Cinder Finley

There was certainly a buzz of excitement in the air as Perth Community Theatre celebrated its 2015 achievements at the 41st Independent Theatre Association Robert Finley Awards.

Held for the second year at the magnificent State Theatre Centre Heath Ledger Theatre, the Community Theatre night of nights was an evening to show off the depth of talent Perth’s Community / Independent theatre scene has to offer.

The four Finley adjudicators, Kent Acott, Richard Hyde, Kerri Hilton and Pauline Lawrence saw a total of 61 productions in 2015, 36 plays and 25 musicals – an astounding feat given the size of our community theatre family across the state.

The MC for the evening, Kerri Hilton, was in fine form with many quick one liners that kept the evening bouncing along at a fine pace and the performances on the night were overall outstanding.

Opening the evening, we were treated to the visually beautiful Cinderella, the Broadway revival. The costuming was magnificent, (pic above) with an audible gasp from the audience as the curtain rose to reveal the number ’10 Minutes Ago. It is little wonder the production walked away with the Best Costumes in a Musical award. Congratulations to South West Opera Company.

Irish Theatre Players production of Big Maggie was one of the high lights of the year, and the performance on the night by Denice Byrne proved this. A beautifully paced and performed monologue had the audience transfixed. A very popular winner for Best Actress in a Play. Congratulations to Denise and the Irish Theatre Players.

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The Playlovers and Irish Theatre Players co-production of A Man of No Importance was the surprise of the year. A little known show, the season was embraced enthusiastically by the Perth public with sell out performances. The cast recreated beautifully 1964 Dublin, performing a medley of numbers – Going Up, Welcome to the World and Art and the production was a winner of numerous major awards including Best Musical. Congratulations to all involved.

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Winners of the Yvonne Hough-Neilson Award for consistent high quality of musicals, Koorliny Arts Centre, presented A Little Complex from The Musicals of Musicals. A hilarious take on Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Company, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George, the performance was slick, well-paced and expertly directed and had the audience in raptures. A brilliant way to open Act 2 of the evening.

The final performance for the night was another monologue. Susan Lynch’s performance from Melville Theatre Company’s Love, Loss and What I Wore was wonderful. Ten minutes chatting about the complexities of a handbag could have been a drag, but in Susan’s expert delivery, the moment was captivating and hilarious! Congratulations to Susan Lynch and director Vanessa Jensen.

Throughout the evening awards were presented by some of WA’s leading professional artists. A way of bridging the gap between Community and Professional theatre, Brendan Hanson, Alison Van Reeken, Benj D’addario and Caroline McKenzie were enthusiastic presenters to an obviously appreciative crowd. Thanks for giving up your time to help us celebrate our community achievements.

Congratulations must also go to the hard working team from the Independent Theatre Association for putting together a fine evening. The fantastic State Theatre Centre certainly added an element of excitement to the night and the performers all agreed that it was a huge thrill to be able to perform in that magnificent venue. Well done to all.

To all the nominees and winners, congratulations and huge thank you to the five hundred plus theatre lovers who supported the evening.

For a full list of winners and nominees please follow this link: 2015 ITA Finley Awards

Photo credit: Carline Stevenson at Sassy Snaps

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