While it might be an exaggeration to say that Parkes scooped the 2009 CAT Awards, their achievements were certainly the main highlight of the night. The town of 10,000 may be one of the smaller in the Canberra Area Theatre (CAT) Awards’ broad catchment, but it is certainly punching above its weight in impressing the judges, and it was easy to see what lies behind their success in the Canberra Theatre on the night of the 2009 awards on 20 February 2010. Members of the Parkes Musical and Dramatic Society who had made the trek to Canberra for the awards actually managed to applaud their own louder than those from Orange, who usually raise the roof. With four awards going to theatre enthusiasts from Parkes, including the coveted Gold CAT, which went to Lyn Townsend, they had plenty of opportunity to demonstrate just how strong the town’s theatre community is.

This, of course, is the spirit of the CAT Awards. To provide a space where amateur theatre practitioners can be celebrated not only for what the offer to the community, but for their achievements in the art form they’re passionate about. This too, was evident in the gracious speech of Mark Grentell as he accepted his third award for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on behalf of Don Hillam Entertainment, and proceeded to thank leaders of the company, who gave him an opportunity that has led to the commencement of his career in professional theatre.

Members of Canberra’s amateur theatre community were likewise excited to see the familiar face of Rhys Holden back in town to support the awards. Rhys’s rise through the Canberra theatre scene to a key role in the Sydney Theatre Company is the stuff of legend.

With the Australian theatre industry so heavily dominated by the country’s great metropolises, community theatre diligently encourages a steady stream of fresh talent from the regions, and opens opportunities for talented people from all over the country to be recognised and make their way into professional practice.

The spirit of Parkes’ theatre enthusiasts on the night was infectious, and I am sure we will be hearing much more of them in the coming years.

Most read reviews

Wayside Bride | Belvoir

Infectiously entertaining and rivetingly alive, Wayside Bride is a boldly embroidered quilt covering a period in the 1970s when Ted Noffs' Wayside Chapel established itself as a sanctuary for the homeless, the drug addicted, and anyone who fell between the cracks of orthodoxy.

Driftwood The Musical | Umbrella Productions

Driftwood the Musical is a moving, enthralling story of a family surviving the ravages of war. It so timely, that it’s both poetical and painful.

Blackheath Chamber Music Festival 2022

This year's line-up, a cross section of some of the finest chamber ensembles in the country, would have graced any of Australia’s more well established festivals, and it is a massive endorsement of Festival Director Catherine Harker’s entrepreneurial skill that she was able to secure these wonderful musicians for a festival that too few people have yet heard of.

Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus | Circa

Despite Mozart's start as a child prodigy and his fame spanning 225 years, his role in this show is a supporting act. The real showstoppers are Kathryn and Paul O’Keeffe who tumble, twist and pantomime this show to life.

Waiting for Gordo | Gordon Southern

Southern is one of those solid comedians who has been at his craft long enough to take whatever comes his way.

Most read news

& Juliet, to premiere at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre in 2023

The greatest remixed love story ever told and West End award-winning anthemic pop musical, & JULIET, will make its Australian premiere at the Regent Theatre from February 2023 in a new production exclusive to Melbourne.