So here they are; I’ve made my decisions! The standard of so-called amateur theatre in Colchester is always high, and this year is no exception! I agonised over a couple of categories, but here, for one final standing ovation, are:
BEST PLAY PRODUCTION
The York Realist, Headgate Theatre Productions
An excellent choice of play for the venue, superb set and technical achievement, and sublime acting from every cast member.
BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION
Funny Girl, Platform Musicals
I thought I had decided this category, then this late entrant smashed it out of the park! I am in total admiration of anyone gifted enough to sing, dance and act, and this was a show of triple threats!
Ben Maythem in Things I Know To Be True, Colchester Theatre Group
In a highly contested category, Ben is awarded it for his beautiful, sensitive performance as a man transitioning. He was also outstanding in Kiss Of The Spiderwoman at Gallery Players in Ipswich, a phenomenal actor.
Lily Chase for Things I Know To Be True
For reasons similar to Best Actor, in the same challenging play, Lily handled the emotional content of being a Mum to a dysfunctional family with conviction and grace.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Finlay Dennis as Tootles in Peter Pan, Chameleon’s Webb
A beautiful twist on this Lost Boy was provided by writer James Potter, and Finlay inhabited that and the role beautifully and showed great comedy chops!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Horn for Mother in The York Realist
The whole ensemble acted this play superbly, but Jennifer really got the subtlety of the role- does she really know her son is gay and cannot be open in 1960s Britain? There were enough hints in this finely judged performance.
Brooke Parratt for The Mill on the Floss, Headgate Young Company
Beautifully inventive, well-paced, and clearly an inspiration for her young cast. I loved the adaptation; the devising and inclusion of the whole ensemble was a joy to watch.
BEST MUSICAL THEATRE ACTRESS
Helen Mc Craw as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Platform Musicals
Barely off stage, Helen owned the lead role, singing, dancing, and acting superbly, and also demonstrating what a superb comedienne she is. I’m sure more awards will follow!
BEST MUSICAL THEATRE ACTOR
Matt Jewson as Gomez Addams in the Addams Family Musical, Headgate Theatre Productions
Just outstanding and hitting the comedy timing perfectly, he felt like the Daddy of the family, a joy to watch!
Every year, I like to acknowledge an aspect of the local theatre scene that may be overlooked. This year, I’m awarding it to Colchester Arts Centre. It’s not just a music venue; although the year feels like it’s gone in a Blur, they host terrific theatre, particularly in the Wonderful Wednesdays, where you pay what you can to see something you may not normally book to see. Also, the entire staff are awesome!
So, there we have it, and as the curtain comes down on another terrific theatre year, have a wonderful festive time, and here’s to happy theatre going 2024!
Paul T. Davies