BWW Blog: Reactions to the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards Nominations
This has been a big week for South African directors, playwrights, actors and designers: the week in which the Fleur du Cap nominations were announced. Social media platforms have been awash with congratulations and thanks, and there has been the usual buzz about the prize money, the racial demographics of the nominees, which theatre netted the most nominations and the perspective from which the pool of nominees is drawn. Knowing that it was around about time for the list of nominations to be published, I had been keeping my eyes peeled for its arrival over the past ten days or so. Having taken a few days to consider who was nominated, here are my first thoughts about each of the categories. A brief disclaimer before I begin: there were some plays that I did not manage to see last year and my comments do not always reflect who I think should or will win - although, naturally, sometimes they do.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY: Albert Pretorius, James Cairns and Rob van Vuuren for THE THREE LITTLE PIGS as various characters; Brendon Daniels for ROOILAND as Adidas; Graham Hopkins for VIGIL as Kemp; Lionel Newton for THE MISER as Harpagon.
This category is interesting firstly for the single nod given to the three actors who brought the multiple characters THE THREE LITTLE PIGS to life on stage. Part of me understands the thought process behind that decision; the rest of me remembers that James Cairns was just that little bit more brilliant than Albert Pretorius and Rob van Vuuren. This kind of nomination is always a bit of a gamble: the award will either go directly to the group, or they will cancel each other out and the award will go to one of the other nominees. In the latter case, I think the race is probably between Brendon Daniels and Graham Hopkins. (Incidentally, I would have liked to see a nomination for Tshamano Sebe in "MASTER HAROLD"... AND THE BOYS in this category. Yes, Sam was a role he has played to award-winning effect, but this was a new production some 14 years on and he was excellent.)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY: Janna Ramos-Violante for VENUS IN FUR as Vanda Jordan; Jennifer Steyn for THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE as Flora "Sissy" Goforth; Kate Liquorish for MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE as Rachel Corrie; Thembi Mtshali-Jones for A WOMAN IN WAITING as various characters.
Jennifer Steyn, Jennifer Steyn, Jennifer Steyn. In any other year, who should get this award might be up for debate. But last year we saw Jennifer Steyn in THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE. Steyn was magnificent, stripping away layer after layer of emotion as she laid bare Flora's soul in the performance of a lifetime. Despite great performances from the other nominees, this is the kind of performance that would be top of the list in any season, against any other actress.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY: Atandwa Kani for THE MISER as Valere; Charlton George for ROOILAND as Pastoor; Terence Bridgett for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM as Nick Bottom and Pyramus; Wilhelm van der Walt for ROOILAND as Francie.
This category is wide open. Atandwa Kani is proving to be a more and more compelling actor as time goes by, but he is competing with universal critical adoration for ROOILAND and a high profile actor in Terence Bridgett. We shall have to see what happens.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY: Hannah Borthwick for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM as Helena; Kate Liquorish for THE MISER as Elise, daughter of Harpagon; Patricia Boyer for THE MISER as Frosine and Master Jacques; Vanessa Cooke for VIGIL as Grace.
Patricia Boyer won the Naledi for her performance in THE MISER and all things being equal, that could tip the scales in her favour. It would be great to see the award go to Kate Liquorish who really sprang back into the Capetonian consciousness with THE MISER and especially as Rachel Corrie, a performance for which she is nominated in two other categories at the Fleur du Caps this year.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW: Brendan van Rhyn for THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW as Frank-N-Furter; Grant Almirall for JERSEY BOYS as Frankie Valli; Jonathan Roxmouth for SUNSET BOULEVARD as Joe Gillis; Paul du Toit for THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW as Brad.
With some excellent performances in this category, I think that the ubiquitous media coverage of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW may keep Brendan van Rhyn's name ahead of the others when it comes to selecting the winner in this category. Grant Almirall could offer him some serious competition for a breakthrough performance in JERSEY BOYS, and both are contending with Jonathan Roxmouth's impeccable reputation as one of South Africa's foremost musical theatre performers. Paul du Toit, as great a performer as he is, just was not quite as good as his fellow nominees.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW: Angela Kilian for SUNSET BOULEVARD as Norma Desmond; Bianca le Grange for BLOOD BROTHERS as Mrs Johnstone; Jenny Stead for THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW as Janet; Taryn Sudding FOR NOEL AND GERTIE as Gertrude Lawrence.
Angela Kilian should have this award in the bag. Norma Desmond is a more complex role than the other three roles in this category and she was fantastic in the role, even if ideally I would prefer a Norma with a more robust belt. But... it could have been Bianca le Grange's award under a director for BLOOD BROTHERS. Her Mrs Johnstone has the potential to eclipse just about any other actress's performance in the role. But David Kramer's direction, like his adaptation of Willy Russell's hit musical, was all over the place and that might leave le Grange out in the cold.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW: Adrian Galley for THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW as the Narrator; Andrew Laubscher for THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW as Riff Raff; Duane Alexander for JERSEY BOYS as Bob Crewe; James Borthwick for SUNSET BOULEVARD as Max von Mayerling.
I have to be honest. I did not find James Borthwick compelling in SUNSET BOULEVARD. While the role arguably is more complex than that of Bob Crewe in JERSEY BOYS or the Narrator in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, I felt that Borthwick's performance did not capture that complexity until the second act of the show and by then it was too little, too late. Andrew Laubscher was phenomenal as Riff Raff. The award should go to him.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW: Andréa Frankson for BLOOD BROTHERS as Linda; Dominique Maher for THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW as Columbia; Bethany Dickson for SUNSET BOULEVARD as Betty Schaefer; Daneel van der Walt for THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW as Magenta.
