best costume designer and best choreographer for a musical.

Lead performers Georgia Kollaras and Ron Seymour won the best actress and actor gongs for their turns as Tracy and Edna Turnblad, while Mia Agius was awarded for playing Penny Pingleton and Jordan Angelides was recognised for his portrayal of Seaweed J. Stubbs.

So Popera! theatre company, also from Wollongong, won best production and best director of a musical for its production of Avenue Q.

Director Amy Copeland said she was "humble and dumbfounded" to have won the award.

"Being in a forum like that, to have a nomination is a feat, but to be recognised alongside such wonderful talent which was in the category is ridiculous," she said.

The annual Canberra awards recognise non-professional theatre and performance in the capital and surrounding regions.

Georgia Kollaras, who was named best lead actress in a musical for her turn as Tracy Turnblad.

Ms Copeland said the weekend's swag of awards built on previous years of success for Illawarra production companies, showing the region could hold its own as a "hub of talent".

"There are so many talented individuals in the area and when we actually get together and get the chance to showcase it, is when people see just how much talent we do have in the area," she said.

"Wollongong productions took home the major, elite awards, which is really nice because it was like we swooped in to Canberra and took over."

"It's a massive feat especially when you're up against so many quality productions that companies in Canberra, Orange and Wagga put on time and time again."

Also from the Illawarra, Shellharbour's Roo Theatre won best costume design in a musical.

Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts actors Charlotte Smee and Bryson Grenfell also received youth awards for their leading roles in a musical and play.

CAT Award winners

Best costume designer for a musical

• Christine Corrin, Jennifer Bond, Lauren Cunio, Rhoda Boyce, Nyla Collis, Hairspray, MoonGlow Productions, Wollongong

• Melissa Jones and Jo Knight, The Wizard Of Oz, Roo Theatre Company, Shellharbour

Best youth actress in a leading role in a play

• Charlotte Smee, as Meg, Away, Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts

Best youth actor in a leading role in a musical

• Bryson Grenfell, as The King, The King and I, Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts

Best actor in a featured role in a musical

• Jordan Angelides as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Hairspray, MoonGlow Productions, Wollongong

Best actress in a featured role in a musical

• Mia Agius as Penny Pingleton, Hairspray, MoonGlow Productions, Wollongong

Best actor in a leading role in a musical

• Ron Seymour as Edna Turnblad, Hairspray, MoonGlow Productions, Wollongong 

Best actress in a leading role in a musical

• Georgia Kollaras as Tracy Turnblad, Hairspray, MoonGlow Productions, Wollongong 

Best choreographer for a musical or variety show

• Pauline Young, Hairspray, MoonGlow Productions, Wollongong

Best director of a musical or variety show

• Amy Copeland, Avenue Q, So Popera!, Wollongong

Best production of a musical

• Avenue Q, So Popera!, Wollongong

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