wonthaggis-jc-superstar-best-show-in-the-stateFOR the second week in a row, Wonthaggi Theatrical Group’s John Cuttriss and Tad Hendry (both pictured at rear) scored major awards for their work on the set design for this year’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. And the pair say the awards, the most recent of which were won at Saturday night’s Guild Awards, could not have been won without the guidance and assistance of those at Wonthaggi business A&D Cuman Engineering, including, pictured from left, Troy Passarin, Adrian Cuman, Darlene Cuman and Brendon Manners. The enormous cross featured in the crucifixion scene in the stage spectacular was built at the Cumans’ workshop. G175014

WONTHAGGI’S annual musical production for 2014, Jesus Christ Superstar, won an unprecedented seven awards at the annual Music Theatre Guild of Victoria awards last Saturday night, including ‘Production of the Year’, the Bruce McBrien Award.
To give it some perspective, it would be tantamount to the Leongatha and District Cricket Association winning the Provincial section of Country Week or the local golf association taking out the top state division at country week golf.
It’s a big deal to come out on top of the 61 open productions judged for the awards from right across the state, including metropolitan Melbourne companies like CLOC Musical Theatre (42nd Street), BLOC (Chicago), PLOS (Oklahoma/Oliver) and Williamstown (Frankenstein/Gypsy) and regional groups like Footlight Productions of Geelong (My Fair Lady) and Ballarat Lyric Theatre (Phantom).
Not only did the local theatre group take out the top award, but it also collected several of the other major awards including Best Director Wayne Moloney (Vin Foster Award) and Best Male Performer in a Leading Role Tom Green (Harold Burrows Award) for his part as Jesus; the first time a Gippsland company has done so.
On top of that, Wonthaggi won five other major awards on the night; Settings (Grahame Murphy Award) Tad Hendry (his first Guild award after six nominations), First Performance in a Featured Role (Gladys Moncrieff Award) Tom Green, Best Ensemble Performance, Design Award (Peter Blizzard-Allen Award) Tad Hendry/John Cuttriss crucifixion scene, and a special Concert/Revue Performance award for ‘Bend It Like Broadway’.
Adding to the delight for Wonthaggi Theatrical Group was the announcement that the Guild award for the Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role was being awarded to Sarah Kate Hanley for her role as Louise in Gypsy for the Williamstown Musical Theatre Company.
President of the group, David Wall, was full of praise for the whole JC team.
“We are immensely proud for ourselves as a group and proud of the cast and crew that put Jesus Christ Superstar on,” Mr Wall said.
“It’s a particularly outstanding achievement for a first-time director in Wayne Moloney but also an indication of the strong team we have been able to develop here at Wonthaggi which has now won two out of the last four best production awards.
“The other thing we were pleased about was Tom Green getting the best new talent award (‘Gladys Moncrieff Award’ for a First Performance in a Featured Role). It’s the third time in four years that we’ve taken out that award.
“We put a lot of effort into developing our junior talent, giving them the opportunity to shine and also to raise their profile in the industry.
“To have won this award three times now; Elly Poletti in Cabaret, Jay Nelson in Anything Goes and now Tom in Jesus Christ Superstar, is especially rewarding.
“Tom was the outstanding performer on the night, getting a standing ovation from a tough audience for his rendition of Gethsemane.
“He’s been doing a lot of work in the past few months, doing his exams and auditioning for the VCA, where he will be going next year, and he’s just singing so well.
“I think we’ll see a lot more of Tom Green in the future.”
Mr Wall said Wonthaggi Theatrical Group was also featured in another performance on the night when the ‘Bend It Like Broadway’ cast, including Elly Poletti, Sarah Hanley, Bron Kalos, Kerryn Moren and Britt Lewis performed one of the numbers from the show, a sublime version of Old Man River in acapella.
JC director Wayne Moloney was also delighted with the group’s state-wide recognition.
“For me it’s such a collaborative thing, there are no individuals in something like this. Wonthaggi was strong enough as a group to know that they could take a punt on a first time director with an idea, and only an idea until an amazing cast and a terrific crew took it on,” Mr Moloney said.
The idea he was talking about was his original idea for the crucifixion scene and the modern setting for the production.
Judges described the staging of the production’s finale as being as “near to perfect” as can be achieved on stage.
Mr Moloney also praised his co-director Louise Adkins for the crucial role she played in bringing JC to the stage.
Wonthaggi also received the following nominations for awards: Kirk Skinner musical director, Louise Adkins choreography, Colin Mitchell wardrobe, Ewan Cole/Trevor Wyhoon lighting, Kerryn Lockhart lead female and Meg Jinnette dancers award.
Guild commendations were awarded to the following locals: Male Performer in a Leading Role (Harold Burrows Award), Russell Hemming, Mickey, Blood Brothers, Leongatha Lyric Theatre and Male Performer in a Supporting Role (Rob Constable Award), David Durrant, Narrator, Blood Brothers, Leongatha Lyric Theatre.