This is another category where there is a clear winner for me: Bethany Dickson as Betty Schaefer in SUNSET BOULEVARD. While all of the other performances had their merits, none came together quite as seamlessly as Dickson's. I cannot wait to see her Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC later this week.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A REVUE, CABARET OR ONE-PERSON SHOW: Jemma Kahn for THE EPICENE BUTCHER AND OTHER STORIES FOR CONSENTING ADULTS as the storyteller; Kate Liquorish for MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE as Rachel Corrie; Phillip Dikotla for SKIERLIK as various characters; Thembi Mtshali-Jones for A WOMAN IN WAITING as various characters.
Although I am sorry to see that Mpume Mthombeni dd not earn a nomination in this category for her stellar performance in TIN BUCKET DRUM, I am not sure it would make much of a difference. This award should go to Jemma Kahn. THE EPICENE BUTCHER AND OTHER STORIES FOR CONSENTING ADULT was one of the highlights of last year's theatrical presentations and Kahn was magnificent as the storyteller.
AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING STUDENT: Daniel Richards [UCT]; Dean John Smith [US]; Emma Kotze [UCT]; Gantane Gwane Kusch [UCT]; Lea Seekoe [UCT].
I managed to see all of the UCT students in action this year. Of those nominees, Daniel Richards impressed me most with his performance in Sandra Temmingh's production of MIRAKEL by Reza de Wet.
BEST DIRECTOR: Jaco Bouwer for ROOILAND; Mark Fleishman for VOICES MADE NIGHT; Sylvaine Strike for THE MISER; Tara Notcutt for THE THREE LITTLE PIGS.
This is a tough category to reflect upon, with directors in several different theatrical styles competing for the same award. I think any one of these nominees could probably take the award in this category. I am just uncertain how one compares the direction of physical theatre with that of neo-classical French comedy. With the boundaries set so wide, it also makes me wonder who should have been nominated here that was not.
It must be difficult to nominate contenders for technical awards, especially when it comes to something as abstract as lighting. More than one lighting designer has told me that the best compliment he could receive about his work is that it did not call attention to itself. Some great designers have been given their dues here, but I feel that Denis Hutchinson's superb work on SUNSET BOULEVARD should have been recognised here too.
Some great design concepts have been honoured in this category. Of those nominated, I loved Craig Leo's design for VOICES MADE NIGHT most. Walking through his design as I was directed to my seat was a most memorable experience indeed. However, as in the case of the lighting design nominees, I wish that Denis Hutchinson's name had appeared on this list.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Marcel Meyer for THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE; Penny Simpson for SUNSET BOULEVARD; Penny Simpson for THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW; Sarah Roberts for THE MISER.
I felt that Sarah Roberts and Penny Simpson had mixed success with their designs for THE MISER and THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW respectively. Simpson's work on SUNSET BOULEVARD was much better and will probably give Marcel Meyer's impressive, idiosyncratic work on THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE a good run for its money.
BEST SOUND DESIGN, ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSITION OR ORIGINAL SCORE: Braam du Toit for ROOILAND (Original Score and Sound Design); Charl-Johan Lingenfelder for THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE (Original Score); James Webb for DIE LAASTE KARRETJIEGRAF (Sound Scape); Matthew MacFarlane for HAYANI (Composition and Live Performance).
The three sound contributions that I heard were all great. I am certain that HAYANI, which I missed, was just as good. Four possible winners.
BEST PUPPETRY DESIGN: Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM; Janni Younge for SADAKO.
As evidenced by the costume design nomination above, Marcel Meyer has an eye for visual aspects of theatre. His many collaborations with Fred Abrahamse have offered much to audiences in the way of design. Puppets are, naturally, about more than design; I do not mean to reduce puppetry by leaving things there. Neither do I mean to relegate the Abrahamse-Meyer puppets simply to design features when I praise Janni Younge's puppets in SADAKO, which magnificently brought to life the tale of Sadako Sasaki. Both designs are strong, but I think the latter pips the former at the post.
BEST NEW SOUTH AFRICAN SCRIPT: Albert Pretorius, James Cairns, Rob van Vuuren and Tara Notcutt for THE THREE LITTLE PIGS; Nicholas Spagnoletti for CIVIL PARTING; Phillip Dikotla for SKIERLIK; Tertius Kapp for ROOILAND.
It is fantastic to see this category full of such a number of diverse plays. This is a wide open category that will come down to votes. I am looking forward to seeing who wins.
ROSALIE VAN DER GUCHT PRIZE FOR NEW DIRECTORS: Gabriella Pinto; Megan Young; Penelope Youngleson; Zanne Solomon.
Four women directors! What a coup! Penelope Youngleson seems to be the frontrunner to me, but it is great to see four energetic personalities make an impact in this category.
That is it for the nominees. With the People's Choice award having fallen away, the only other awards we will see added on the night are the awards for Innovation In Theatre and Lifetime Achievement.
What do you think about the Fleur du Cap nominees? Head on to the comment box below or interact with the Fleur du Cap Awards on Twitter and on Facebook. Tickets to the Fleur du Cap Awards, which take place on 16 March 2014, cost R150 per person and are available through Computicket.
Photo credits: Pat Bromilow Downing, Jesse Kramer, Val Adamson, Dani Bischoff, Baxter Theatre.